Thursday, December 3, 2009


"There can be no doubt of this: - All America is divided into two classes, - the quality and the equality. The latter will always recognize the former when mistaken for it. . . .

It was through the Declaration of Independence that we Americans acknowledged the eternal inequality of man. For by it we abolished a cut-and-dried aristocracy. We had seen little men artificially held up in high places, and great men artificially held down in low places, and our own justice-loving hearts abhorred this violence to human nature. Therefore, we decreed that every man should thenceforth have equal liberty to find his own level. By this very decree we acknowledged and gave freedom to true aristocracy, saying, "Let the best man win, whoever he is." Let the best man win! That is America's word. That is true democracy. And true democracy and true aristocracy are one and the same thing." (The Virginian, by Owen Wister)

Life is what we make of it. And that has very little to do with what we have or what we achieve. One may be wealthy, another may be impoverished, but they can still be quality people. They can still be equal in terms of character. So I say phooey to anyone who points to where they came from as an excuse for where they are. The blessing of America is the right to be whatever you want to be. It's not free, it's not easy, but it is a choice. We all make a choice to be our best selves regardless of our aristocratic status.

We have a new aristocracy in America and it is not the one that was intended. I believe that there are some very "little men" being "held up in high places". I say bring back the great men. Quality people step up and do the right thing. Our country was not built on Let the most politically correct man win, or the most oratorically gifted man, or even the most intelligent.

Let the BEST man win.

I want the best. There are very few best out there. Being the best means sacrifice and heartache. But God has a plan for every single individual on this planet, all six billion six hundred ninety two million thirty thousand two hundred and seventy seven of them. Not all of us are meant to be the best, but some are.

What can we do? How do we find the best?

I don't know. I think they find us. In the meantime, we each do our best to be what God intended us to be. We may not all be great leaders, but we can all lead someone. Maybe the only person you ever lead is you. "And if it so be that should labor all your days . . and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy . . . "

Lead yourself and maybe others will follow. Maybe you are one of the best.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Sometimes I think there are a lot of things to be hopeful about, sometimes not. For the past week I have been Hoping that I would go into labor and have a baby. Needless to say that particular hope has been dashed over and over in the last few days. I'm sure that has a great deal to do with my impatience. This child's birth is inevitable. Whether I hope for it or not, it will happen at some point. However there are other things outside the realm of my personal sphere that do not carry such an assurance.

The more I have learned recently about the state of our country and our government, the more disappointed I have become. I have largely ignored all things political out of a feeling that there is little I can do about any of it. I am still struggling with the belief.

In reading the 5000 year leap, I have seen how far we have come in a bad way from the original inspired government set up by the Founding Fathers. When I got to Principle 15 today and discovered that the breakdown of our inspired government began in the 1920s, I began to feel more discouraged than before. If things have been headed down the wrong path for the last 90 years or so, is there really any hope for our future?

Add to that my belief in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and knowing that that event will bring great and possibly terrible changes to this land, I start to wonder is there even any reason to keep trying to make changes for the better? What's the point? It seems as though the country is going to 'hell in a hand basket', so why bother trying to make it a better place when it is already so messed up?

Now, you can clearly see my emotional negativity flashing about as I deal with disappointment of still being pregnant when I really, really don't want to be. But you will also just laugh when I tell you why I decided that it is worth fighting for.

I recently read the Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith. Not at all related to Twilight, except for the rather similar character traits. For those of you not into silly teenage fluffy books, here is the breakdown. There is a girl, and a vampire, and his brother and a human guy who all like this one girl. Why? I have no idea, she is not that great. Anyway! Once all are inundated in the fantastical world of the supernatural, previously mentioned human guy gets rather depressed realizing how much bad is out there in the world. (Note similarity) He discusses with vampire with whom he has developed a friendship despite freaky nature of vampire guy's dietary needs. Human guy expresses his new found pessimism with the world. Vampire guy helps out by telling him that basically, yes the world is full of evil and lots of bad things happen, however just because bad things happen doesn't mean we should stop fighting for the good team. If we stop fighting for what is right we are giving in to what is wrong. Of course for them that is not an option:)

So, I guess what it all boils down to is this:
The country is broken.
The government is broken.
There are innumerable tragedies and wrongs being committed everyday.

In spite of that, or maybe because of that we who know the truth must keep fighting to make things right. Not to help ourselves, or even to help our children, simply because it is the right thing to do. Fight against evil forces in whatever form they come and stand up for the right.

Hopeless or hopeful, I'm going to keep trying to find ways to make this country better than it is.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Enthusiasm is generally considered to be a positive thing. To be Enthusiastic about something is to be excited about it. The lack of that excitement usually signals a problem. I spent many years of my life not being enthusiastic, but being very negative and only seeing the down side to things. Since marrying David I can gladly say that that has changed to a great degree. Being negative bothers him immensely, so I began to learn very early in our marriage to try and be more positive.

As with almost any personality change it started from a desire to make him happy and not cause a problem and later blossomed into my own desire to feel happier by seeing more good than bad. Admittedly I struggle a great deal with that still, especially with the increase of what my sister termed the fetal girth. It's hard to be positive when a tiny and bony person is trying to turn your belly button (or the spot that used to be your belly button) inside out. But still I always try to find something good about a situation, kind of Pollyanna-like.

For instance, this darling little girl is extremely active, going for what feels like hours on end with constant movement. Enough that I felt physically sick to my stomach at times. Not a happy feeling. But! On the upside, if she's moving, I know she is alive. I'm sure it sounds silly to many, but it helps me.

Anyway, back on track. Enthusiasm. Basically I have issues. Some stem from childhood and things that happened then, some I believe are simply part of who I am as a person and who I would be no matter what happened to me in this life. As a mother I have tried many different discipline techniques, one of which includes denying enthusiasm. Mostly I have done this with Mark, my oldest. As we all know, the oldest usually gets the worst of the parenting mistakes, but hopefully with divine grace will survive it all.

When he was younger and would do things he shouldn't like climb on cabinets, or into the crib, or do anything that he wasn't supposed to do, I would try to get him to stop by taking something from him. I always tried to take something that I knew meant a great deal to him, hoping that his desire to have the item returned would triumph over his desire to do the wrong thing. Very quickly he learned to squelch emotional attachment and not care about anything very much because if he did he would lose it. No, I'm not making this up, Road Less Traveled, remember?!

One of Peck's patients he writes about has a grave lack of enthusiasm for anything bordering on suicidal. He cares about nothing and nothing makes him excited or happy. Over months of therapy they discover that between this man's brothers and parents, every object of enthusiasm was either ridiculed, removed, or squelched in an effort to torment on the part of the brothers, or to discipline on the part of the parents. The man said one thing that really stuck me to the core: "Everything I was enthusiastic about they took away. Everything I loved I lost."


What have I done? Why am I still doing it?

Mark's personality, I believe, has some similarities to mine. He tends to focus on the negative rather naturally. Was he always this way, or is it a result of what has happened to him in his short life? I really don't know. We have talked with him about it in an effort to help him understand how much better it feels to be positive. I can honestly say that I have seen him put effort into being more positive and less negative, so hopefully he will have a more enthusiastic adolescence than I had. Besides the fact that he is not me, nor is his life mine (that was a hard lesson to learn).

So on the level of discipline. I justified my actions by believing that I was using Love and Logic parenting. Trying to find a natural consequence for his actions. So if he takes a cookie without permission, he is denied the privilege of having a cookie for a week. Somethings there just are no obvious consequences for, like getting out of bed at night, all the time. After nine years of child raising, we still have not figured out how to keep kids in bed without physical restraint. So I usually threaten the removal of his most prized privilege. Wii time. He is freakishly good at video games. I don't know how or why, but he is. I am sure it is due in part to the fact that that is where he expends the majority of his mental powers, but still, it is a little creepy how easily he wins or completes them. So I routinely would take away from him the one thing he loves and truly believes himself to be accomplished at. Can we say killing the spirit? yikes.

What do I do now. My first step is to never use the Wii time as a negative consequence again. So what do I do when he breaks one of the basic house rules (no stealing, no hitting, etc.)?

Well, if I ever figure it out I'll write a book. Lucky for me that as he gets older, he powers of reasoning mature and he is breaking those rules less often. (see me being positive, I almost can't stop myself now, which is a good thing of course). I am glad that all of my children present different parenting challenges. That way if you have a terrible time figuring out how to parent one, learning how to parent the next, might not be so hard:)

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Here's the scoop. I am one of the idiots. I am part of the almost 30 somethings that knows nothing about what is going on in this country. Unlike the rest of the lemmings, I want to change that right now. I have always known that I should be keeping up to date on what is happening in the world and closer to home. Out of laziness and doubt I never have. I have always felt that either what is going on gets me so irritated that I don't even want to know, or I have no way of getting accurate information. I want to know what is happening, what decisions are being made, what laws are being signed, but I do not want every body's opinion of it. I want to form my own opinions. I want to decide if I think it is a good idea or not. This will be an interesting test of how many people read my blog. If you read this, I want to know where you get your news information from. I am seeking out ways to keep up on things amidst the rest of my crazy life. After all in about six weeks I will be spending a lot of time sitting and it would be nice to have something important to read:) There is my challenge, step up and speak out.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

God Complex (or More of The Road Less Traveled)

When I do some introspection and consider the traits that make me who I am, I don't think I would list God complex as one of them. Most people probably wouldn't, yet, most of us do have that without even realizing it.

I would however consider myself to be very critical, of myself and of others. I try not to be, but usually I fail. It can be little things that "That person should NOT be allowed on the road", or it might be a bigger criticism of another person's parenting, or lack thereof :) See what I mean?

When I or you criticize someone or confront them for whatever reason, we are asserting that we are right and we know what is best. Are we? Do we? For myself, I would say most of the time probably not. We have been dealing with a lot of confrontation in the last few months. Not really within our little family, but it has affected us all the same. We are no different from most people though and confrontation is something everyone deals with. Whether we are on the receiving end or the giving end, it is a somewhat unfortunate part of life.

It doesn't have to be.

Using the definition of love that states that if you love someone, you desire their spiritual growth and are willing to work for it, then the truly loving person knows how to confront without judgment. Be honest, when someone lays into you for something, whether you fight back or not, it hurts and you feel judged. That is because you are being judged. By criticizing we tell someone that we are right and they are wrong. That we know more than they do, so we have to tell them what is what. How much better would it be if confrontation was done with true love. There is no quick fix. Chances are I will be somewhere near 639 before I get this right, but I figured I could share what I learned in case no one else has read this great book lately.

A truly loving person realizes that confronting someone is arrogant. They don't want to be arrogant, not just they don't want to appear arrogant, they don't want to be it. (There is a difference). Before a truly loving person confronts someone, here is a list of questions from The Road Less Traveled that they probably ask themselves. (pg151)

Do I really see things clearly, or am I operating on murky assumptions?
Do I really understand ________?
Could it not be that the path _______ is taking is unwise and that my perception of it as unwise is the result of limited vision on my part?
Am I being self-serving in believing that ________ needs redirection?

I have never in my life stopped to ask myself any of this before yelling at my kids for something they have done wrong. Perhaps if I did, things would change.

Peck continues on to explain that confronting is exercising power and leadership over another person. There are in fact times when this needs to be done, but before doing it, there needs to be very serious self examination.

"The problem is that the more loving one is, the more one is awed by the potential for arrogance in exercising power. . . Who gives me the right to dare to believe in my own understanding and then to presume to exert my will upon the world? Who am I to play God?"

There was only one man on this earth who had the right to confront and he is God.

How many times have you played God?

Does all this mean that we should never confront or criticize someone again? For some of us, maybe*, but then maybe not. Having a true love for another person and desiring their spiritual growth above other things, there may come a time, when after serious introspection we find that we really do have more knowledge in a certain area and we do need to help them and guide them in some way. We cannot stand by and let a loved one injure themselves if we can help, if that help can be given in the right way. To that end "We arrive, then, at yet another paradox: only out of the humility of love can humans dare to be God."

Truly loving correction will be based on a knowledge of God's will. For those of us with gospel knowledge that is somewhat promising. We have access to personal revelation. We can know God's will for ourselves and those we have stewardship over. It is then possible for us to help our children, but more often than not that is probably where it ends. We do not have stewardship over our spouses. We cannot receive revelation for them as individuals. We cannot know God's will for them. We can confront ourselves. Chances are that when we do that, we will become better people and thereby set an example for those around us to do the same.

I felt I should add this little blurb, just so that everyone/anyone who reads this knows that I am indeed function in the real world and not living in some la la mental state of psycho therapy.

*Disclaimer: I realize that there are times when confronting, criticizing and correcting is needed and that those situations are not anywhere near on the level of that I am discussing. Clearly there are times when one must correct a subordinate in a work situation, that's a whole other ball of wax, which I know less than nothing about. There are also times in regards to children when we must correct without extending self inspection, such as when one child kicks another for locking a door. Use common sense people. Your hearts and spirits will tell you when you are facing a situation in which serious reflection might be in order.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It really has been almost two months since I last wrote. Those close to me know that the biggest reason for that is getting bigger everyday, but hopefully I will be better able to handle things from here on out.

I have set up a system for my personal scripture study that includes reading all of the talk from the the previous General Conference in the six months following that conference. I have learned a great deal more from reading after the fact, than I gleaned during the broadcast. It's ok, I know I am not an auditory learner. I just read Pres. Packer's talk titled "The Test".

As so often happens it kind of struck home. Our current political/governmental situation is more than a little lacking. I have never professed to have a great knowledge of these things, but I do know a little. I do not understand foreign relations, or policies, oftentimes, I don't even care. More often these days it scares me so much that I don't want to know. However, things are what they are. I disagree with things that our current president is doing. I am very scared by the things I hear. Still, I have never been physically harmed, assaulted, taken to prison, falsely accused, driven from my home at gunpoint, or otherwise harassed. Some tell me that will probably happen at some point because of my views (apparently homeschooling is now a threat to national security). Even if it does, I have an example of the right way to handle it. The early Saints suffered all those trials at the hands of the government. In spite of that they celebrated our country and honored the constitution. They knew as I do, that our country was founded by God. The constitution was inspired as were the founding fathers who wrote it.

Now, might this country's leaders be punished for turning their back on God? Yes. Despite the people who run the government, this is still God's country. I will strive harder to teach my children about patriotism. I want them to love this country and know how blessed it is. So the next time I hear more disparaging news about the state of affairs, I will remember that regardless, the Constitution is still true and God is in charge of His country.

(It helps that my background noise while writing this is Take Your Hat Off, by Janeen Brady. My kids are already learning about and loving the founding fathers and the country they helped to create.)

Friday, March 6, 2009


This is hard. I have been working through reading The Road Less Traveled for quite a few months now. I am trying to take in little bits at a time, because that is all I can handle. I read a lot of fluffier books in between, but I am still working on it and I still find great insight through my reading and notes. So here's the latest . . .

How many of us really truly listen?

To our children, our spouses, our friends, our coworkers?

In a section which properly describes how giving our attention to someone or something is work and how that shows our love for it or them, we come to the main form of attention giving, listening.

True listening is hard work. It takes mental focus and physical energy, not to mention emotional energy as well. I can't quite pinpoint where I lost my ability to pay attention, but it was a number of years ago, after I got married, but beyond that I am not sure when it happened. I know why, I just simply stopped trying. There were a myriad of reasons for this, but I have felt it for a long time. Perhaps you are familiar with the feeling, perhaps not. For example, when I sit down to read something that is not a fluffy novel, I can read the same paragraph six times and not remember what it was about. I was reading my friend's blog just the other day where he launched into an explanation of how to count in binary on your fingers. I honestly felt my eyes glaze over and skip to the next readable paragraph. I couldn't even make myself try to understand it, which is sad, but I think it happens to lots of people, especially in my position (and many who are not in my position). Anyway, listening is hard and I have gotten very, very, very lazy about it.

Dr. Peck gave a general scale of types of listening, focusing on young children, which really hit home for me since that is who I am surrounded by 24/7. You may be able to relate to this.

Type 1 - "Children should be seen, not heard" wherein you basically ignore them and they are not allowed to speak in your presence.

Type 2 - They (the children) provide background noise, like elevator music. They are talking, but you are not listening to a word they are saying.

Type 3 - Pretend listening, ohh and ahh, at the right moments, my personal favorites are "okay" and "really?" and especially "we'll see"

Type 4 - Selective listening, like scanning a paragraph for the main point, you listen to try and hear the important stuff, without suffering through all the meaningless extra babble.

Type 5 - True listening, you stop, put down whatever you are doing, focus and listening to every word the child says, honestly attempting to understand what they are saying with complete attention.

Any of that sound familiar? I do mostly type 4, a good deal of type 3, attempts at type 2 usually turn into type 1 (we call it mommy putting the silence on them) and only on rare occasions, type 5. What is really interesting is that I started analyzing how I was listening to them after I read that. Mark would come to me and rattle on about a Mario Kart race on his ds, and after he left, and sometimes while he was talking I was thinking to myself, I am not really listening to him, this is more of a type 3 kind of listening. It is changing the way I think about my interactions with my kids. It will change the way I interact with my husband, I just haven't seen him since last Saturday, but he gets home tonight!! Yea!!

After I read this I started to worry, I am great at worrying, less great at doing something about my worrying issue. Thankfully Peck went to say that he nor anyone else who is sane would expect a parent to type 5 listen all the time. It is best to have a balance of all types. The key though is in the balancing and use of all types of listening. Like everything else worth doing it is easier said than done. But it is important that they do get some of type 5. We all have a need to be truly heard and understood. True listening tells our children that we think they are worth listening to, which means that we think they are worth something. On top of that feeling of your esteem, they take from your listening their value as a person. A fascinating cycle begins here.

You truly listen to your child.
They feel valued.
The more valuable they feel the more valuable things they say.
The more you listen the more you realize what valuable things they have to say.
You realize, or are reminded, what an amazing person you have.
The more you learn about your child, the better you can teach them.
Your child feels valued and amazing, so they become more willing to listen to and learn from you.
The more you teach them, the more they learn and the more amazing they become.
Then you truly listen more and the cycle repeats.

Naturally this applies to more than just children, probably just about anyone you interact with on a regular basis could benefit from being truly listened to. The question "Are you listening to me?" has a new meaning for me now. And like I keep telling my children, you have to be the first one, either to share, or to be a friend, or in this case to listen. We all need to be listened to, but maybe we need to learn to listen to others first. Once we are truly listening to them, our love and appreciation for them will grow and the cycle will begin. In fulfilling other's needs, our own will be fulfilled as well. I suppose that is the epitome of true love, Christ-like love. Putting others first. For me this seems like a way to start trying to be Christ like. This is a little thing that I think I can make a conscious effort to do that will have a great effect on my family and on myself.

So, Are YOU listening?

Monday, February 16, 2009

God and feet

I was sitting and thinking tonight while I was scrapbooking. Mostly I was thinking about the pages I was trying to create, but my mind tends to drift now and then. You see, I have very poor circulation (thanks mom!) so if I sit in one position, particularly if that involves sitting on my feet or having my leg bent, I will none too soon lose all feeling in the corresponding foot. It's very unpleasant having a foot go to sleep on you, as it is termed. So I was thinking about that when I realized I had been sitting in one position for a dangerously long period of time, so I shifted and saved myself from the pain just barely. Then I had a rather inspirational thought.

It's just like prayer.

I stopped. How's that again? Feet and prayer?

Let me explain, at least to some degree, the twisted inner workings of my mind.
When you restrict the flow of blood to your foot, by say sitting on it, the foot starts to shut down and try to deal with less blood. It begins to feel numb. You don't really realize that you are starting to feel numb in your foot unless you move, but then when you do move it hurts so much, you would rather the blood flow not resume. The feeling of thousands of needles stabbing all over your foot is really not fun.

It's a little backwards, but it really is like prayer, or at least similar to our relationship with God. When we restrict the flow of spirit shall we say, by not praying, etc, we start to feel numb. You barely realize it at first, because it creeps up so slowly. When you do realize and start to let the spirit flow, i.e. pray again, it's hard. It can be painful when you realize how far from right things are. The adversary will be poking you rather hard in an effort to discourage you from increasing that spiritual flow. You might even want to go back to the restricted flow because being numb is easier than feeling pain. But just like with the feet, if you suffer through the stabbing pain, you will find that it fades after a time. Then everything flows as it should and you feel much better.

Maybe it only makes sense to me, but I thought I would share, just in case anyone else might understand what I am trying to share. Of course being that the relationship we each have with our Father in Heaven is a personal one, the experience of prayer is different for everyone. Anyway, I just had what for me is a profound connection and I wanted to share. So the next time your foot falls asleep you will be reminded to pray, which for those who share my genes might be rather often . . .

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Defining the undefinable

I have spent a large portion of my mental powers over the last oh, 15 years or so, trying to come up with a good definition of love. For some reason I have never been able to accept that it is just a feeling. I deal best with absolutes, so naturally something as undefinable as love belongs in a defined little box, right? umm, not so much. I would love it (no punning) if it worked that way but it doesn't.

The best definition that I came up with was putting another's needs before your own. However, that doesn't always quite fit the bill. As I have gotten older and expanded my horizons I have found that love is a great deal more than that. I used to classify it into, love love, sibling/parent love, friend love, you know when people say "I love him like a brother, but not like that." What they are really saying is "I do not find you particularly attractive and I would rather not mate."

In case you haven't guessed, the second section of the Road Less Traveled is on love. So why do we think we fall in love? We don't fall into it, we fall in attraction, but that doesn't sound nearly so blissful. The fact is that we choose to love. When the rose colors of the honeymoon time fades, we choose to love our spouse, or not. I am so grateful that I was never naive enough to go full out for the "O, I'm in love!" gushy kind of thing. I knew when I was dating David that this was it. It was our second date and on the way home I realized I was leaving for college in three weeks and I cried. I could not imagine leaving him. A little off topic, but you get the idea.

M. Scott Peck wrote two things about love that really struck me. The first is his definition of it:

"Love is the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth"

Love is not physical. It isn't even about the physical body. We had love before we came here and got our bodies. Love is a spiritual thing. Our bodies don't love, our spirits do. For some reason this seems profound to me. We are surrounded by a culture that focuses entirely on the physical attraction that precedes love and they call it love. It is so easy growing up with books and movies and tv shows to have a warped view of what love is. Thankfully we also have the gospel and the only example of perfect love in our Savior Jesus Christ. He loved us. He was willing to sacrifice Himself for the spiritual progression of all His siblings. That is love.

"Love is an act of will"

Christ didn't just wish he could help everyone. He didn't love us up to a point. He gave His will over to our Father in Heaven. Love is not a spectator sport, it's not passive. When we love, we show that love by our words and our deeds. I am always reminded of the end of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In the Return of the King, where Frodo and Sam are struggling up the mountain, exhausted beyond words, and tired, and scared and knowing that they will probably die soon. I cannot recall if the words are in the book ( I only read it once) but the movie is very powerful. Frodo stumbles and Sam who knows he cannot carry the burden of the ring, carries Frodo the rest of the way up. It moves me every time. That was love. Love prompts us to do amazing things, or really simply barely noticeable things. It doesn't matter if what we do is grand and heroic or quiet and simple. What matters is that we do it. That we choose to act on our love for another.

Clearly Sam and Frodo were not married, nor were they related, so I am most certainly not speaking of married relationships here. Every person out there has someone they can love if they choose to. I used to think when general authorities would get up and say how much they love all of us, that that just wasn't possible. They don't even know my name, how could they profess to love me. I think I am starting to get it more now. They love me simply because I am. They are doing their jobs everyday as an act of will to help my spiritual growth.

This is fascinating stuff, I just barely started section two of the book, there will be more . . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Who doesn't love Jane Austen?

Wait! Before any male readers run for the hills, I feel impressed to mention that this is not going to be a sappy, gooey, lovey kind of post. Really, Jane Austen was so much more than that.

I have always professed to love Jane Austen books, but until last year I had only read Pride and Prejudice. Then I read Persuasion and now I have finished Mansfield Park. Both are great. And for you guys out there, Mansfield Park has very little "Oh, Mr. Darcy," kind of stuff that we females love, so even you might enjoy it.

Each of Austen's books focuses on a character trait or two that could be considered to be faults or virtues. Pride and Prejudice is obvious, Persuasion also, and clearly Sense and Sensibility. Some of her others were more unobtrusively titled. Mansfield Park fits into that category being as it is titled after the main residence of most of the characters in the book. Of course, now that I think about it, there is deeper meaning to the title, in that Mansfield Park represents a sense of propriety and how that sense is either used or ignored. hmm . . . .

The main focus is really a nature versus nurture debate. Can a person who is born in a lowly, impoverished family rise to become dignified and proper? Is it also possible that one who is born into a family of wealth could become a disgrace to said family? Obviously yes, or there wouldn't be a book. Near the end of the novel the father of the main family begins to question his parenting. Of his four children, his eldest son ran rampant, ending up deathly ill after causing his parents a good deal of emotional and financial hardship. His eldest daughter married a man she did not love and then ran off with another man, hoping he would marry her and ended up divorced from the first and unwelcome in the family home. The second daughter, and youngest of the children, eloped with a man considered to be of less than desirable character and was eventually welcomed back home but not before much duress had been endured on all sides. If I were the father I would start to question myself too. Add to this mix, the second son who stayed true to good principles and lived honorably, and the niece (also the heroine) who followed in the footsteps of the second son. This niece was brought to live with the family when all the children were in the double digit preteen to teen range. She came from lowly circumstances and yet turned out to be one of the most refined of the five children who grew up together.

So the next time we start to question ourselves in our parenting, remind yourself, that it is possible that no matter what we do as parents, some children will simply make wrong choices. Why does one child internalize good principles and another disregard them? Who knows! So is it nature or is it nurture? Personally I think it has to be both. We all come here to this earth with our unique personalities. Add to that the conditions of the formative years be they good or bad, and we turn out to be who we choose to be. We make the choice. What drives us to make a choice for good or bad? I don't know. That could get very deep and philosophical, but that might hurt my head. The point is that we choose. We choose who we will be and others choose who they will be. There is very little that we can do for others beyond being a good example. I can tell and show my children how to act, but I can't force them to do what I want them to, believe me I have tried! I think the lesson that the father in Mansfield Park may have missed was to love unconditionally. Love your children, and others, no matter what choices they make.

The other really good point to remember is that a little suffering goes a long way. Some strife and humble pie can help to produce a person who is truly stellar in character. However, to my dear dad, moving piles of rocks around the yard is not character building, just obnoxious. It did however provide some teaching lesson of obedience. We did not know why the rocks needed to be moved again, but we were told to do it and we did. Obviously obeying our parents, earthly and heavenly has great benefits that we cannot see at the time of obedience. Now if I can just convince my kids of that . . .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Life is Difficult

That is the very beginning of A Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck. I think he borrowed it from Buddha or Confucius, I can't recall which (I started the book awhile ago). For some reason I have spent a great deal of my life being very, very negative. Looking back I am amazed that I managed to get David to marry me. I know the Lord had it planned and that's probably why it all happened the way that it did. Still, even up until recently I spent a good deal of my time in a bad mood about this, that or the other thing. It was either the kids, or David, or church, or just about anything I could blame for my unhappiness. I was never silly enough to say "well, if this was just different . . " But deep down, I think that was what I was thinking. That somehow, if or when something changed I would be happier, life would be easier, I would be able to handle it.

That's not how it works. I have been waiting for a turning point for a few years. I knew someday something would happen that would change me, for the better. Things have been leading up to it for sometime. One day in December (I don't recall which one because my medication really does mess with my head) I decided I was interested in reading A Road Less Traveled. I had read a lot of excerpts of Peck's work in a college english class and I picked up the book from a library freebie table a few years back. I always meant to read, but had yet to actually get to it.

For some reason reading the first chapter of the book beginning with Life is Difficult has changed me. I guess that is what great books are meant to do, change us, make us better. This is what I learned.

Life is hard. It always has been and it always will be. That is the way it was meant to be. With that knowledge we are all given two choices. We can choose to be happy, or not. I used to choose not. I realized that I didn't have to spend my life being unpleasant and yelling at my kids. I could enjoy my life. I could enjoy my family. I could let annoying drivers, obnoxious church members and other pesky things just roll off my back. I needed to stop carrying everyone else's problems. I am not sure exactly how I figured this all out, but it must have happened on a very deep level, because I haven't slipped back. Just so be clear I am not Mary Sunshine or anything, but I feel better inside. My heart is not so heavy as it once was. I am scratching the tip of the tip of the iceberg of learning how to lay my burdens at the feet of the Savior. He already suffered for all of this. Every bad day, every cross word, every hurt feeling has been felt. Why prolong the pain?

It would be like going to the grocery store every week and paying for a gallon of milk that someone already drank and refusing to acknowledge that the milk is gone. It's gone, let it go!

I still get mad sometimes, like when I rush my dear Luke (15 months) out of Sacrament meeting, walk down the hall and listen to him scream for 10 minutes straight. Yeah, that was rather annoying to say the least. Six months ago that would have ruined my day. I would have been crabby and snappy, and for what? For fear of annoying/offending other members? Out of frustration at not being able to control my child? There would be no point to being angry about something I could not control. I did my best to quiet, calm and comfort him, but he wanted his father and as soon as he got him he was fine. Yes, I still get mad, but I am learning to let it go much faster.

I love feeling happier. I know that scriptures and prayer have a good deal to do with helping my mood and abilities, but with or without that it is still up to me to decide how I will react, what I will feel. We have the ability to decide how we will feel and how we will react. It's hard, very, very hard, but anything really worth doing is most likely going to be hard to do.

So life is hard, but I wouldn't want it any other way.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The only constant is change

I am pretty sure that someone famous said that, but I am not really sure who. Regardless of that it is profoundly true. Not just in a yeah, we all think so kind of way, but in a soul rattling deep down undeniable knowing kind of way.

Everything changes, all the time.

Seasons change.
Times change.
Styles change.
Bodies change. (boy can I tell you!)
People change.
Hearts change.
Lives change.

Every day, every moment change is occuring. We can't stop it, we can only try to keep up with it and deal with it as best as we can.

Sometimes I think the last nine years of my life have been a whirlwind. It's gone by so fast, though everyday feels like eternity and not in a good way. Many of the changes that I have dealt with I was prepared for, but countless others I was not.

Now I am experiencing more changes, some of which are unpleasant, and unwelcome. Some are unexpected but good at the same time. My health is changing, much to my dismay. My marriage is changing. My attitude and outlook are changing. My heart is trying to change. I want to change, I want to be different that I am right now. I want some of what I have lost.

I know I will never get back to where I was, but I am hopeful that I can get to a better place than where I am now and better even than where I was.