Gratitude

I recently read a book by Elizabeth Smart, My Story, She was a girl who was kidnapped in her early teens and was abused for 9 months before returning home. One thing I was surprised to hear in her story was how in some of her darkest moments, she counted her blessings. What?? After her darkest moments she was grateful to be alive and she would start a list in her head.

I don’t think I could have done that in that particular situation. What I can tell you is that in my trials, I used to panic and have anxiety and think things like, ‘This is NEVER going to change’, ‘I’m going to live with this FOREVER’, ‘How could this happen to me?!’, etc. I could keep going, but let’s stop there, these were the most popular.

I don’t remember exactly when the change happened, I think it started with me correcting my thoughts, which I’ve mentioned here about how I reprogrammed myself. Then when I didn’t have these negative thoughts consume me I could see what I had. I may not have a few things I expected to have in my life but I do have:

My husband who endeavors to support and love me in all that I do

I have a beautiful home which we have lived in since we first got married

I have a running vehicle and I’m not constantly paying for repairs

My daughter was born alive and today is the most incredible individual I’ve been blessed to meet

Modern technology which brought both of my children into this world living

A son who is lovable and will be quite the adventurer

The opportunity to get the help I needed for me to be able to make the changes I wanted but didn’t know how to do

Friends who are supportive

This is just what came to my mind now. I have so much more and am blessed beyond measure. I guarantee you are as well.

I want to challenge you to make a list of blessings. If you don’t want to write them, there is an app you can get called gratitude journal, you can track your list there. Start off by just writing something once a day. I promise you that if you’re diligent this will make an impact in your life for the better. Try this for a least a month, consider how your mind feels and even your body. I’d love to hear of your results.

I hope in sharing what has helped me in my journey that you can  find something that helps you in some way.

 

I’m looking for someone willing to share their story for the end of this month. Email me at happywithimperfect@gmail.com if you’re ready.

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By Anonymous

In my religion we are taught that we chose to come here to earth so we could gain a body and learn all we could. We were given agency to choose how to treat ourselves and the people we come into contact with. Unfortunately that also means that often we are impacted by the poor choices of those around us.

I was raised in a home where my father (named Eric) was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. Those outside our family had no idea. Eric was a doctor with a warm and funny bedside manner, a respected teacher in our church, and generous to those that needed his help. This made it almost impossible for my mom to convince anyone in a position to help who her husband really was.

I wore clothes from the thrift store that were ill fitting and completely out of style. Showers were limited to ten minutes twice a week. At least once a week I was beaten with his special 2X4 that had holes drilled in it so that even the air couldn’t slightly cushion his blows. He called these beatings “spanks” but I think we can all agree spanks that leave your back, butt, and thighs covered in purple bruises are not spanks at all. The things he said were more damaging than the bruises. I won’t quote him directly because a direct quote wouldn’t impress you with how cutting and painful they were. The words tore me down. They confirmed that I was repulsive and ugly. They whispered to me every day that I was not worthy of love from anyone who actually knew me. They testified with confidence that the blessings of the atonement were unreachable for someone as sinful as me.

When I was fourteen I did something that pushed Eric over the edge. All my belongings were taken from me. I was given my moms old clothes to wear and I slept on the floor of my brothers room in a sleeping bag. Every night for a month I was beaten 20 times. I wasn’t allowed to talk or sit with any member of the family. One day as I was waking up Eric came in and angrily told me to get dressed and get in the car. I walked to my parents’ bedroom where my mom was doing the laundry and told her that Eric and I were going on a drive. I hugged her and said, “ Goodbye Mom. I love you so much.”

She broke down crying and said that I couldn’t go. She ran into my baby brothers’ room and scooped him out of bed. She yelled to Eric that she needed to run an errand real quick then hissed for me to quietly get in the car. Armed with the cash in my mom’s purse and the clothes on our backs we left our home forever and drove to her family in Utah.  Later I learned that when I said goodbye the spirit testified to her if she didn’t do something that would be the last time she would ever see me alive.

So what happens when our suffering is over? There is a time of trial in every persons life where they struggle and pray for the pain to pass them by. What do we do when the clouds part and the sun comes out? Do we remain a victim or do we press forward? No matter what uncontrollable events happen to us we have the ability to choose our attitude. We can choose to learn from our experiences or let our experiences extinguish who we truly are.

After several years of anger and confusion I finally decided that I wasn’t going to be a victim. I chose to be grateful for the lessons I learned and use those terrible memories to build something beautiful. I found a gentle, loving man and we have two angelic children. I went to therapy. I cultivated hobbies and enjoy watching my babies explore the world. Eric is no longer a looming part of my life. Things aren’t perfect but compared to what it was it’s a paradise.

Making Friends

I’ve had this message in my heart/mind for the past week and yet I still forgot to officially sit down and write about this until tonight. I’m feeling a little inspired right now because I’ve had a full day of friendship which makes me want to share.

One thing I’ve mentioned is how important making friends is for me, it’s something I think could benefit everyone but I’m not going to speak on your behalf (hint, hint). I’ve gone through periods in my life where I just feel like I haven’t been able to just find this friend who wants to hang out constantly and be close to me. I often think to myself about how difficult I find it to be to make new friends. Maybe this is easier for everyone else but I struggle with introducing myself to someone new and then what to ask after that’s happened. I hate awkward silence. Feeling that we’ve had an awkward moment makes me anxious further, it leads me fumbling over my words which leads to more awkward silence. Knowing that I feel this way I know someone else must also feel something similar, there are too many people in this world for me to be alone in this. So something I wanted to share is an acronym F. O. R. M. if you do business training you may have heard this before. My husband does work in sales and does a lot of networking, he learned this and just taught it to me this week for me to build relationships with my own part time business. As I was pondering this though I realized this can be applied to anyone wanting to get to know someone and have somewhere to go to when that awkward silence arises.

Family: Everyone has one!

Occupation: What do they fill their days doing? Some people have official jobs, parents who stay home, or those who are retired etc.

Recreation: What do they do when they aren’t doing their occupation? any hobbies, talents, etc.

Motivation: If they could join some cause what would it be? Are they for saving the Earth, feeding starving children, education etc.

I tried this out recently and it worked wonderfully! It gave us another hour to chat when it looked like it was a conversation that was going to die.

There will be risk involved. Something I’ve learned recently is this:

Taking risks leads to more opportunities to find security and connection in a relationship.

Does it suck to be rejected? Heck yes! It hurts a lot and that doesn’t change over time. I think we just come to know that the risk is worth it. How sweet is it to find a friend who reaches for you and that you can reach back to?

Challenge for this week: Identify your comfort zone, be aware of it. Then take a step out of it. Introduce your self to the other woman at the park or someone you find reading a book you enjoyed, after that happens try using F. O. R. M.

I’d love to hear your experience. I’d also like to hear from those who have their own methods to making friends, what works best for you?

 

 

 

Of Soul, Symbols, and Sacraments by Jeffery R. Holland

Keeping it simple today by sharing a talk that was shared with me a few weeks ago. This is of the spiritual nature between husband and wife. I wasn’t raised with this mentality of what sex should be, in my home it was very taboo. This talk brought to me a lot of awareness and I know there are others that would benefit from listening to it as well. Click here and I hope you can enjoy. Please share with others if you learned/enjoyed these words.

Your Excuse or Your Story?

A couple of weeks ago I heard a story through the podcast Inspired to Action by Kat Lee. It was brief but the lesson had an impact on me. It was the story of Isaiah Austin, when he was in middle school his eyesight left one of his eyes, it was a dream of his to play sports and he was devastated that his dream wouldn’t come to pass. His mother told him, he could either make this his excuse or his story. He went on to play basketball professionally.

The line, this can either be your excuse or your story, summed up my whole life.  I used to make many, many excuses; I have no support, my day didn’t start the way I wanted, my expectations were not met, etc. I let things happen to me, I was acted upon and I never took control of myself. The one person in my life I can control and change? Myself.

I’ll have one bad thing happen in the morning and then I start telling myself, ‘Well today is going to suck.’ That one event was my excuse to making my day terrible/complaining about my day. Upon reflection, was it really a bad day or just a bad 5 minutes? I’m the one in control of my day and what did I do to change what happened?

All the ‘bad’ events in my life, I can either tell myself I have a bad life, I am the sum of the mistakes I’ve made or learn from those lessons and help them guide me to be a better person and write the story that I want for myself.

About 8 years ago now I was living a life I was dissatisfied with. I wasn’t making good choices or really making any choices, I was so indecisive and I just let people act upon me. I was in a relationship that I didn’t want but didn’t know what else to do in my life and I didn’t want to be alone. I had always pictured my life as being happily married, several children, having gone to college for something, being involved in my community and having some sort of connection with God. Where I was at the time and my lack of choosing wasn’t leading me anywhere near that image.

I remember the day that I made a change.

I didn’t have to work that day and I was catching up on some laundry. I had a stackable washer and dryer in my apartment and I had climbed on a bar stool to reach some items in the back of the dryer. I fell and hurt myself. At first I held back my tears because I felt like a child for crying over some bumps and bruises then I realized no one was there to scold me and I should just let them flow. So I did; it was like a flood had been released. At first I did cry about my scrapes but as I let it out I realized I was crying about my life. How much I hated it, I wasn’t doing anything with myself and the choices I did make I felt made me a bad person. I felt like what Alma the younger wrote about his experience in (Book of Mormon) Alma 36:17:

“And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins…”

I was in torment. After what seemed like hours of laying on the floor crying I decided then that I was going to start making changes to my life. I didn’t need to let life happen to me, I needed to life my live. I made a plan on how to move forward. Honestly along that path I still made some major mistakes but I didn’t change my course, I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do to get there.

Now with this blog I’m sharing my story; the events of what has happened in my life are the chapters that will build my life story. The plan I had for myself? I’m living it right now. I still have my ups and downs, but ultimately my life is what I had wanted for myself; I wouldn’t change where I am.

My hope is that you rid yourself of your excuses and start writing your story. You are the only one standing in the way of what you want.

 

This Wednesday I’m starting a short blog series on updating my toolbox (the #1 item) and would love for you to create your own with me or update what ever system you have.

As always I would love your hear your story and possibly have you share here on the blog, write to me at happywithimperfect@gmail.com.

Reflections of a young mother…

I wake up to crying.

It’s 1:47AM.

My new baby is crying again, likely needing to eat. Never mind that the night before, she went 5 hours before eating after I last fed her. Tonight we’ll go three. Okay. Breathe. Open your eyes and move.

My eyes feel heavy and I struggle out of the covers and walk, blind in the darkness, to the closet where our little 4 week old baby girl was sleeping peacefully.

She nurses, I change yet another diaper; she nurses some more.

2:35AM. I can finally go back to sleep.

5:08AM. She’s crying again.

I nudge Danny on the shoulder, indicating sleepily that he can go try to pacify her, and if she doesn’t settle down, then I’d feed her. But honestly, every fiber of my being wants her to already be sleeping 8-10 hours at night.

My eyes close and I sleep lightly, jostled awake when Danny gets back into bed, but Tatum is quiet.

6:11AM. Cries come from the bassinet again. Time to feed, then some early morning snuggles, but just for a little bit cuz we’re waking up to the day in an hour or so…

7:47AM. Time to wake up. A little past time honestly.

My head is immediately spinning with all the things I feel like I need to do that day.

Laundry, meal plan, grocery shop, play with Joshua, get Joshua down for a nap, feed Tatum on time, every 3 hours minimum, fold diapers, pull out a freezer meal for dinner.

My list could probably go on.

Do you feel the monotony of my day? Writing it out like this, I sure can.

It’s no wonder it’s a struggle for me to want to get up in the morning right now. I’m obviously sleep deprived—what mother of a newborn isn’t right?

Ever since high school, I have been a type-A, checklist, to do list, get it done ASAP kinda girl.

I was always looking forward to the next big project, planning out in my color coded planners when I would complete which section of a paper due in 3 months; when I needed to do my math homework each week; when I could have time with friends; when I had swim practice; when I had a date.

Looking back, it’s no surprise that I have a hard time accepting each stage of life I’m in and just LIVING it.

But looking back to almost exactly six years ago, my senior year of high school, I can see where there was a shift. I’m not entirely sure if it was a shift for the better at the time, or if was just a little bit of an awakening to what I had going on in life.

Six years ago, I was a young, 18 year old senior in high school, planning on going into music education at Utah State University. I was working on my audition pieces, but my confidence was low.

It was low because at the time, I was in a relationship that was eating away at my spirit—both my passion for life and my actual spirit, in a religious sense. There’s no blame to be assigned to the boy or the relationship—I didn’t know, or didn’t believe at the time, that I deserved to have anything better. I was a stubborn teenager making decisions and choices that would continue to haunt me later as an adult. I made those choices, and I accept the responsibility for them.

Growing up, I was raised with strong morals and beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I often felt like I was thought of as a “molly Mormon” because I didn’t have a whole lot of interest in dressing immodestly (just wasn’t a temptation for me), in drinking or smoking; I was always raising my hand to answer questions, both in school and in church. I got straight A’s, I had a good number of friends from all kinds of social circles. All in all, I felt like a pretty well rounded person by the time I hit my senior year of high school.

Six years ago, however, midway through my senior year, I had what I remember being a pretty intense emotional breakdown after school.

I had come home and was feeling intensely upset with myself, ashamed even, because my straight A record was getting absolutely RUINED by my AP Calculus class that semester. Not even a full 2 months into the second semester and I had already had a C and D on major quizzes/tests.

Most of you are probably laughing a little inside. Honestly, I am too at the moment. Really? Freaking out over a C or a D on a quiz?

The problem though, wasn’t in the grade letter, or really even related to calculus itself.

The underlying issue was that I had such high expectations of myself academically, spiritually, morally. The fact that I thought I was failing miserably in all of those areas at the time was overwhelming to me.

I didn’t, and still don’t, deal with failure well. I’m not one to give up easily. Honestly, I probably take too much on my plate at times and then feel horrid when I can’t get it “all done.”

So back to this emotional breakdown I was having.

I came home from school on the verge of tears. My mom asked how I was doing and of course, the water works started. (I HATE crying. I don’t care if it’s in front of a group, in church, in an intimate setting with one person—I just don’t like the feeling of being so choked up you can’t talk.)

Being the wonderful mother she is, she helped me face some really difficult feelings I was having about myself:

Gremlins or dementors that were constantly whispering things to me, sitting on my shoulder; my little worry monsters would say things like, “You’re not good enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’ve made too many mistakes, why bother trying, no one cares about you…”

Over the previous winter break, I had made some choices I’m not proud of. In working to resolve those choices with the Lord, I unfortunately began to sink into a depression. At the time, I believed feeling so negatively toward myself was what I SHOULD be feeling. How wrong I was.

It was this emotional breakdown with my mom that helped me realize that I was not in a good place, and I was able to start seeing the positive a little better. I graduated, moved on, met my husband, was happily newly married, got pregnant with our first baby, and finished my degree.

But unfortunately, 4 years after high school, all those feelings, those nasty little gremlins, reemerged.

2 years ago, in March 2014, I had a 6 month old baby boy. Our little Joshua. I had carried him 41 weeks and delivered him at 10 pounds 2 oz. He was and is an absolutely JOY to have in our lives.

2 years ago, I was starting to sleep better. I was getting past the sleep deprived state I described earlier. But I wasn’t feeling better.

I didn’t like myself most days, I felt disappointed in my abilities as a mother all too often, I stared in the mirror and wished the baby weight away. I honestly felt like a shadow of my former self. My identity had changed, but now I didn’t know who I was, or how I was contributing to the bigger picture.

I’ve always been a social, get out and do stuff, easy to talk to kind of gal. But I felt out of place in social settings that I had once been totally at ease in. I felt excluded from life because I was still “trapped” at home with my baby a lot more than I wanted to be.

The feeling of being trapped as a new mom caused a lot of those old dementors to come out of my closet. Suddenly I was feeling guilty and ashamed all over again for the choices I had made and repented of back in high school.

Satan literally felt like he was standing heavily on my shoulder, whispering the worst of thoughts at me, only I didn’t realize they were his ideas; they felt like mine. I had thoughts that I wasn’t good enough to be Joshua’s mother, that I couldn’t ever have more kids, that I should have been able to lose more baby weight by now. Thoughts began to surface as the months past that no one would care if I was gone because I wasn’t worth much anyway.

When thoughts as serious as that began to taunt me, I immediately shoved them aside, hid them away and ignored them. And I most certainly never talked about them with anyone. But I was fearful they would come back. And the more I feared having those negative and depressing, and even suicidal thoughts, the more they would come.

I felt like I was going crazy in my own head. I couldn’t share with anyone because if I did, it would be admitting that I had something wrong with me, that I couldn’t just “handle” things on my own.

It took until May of 2014 for me to finally admit that something was wrong, that I needed help. My incredible husband, my circle of close friends and family, and an amazing counselor helped me see through those thoughts and clearly recognize them for what they were.

It took until September of 2014 for me to begin to consistently FEEL like myself, and for those who had been helping me on my journey through postpartum depression and anxiety to recognize that I seemed “better.”

Fast forward to today. I have a 4 week old beautiful little girl, and I have a LOT of fears that I’ll sink down into that same depression again with her. But I also have an inventory of tools to help me. A host of family and friends near and far who love and support me. And I am a much more open and vulnerable person than I used to be.

I am recognizing already things that are triggering my negative thought patterns, and I’m combatting them. I have positive affirmations written all over my kitchen (it’s my favorite room in my house…lol). Post its that say things like, “You are enough. You are a great mom. You are a positive person. You have incredible talents.” If I find myself avoiding looking at those little sticky notes, I know I’m not in the best place and I take a step back to figure out why. It helps, a LOT.

***

My story seems a little jumbled; mom brain is kinda taking over.

And honestly I can say I had lots of little nasty thoughts come into my head while working up the courage to just sit down and WRITE this post. “You’re not a writer, your story won’t help anyone” thoughts that I know for a FACT are false.

But I just want each of you reading to know that you’re NOT alone. No matter how alone you feel. Every one of us feels it at times and when you do, you’ve gotta look those feelings in the face and know that they’re not your thoughts. They’ve been placed there, carefully and sneakily, by the father of lies whose sole goal and purpose is to degrade our confidence in ourselves as women, as mothers, as men, fathers—whatever your role in life is at this time.

The best thing I’ve learned in struggling with my big and little worry monsters who like to perch on my shoulder is that the more I listen to and fret over something, the bigger he gets. The more I talk back to him and put him in his place, the smaller and more insignificant that worry monster becomes, until suddenly the gremlin is being drowned by the light of joy, happiness, peace, and love.

I am worthy of love. I am worthy of belonging. I am worthy of joy.

And you are too.

Negativity only has power when we give up the light. So don’t give up the light.

 

 

If you want to hear more from Danet here is her website. Tell her I said hi!

I’d love to hear your story and share here for next month. Email me at happywithimperfect@gmail.com

Forgiveness

Last week’s topic of Empathy was setting up for this topic, Forgiveness. This isn’t going to be on you getting forgiveness, this is about giving forgiveness. I have a firm belief that when someone wrong’s you they are in a place of panic, loneliness, or anger. The best way to move on from that incident, especially when they don’t apologize, is to be in their pain as well. Do you see where empathy comes it? It’s a great skill. They also don’t actually need to be in pain for you to see and relate to what is happening to them. I’m sharing this as a person who knows this, not that I’ve perfected this for myself yet.

I still have people that I haven’t quite forgiven. I know I haven’t ‘let it go’ because it’s an incident that I think of periodically and I still curse that other person. I have unresolved feelings towards what happened. What makes me angrier is that even if I were to confront that person of his actions he wouldn’t see how much hurt he inflicted upon me. Therefore I don’t see a point in stirring up that issue but I have yet to put it to rest.

This is why I share that you need to find a way to forgive those people. It’s a complete waste of time for me when I randomly reflect those events, I feel the burden of those feelings and it’s not helpful.

This is a small instance in which I was successful (Hoorah!). When I was first married I asked my husband to close the shower curtain after using it ALL THE TIME. How frustrating, right? He still never did it. At first I was really upset, he didn’t care about what I said so therefore he must not care about me as much as I thought he did. This is what I insisted this is exactly what he was thinking. After several fights/discussions I realized after trial and error, that there was no deeper meaning than him just forgetting. There was no hidden message, I needed to take this incident at face value. Once I realized his intentions, where his heart was, him not closing the shower curtain was not that big of a deal. Now if I see it open I just close it.

Something I realized about 6 months ago is that my little three year old daughter needs empathy as well. I used to think she’s giving me such a hard time and I’d get so angry, really though she was having a hard time. Her tantrums of screaming and kicking walls greatly diminished once I sat down gave her a hug and we talked about how she felt. Whether she was angry with me and why. Once she felt I understood her, she forgave me all of my imperfections as a mother.

I hope that when you read this you understand that this lesson is something I’ve learned through my daily life and by no means any professional opinion. Although I’m not perfect at this, giving true forgiveness(not the kind where you ‘let it go’ and actually just bury it) lifts a burden, making your mind lighter. Lighter mind = greater chance of a mindset of happiness.

I’d love for you to share your personal story, write me at happywithimperfect@gmail.com

Next week is the end of the month where I’ll be featuring a guest writer, here is a little bit about her:

Hi! My name is Danet Peterson! (Pronounced duh-nay) I am a 24 year old wife to my husband Danny, and the mother of 2 littles, a 2.5 year old boy and a little 1 month old baby girl. I have been married nearly 5 years to the most incredible man, who loves me unconditionally. We have grown together so much as a couple and it’s still hard to believe it’s already been nearly 5 years. A few things about me: I love making delicious tasting treats and dinners, but mostly treats; I have a passion for helping other people; I play piano and sing in a small local choral group called Resonance Vocal Ensemble; I love decorating and redecorating; if I ever leave my house to go run an errand and feel like being lazy, I will do my hair and sacrifice the make-up; oh–and my kitchen is probably the cleanest room in my house, without fail.  I am addicted to chocolate, I love date nights, and I live for nap time some days. 😉

Danet has her own blog and if you want to preview it, check it out here!

P. S. I’ll be starting a mini series starting on April 6th on building your own personal toolbox. I’ll be updating mine and I’d love to have you make one/update yours with me!