Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Forecasts & Focus

Today was a lovely day in Colorado. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. My kids ran, sang, and jumped outside in the seventy plus degree weather. All was right with the world. Yet, for tomorrow, the forecast shows snow, and a high of 32 degrees.

Today, while being the sort of gorgeous day that is meant to be spent out of doors…was also my weekly grocery shopping day. I made my long list, checked it twice {and good thing, I almost forgot pumpkin puree. Tragedy avoided!} and ran along to the store. I’m pretty sure I was humming Mary Poppins’ It’s a Jolly Holiday as I jaunted through the parking lot. It wasn’t until I walked in the doors of that large and spacious building that I noticed how completely packed the place was. You would have thought it was the Saturday before Christmas. Carts zoomed past filled to the brim with toilet paper and fresh fruit, water jugs and granola bars, flashlights and chewing gum. I packed my cart with every last item from my carefully crafted list, and when the checker asked me “So, you stocking up for the big storm tomorrow?”, I finally realized why the store was so crowded.

May I remind you that Coloradans are used to the snow. We live for the beautiful, calm, warm days before the storm…but are also well acquainted with the discomforts a blizzard brings. I don’t believe these shoppers were panicked, thinking they’d be stuck in their home for days, and so they’d best stock up on the essentials. I do believe that they had been warned. They had been told a storm was-a-comin’, and they simply didn’t want to be trekking to the market in freezing conditions to pick up the items they could have retrieved on a beautiful day like today. They were warned, so they went and prepared themselves for the worst to come.

Don’t you fret. This is not a lesson on emergency preparedness and food storage. I am way, way, way behind in that department, so I’m not even going to pretend to preach about that. This experience today did, however, get me thinking about how I should be prepping for the inevitable storms in my life. I think if I had a weeklong forecast of everything that was going to happen to me or my family, I could be fairly well equipped to tackle it all. But, in reality, no skinny little weather man in an ill-fitting suit is going to show up on my doorstep to predict the stinky things that will happen that day. He will not be there to tell me that someone will hurt my little feelings in a misunderstanding, or that my car will require costly repairs after breaking down on the way home from the airport, or that someone I cherish will decide to turn away from our shared beliefs, or that my little sweetie will need to be picked up from school early since he puked all over the snack table. The weather man will not be there to warn me about these misgivings, misfortunes, and heartbreaks, but I can be prepared to handle them all the same.

Life is full of unexpected, sometimes disheartening, sometimes tragic events. How can I be prepared to face the inevitable? By being steadfast and immovable in my convictions of who I am, who I love, what I believe, and what my purpose in life is. I find that understanding and pinpointing these four foundations brings such clarity in the face of uncertainty.

In short: I am a mom. A daughter of God. A lover. A wife. A friend.

I love my husband, my children, my family, my close friends, my God.

I believe in God - the Eternal Father, and that His son, Jesus Christ lived and died for me. I believe I will be reacquainted with them and my family & friends in a life after this.

I believe that my purposes in life are to teach; to share joy; and to bring light to everyone I can.

These are the things that are important to me. These are the things I will remain focused on when things don’t quite go my way. Continual focus is one little way I can prepare for the tempests in life that will most certainly come.

What things are important to you? What are your loves, beliefs, and purposes? What is your focus today?

On the sunny days and the stormy days…these things are a constant. Now get out there, and go fill up your cart with love, belief, understanding and passion…because you never know what tomorrow’s forecast holds!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Life Lessons Learned at the Gym, Part 1

I do not, in general, love to exercise. Despite this, I unerstand that I need exercise. I need the clarity it brings to my otherwise fuzzy brain. I need the time to take a few deep breaths in, and remind myself how beautiful life is {even on days when all I've done is clean up poop & 28 cups of spilled juice, and the kids who created the poop & spills}. I need the strength it gives me to run and play with the above mentioned poopers and spillers, and I want to not be quite so jiggly in a swimsuit...so, I peel myself away from my life once a day {minus Sundays} to dance, strength train, or run {actually, run is a really strong word – I am a jogger at best!} I have FINALLY after years of searching found a form of exercise that I actually, truly enjoy, while I am doing it. I’m not going to tell you about it yet…but I’ll give you a little hint: it starts with a Z and ends with umba. I had some major life epiphanies while shaking it with a bunch of sweaty ladies a few weeks ago, and will tell you all about it {aren’t you excited?!} in my next segment of “Life Lessons Learned at the Gym”.

But for today, here’s a little flashback of insight I gained last year between fastpaced sets of mountain climbers and lunges:

Every week, the masses flock to the Lori's Ultimate Conditioning class. We line up in the hallway awaiting the moment we can make a mad dash to set up our station with weights, a mat, a step, a band, a medicine ball if the workout requires it that day... And then chat until Lori takes her place at the front of the class. She steps up with her spikey hair, itsy bitsy shorts, and rippled physique ready to push us to our limits. {I'm pretty sure we all attempt to do exactly what she says, hoping that someday, our bodies might, in the slightest, resemble hers.}

Every week, it's a new workout. Something totally different. Always taxing. Always sweat inducing. Always high intensity. And always exactly what we needed. During the class, Lori will instruct us over, and over again that quality is more important than quantity. She constantly coaches us that, if we can

"only get 5 of the 8 reps in, but those five are awesome -- then great! I'd rather have you do five right, then 8 that are crap. Don't worry about what your neighbor is going to think if you can't do them all - because TRUST ME - they don't care what you're doing, they're too busy worrying about what they're doing!"

I've heard this every week for the last four months, and the magnitude of it just hit me yesterday. It's soooo true! How often do we try to do it all - just because we're worried about what people will think if we don't? How often do we think that every move we make, is being scrutinized by others, who really, truthfully, honestly, don't care nearly as much as we think they do.

The world really doesn't revolve around us. Our world might, but the rest of the world does not revolve around our mis-matched children, our shortcomings, our failures. I think I've spent a lot of my life fretting, worrying, and aiming to impress, when really, the only person who cares, or who is affected, is me. I am finally happy, fulfilled and excited about living my “five-rep” life! I am giving it my all, enjoying my story, and reveling in the beauty of my five reps instead of beating myself up over missing the last three.

So, the moral of Lori’s life lesson is to: Live your life - FOR YOU! For your kids, for your husband - for the people who matter in YOUR life... and not for the people you think are watching, or judging, or scrutinizing. They're too busy trying to live their life to really care.
Have a fabulous, fret-free day!

And thanks to Lori for the sore muscles, and the validation to live my "five-rep" life!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Roadside Oasis for the Soul

I grew up in a car-trip loving family. All nine of us would pile into the family station wagon and drive all over the west. Back in my day, we didn’t have DVD players in the car. We didn’t have iPods or iPads or DS’s. But, we did have an in dash cassette player, and we sang. And sang. And sang.
My dad taught us old school folk & country songs, like “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road”, “Ole Slew Foot” and “Home Grown Tomatoes”. I learned a lot of great life lessons through those songs, like the fact that: But, he also taught us gospel songs, some obscure, like “Dropkick me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life” and other, more well known songs.
On one of our trips through rural Oregon, in the middle of nowhere, several of us kids needed to make a pitstop. And there, like a desert oasis was a small shack, boasting a neon lighted “Open” sign. When we walked through the door, we realized this building served as the post office by day, and the local Tavern by night. We were there at night. This place was full of haggard, mangy bearded men, who wore bandanas atop their heads, and beat up leather vests. The ladies looked just as weathered – but without the beards.
They graciously let us use the facilities. And because we wouldn’t be purchasing anything from behind the bar…in a Partridge Family style moment, we thought the best payment to give them would be a song. So, my sisters, dad and I lined up in front of the bar, looked out at this tough crowd, and belted out Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot. As we finished our little rendition, that group rose to their boot-clad feet in one of the sweetest standing ovations I have ever witnessed. They clapped, they wiped tears from their eyes, and they hugged us as we left to get on with our trip.
I will never forget the sweet feeling of peace I had as I walked away that night. I left knowing that my Heavenly Father loves those bikers just as much as He loves me. I left knowing that I had listened to the whisperings of the Spirit, and in my teensy-tinsy little way, was able to share the Lord's light with a few of His precious children. And I left knowing that they had felt it, just as much as I did.
Thanks to a Dad who didn't just brush aside a little girl's whim to sing to a bar full of strangers, that was the most memorable car trip pit-stop I have ever made! Bless you, small town Oregon. Bless you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Craving the Light

Ladies! Last weekend, I had the oppportunity to attend Time Out for Women with my mother-in-law and two of my husband's sisters. I usually attend this event with a measure of hesitation. I am not a lover of Mormon Pop music. Michael McLean is just a little too much for me to handle. I had to sneak out one year while a man {really wish I could remember his name} sang about how {insert seriously cheesy music here} "life is a lion's den!" and "we have to get out of the lion's den!" I was surprised to see ladies around me wiping their eyes during this performance, but hey...we all feel the spirit in different ways, right?

I continue to go to TOFW because #1 This mama needs a little time away in order to fully appreciate her little ones, and #2 I generally ADORE the speakers.

I will admit though, that while I I always look forward to the words I will hear from the inspired speakers, I really, mostly look forward to the words I will hear from the Lord. For me, TOFW becomes a place of instruction, outwardly and inwardly. I have learned to leave blank pages in my notes to be filled with teachings whispered from the Spirit. Those messages are treasures to me. I cherish them. I trust them. I direct my life to live by and accomplish them.

As I sat listening to the great Merillee Boyack, {seriously, the type of speaker that has you laughing one second and crying the next} my heart was being etched with her understanding of how to B.E.C.O.M.E. She was nearing the end of explaining the ‘M’, offering that to be Meek is essential in becoming, when the lights suddenly shut off. The microphone went dead. The entire building, {and we found out later, the entire block} had lost all power. Earlier in the day we had been told there was a fire in the building that had affected the power in much of the structure, but miraculously not our section of the venue. Even more miraculously, as 2000 women sat in the complete dark, there was no panic. No screaming. No mad dashes for the door. No requests for a break to track down the root of the power outage. We all shared such a desire for Merillee’s light, that we were not concerned about the darkness around us. We, the crowd, encouraged Sister Boyack to come down from the stage and stand among us; so we could hear her, that she might continue to share her wisdom with us. And she did. Someone handed her a flashlight. She stood on a chair, center-crowd, held the flashlight to her face campfire style, and shouted the rest of her address. Ironically, her next topic was ‘E’ for be Enlightened. We all had a quick laugh, and then returned to our state of absolute silence and stillness, so that we could hear her un-amplified words and bask in her sweet light.

The handwriting in my notes is slightly muddled and slanted, as it was written in the dark, but the message is unmistakably clear. The masses, the individual, the church go-er and non-church-goer alike, all crave light. And when faced with the opportunity, will choose the Lord’s light above all other sources. The Spirit spoke clearly to me instructing me in the ways the Lord needs me to be a light, right now, today. Like Merillee, we all have the ability to be a light, to strengthen those around us, and bring clarity and peace, even while surrounded by darkness. The Lord needs us to be that light, and we can be that light. I will forever be grateful for this lesson taught on a dark and rainy day, in a blacked-out Denver Expo Mart, filled with sisters yearning to be filled with the true light of Christ.

Loved it. Looking forward to the next installment, even if it does include the wacky Lion's Den song!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Welcome from a Real Mormon Housewife

My dear Sisters…this is a blog for you. This is a place of humor, inspiration, and beautiful words. A place you can run to in between loads of laundry and carpool duty to remember why what you do really, truly does matter.

I am a graphic designer, a six foot tall woman who still loves a good set of heels, a mother of four, and I am REAL Mormon Housewife. What does it take to be a real Mormon housewife? While we come in many shapes, sizes, colors and from diverse circumstances, there are a few basic requirements. The following is an explanation of how humble little I, fit the bill:

Requirement #1: BEING MORMON I am 100% Mormon - or rather, 100% a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was born into a super-strict LDS family, and am one of seven children. We had family home evening, yawned through early morning scripture study, ate more tuna casserole than anyone should ever have to, attended seminary at 5am, volunteered for any and every assignment possible, and in general, put on a FABULOUS show of cleanliness, righteousness, humility and love to anyone that was interested in watching. But of course, as is usually the case, things weren’t quite as perfect behind closed doors.

Requirement #2: BEING A HOUSEWIFE This is the first time since I was ten years old that I haven't had a "real" job. I come from humble circumstances, and any extras including more than the 3 school outfits, and one pair of shoes that were provided to me per year, were purchased with money I earned myself. I was THRILLED to be able to start earning the big bucks as a paper-girl when I turned ten, and haven't stopped working since. I have had almost every job under the sun, from farmhand & waitress, to Marketing Department consultant. Although I worked from home, the company I was working for recently went out of business, so now I officially and solely am a stay at home mommy to four little ones, and am a REAL housewife. I cook, clean and loathe laundry daily!

Requirement #3: BEING REAL This requirement is a little less cut and dry than the others. You can be real in so many different ways...but for me, it means that I love the gospel, I have a testimony of Christ, I support the priesthood, I serve when called {I've been everything from a Primary Worker to Relief Society Pres.} but I am honest and REAL enough to admit that things aren't always what they seem. We live in a culture of what I call Sunday Faces. These beat the best poker faces any day of the week, HANDS DOWN! We are cheerful, and giving, and put together and always have a sweet answer when someone at church asks us how we're doing, when really, on the inside, we're screaming: Terrible! I'm doing terrible! My two year old pee-ed on this dress during sacrament meeting, my husband's not talking to me because there weren't any clean whites again this morning, I wrote my five year old's talk on the back of the program two minutes ago, and I just want to drop everyone off at primary, go home, eat some oreos and put my feet up!

I am finally at the point in my life where I am absolutely OK with being real, and hope my perspective of reality will bless you as well!
As a side note: I was not born in, raised in, nor do I now reside in Utah. I had the pleasure of attending school there - but left as soon as I graduated. There is just something a little un-real about living in a never ending fashion show of blonde bobs and skinny jeans. Utah takes the Sunday face to the seven-day-a-week extreme, and that's just simply too much pressure for me. So here I am, in a very religious city, surrounded by great Christians and Baptists, and a growing population of LDS members. It's fabulous, and I can close my blinds, and hide out for a day or two, and no one in my ward calls the bishop to report that they're concerned for my well-being. How great is that?