Distorted Thinking

Okay, so I have sat staring at a blank screen long enough.  It’s time to Just Begin.  I have a lot of thoughts running through my head and I’m struggling to get them from head to print.  It’s an issue that’s been plaguing me for some time.  It got particularly bad right after my surgery this past November.  My guess is that the anesthesia had a role in the brain fog.  But then I got to thinking about how there has been a piece of me missing ever since I had my Stroke of Luck.  It’s nothing drastic, but there has been a barrier that I have felt when trying to have thoughts at a deeper level.  I’m sure there is a word for it, but, ironically, I wouldn’t be able come up with it anyway.  This realization was a secondary reason for me taking a bit of a hiatus on the blog.  I stopped liking what I was putting out, because I wasn’t able to transfer my thought process into sufficient words.  Honestly, I still feel at odds with my writing, but I also feel that itch I get when writing is the only outlet that can scratch it.  So, here I am.

Topics that have been on my mind include: the shame I feel having a mental illness that requires prescription medication, the paradox of motherhood, life on survival mode, humbling myself, making sure I’m making the most out of this time in my life, and my struggle with distorted thinking.  Seeing as how the latter is the easiest matter for me to express, let’s start there.

When I started this blog, at the encouragement of a friend, I was telling her how I wanted to talk about all the things I learned in therapy about my distorted thinking.  She kept saying that the term wasn’t clear enough and therefore needed some tweaking.  So, let me start by sharing what I believe to be the best analogy for distorted thinking.  Imagine you have a kaleidoscope with loads of pretty gems in it.  If you took the kaleidoscope outside on a beautiful day and looked at flowers, it would distort the natural beauty of the flowers.  It would still have its own beauty, since the kaleidoscope was filled with pretty gems, but it’s distorted nonetheless.  Now imagine you have a kaleidoscope with coal and dirt in place of gems.  How do you envision those flowers looking as you gaze through the kaleidoscope of filth?  Now imagine your thought process was continually looking through that same dirt-filled kaleidoscope.  That is what my thought process did, for years, with several aspects of my life.  I still catch myself battling it, but I was taught methods, in therapy, to recognize and squelch that way of thinking when it resurfaces.

Some people think that therapy is a place they go to for a quick fix or, worse, a place where they can figure out who to blame from their childhood for their distorted thinking or lot in life.  I’m not saying that our childhoods don’t have an impact on our lives and who we become, they most certainly do.  However, I find that successful therapy is achieved upon acknowledging things that have happened, moving past them, and working, truly working, on the here and now of the problem.  Even if there was a source from my childhood for my acquired distorted thought process, what good would have come from placing blame?  For me, the solution came in getting to the root of the problem and allowing myself to grow, not hunting down the planter and yelling at them for not planting me in optimal sunlight.  I use the term “planter” loosely, not as an analogy for a parent or any one person, but as a source beyond my control.  The healthiest way to make emotional progress is to be accountable for your actions, and realize there is no quick fix.

At the time when I was sincerely ready to attend therapy, I had to address the fact that some of what I felt jaded about was not really even happening.  For instance, in my mind, any compliment given to me was only out of obligation or a form of manipulation.  Somehow I couldn’t take a compliment as a sincere gesture of someone’s amiable feelings towards me.  How could I feel good about myself when I wouldn’t even accept that there was good in me?  The flip side to this is when, someone really did think less of me, and I automatically took their thoughts as truth.  My worth is not dependent on another’s set of ideals, and yet somehow I still struggle to think of it as such.  It’s this way of distorted thinking that has left me feeling shame for my mental illness and my use of medications for proper treatment.  However, that topic is for a whole other day.

Distorted Thinking

For today, I think the message I want to send out into the world is simply to become aware of distorted thoughts that you may be having, perhaps unknowingly, and try to debunk them so that they do not consume you.  Also, don’t let your worth be dependent on another’s set of ideals.  And, lastly, progress can be made, but First You Must Begin.  This post would not have come to pass, if I hadn’t simply begun and let my thoughts land where they may.

**As a footnote, I’d like to add my advice when it comes to attending therapy.  Please don’t assume that if you went once and it was horrible that it will always be that way.  I have sat down in front of six separate psychologists, starting as early as 11-years-old, and only ONE proved fruitful in my healing process.  Three of those six were so terrible that I couldn’t even bear to go back and sit through that kind of misery a second time.  I am a huge advocate of therapy, and I believe each of us can benefit from seeing a psychologist.  It is not a sign of weakness, mental illness, nor anything of the like.  It is a sign of someone desiring to be a better version of themselves.  Don’t be discouraged if you have had bad experiences in therapy.  We meet loads of people in our lives, some become friends, some don’t.  Similarly we are able to connect with people in their chosen professions and within the services they provide.  Recently, I had a dreadful session with a therapist, but I will not let that experience keep me from finding the right fit.  While I was previously given several tools to help me with my distorted thinking, I know that I stand in need of a refresher course.  Too bad that ONE psychologist that provided me with those saving tools resides in Southern California.  WAAAHHHH!!!!**

Two Natural Remedies That Have Shocked Me

When I was 2, I nearly lost my life to the havoc wreaked on my body from a genetic blood disease.  While I was too young to remember the details, the results of that emergency situation were clear from my earliest memories.  I had a seven-inch scar that stretched across my stomach where my spleen was removed, and I took a teaspoon of penicillin twice a day to fight off infection until I was 12-years-old.  Additional antibiotics were given to me anytime I came down with a cold.  Western medicine has been a blessing in my life for as long as I can remember.  And its role in my life hardly stopped when I was twelve.  I firmly believe my two eldest, who were both preemies, would not be with us today if it were not for Western medicine.  I’m a staunch supporter of vaccines.  And, the surgeries that helped my daughter’s eyes function properly could not have been obtained through natural remedies.  I could go on with countless examples of how Western medicine afforded me a life I would not have had otherwise.  That being said, I am finding more and more that natural remedies have a place in achieving optimum health and well-being.  For January’s First Friday Find, I felt impressed to share the two natural remedies that have shocked me with their effectiveness in treating common discomforts.

Local honey for treating allergies

Thankfully, I have never suffered from allergies.  It wasn’t until I met my husband that I saw firsthand how debilitating it can be when trying to enjoy outdoor activities.  He had managed okay while he lived in Texas, but upon moving out to California he soon found himself loading up on Claritin-D or Zyrtec-D, whatever he could get his hands on first, to help him survive outdoors.  The allergy medicine helped enough to make a noticeable difference, but when we moved to Oregon, we had a new allergy beast on our hands.  Up here, he is allergic to Juniper trees.  Juniper trees that are EVERYWHERE!  We headed to the pharmacy again, only to find that Claritin-D and Zyrtec-D are not sold over the counter.  In Oregon, allergy medicine that has the decongestant portion (-D) requires a prescription.  That seemed like such a pain, so it was a blessing when we learned about how local honey can treat allergies.

Perhaps not a huge blessing for my husband, as he despises honey, but the effectiveness is worth it.  He takes a spoonful of raw local honey everyday and it eliminates his allergy symptoms.  When I did a Google search about local honey treating allergies, I was surprised to find the first two sites detailing how it is a myth.  If it were a myth, I assure you my husband would gladly omit local honey from his diet.  It may be a myth for others, but the fact in our home is that if he skips a few days of local honey, the runny nose and sneezing quickly return.  Plus, he is not our only guinea pig for this natural remedy.  The way we found out about it in the first place was because a friend of ours shared with us how effective it had been in his battle with allergies.  The key is that it HAS to be local.

The raw local honey we pick up is taken from a beehive colony about 25 miles away.  Where we live, there are a couple of vendors that claim to be selling local honey, but we quickly learned that they were considering anything in Oregon as local.  Many of these are taken from Willamette Valley, which is over 100 miles away from where we live.  Our alternate guinea pig friend was clear on how ineffective the less-than-local-honey was for his allergies.  So, if you are an allergy sufferer and have the ability to get your hands on truly local honey, then I suggest hunting down providers in your area.

Two Natural Remedies

Fresh pineapple juice as a cough suppressant

Again, I did a Google search, this time for fresh pineapple juice as a cough suppressant.  And, again, it came up as a myth.  Well, sort of myth.  One of the sources was Snopes.com, which said that a story, claiming pineapple juice was 500% more effective than cough syrup, was false.  According to Snopes, there seemed to be no concrete data supporting this claim.  However, it didn’t say that fresh pineapple juice was not effective, just that it was not verified to be 500% more effective than cough syrup.

While I also cannot provide research claiming it is 500% more effective than cough syrup, I can tell you that it works 100% with my husband.  The results of this natural remedy were amazing.  My husband only recently came across this tidbit and happened to have a cough at the time.  He had coughed all morning and decided to give it a go, as he was chopping up fresh pineapple for us to snack on later.  He took a swig of the leftover juice and his coughing subsided almost immediately.  He went for hours without a single cough or throat clearing.    I suppose you could say it was a fluke that his cough stopped, but the following day provided him with another opportunity to witness its capabilities as a cough suppressant.

He went to bed before me that following evening and I heard him repeatedly enduring coughing fits, as I sat downstairs.  I finally remembered how effective the fresh pineapple juice had been the previous day.  I went to our fridge, pulled out our container of freshly cut pineapple, and poured out the juice that had settled at the bottom.  It was probably no more than 5 teaspoons of juice that I collected.  I took it up to him, he chugged it back, and not a single cough was had for the rest of the night.  It was truly incredible.

As I mentioned, I am a huge supporter of Western medicine.  But, these two natural remedies that have shocked me have opened my mind to the benefits that can come from pure bits of nature.  There may not be concrete studies to support these natural remedies, but these remedies have results that are too tangible to deny in our home.  May the ease, affordability, and purity of these remedies find a place in your medicinal arsenal.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Lift Another’s Burden

You may have noticed that I recklessly tossed aside my goal for one post per week on this blog?  I had good reason.

First, I had surgery.  Seeing as how I’ve already been straight forward with my readers, I’m not going to balk now.  I had a breast reduction done to alleviate back pain as well as other irritants that come from being top-heavy.  I wouldn’t say it was the BEST decision I’ve ever made.  I still count marrying my husband as the answer to that matter of business.  But, it’s pretty far up on the list of good choices I’ve made in life.  While recovering from surgery is reason enough to take a blogging break, it was more that it didn’t seem right to post from an altered state of being due to pain management medicine.  That’s my attempt at diplomatically saying, “Pain killers make me loopy.”  Nah, you didn’t need any of that.

Another reason for letting a few weeks pass by was that I needed to re-evaluate my purpose for this blog.  There are times when I had hoped for some monetary gain from my blogging efforts, but never at the cost of selling myself out.  Please don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s awesome all the things that people are able to do to bring in a real income from blogging.  However, that is not my primary reason for starting this blog.  If it had been, I certainly wouldn’t have picked to focus on matters of inspiration and a healthy emotional well-being.  That topic is not a guaranteed sell.  Home projects, parenting, fashion, and cooking blogs are your money makers.  And there are loads of tips and tricks to ensure you bring in significant revenue monthly, but some of them feel too fake or forced to sit right with me.  So, while you may see some ads pop up on my site, you won’t ever see it bogged down with advertisement videos, sponsors, and the like.

What I hope you’ll find instead, is my genuine desire to share a piece of myself in the hopes of lifting another’s burden.  I hope you’ll find a girl who is willing to talk about the painful topics of losing a loved one, battling mental illness, and other difficult life matters, without succumbing to those same heart breaks.  My inspiration for this site started with a little seed nearly ten years ago, as I battled with Postpartum Depression.  The glimpse of hope that I felt when another woman had expressed not feeling “perfectly awesome” after having a baby, as I was so deep in feelings of hopelessness, will forever stick with me.  Her honesty gave me hope.  If my honesty helps even one person feel like they’re not alone in their struggles, then my purpose for this blog has been fulfilled.  I have helped lift another’s burden.

I’m not certain how often I will visit the writing board from this time forward.  I no longer feel inclined to provide a post just to provide a post.  I want to write when I have a message to share or a piece of me to give.  To publish a post simply to keep traffic flowing does not seem suitable at this time.  So, in the meantime, may you enjoy this holiday season with your loved ones.  May it be filled with opportunities to lift another’s burden; that is my hope for this blog, as it is for my daily life.  And, may your Christmas be merry and your New Year be bright!

Christmas be merry

First Friday Find: JustServe.org

It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for me to share something cool that I’ve discovered that can benefit the lives of others!  The moment I learned about this site, I knew it had to be my First Friday Find for December, the month of giving.  I want to share this First Friday Find: JustServe.org for a two-fold purpose.  Awareness of this site provides opportunities for non-profit organizations to be served and the community to be of service.  First, let me explain a little more about what First Friday Find: JustServe.org is all about.

JustServe.org

The About Us page on JustServe.org can give you more information, but the gist of the site’s purpose is simple, “JustServe.org links you to service opportunities in your community so you can make a difference wherever you are and however you want to serve.”  When you arrive at the Home page, you can enter your zip code to find service opportunities that have been posted in your area.  For example, in my area there are currently 11 opportunities to serve.  Projects posted include helping the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a ride match program to provide rides for disabled or low-income individuals, opportunities for teens to teach seniors how to become tech savvy, and more.  There is a chance that this website has not expanded to your community as of yet, but if it has made it to our neck of the woods, the likelihood is that it’s made it to yours as well.

As I mentioned, there are 11 opportunities posted in the area for our community, but I know there are more opportunities to serve that have not been posted.  That’s why I want more people to be made aware of this site, particularly those who are in need of service.  From what I have read, whatever project you need assistance with does need to be submitted for approval first.  I don’t know how extensive the process is, as I do not have a company myself.  However, I do have a house that’s in need of cleaning.  If only…nope.  This site is for legit service needs, but it cannot help an organization if they don’t even know the site exists.  Help me get the word out there for companies in need of helping hands.

Being that I do not have a legit need for service, my love of this site comes from the opposite end.  Not only do I want to serve my community, but I want my children to understand how important it is to look beyond themselves.  One of the cool features that the site offers is having a little icon on projects that indicate if a project is friendly for all ages.  For example, our city’s beautification program and local cat rescue can use helping hands of all sizes.  What a great chance to offer your kids (and yourself) the joy of service.

During this month where we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, what a wonderful gift we can give by following His counsel to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  First Friday Find: JustServe.org is a helpful tool to make serving easier and more custom-fit to your family’s abilities.

 

 

Elephant in the Dark

I truly enjoy reading books with my children.  This should come as no surprise after my Read to Your Child post.  Picture books with a good message are my weakness.  One of my favorites is a Cautionary Tale of Flattery called The Spider and the Fly.  On my last trip to the library, I had the pleasure of finding Elephant in the Dark.  Prior to reading it, I knew nothing of this book nor the story it was based on, which is commonly called “Blind men and an elephant.”  It’s truly a fascinating perspective, and ironically, once I explain the gist of the story, it has several different interpretations.

There are several variations of the story, as I’ve learned from my Google research.  Seeing as how the version of Elephant in the Dark by Mina Javaherbin is the one that piqued my interest, I’ll summarize her version the best I can.  The story begins with Merchant Ahmad, who brings a mysterious creature back from India.  The news spreads in the village and everybody wants to see the creature, but Ahmad is too tired from his journey, and explains that it is too dark in his barn to see the animal at this time.  The villagers, not taking no for an answer, decide to sneak into the barn and take a look for themselves.  One by one, they go in, and each of them touches a different part of the elephant (a tail, a tusk, a trunk, etc.).  Since they each only touched one part of it, they come back out reporting the creature was like something completely different from what another person had declared.  Then it reads, “All day long they called each other names and fought to prove each other wrong.  Into the night no one listened, but everyone shouted and shoved.”  Then, the next day Ahmad awakes and takes the creature to the river, which we now see is an elephant, but the villagers are still too busy fighting to see the creature appear.  The last line reads, “And no one noticed they each knew only a small piece of the truth.”

Elephant in the Dark

As I finished reading Elephant in the Dark, I concluded that every adult needs to read this book.  My Facebook has become so cluttered with who’s right and who’s wrong, that it’s disheartening.  I realize you already heard my rant on this topic in Accentuate the Positive, but this book just brought it to the forefront of my mind again.  It also reminded me of this quote I read by the US Secretary of Agriculture and 13th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson.  He said, “Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right.”  Religious or not, the idea that being right is more important than the whole truth gets us nowhere as a society.

Sometimes I feel bad that I don’t have an adamant opinion on all things.  Starting this blog made that more evident in my life.  I knew if I had a more extreme opinion on a matter, I could draw a larger audience.  Shock factor sells, right?  At first I thought I was just too ignorant to form an opinion on hot topics.  Then I realized, it’s that I can see where others are coming from, for the most part.  I’m not perfect in this way by any means.  But I would like to believe that I don’t just go into the barn, feel one part of the mysterious creature, and assume I know all based on that single instance.  I have opinions on all sorts of things, don’t get me wrong, but I also understand that it’s my opinion.  Some of my opinions have facts to back them up, some don’t.  The last thing I want to do though is ever express my opinion in such a way that demeans somebody else’s viewpoint.  I don’t want to fight about who is right.  I’m okay with learning more about the whole creature.  But, I’m also okay with being considered wrong in someone else’s eyes.  On that same note, I’m also okay being wrong in my own eyes.  For me, it’s not about who is right, but what is right.  Because of that thinking process, I’m not afraid to learn more.    I want to understand the whole creature.  Period.

I love one of the interpretations of this story, made into a poem by Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet,which Elephant in the Dark is based on.  Rumi’s poem ends with, “If each had a candle and they went in together the differences would disappear.”  I think of that line and wonder what our world would look like under those circumstances.  I imagine, as it pertains to this story, we would all be unified in understanding it was an elephant, but we would still have our opinions on the creature.  Perhaps one person would find the elephant ugly, and another would find it breath-taking, but both would agree it was an elephant. Neither person needs to be wrong in their feelings towards the elephant.  We can respect differing interpretations of the creature, while simultaneously agreeing that there is a greater truth that there is no disputing.

Oh, how I hope I was able to express my feelings on Elephant in the Dark and it’s greater meaning.  The concept was over my toddler’s head, as I read the book to him.  But, I’ve found myself reading it over and over on my own.  There is much to take away and ponder about this story.  Take a moment and reflect on the story, if you have some time.  I would love to hear other’s feelings on the matter.

First Friday Find: #OptOutside

Maybe you noticed that I went MIA last week, maybe you didn’t?  I’ll chalk my absence up to time spent soul-searching.  Much of what I found wasn’t pretty, so I’ll refrain from bringing you down in the rabbit hole with me.  Instead, we’ll focus on the fact that I am here this week and ready to give you this month’s First Friday Find!  It’s a simple one, but one that is close to my heart.  Today’s First Friday Find: #OptOutside is shared more to offer my support for the movement than to offer some breakthrough discovery.

Perhaps you have already heard about #OptOutside?  It is REI’s tagline/hashtag indicating that their stores will be closed on Black Friday, and that their employees will receive paid time off.  Let that sink in.  This action is bigger than it seems.  Black Friday has practically become its own holiday, much to my disappointment as noted in One Holiday at a Time.  Imagine a store that sells flowers closing the day before Valentine’s Day.  That is a hard hit to their profits.  Maybe this won’t be the case for REI.  They very well may receive record profits based on increased purchases made either before or after Black Friday, as a sign of consumer support for the movement.  And if they do, all the better.  We reward our own children with positive reinforcement, why not do the same for retailers?

This backdrop is my picture. It's no wonder I've grown to love the outdoors so much.
This backdrop is my picture. It’s no wonder I’ve grown to love the outdoors so much.

My love for this movement is not motivated solely by my disinterest, and partial disdain, for Black Friday, but rather what they are promoting in place of shopping.  The outdoors in place of door-buster prices is pretty cool.  I get it, they’re an outdoor company, of course that would be what they would promote.  My thing is that this movement is a nod to the passion that sparked the inspiration for such a store in the first place.  This may sound cheesy, and perhaps it’s the part of me that has blossomed since living in Oregon, but it’s as though the store is willing to put aside materialism and give a shout out to wholesome activity, nature, and their (and our) roots.  Pun intended.

It’s funny, people who know I am a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have asked me, “What if you’re wrong about your religion?”  If I’m wrong, I will live out a life filled with serving others, keeping my body pure both physically and morally, and striving to be the best person I can be each and everyday.  If I’m wrong, I’m still right with myself.  That’s how I feel about REI’s movement, I guess.  If it’s all for added publicity, so be it.  Either way, I know REI employees are spending time with their loved ones, while being paid, on the day after Thanksgiving, and I am satisfied knowing that at least one company is saying no to the disheartening sense of materialism that surrounds Black Friday.

I’ve gone off on a bit of a rant here about First Friday Find: #OptOutside, but I failed to share the portion of this movement that is the real find of the month.  If you go to the Explore the Outdoors page on REI’s #OptOutside website, you can put in your Zip Code and it will give you suggestions of trails to visit in your area.  Luckily, I live in a city known for its outdoor activities, so I lack for nothing in the way of #OptOutside opportunities.  However, if you haven’t yet, I suggest you find ways to #OptOutside, not just on Black Friday, but whenever possible.  We live in such a beautiful world.  I’ve yet to see anything purchasable be more magnificent than God’s creations.

Read to Your Child

One of the biggest reasons I started this blog was to keep things real.  That being said, I’m really not feeling positive these days.  I’ve actually been hitting up old journals with therapy notes and re-reading my own posts for some inspiration and pick-me-up.  Maybe the change that comes from a move is affecting me?  Perhaps it’s the sadness of knowing that another one of my littles is off at school a couple of times a week?  Or possibly I am entering the lovely world of lows that come with Bipolar II?  Who really knows?  Regardless, it seems foolish for me to write something upbeat, when I’m hardly feeling that way.  I’m not going to get all Debbie Downer on you, but no real words of encouragement this week.  Nope.  Today is a simple reminder about the importance of reading to your kids!

At the end of the day in our home, my three oldest kiddos get to have down time while I put my baby to sleep.  Customarily, this equates to TV time where they argue over whose pick it is to choose the show.  Last night, my second-grader said she didn’t want to watch TV and that she wanted to snuggle with me instead.  What mom can say no to that?!  Then she asked if I would read books with and to her?  Even better!  She is so good about reading on her own and already reads so much for her school reading log that I forget to take a moment and read to her anymore, it seems.  So, we snuggled up and read books together taking turns reading out loud.  My other two littles had just reached the end of their show and bedtime was nearing.  However, my daughter and I were still in the middle of a book, Mr. Pine’s Purple House, and I was just as excited to finish reading it as she was.  Soon my toddler and nine-year-old huddled around my daughter and I.  I continued reading on, not before noting the beauty of the moment I was in.  Here I was a mother of four, with one baby peacefully sleeping, and three beautiful children sitting around me all listening as I read about Mr. Pine’s desire to simply have his home stand out among the other fifty white homes on his street.  Those are the moments I cherish.  Those are the moments that make me realize that perhaps my life isn’t really all that boring, but merely simple.

Earlier in the day I had already done a bit of reading with my toddler so that we could fill up his reading chart, and my girls had all met their reading quotas and then some.  There has been an increase of reading in our home since school started back up, and I’m loving it!  The greatest part is that my baby, well 15-month-old, has a love for books already also.  One of his first words was “book,” and I couldn’t be happier!

Read to Your Child

I’m reminded of the picture I saw on Facebook posted by Southport Branch Library that read, “There is no app to replace your lap.  Read to your child.”  Reading to my nine-year-old, as I did last night, has become more rare as she develops as a reader.  But, I truly believe that all of those many years that she sat on my lap as I read to her have helped her love for reading blossom.  And now, four kids later, I’m realizing that no matter how busy life can get, the time spent reading to my children lifts each of us up in so many ways.  There really is no app to replace my lap, and how grateful I am for that!

Can Do Attitude

It’s probably no surprise that a family of six with a single income can be strapped for money at times.  It was one of those times recently, and I was feeling stressed about it.  I had a prayer in my heart to find some guidance, and it wasn’t long before I was inspired.  I had the privilege of hearing Gary E. Stevenson give a talk during General Conference.  In his talk, he expressed his agony over all of his inadequacies, and then said, “I received a distinct impression which both chastened and comforted me: to focus not on what I can’t do but rather on what I can do.”  While he was speaking in terms of his personal insecurities, my mind quickly applied this to our financial situation.  Then, as the week progressed, I saw how I could apply it to every aspect of my life.  Having a can do attitude is one of the ways I’m striving to accentuate the positive, as I wrote about last week.

Can Do Attitude

This is not a ground-breaking idea.  We’ve heard variations of this same concept countless times.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs reminders of simple truths, then finds them lying in plain sight.  When I was in therapy years ago, I would have these “ah-ha” moments and come home to tell my husband about it.  He would respond, “Isn’t that the same thing that I’ve told you for months?”  I would respond back to him, “Yes, but she somehow said it differently and it clicked.”  Or perhaps it’s just my belief in the “two makes it true” theory?  Who knows?  The point of the matter was that THIS quote clicked, and I’m going to share how all-encompassing this concept really can be.

My weakness is eating out.  Oh, how I love it.  A good cheeseburger is practically therapy for me, and so much more affordable.  But when money is tight, nothing is considered affordable, is it?  So, instead of feeling glum about not eating out, I thought about how awesome it was that we had enough money to get all the groceries we needed.  I began to think about how cool it was that I had dishwasher detergent already, so I didn’t have to hand-wash my dishes.  The more time that went by, the more opportunities I saw that I DID have in my daily life.  I could take my kids to the park and play.  I could go to the library and check out as many books as I wanted.  I could go on a walk with my friends.  There was so much that I could do!

Then, I went and did something dumb.  Well, it wasn’t dumb at first, it started out quite awesome!  My daughter was the “Super Hero of the Week” at school and each day provided something special for her to either share or do.  Friday was “Bring a Buddy to Lunch.”  Guess who got to be that buddy?  And guess who COULD be there for her daughter?  That’s right – me.  Lunch with my second grader and playing with her on the playground was the awesome part!  I happen to love going on the swings, so I made a point to get some swing time in.  The thrill of being so high that I go above the bar is the real highlight for me.  I was feeling pretty proud of my skills.  As I was slowing down, I underestimated how high I still was from the ground.  It should be noted that I do not normally jump off swings.  I’m a wuss that way.  I totally thought I was lower when I made the leap off the swing.  Oh, how wrong I was.  I landed unsteady, stumbled a bit, spun around, realized my fate included landing on painful wood chips, and fell flat on my back.  All I could do was laugh.  I was mortified.  I’m pretty sure only my daughter and a couple of kids saw me (or at least that’s what I told myself to keep intact whatever bit of my ego I had left).  My sweet daughter helped me up and brushed all the wood chips from me.  Thankfully, it was time for me to go, and I was able to escape my embarrassing moment.  Unfortunately, I could instantly tell that I had injured my big toe.  So, you see, it all started out awesome until my one dumb move came into play.

I quickly began cursing myself and realized that I had a painful situation on my hands (or more literally, my foot).  Walking became more and more arduous, as the adrenaline of the event wore off.  That’s when I fell into the wicked trap of “can’ts.”  I began to focus on all the things I could not do with the injured toe (like those walks with friends that I mentioned above that I could do even with low funds).  How grateful I am that the quote above was still fresh in my mind.  I decided to focus on all the things I could still do instead.  The most important of them being that I could still get down with my boys and wrestle that night.  I could still sit to fold laundry the following day.  I could still kneel for bedtime prayers with my family.  There were so many “cans” left that didn’t involve pain in my toe.

I’m finding that a can do attitude truly is a beautiful way to look at life.  It doesn’t need to be used simply as a source of motivation, it can be used as a method of comfort.  I suppose that’s the difference I found in Stevenson’s quote versus any other variations I had heard prior.  What I can do does not have to be limited to achieving goals or benchmarks.  A can do attitude can be a pulse check to all the good that already exists in one’s life.  I know that’s the affect it’s had on my life these past couple of weeks.  It hasn’t always been easy to avoid thinking of the “can’ts,” but it’s amazing the level of peace I feel when I recognize how many more “cans” are in my life.  I even got to thinking about how this month’s First Friday Find: Zach Anner was another great example of a can do attitude in motion.  He may very well be the epitome of this way of life.

Honestly, it’s been pretty fun to acknowledge all the things that I can still do despite tight funds and a sprained toe.  I really have a lot going for me.  So, the question is, what CAN you do?

Accentuate the Positive

Lately, the amount of negativity in the world has left me unsettled.  Social media and the news being the biggest irritants on the matter.  Surprisingly, neither of those were the source, when I became truly fed up with this issue.  The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Not a Liberal.”  Simple statement, right?  Not much worth fussing over.  However, I was struck by the verbiage of that remark.  Why say, “Not a Liberal?”  Why not state that you are conservative?  My takeaway was that this driver is so against being liberal, that he would rather state how much he is not liberal, rather than celebrate what he is supporting of in life.  I see no benefit in shaming another point of view to state the beauty of your own.  This is the way life seems to be delivered to us now.  We’re given news through a series of one liner blurbs that either leave one feeling great about who they are or shaming them for their opinion on a matter.  Why can’t we simply “accentuate the positive,” as Gordon B. Hinckley states in his book, Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes?  As much as I would like to copy and paste the entire chapter, Optimism in the Face of Cynicism, from this book, I will refrain.  But, oh, what beautiful things we would see in our world, if people took the time to nurture the ten neglected virtues mentioned.

Accentuate the Positive

The concept of focusing on the positive first struck me when I was kneeling in prayer with my husband years ago.  He was saying the prayer and asked that our children be protected from harm.  Perfectly normal thing to pray for and I echoed his words in my heart.  However, I began to realize that when he asked that they be protected from harm, my mind drifted off to the terrible harms that could potentially come their way.  When it was my night to pray, I began to switch around the wording to ask that our Heavenly Father watch over our children or keep them safe.  Omitting the word “harm” kept my mind in a more positive place.  I do the same with my children now, as we kneel in family prayer and it’s my turn to say the prayer.  I ask that they all have sweet dreams and get a good night’s rest.  Whereas, when my children pray, they ask that they not have any nightmares.  We want the same thing, but the manner in which we present it makes a difference, I believe.  One of my daughters will sometimes even pray that, “no fires will burn our house down and no bad guys will steal [them].”  I want to be fire free and kidnap free even more than she does, but those words trigger dark images in my mind.  Our words have a great impact on our attitudes and outlook.  Such a simple change in verbiage can either lead me to greater peace or greater anxiety.

This topic of optimism is so far-reaching that I don’t intend to wrap all my thoughts into one post.  Tonight, I simply wanted to encourage us all to contemplate how we are approaching our daily activities and experiences.  Are we expressing ourselves in a negative manner or potentially conjuring up negative thoughts by the words we use?  Are we stating who we are by stating who we’re not?  I’m a Christian woman with the understanding that we have a Father in Heaven, a Savior, the Holy Ghost, and then Lucifer standing on the opposing side.  I don’t give Lucifer the privilege of crediting his name by saying, “I’m not with Satan.”  Instead, I say, “I know my Savior lives and loves me.”

A relevant and real life example of the change we can make in our approach is how the city of Roseburg, OR handled the recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College (UCC).  The community asked that the gunman remain anonymous.  Instead, the focus was shifted to Chris Mintz who was noted as a hero for having been shot seven times, as he was rushing the UCC shooter.  This is a tragic event that I cannot comprehend enduring nor do I intend to discuss further.  I simply find the action of accentuating the positive virtues of one man, in the face of calamity, as admirable and inspiring.

I’ve learned that changing the wording of my prayers has brought me greater peace.  I no longer use verbiage that amps my anxiety or lets my fears take over.  Now the goal for me is to understand where else in my life I may be expressing myself in a negative fashion.  As I sit here contemplating where I can improve on this matter, I’m reminded of the quote by Tom Peters that I shared in Musings of a Mom, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.”  Perhaps it’s time that I see how I can uplift my children more by accentuating the positive rather than focusing on the negative?

As I mentioned, this topic of optimism could infiltrate so many aspects of our lives, and tonight is not the time for that.  Tonight, I close with a plea for each of us to accentuate the positive!  If you have an experience where you made this shift in your own life, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Happy Weekend!

First Friday Find: Zach Anner

If you’re new to my site, let me briefly explain what First Friday Find is about.  Every first Friday of the month, I like to share an app, website, or idea that may not be widely known.  I don’t get any incentives from any companies or individuals that I mention.  I simply like bringing goodness into others’ lives.  It’s a fun way for me to share things that have either helped streamline my life or lifted my spirit.  This month is a find that brought about the latter.  One of my friends is seriously the funniest woman I have ever met.  There has never been a time when speaking with her that I have not laughed hardily.  So, when she posted a link on Facebook to Zach Anner’s video on YouTube with the comment: 1. I want to be friends with this guy. 2. I don’t think I have laughed this hard, ever. This is no small statement. 3. I love people who don’t take themselves too seriously. Made my day! I knew I had to check it out.  Zach did not disappoint, which is why this month is First Friday Find: Zach Anner.

The first video I saw of Zach Anner’s was the one that my friend had linked to that was called Baby Steps – Workout Wednesday #2.  I’ve watched this one several times and I laugh equally hard each time and am simultaneously inspired by Zach’s uplifting words and positive outlook on life despite his challenges.

On Zach’s YouTube About page, he says that he, “makes videos for your enjoyment and [his] embarrassment.”  I would definitely agree that it is for our enjoyment, but I would add that it is for our edification.  I’m reminded of the quote by Michael P. Watson, “Strong people don’t put others down…they lift them up.”  In my mind, Zach Anner is one of the strongest men I know.  He has uplifting words to share in each of his videos.

Strong People

I thought about including more links here, but it’s hard to pick out my absolute faves.  Instead, I’ll stick with sharing his High Five Friday #1, which is a great example of him lifting others.  I mean if he can dish out a high-five for someone going Vegan, he’s definitely doing his best to make the world a better place.  Seriously though, the person that deserves a high-five on this Friday is Zach Anner!  May we all learn to live life with as much humor, determination, and optimism as this man does!

And that, dear friends, is our First Friday Find: Zach Anner.