It’s been a minute since I’ve posted something on this blog. I apologize for my absence, but life has been full. Well, it’s been mostly full, and partially lazy. Full in the sense that my youngest was in the hospital with RSV around the time of my last post at the same time my family was in town, then we headed down to Southern California to attend my BFF’s wedding, and then we returned home to prepare for two separate milestone birthdays for my two eldest. Lazy in the sense that I have managed to make my daily naps a priority. My two youngest will only allow this to happen for so much longer, so I feel a duty to myself to embrace any opportunity to sleep. When I haven’t been sleeping, nor tending to my kiddos, I’ve been wondering what I could do for myself to feel more fulfilled in my daily life. Continue reading
Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 5 of 5)
The conclusion of my Mental Illness Awareness Series is centered around thoughts and lessons I have learned in the time since the previously shared manuscript was written, which was two years ago. I wanted to touch on some feelings regarding my mental illness, my continued struggle with needing medication, the added benefits I’ve enjoyed from a changed diet and exercise, and the importance of finding the right therapist. Continue reading
Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 4 of 5)
Welcome back for Part 4 of my Mental Illness Awareness Series. Today I am sharing the final portion of the manuscript, which you can get background information on at the beginning of my Part 1 post. As explained in Part 2, this was originally written for women with Christian beliefs, particularly Latter-day Saint women. My hope is that you will find this post helpful regardless of your religious background.
I have not made any changes to the original manuscript, which was completed two years ago, making my battle with mental illness close to ten years now. It’s hard to believe I have struggled with this for so long, but each year I have greater insight. I look forward to sharing my current feelings next week, as a follow-up to this final portion of the manuscript. Continue reading
Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 3 of 5)
If you’re just now joining me, as I share this five-part series outlining my journey with mental illness, please check out the more detailed information about this series in the beginning of the Part 1 and Part 2 posts. Seeing as how I did not edit the original version of the manuscript in any way before posting here, the blog that I reference towards the end of this post is in regards to this blog, First You Must Begin. Continue reading
Mental Illness Awareness Series (Part 2 of 5)
Today I am sharing part two of my Mental Illness Awareness Series, which is the continuation of my journey with mental illness. Background information can be found in my previous post from this series. The short story is that the following is taken from my portion of an unpublished manuscript that was designed to bring increased understanding of mental illness. Continue reading
I have become a bit of a recluse lately, which has left me with far less inspiring experiences to share and a bit of a curmudgeon attitude. I have a list of things I would like to get done, but no motivation to do them. I have a list of activities that would usually make me happy with little desire to pursue them. I feel like I have this unquenchable thirst with my life right now. There’s nothing “wrong,” except for maybe me. I’m definitely unsatisfied with me. It’s not a self-loathing kind of dissatisfied, it’s more of a stir-crazy dissatisfied. The kind of dissatisfaction that makes you want to shake yourself and say, “Snap out of it! We got a life to live!” Maybe that’s why a scripture that was referenced in church today struck me more than usual. As the scripture from the Book of Mormon was first read over the pulpit, the only words that I heard were, “press forward.”
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. – 2Nephi 31:30
You know those moments where someone says something that’s so simple you can hardly believe you didn’t piece it together before? I can think of one such moment off the top of my head, which happens to be another scriptural reference, this time from the Holy Bible.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. -Matthew 7:24-27
I remember someone once teaching from this scripture and pointing out that the storm comes upon both people. It doesn’t say that the wise man doesn’t get a storm because he built his house upon a rock, his home simply remains standing regardless of the storm. Well, duh, Sara, obviously. Not so obvious for me, back in the day. I somehow managed to skip the significance of the storm coming upon each of us regardless of our desire to follow Christ. Though, I was certainly aware that I was not living a trial-free life. It was just one of those moments where it opened up a greater understanding between the scriptures and my daily life.
Well, that was the case again today. When the speakers referenced the “press forward” scripture, they each focused on the significance of those words. They pointed out that pressing forward implies opposition. Well, duh, Sara, obviously. But I needed to hear it broken down in that way. I needed to hear that it’s not just about being steadfast in Christ, or having a perfect brightness of hope, or a love of God and of all men (though these are important). Sometimes it’s about pressing forward. It’s about pressing forward so that you can do all those other things that are asked of you. It’s about standing up against opposition in all parts of your life. Ironically, the thing that is standing in the way of me, as of late, is me.
I need to push back on myself. I need to force myself to do something that will edify me or those around me, even if I just feel bored with it all. Honestly, I have this list of things To-Do on my Task List app where I’ve started to ignore the first three items on the list. They’ve been on there so long that I don’t even acknowledge them as things that need completing. It’s pathetic. But it’s not just about items on my To-Do list, it’s about living life to the fullest. I need to press forward against all the many ways that I am holding myself back.
Coincidentally, as I was looking on my website for other posts where I mentioned the beauty of said Task List app, I found mention of it within my post Six Ways to Get Motivated. I’ve been steadily accomplishing items #5 and #6, but it’s time to amp up my game on the first four ways to improve my efforts in pressing forward.
As always, I would love feedback from your personal experiences. What motivates you to press forward against the opposition in your life, whatever it may be? I know, for me, managing to complete a post (I have several unfinished ones in my queue) has actually lifted my spirits this evening. It may be a small accomplishment, but it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.
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!
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.
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.”
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?
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.