Sad Day

Today is kind of sad for me.  I’ve made the decision to say goodbye to my web server, which was WordPress.org, and transfer back to WordPress.com.  The saddest part is that I was so confident that I would no longer use WordPress.com, that I had ditched my firstyoumustbegin.com.wordpress.com name and now the .com portion has to be spelled out.  This may not make much sense, as you can still get to my site by typing in ‘firstyoumustbegin.com’ because I DO still own the .com website.  It just ends up looking lame once you get to the wordpress.com site.  I made the choice for financial reasons.  It’s time to start saving money instead of losing money.

I think this transfer will require my current followers to re-subscribe via email in the sidebar.  I apologize for the inconvenience.

I do hope you’ll stick around as I work to beautify the website and continue my efforts to offer inspirational content.

In the meantime, I’m going to let go of my disappointment and focus on the rich blessing of my family!

Chore Board for Kids

Huzzah!  Remember my last post?  How I said I had three items on my Task List that I had begun to ignore, as they had been on there for so long?  Well, guess what?  I did one of them this week!  I was so thrilled with finally accomplishing it that I’m sharing it as my First Friday Find!  A while ago, I saw this idea for a chore board for kids presented in different ways on Pinterest, and I finally got around to completing my version!

Chore Board for Kids

Let me start by saying, I hesitate to give my children money for chores.  Both my husband and I try to instill in our children that they are not entitled to any money by helping around the home.  We want our children to know that some things get done simply out of respect for their living area and things.  So, making any sort of system that created an allowance based on chores was a hard sell for us.  However, I can understand how they might like opportunities to make money.  That is why I created a chore board for them that includes tasks above and beyond the other chores that are expected of them as part of our family.  As their part in sharing the load in our home, my two eldest are responsible for doing the following without rewards: clearing the table, sweeping under the table, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, cleaning up toys/books/clothes/crafts/etc, bringing laundry down, putting laundry away, and more.  As my boys grows older, their load of responsibilities will increase.  I may ask more or less of my children than most, I don’t know.  But, for now, this is working in our home.

With my daughters getting older though, their abilities to help around the home have increased.  As a result, our chore board for kids is FINALLY going to come to pass.  I have 8 clothespins on our chore board.  The current list of chores include: dusting upstairs ($.50), dusting downstairs ($.50), vacuuming upstairs ($1), vacuuming downstairs ($1), cleaning downstairs bathroom ($1), cleaning upstairs bathroom ($1), washing windows in our TV room ($1), and parent’s choice ($1).  I put cleaning specifications on the chore tags to avoid any shortcuts being taken.  I also noted that on “parent’s choice” it may involve more than one chore to earn $1.  This may not seem like much money, but, again, they have a responsibility to be a contributing part of our family first and foremost.

In an effort to keep some sort of order to this system, I have a few plans in mind.  First, they will need my approval of their work before they receive the money.  Second, I am going to ask that they write their name on the back of the paper so that I can keep track over a longer period of who is doing what in our home.  If it turns out that washing the windows is the coveted chore, I don’t want to find that one of my daughters is always snagging that chore first.  So, to be fair, they can’t do the same chore twice in a row.  Lastly, I plan to refill the money in the chart every two weeks.  This will slow down the rate at which they try to earn money and keep my husband and I from going broke.  I can see my second oldest dusting every single day, if it meant more money.  She actually enjoys that chore.

Chore Board for Kids WIP

As for the making of the chore board for kids, it was really quite simple.  I picked up a decorative piece of wood at Hobby Lobby and used some paint, clothespins, and tacky glue that I had from home and VOILA!  I wanted to come up with a catchy title at the top, as I still regretted not putting “Seeking Sole Mate” at the top of my Lost Socks craft.  So, while many other websites called their system “Work for Hire,” I settled on, “Earn more by doing a chore.”  I love how my eldest questioned where I got the line from, not believing that I was capable of such creativity.  I managed to paint the letters freehand with the printed version as my guide.  You can see by the picture that I had a change of heart during my creation from sizing down on WAY TOO big a font to switching out the word “make” for “earn.”

Chore Board for kids back

Once the craft itself was complete, I picked up Sawtooth Hangers from Hobby Lobby, snack size bags from Target, grabbed some small bills, and typed up the chores on card-stock paper for durability.  Once I finished it, I couldn’t wait to hang it in our laundry room/mudroom over their filing bin.  That hanging filing bin was another lifesaver in our home.  I was so sick of seeing the girls papers and random drawings on scrap papers, that I finally made them in charge of deciding what papers and drawings were worth keeping in their designated space.  That may sound heartless, but my second eldest is notorious for writing made-up song lyrics, menu items, directions for x-y-z, and more.  The clutter adds up fast.

2016-02-03 21.33.50

So, there you have it!  This month’s First Friday Find is a combination of finding a morsel of my mojo and sharing a crafty find I stumbled upon years ago, but only recently made a reality.  I know my kids are especially grateful that the chore board for kids is complete, and not just something I keep promising them will be implemented at an undetermined date.  Here’s to my hired help making my life a little easier.

Press Forward

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.

Press Forward

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.

 

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.