Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Did the Savior ever...

Did the Savior ever laugh?
Ever play with kittens and a string?
Watch baby lambs in a field?
Tickle his brothers?
Tease his mom?
Did the Savior ever laugh?
Well, he was perfect,
   wasn't he?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Do & Did

I hate To Do lists! 

They're too much like a drill sargent
in my head demanding performance
 and giving no praise.

I go to bed having added two items for every one I've crossed off.  The undone things having erased the done ones.  Frankly, they are awful for one's self-esteem.  I like, I LOVE Did Lists.  Start with an empty page (I prefer the family message board so everyone can see!) and start filling it up.  Everything counts!  A shower counts, as does feeding the dog, calls checking on family and friends, doing dishes, made beds, storytime, diapers changed, meals made, games played, snacks dished out,

 loads of laundry (count 'em all - they get on the list even if they don't get folded!), husband back rubs, band aids applied.  You did it, write it down.  Stop being the tough guy in your head who only accepts crossed-off-list-perfection.

I stopped by to see a friend.  She greeted me with, "The most important things I've done today, don't show." 

They seldom do. 

Full disclosure:  I do make To Do lists.  But, whenever my list starts to make me feel like a lazy slug, I do a day of I Dids.  I consider making To Do lists in the same category as changing dirty diapers, it's just something you can't ignore for long.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Love Language

While I was taking a shower my husband came in saying, "Look, I want to show you something."  I poked my head around the shower curtain.  He held out something in his work gloves.  "I found this desert spiney under some tumbleweeds I was about to burn." 

He turned it over in his hands, "Look at how pretty and shiny blue his belly is."  I agreed, it was beautiful. 
He left and I heard our bedroom door close as he took the little guy outside to set it free on the far side of the house.

I don't know how other husbands say, "I love you."  Mine shows me the world.  I did not always understand that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm Slipping

My black slip makes me smile. 

Sometimes I laugh out loud.  Sometimes turn bright red.  But, usually just mutter, "I can't believe I did that.  At least I'll never see those people again."  The story behind the slip took place over 6 thousand miles from where I sit and it happened a brief five years ago.

My husband and I arrived in Durazno, Uruguay late Saturday night, went to our hotel and fell asleep after our long drive.  The next morning we walked to church a few blocks away, walked back to the hotel, ate lunch, and took a nap (important detail).  We then walked back to the church glad that our way led us right through the lovely town plaza filled with families.  We arrived at the church and met the stake president in his office.  As welfare missionaries we were there to train his stake in principles of self-reliance.  Sitting there next to my husband as he is chatting in Spanish with Pres__.  my mind wandered and a little question drifted into my consciousness, "Did I put on my skirt?"  I knew before I looked down at my lap, that it wasn't going to be there.  I forced myself to look.  I only had on my black slip!  I gasped.  Jerry paused mid-sentence and looked at me, "What?"  I whispered in English, "I forgot to put on my skirt."  He looked, then said to the stake president, "A mi esposa se olvido ponerse la falda."  They both looked at me.  I was grateful for the big church desk.  Jerry said, "I'll run back to the hotel and get your skirt.  You sit here with Pres__ and explain to him about our meeting."  He bolted.  So, in my best Spanish (I was about as fluent as a 3 year-old) I explained our program, all the while thinking, "I'm sitting in this office, in my slip, talking to this man, and I'm supposed to be acting normal!"  I'm sure he was thinking the same.  Jerry rushed back and the two men stepped out of the office while I rescued my decency.  After the 2 hour meeting Pres__ said to us as we walked to the door, "Very good meeting, but, I will have to speak to the Area Presidency about the Senior Missionary dress code!"

Why would I retell this story?  To make this one little, often neglected point, Things do not have to be perfect to be good and right.  It won't kill you and you'll laugh about it later.  But, keep my secret, okay?  It's kind of embarrassing.

Written by Mikey Tolman, age 11, September 2007

Do you like missionaries?  So do I.
So, I have a story about two guys.
They went to Argentina
and had funny events.
Like when my grandma went to church
in her underpants.

C'mon Mike I had on my slip!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How's Your Cake?

The bakery cakes looked great.  Beautiful in every detail. 
I asked the girl, "Do you make them everyday?"  She pointed to the wedding cake, "That's not real.  Underneath, it is styrofoam and cardboard.  It's just frosted."  You could not tell the real cakes from the styrofoam ones.  The frosting made them all look the same.  Beautiful.

All of us present our best selves to the world. 

We seldom reveal our struggles, therefore, no one knows what is going on underneath.  Today we are going to take the frosting off the styrofoam and enter the world of adrenals.  I am going to give you a lesson, a life-saving lesson for you or someone you love.  Welcome to today's class, Cortisol 101.  Never heard of cortisol?  Neither had I until two weeks ago after sitting with a friend for six hours while she suffered through wave after wave of panic attacks.   I want to share with you some things that I learned while trying to help her.

We have all heard of the kidneys, well, the adrenal glands sit on the kidneys.
The adrenals pump out hormones when we need them.   When you have feelings of  "fight or flight" the adrenals fire off adrenalin AND cortisol.  Adrenalin acts fast and comes and goes in waves.  Cortisol builds up and up and up, keeping your body in a constant state of readiness.  I call it "cortisol poisoning".  Now the little adrenals cannot tell the difference between a real danger (saber toothed tiger) and a perceived one (have to speak in church).  In fact ALL stresses are of equal weight to the adrenals, emotional, mental, physical - also, illnesses, medications, poor eating, lack of sleep, hard exercise, caffeine, sugar, (alcohol, tobacco-aren't you glad we know to avoid those), chocolate,...you get the picture.  Life. 

Here are some of the symptoms research has found to be the result of unhealthy cortisol levels:  fatigue, anxiety, anger, frustration, paranoia, panic attacks, over reaction to pain, social phobia, separation anxiety, moody, irritable, insomnia, indigestion, frequent infections, irritability, bowel problems, eczema, headaches, psoriasis, muscle tension, peptic ulcer, allergies, neck and back pain, asthma, atheroscierosis, appetite problems (increased and prolonged), nutritional deficiencies, high blood pressure, PMS, diabetes, weight gain (especially around the abdomen, upper back, and face), psychological problems, depression, memory difficulties, blood sugar imbalances, thyroid problems, decrease in muscle tissue, slowed wound healing, bruise easily, stretch marks on breasts, abdomen, thighs, chronic yeast infections, water retention and more.  Colicky babies have been found to have high cortisol levels.  Men with high cortisol have low testosterone.

So, how do you bring down high cortisol levels?   B-vitamins, especially B-5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin C (lots of vitamin C), Vitamin E,  & magnesium.  Garlic, gingsen, and ashwaganda also help to normalize levels as does regular, moderate exercise, rest, and meditation.  Castor oil rubbed on the abdomen is good, too.  If you think that cortisol might be a problem for you, do an internet search and study it for yourself.  Also, your doctor can test your levels.

As I've been writing for you, I've tried to to think of little things that might be helpful, brighten your day, or give you uplifting thoughts to think.  But, I thought, feeling good does not last if you don't feel good.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Naturalist

I had never seen a robin's egg before, until he lifted me up to see.  I did not know that hummingbird eggs looked like Tic Tacs or that their nests are woven together with spiderwebs. 

Such wonder, and he knew it all.  The other morning he said, "Do you want to hear something terrible?  The old tree with the Great horned owls' nest in it, blew down in the wind."  It was terrible.  He'd been watching that nest for weeks.  Now they were gone.  That tree was not in our yard.  It was five miles away.

Last year's babies.

The Naturalist and His Flock

Patiently he watches,
   with obvious love,
      knows each bird,
         their feather and flight,
         where they nest,
         and when they'll fly. 
In the darkened night
   he hears their call,
       he knows them all 
       not needing sight. 
If such a man,
   only a man,
      can know hundreds, thousands,
       of birds on sea and land, 
How could it be
   that God
       would not know
       the same about

He knows his flock.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

If you want someone's attention....

I was outnumbered 20 to 1, and I was alone. 
There was a 2 year-old pounding on the door, yelling, "I want out of here!"  I grumbled, "So do I."

Recently returned from college, 6 months pregnant with our first, and being a good sport, I agreed to babysit for the Relief Society three-hour homemaking meeting.  It was not going well, for them or me.

It was unbelievable chaos and I was supposed to do something about it.  I think that I was too overwhelmed to even pray.  But, suddenly a perfume advertisement that I had read when I was 16 years-old popped into my head.  I remembered sitting on my bedroom floor and reading a Seventeen magazine.  I turned the page and there was a large picture of a bottle of perfume with the words, "If you want someone's attention WHISPER."  With those words blazing in my brain, I picked up a book, sat on the floor next to 2 children, and started to whisper the story to them. 
I was shocked at how quickly everything changed as more and more children came and sat down to be whispered to.  The whole atmosphere in the room (and in me) becamse calmer, more settled.  That one sentence and first experience with whispering shaped my mothering and me.  But, I was still relieved and overjoyed to finally see their mothers!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Mother's Legacy

A mother's influence cannot be measured, quantified, bottled, bought or sold.  It is like sunlight that warms those in its influence and they grow.  She is.  Her influence is.  Her legacy is. 

Today I bought a thrift store book entitled, "A Mother's Legacy."  Inside were empty pages with questions at the top.  Questions like, "What was the house like you grew up in?"  "Describe your first date," and, "How were you proposed to?"  What?  Is that her legacy?  Real legacy stories include moments like stopping from making a bed, then, sitting with a 9 year-old in her lap watching a spring sunrise.  What question in the book was there to retell that story?  So many stories that will never be told, but those are the legacy stories.  Like the day the family dog was killed at the school bus stop and your 6th grade child had to write an essay THAT day, "Tell about your dog."  The sitting and crying together after school - that is a legacy story.  The day you spent looking for a bridal gown, and not finding anything.  Praying, "Where in all of Southern California is there a dress for my child?"  Finding a perfect Jane Austen "Emma" dress.  A legacy story.  Holding a child in the night, sewing on Scout badges, helping with homework, band-aids and kisses, reading bedtime stories, sitting in Church together, Halloween costumes, making school lunches when they are old enough to make them for themselves.  All legacy stories.  Legacy stories seldom make newspaper headlines.  Neither does sunlight.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Three Lessons in Communication

My mother-in law likes to tell the story of Jerry's first encounter with the new Spanish-speaking neighbor children, "They talk to me but I don't hear them."

I was a happy 7 year-old feeding Cheerios to our new puppy during breakfast, when my mother said, "Jeanie!  Ignore the dog!"  Ignore?  What was I supposed to do?  Feed him all my cereal?  Pet him?  Yell at him?  What?  I sat there not moving, until I heard the comforting words, "Jeanie, eat your breakfast."

He was four and I was busy.  He talked at my side and I washed dishes, all the while giving what I thought were appropriate comments.  I don't remember a single thing he said, 36 years ago - until he said, "Listen to me!"  I answered, "I am listening to you."  He shook his head, 

"Listen to me with your eyes."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mental Health Lessons I Learned From My Washing Machine

Squeeks, rattles, a horrible buzz,
Such an awful sound
   when its buttons were pushed.
The problem's at the top, I surmised,
So shimmied the panel, tightened the bolts,
   and cursed the beast
   for still making that noise.
Frustrated, annoyed, I gave it a smack,
   "What's the matter with you?
    Don't you know when you're fixed?"
Calling in help, I pronounced the problem
   and solution all in one breath.
He laughed, raised it up,
   gave one leg a couple of turns,
It was only unbalanced, he said.

The Game of Life

There once was a little girl and all she ever wanted was to be/have______.  You fill in the blank.  There's a good chance you aren't/don't have it.  That's called expectations meeting reality.  And it's seldom a polite introduction.  So how can we find peace and be happy?  Now.  With less than___.

My husband is a sports nut, enthusiastic, fanatic.  He has even been known to have watched old reruns of games that he has particularly liked.  For heaven's sake, it's not like it's Pride and Prejudice.  But, I'm going to draw an analogy from his world.

Let's picture a coach and his team on the first day of practice.  He looks at them with eyes of potential.  He tells them they are winners, they are the best, they can do it, be it, have it.  And then they start practice.  
Missed balls, missed throws, missed baskets.  Does the coach say, "Well, I was wrong about you.  Go home.  I'm getting a new team"?  No.  A good coach knows his team needs practice. 

He asks them, requires them, to listen to him, follow his directions and to "show up".  I've learned from my husband that to "show up" is a mental attitude of being in the game.  A good coach also knows that his players need balance, rest, some fun in their lives, etc.  They cannot drive themselves 24/7.  

So back to our little girl.  Now she is grown up and sometimes overwhelmed and frustrated.  She and her life have not met her perfectly, reasonable (in her mind) expectations.  What to do?  Give up?  Not an option.  Be miserable?  Not very productive, - or pleasant for those around us.  Here's a simple thing to do that I have found puts order, perspective, and joy back into my life.  I ask the "coach", the Lord, "What is the one most important thing I need to do/change in my life?" I was scared the first time thinking that it would be something like, "give all your goods away to the poor."  The answer surprised me.  It was simple.  But, I knew that it was the most important thing, right then in my life to change.  Here are some possiblities:  clean the kitchen at night, kiss your husband good-bye, make a week's menu, say your prayers, sit on the floor with your kids, get dressed before 10am, hug your kids before and after school...  Little things that make a big difference.  Then, do/change it! Be grateful you get a chance to play and, most importantly, ENJOY the game!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Who's responsible for all this?

Sitting in a doctor's office I noticed this sign over the puzzle table,
"Parents are responsible for their children.
Yep.  That's what you hear.  Parents are responsible for their children's behavior.  Parents are accountable.  Badly behaved kid, parents must be bad.  Everyone knows that. 

But, consider for a moment if the sign had read, "God is responsible for his children."  Responsible for what?  How we turn out?  I believe we could compile a list that would include these "responsiblilities".  He is responsible to love us, guide us, give us rules to protect us, provide learning opportunities for us, help us, offer us forgiveness, listen to us, be for us what he expects us to become, reward us when we get it right, and never, ever give up on us.  He is the perfect parent and shows us just what we are responsible to do.

So, if your child embarrasses you in the store, at church, in front of your home teachers, at school (all the stages they love to perform on!) don't despair.  I'm sure that we embarrass God regularly and he still has hope for us!