Taking My Own Advice

I recently had one of those experiences where I realized what a hypocrite I am and that I need to take my own advice. I had told a friend that it’s not about where you live, but how you live and how you choose to raise your children, no matter where you are.

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Now, I love where I live. It’s not because I feel I belong here or that I fit in. See, I’ve always been an outcast, someone who has never belonged, fit in, been part of the in-crowd or part of the click. But I’ve never sought to be. I’m different. That’s just how it is, and I’m good with that. I mean, who else do you know that wore tie-dye shirts and bell bottoms, paired with multiple peace necklaces, beaded bracelets and several rings on each hand? In between the years of 1999-2001? In Utah?! Hell, I even wore tie-dye pants to school! A friend sewed them for me and told me I could wear them as pajamas. “No way,” I said. “I’m wearing these to school!” And I did—along with a bright orange shirt and my necklaces, beads and rings.

I may not dress that way anymore, but that hippie chick is definitely still a part of me! And I still don’t belong, fit in, am part of the in-crowd or the click, but I’ve learned that I don’t have to be in order to be happy with where I live. I love the neighborhood I live in, I love my church group which is full of some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, I love my job, I (sometimes) love the school my kids go to and (sometimes) love their teachers. I love the convenience of the city I’m in and how close it is to bigger cities with (slight) diversity and culture. I love how where I live is surrounded by such beautiful places in nature that inspire me and bring peace and renewal to my soul. I love where I live. But I hate the drivers here!

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Seriously, Utah has the worst drivers! Okay, okay, so there are two other places I’ve noticed worse drivers—California and Idaho. But Utah really is famous for the crappy drivers. One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Phoenix, Arizona almost eleven years ago were the great drivers! People actually drove the speed limit, were kind and courteous. When I put my blinker on, signaling I needed to move over (that’s what a signal is for after all) they’d slow down and let me in. They recognized that a yellow light meant slowing down rather than gunning it and speeding up. It was amazing! Then I moved back to Utah, and one of the very first things I noticed, or had brought back to my memory, were the crappy drivers! Everyone speeds at least twenty over the speed limit, they’re rude and reckless and speed up when they see your blinker on because there is no way they’re going to let you move over in front of them! They speed up at yellow lights instead of slow down and often don’t use their blinkers. And then there are the “opposite” days, where everyone on the freeway decides to go twenty under the speed limit instead of twenty over, like usual, for no apparent reason! Yeah, it’s really frustrating, and I totally let it get to me. I’m constantly complaining in the car, often times in a very loud voice and with a lot of four-letter words—when my kids are in the car with me. I don’t even know how many times they’ve heard me shout, “Stupid Utah drivers!” Or, “Utah drivers suck!” It may not sound like a big deal, but my twelve-year-old daughter hates getting in the car with me now. And she’s terrified to learn to drive—in Utah.

Sometime after I gave this friend my advice, I realized that I was letting place affect me and what I was teaching my kids. I don’t want to teach my kids that it’s no fun getting in the car with Mom when we’re driving in Utah. I don’t want to teach them that driving here is terrifying and frustrating and not worth learning how to drive. My daughter even once said that she thought I’d want to move sometime just to get away from the crappy drivers here. So not true! Everything I love about where I live is worth the bad, frustrating or hard things—like the crappy drivers. I want to teach my kids that it’s about how you choose to live your life no matter where you’re living.

So I decided I needed to take my own advice and stop complaining about the drivers here. I’ve challenged myself to be better at not saying bad things about other drivers when I’m in my car. I’m not gonna lie—it has been hard! And it doesn’t mean I’m not cursing them in my head—because I am. But I really, truly want to try harder to be more positive and help kids focus on the positives. Like the fact that we live in a wonderful, beautiful place full of amazing people, amazing opportunities and awe-inspiring nature. I want our lives to be about how we’re living, what we’re learning, what we’re giving back rather than focusing on the negatives of where. Any place can be a good place if you can do that, right?

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Another Perspective

We’re having a rare summer storm. Summer storms in the high desert generally consist of light rain that doesn’t last long and wind. I’ve been sitting on my couch, looking out the window at the globe willow in my front yard, blowing in the wind. It got me thinking, but I’ll come back to that.

Are you the kind of person who sometimes has a hard time keeping your mouth shut? Or, in this day and age, your fingers from typing responses on social media? It’s something I sometimes struggle with, mostly when it comes to hypocrisy or judgements or narrow, limited perspectives. I tend to be okay at first, to just ignore it, but when I’m constantly barraged with it it finally begins to wear, and I give in. I get annoyed, and I give in, and I write a response. Generally speaking, it never goes well. My experience has been that most people enjoy living in their bubbles, their tunnels, and don’t want to hear alternate opinions or be given the opportunity to see things from other perspectives. That’s not always the case, but it has been most of the time. Maybe the reason I struggle with that is because I’m not like that.

See, I enjoy things that make me think. I tend to get disturbed easily. Some books that have disturbed me greatly are Lord of the Flies, Into Thin Air and The Heretic’s Daughter. And yet, I LOVE those books! Why? Because they made me think. Because they opened me up to new perspectives. I never just dismiss something simply because it’s not what I believe or because it’s different than my own opinion.

Not too long ago, a friend posted a political article on Facebook. For the most part we have polar opposite beliefs when it comes to politics. But I read the article anyway. And I laughed my head off! It was the most ridiculous, hypocritical thing I’d ever read. However, I didn’t stop with giggling and move on, I decided to dissect it and see if there were any valid points to it. I like to be challenged. I like to think. In the end, I continued to think it was ridiculous, hypocritical and just downright funny, but it did give me the opportunity to think about why I believe what I do and only strengthened that belief even more. Out of it, I found even more reasons to believe what I do and validity for my own opinion. I’m grateful I didn’t reject it outright or dismiss it as stupid without actually trying to look at it from another perspective. And sometimes, taking that opportunity might change our beliefs or it at least might allow us to be more understanding and compassionate toward others. But not everyone sees that, and for some stupid reason I feel like I have be the one to show them, even though it rarely does anyone any good.

So back to the tree. I was thinking about how the tree blows in the wind. The trunk and the branches move, arc, bend, but they don’t snap or break. The roots of the tree hold it firm even in the midst of turmoil. It might be really annoyed at the wind for pushing it and making it so it can’t stand up straight like it wants to, but it doesn’t give in. So I want to be more like that tree. When those winds blow, tempting me to do something I know won’t make a difference, and will probably just make things worse, I’m going to attempt to think of my tree. Move, arc, bend, but don’t snap. Just hold firm.

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Sweating the . . . Anxiety Stuff

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You’ve heard the phrase “sweat like a pig” right? I like to say, “sweat like a boy.” I sweat like a boy. When I go to the gym I have to make sure one of their big floor fans is blowing on me, and I take my own little, personal fan that I can clip to the elliptical. I know, I’m a nerd. But I get hot, and I sweat, and it’s uncomfortable and gross and disgusting.

One thing that makes me sweat profusely is my social anxiety. Take this morning, for example. I went to a neighbor’s house to help clean. This sweet, sweet family has gone through so many trials and tough times lately, so some other women in my church and I went over to do some cleaning for them. I was really grateful for the opportunity to give service when I’ve had so much given to me the last couple of years. That didn’t stop the sweat.

The cleaning made me hot, anyway, and even though I was with these amazing, wonderful, friendly women my anxiety was bad. I’m so awkward around groups of people and my anxiety always takes over, making me feel so insecure and stupid and worthless—and it makes me sweat. So not only was I feeling more self-conscious than usual because of my anxiety, but it became a million times worse knowing my brow was sweating, my hair was sticking to my neck with sweat, and even though I’d showered that morning I wondered if I smelled bad. I wanted to dig myself a hole to crawl into and die. Why? Why sweat? And as soon as my anxiety dies down, I stop sweating and am totally fine.

It isn’t some earth-shattering thing that I have to go through with my anxiety—the sweat. But it is annoying and does add to the anxiety I’m already feeling and dealing with. So just know, if I’m sweating like crazy—even in a nice, cool house—it could be my anxiety, and maybe try not to be too disgusted. We’ve all got our things, right? Mine just happens to be uncomfortable, gross, disgusting sweat.

Just a Sappy Love Poem I Wrote

Two Hearts Beat as One

I reach up into the dimming dusk sky,
pluck out the nearly full moon,
pull it down and place it in my chest.
It replaces my heart—
a heart I give to you.
I hope you will be gentle with it,
set it next to yours,
let them beat and pulse in time together.
When you return it
I will put the moon back,
feel the warmth of your heart against my chest
and hope our hearts find each other again,
beat together forever.

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Self Reflection on Depression

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I realized something just today. Another one of the most horrible things that mental illness does is that it steals your identity. I already knew this about postpartum depression. I experienced it in the worst way. But I had never thought about it in terms of any other mental illness.

For over a month I was struggling severely with my depression. I feel like I’m just starting to come out of it, and looking back now I see all these things I did, said, thought, felt that just weren’t me—that weren’t the real me. It’s almost like someone inserted another person’s memories into my brain—because the real me would never do, say, think or feel those things.

Living with depression is already darkness, stumbling around with no light, dragging more and more weight behind you and on top of you every day. But it’s also doing it with no real identity—like you are nothing, nobody. Just some . . . lifeless thing.

I’m not trying to use any of this as an excuse. It’s more just self reflection and the hope that next time I will be more aware and try harder to hold onto who I am. I will try harder not to let the depression steal away who I am. Sometimes who I am is all I have.

Glove

Here’s another poem from my young friend, Kelsey Gibbons.

Glove

A glove is seen as a piece of clothing;
The piece that protects one’s hand from harm.
As hard as the outside tries,
It is unable to influence the hand.
Rain, come pour down but you will be
Unable to wet the hand.
Snow, come flutter down, but you will be
Unable to freeze the hand.
Thorns, come prick and poke, but you will be
Unable to pierce the hand.
Come chemicals, come bullets, come fire,
All will be unable to hurt the hand.
Everyone wishes to have a glove,
A glove to protect them.
Protect them from hurt, from pain,
But they don’t know—
They don’t know about the consequence.
You see, if one wears a glove for too long,
If one wears a glove through everything,
The glove will stick to the hand.
No matter what is done,
No matter what attacks,
It will not come off of the hand.
All things are protected from the hand.
The bad, yes,
But also the good.
The glove feels the wet of rain,
The soft of dog fur.
The glove feels the cold of winter,
The warmth of another’s hands.
The glove feels the prick of thorns,
The softness of a baby’s skin.
The glove protects, the glove covers.
The glove stops the pain
The pain of cutting the hand,
The pain of heartbreak,
The pain of divorce,
The pain of repeatedly broken trust,
The pain of constant stress,
The pain of being alone,
The pain of helplessly watching a loved one suffer,
The pain of parental affection denied,
The pain of never being enough,
But the glove also stops the joy.
The joy of good food, music
And romantic love.
The joy of exciting trips, playing with children
And platonic love.
The joy of trying new things, feeling happiness,
And familial love.
It stops the happiness and the pain from reaching the hand,
It stops the happiness and the pain from reaching my soul.

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I’m impressed that a seventeen-year-old has already learned this valuable lesson. It’s true—without the bad, we’d never know the good. The bad, the hard things, the pain help me appreciate the good things in life more.

Sometimes we want protection, and there are some things we do need protection from, but always having that glove on prevents us from experiencing life at its fullest. More than that, when we go through hard things, when we feel pain at its strongest, it gives us the opportunity to grow and to possibly help others as well.