Wednesday, August 30, 2017

First Day of School (translation): Let's pick on the introvert....

Being a shy introvert for the better part of my life, many of my school memories are not all that pleasant.

I dreaded the first day of school, and not just because it was school and it was more work than fun. It was mostly because of what the teachers often did to me (albeit unintentionally) those first days of school…

Teacher (usually the kind that hasn't been teaching for 20+ years) walks in with a big happy grin, “Since it’s a new year and we’ve got a bunch of new faces, I thought it would be a great idea if we played the “Getting to Know You” game!” Teacher looks around with grin still plastered in place. My guess is she's hoping for applause or some kind of shout for joy, but at least half the class is sinking lower in their seats.

My mind traitorously dredges up all my previous "getting to know you" experiences from the deep place I've tried to bury them. Well here’s to another year where I’m known as “barf girl”...

I didn’t always turn green. Sometimes I just peed my pants. Honestly, I preferred “barf girl”.

Junior High quickly became the bane of my existence when I had to repeat this same scenario 6 or 7 times the first day.

By eighth grade I’d learned the hard way the best place to sit to avoid further opportunities of torture throughout the year:

  1. Never sit in the back because the teacher knew the people who sat in the back didn’t want to be called on, which meant they would always be called on. 
  2. Never in the front because then you looked like someone who was anxious to be called on. 
  3. Never dead center because it was too easy for the teacher’s eyes to pause there and call on you. 
  4. The best place was somewhere left or right of the center, but not too close to the edge seat. This way you could scrunch down and dodge behind the person sitting in any direction when the teacher started looking for people to call on. This was especially helpful if you could find a girl with really big hair and position yourself directly behind her—for those of you millennials, in the late 80’s early 90’s it was actually possible to be completely blocked by the hair of the person in front of you, sometimes even in a 360° radius. Not kidding.

Nothing has changed much in my adult years. I still turn green and feel like vomiting whenever it’s time to introduce myself, and I still inadvertently find myself looking for ladies with big hair to hide behind in any situation where I could be called on. On the rare occasions I do feel compelled to raise my stupid hand and open my stupid mouth, both my heart and my sweat glands decide I’m in the middle of a 5k. It neither looks or smells pretty. Although, I have learned which deodorants work better than others, never to believe anything that says it completely removes sweat rings, and that of all the things I’ve tried, nursing pads and waterproof electrical tape work better than any product out there (you can figure out the details of that one on your own).

So, why do I put myself through the torture of teaching gospel and writing classes, going to launch parties, and attending book signings?

Surprisingly, (sans vomit and sweat), there are aspects of it I enjoy. Something I never would have believed possible the first day of 7th grade.

We rarely discover what we are capable of until we do the things that scare us stupid. Seriously. The first few times I stood in front of crowd or sat at a table to sign books, my mind would go completely blank if I made eye contact with anyone. But in my scared stupid moments, I learned some valuable lessons I don’t think I would have learned any other way...

  1. I learned to laugh at myself and have fun. I learned that the best way to dispel my own awkwardness was to be my own goofy self—which meant many people have probably thought I escaped a mental hospital, but I discovered--oddly enough--that I'm okay with that.
  2. I learned that usually the way through to someone isn’t by my impressive speaking skills (that I seriously do NOT have). The best way to teach is not to worry about what the learner thinks of you as a teacher, but rather to love those you teach, and care only about the message you are trying to convey and seeking the right kind of influence to teach from. If someone likes what I teach or write, it’s because I’ve been genuine, I’ve been myself. When my words reflect that, the listener/reader can relate to me or my character as another normal human being with flaws and imperfections who is honestly trying. It’s most definitely not because I am actually impressive.
  3. I actually like people, despite how much they terrify me, and I like giving them hope. Whether it’s the hope that even an introverted “barf girl” can find a way to achieve her dreams, or a mom with two kids, general anxiety and depression, can find light in the darkness and courage to follow the road to become whoever it is she’s supposed to become despite the challenges of life. 
  4. Nursing pads are far more useful than I ever could have imagined, much better than walking around like a robot who can't raise their arms out of typing position. And electrical tape residue washes out better than duct tape.

Bottom line?

I love people. I love writing. I love teaching. If that means my face is a little green and my armpits, back, and hair are a little (or sometimes a lot) wet. So be it.

Dreams are worth sweating and turning green over.

Do something today that scares you. 
You never know what amazing things will happen…

Next month:
The truth behind one word I like and one word I absolutely hate... Incredible vs. Incredulous (Seriously, I HATE THAT WORD!!!)

Friday, June 30, 2017

It's Official...I'm 40

Okay, let's face it. I wasn't looking forward to turning 40, but it wasn't because I didn't like the idea of being Over-the-Hill.

I was ready to say goodbye to my 30's, it was not an easy decade: I had 4 surgeries, lost a baby, learned first hand the horrors of clinical depression, and was diagnosed with Celiac disease.

Given the last decade, I was worried about what the next one had in store, especially with the results of an MRI waiting on the horizon that could lead to yet another surgery. But then I realized I was focusing on the bad things that happened and not the blessings, the amazing growth and strength I gained through my 30's.

For starters...


  • I can hear out of my left ear--which is obviously a really good thing. 
  • My cancer risk went from 80% to normal--also a very good thing.
  • I can eat and not be as worried I'm going to be sick--which is really quite nice despite the lifestyle changes.
  • I have a better understanding of my physical body and what I can/need to do to help keep my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual heath, balanced.

But most importantly...

Spiritually, mentally, emotionally

The physical were HUGE blessings to be sure, and they deserve IMMENSE gratitude, but it is the lessons I learned through each trial that deepened my testimony, strengthened my relationship with God, His Son, my husband, my children, my extended family, my friends, and changed me, the way I see myself and the world, forever.

There is one thing about surgeries, especially the kind that alter our bodies. We understand as we go under that the surgeon is going to try to fix a problem, an ear that can't hear, remove a dying uterus, etc. But we can't anticipate the challenges involved in the healing process no matter how much we try to be prepared. We were used to our problem, have learned to live around it, and once it's gone we have to try to learn to live again, differently.

While my ear healed I had to rely on my husband and children to be my ears. I couldn't hear at all on my left side, it was extremely disorienting and sometimes scary. A silent world can be a lonely one. My family was my safety, my haven. I have much more compassion for the deaf and I only experienced it half way. I will forever appreciate the sound of my children's and my husband's voices, the sound of bird song, and the tap of the rain. Sound is beautiful.

While my body and my heart healed from my hysterectomy I had to rely on others not just for my physical care, but for my spiritual care as well. My heart was broken. I'd lost a baby and any chance at giving birth to another one. I dealt with grief, guilt, physical pain, and intense sorrow. But in these months/years of healing my relationship with my Savior deepened into something that forever changed me. He held me through it all, every single minute of it. He showed me a side of myself I never could have found without Him. He showed me the way out of the darkness. He helped me find courage I never knew I could be capable of. He helped me see who He knew I could be if I could have enough faith and trust in Him to stay the course, no matter how hard or scary it may be. He helped me see how truly blessed I am with an amazing, loving, husband and family, and some truly incredible friends, and that through Him and with them by my side, I could become who I was created to become.

To put it simply I gained...

  • Deeper gratitude for life, family, faith, testimony, and all the little things we take for granted.
  • Compassion for the soul behind the face. If we all wore our heartaches on our faces we would be more kind to those around us. I learned how to wear a fake smile to hide the pain. I try really hard now never to make assumptions and just be kind.
  • An understanding of the value of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that goes beyond Church on Sundays. I learned to truly see Him as my best friend who understands perfectly my pain and sorrows because He experienced them in that Gethsemane experience. He is the physician, the one who heals us beyond the physical and helps us find the beauty in life's changes. Medication may have balanced my brain chemistry, but it was Him and the gift of His Atonement that balanced my heart, body, mind, and spirit. It was Him that made me whole again. And it is He that will keep me whole as my life continues to have mountains to climb, and fierce waves to sail. I have learned to turn to Him.
How can I possibly regret my 30's?

On to the next decade....

Bring it on. I'm ready.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Chocolate Days

I read a post the other day on Facebook. A woman was having one of those days, you know, the kind where nothing is going right and where you just feel like crying. One of the comments said "it sounds like a chocolate kind of day." I quickly agreed. Chocolate is my personal favorite prescription for bad days, sad days, lonely days, happy days, awesome days... Yes it is my favorite prescription for EVERYTHING.

I love chocolate. If it's covered in chocolate I'll probably eat it, unless it's a bug or a vegetable, although I'd probably consider the bug before the vegetable. I even watched a documentary on chocolate the other day. I almost ate my TV.

Honestly, I think I'm addicted.

So, why am I blogging about chocolate and making myself crave it all the more? Because the idea of a "chocolate kind of day" got me thinking. I am an emotional eater, have been my entire life. And chocolate is my food of choice. I crave it after lunch because I think I deserve something to relax me after working all morning. I crave it during movies, because you gotta have something sweet and chocolatey while your eyeballs are glued to the screen. I crave it when I read, because, well, just because.

I had to wonder, if I craved a deeper relationship with God, my husband, my children, the way I crave chocolate... If I devoured my time with them the way I devour chocolate... How much stronger, happier, more relaxed and content, would I be as a Christian, a wife, a mom?

Now, I have no intention of lowering my consumption of chocolate, after all my family appreciates a chocolate fed mom. But I am going to try an experiment, for every piece of chocolate that goes in my mouth I'm going to evaluate where I am at in that moment in my relationship with God and my family. What can I do to further appreciate them the way I do the chocolatey goodness headed down my throat? And maybe, just maybe, great things shall come that surpass even chocolate.

Hmmm anyone else now headed to find chocolate?

Try this yummy EASY recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Cookies with Vanilla Frosting. I grew up eating these and when I found out I had celiac disease I had to modify it so I could keep eating them! If you don't want to make it gluten free just use 2 C normal flour.

Preheat oven 350*

1 C softened butter
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Cream these together in a large mixing bowl, then add:

3/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 C cocoa (I love Hershey's cocoa)
2 C Gluten Free flour blend (I love Pillsbury blend. It already has the xanthum gum and it bakes up nicely)

Mix together and add more flour if needed until it's no longer sticky and easy to mold into balls. Scoop out with tbsp, roll, and place 2" apart on parchment paper or non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until top starts to crack, but not more than 10 minutes or they will harden when they cool. Flatten slightly with spatula while warm for easy frosting.

Vanilla frosting:
1 C powdered sugar
1tsp vanilla (swap with a tsp or two of mint extract for chocolate mint cookies instead:)
1tsp melted butter.
2tsp milk (2%, rice, or almond milk)
Cream together and add more powdered sugar or milk to desired consistency.

OR omit the frosting and add peanut butter chips, or mint chips, or white chocolate chips (you get the idea) to the mix for yummy varieties!