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...

Physically

  • 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*

Ingredients:
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!


Monday, March 27, 2017

Can vs. Can't

Whether you say "I can" or "I can't", you're right...

As a writer it is important to know, “how to turn a phrase”. I need to be able to convey my message in the most succinct way possible, yet with enough description and action to keep it interesting. Too many words and it gets weedy and boring, not enough words and it becomes staccato and bland. 

I love using words to paint vivid mental pictures.  Just as a painter needs to know the complexity of the colors on his palate in order to know how they will mix and appear on the canvas; a writer needs to know the meaning of words and phrases in order to create a believable and beautiful story.

We are impressionable human beings. We repeat what we hear. But something important to note is that we subconsciously live out what we say. Words, believe it or not, have a lot more power on our subconscious mind than you think. Deep within the reaches of your mind, the real definition of the word you are using is there and when you say it, especially repeatedly, you are convincing your mind of its truth and it becomes an attitude of truth.

There is a great quote I read somewhere once that says “Whether you say ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t’, you’re right.” 

“I can’t”
Everyone uses this phrase. It can’t (ha ha) be that dangerous right?

It actually can be. Let me explain why.

The word CAN is powerful, yet conditional. 
Definition of can:
be able to; be able to through acquired knowledge or skill; have the opportunity or possibility to 

It is conditional depending on our own willingness to gain the skill or education, change our circumstances, or how we deal with our circumstances, in order to succeed. 

The word can’t (or cannot) has no definition. Let me repeat that. The word can’t (or cannot) has no definition! 

Why? Because it is the opposite of can.  Because it does not exist. It is not a real word. It is a word we have made up to describe the absence of can. It is just like the word cold—it does not exist. Darkness does not exist, evil does not exist, death does not exist—they are all words we have made up in order to describe the absence of the real thing. 

Can’t is poisonous.  It goes into the mind poisoning hope, poisoning confidence, poisoning self-worth, poisoning will, until it turns into something even more terrible. Fear

Fear is even more debilitating than “can’t”, it is the monster that is created from feeding can’t. The idea of “can’t” grows the fear that if we try we will fail. We won’t ever be good enough, or strong enough, or smart enough. As these two concepts “can’t” and “fear” coalesce and grow we become paralyzed by their seductive lies, and we lose our will to fight back and become more than our fear.

Can I make a suggestion? From this day on try to recognize that “can’t” is a choice. Just as fear is also a choice.

I love the quote from Neal A. Maxwell, "Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy, but the absence of courage." When you get frustrated, don't say "I can't". Just because you don't succeed the first time doesn't mean you can't do it, it just means try harder.

The next time you are about to use the phrase “I can’t” replace it with this phrase, “I will”.

When you say “I can” you are saying you are capable. You can find the skills and education necessary to achieve. “I will” is an action sentence. You are saying you are actually going to do it. You are telling your subconscious mind that you believe in your ability to do whatever it takes to succeed. You are removing the poison of self-doubt and fear and replacing it with hope. "I will" motivates us to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of success because we are no longer dwelling on the obstacle, we are only seeing the finish line. 

Do you think a track and field athlete who has to jump hurdles only sees the obstacle of the hurdles? I don’t. I think he/she sees the desired outcome and then focuses on the strength needed to jump the hurdles, not on the hurdles themselves.

There is no definition for the word “won’t or will not” either. In fact the word “not” has only a definition as to its use—it is used to suggest the negative of other words.

That puts the phrases “I will”, and “I will not”, as perfect truths with no room for doubt, or fear, to cloud them. If you will, you will. If you will not, you will not. There are no excuses for “will” and “will not”. They are truths. 

Choice and firm action. You might be surprised how when you use the phrases “I will” or “I won’t” most people won’t argue as much as they will if you use “I can” or “I can’t”. Their subconscious minds recognize the power and commitment of “will” too. 

"Will” needs no justification. Very rarely is the commitment of “will” related to something bad. If you are doing something wrong it is because you can, not because you willfully desire wrongdoing. We are inherently good creatures who desire light and truth above all things. Our will is much like our subconscious self. It wants peace, love, and contentment on a deeper level. If we allow our will to come out, can’t disappears. 

The phrases “I can’t” or “I won’t” are age old and hard to avoid. They crop up in my books, because my characters are human. 

But I hope together we will come to the knowledge of the truth and power of self-will and confidence, and the next time a task seems impossible we will look at the skills necessary to achieve the impossible and find the way to go out and acquire them.

"The only way to achieve the possible is to attempt the impossible again and again." -Hermann Hesse

Let's achieve the impossible.