Monday, October 31, 2005

Hindsight is always 20/20

Yesterday we had stake conference, and it was wonderful as it always is. Bria woke up with a horrible kink in her neck, and it was really interesting convincing her to get in the car and go, so naturally we were late. I had a hard time listening because we were in the Primary room watching it on a small television with loud kids all around us. Bria refused to sit up and seriously put my legs to sleep because she laid on my lap the entire 2 hours. Yet, somehow, I managed to glean a little something to take home with me and hopefully use to improve myself.

A couple of the things that were said made me start thinking about my life the last few months. Here I was, Relief Society President, plugging along, feeling like I'd finally figured out how to balance my life, then Bishop told me that I was to be released in August. This wasn't really a surprise necessarily--we'd talked about it because Joel and I have been trying to get pregnant and my pregnancies are no picnic in the park and I knew there was no way I could serve as RS President then. But I wasn't pregnant in August, and although one of my counselors needed to be released, I didn't feel I needed to. (Not that I wasn't thankful for the break...don't get me wrong there!) So many people asked me if I was pregnant or if I was moving or just plain, "why did you get released?" that I started to feel weird about the whole situation....kind of embarrassed, like I'd somehow shirked my duty or something. I honestly wasn't sure why Bishop decided on August, but I trusted him and that was fine with me.

So anyway, now it's been a little more than two months since my release, and I was thinking yesterday how much my life has changed. And how much Joel's schedule suddenly changed this semester. He is completely slammed with school responisibilites and is basically never home. He is conducting Sinfonietta, choir, and the opera, he is taking a difficult course load, trying to work on his dissertation and also working in his assistantship. He is constantly running, and opera rehearsal keeps him most nights until 11:00 pm. He is even gone to rehearsals and concerts most Sundays now, which is something he has managed to avoid until this semester. The madness probably won't really stop until he graduates, although it will (hopefully) let up for next semester.

So, does anyone out there honestly think I could have been Relief Society President, and a wife and mother (especially since Bria started Kindergarten) with this crazy schedule of his? I realized yesterday that there is absolutely no way...our family would have fallen apart. I am basically a single mom lately. Joel did so much to support me in my duties as RS President...he was always here to take the kids when I needed to go to meetings or out on visits, he was understanding when I had to leave to do food orders or help in a crisis, he was supportive of all of the paperwork I had to keep track of on the computer, and even bought us a new one to make it easier on me, he was always there to lend a listening ear as I incessantly talked about Relief Society problems and solutions. There is no way I could have done it without him around.

Which brings me to my point. Heavenly Father knows everything...he knows exactly what we need, even if we don't. He knew August was when I needed to be released, even if I didn't know it yet. I think He was happy with the work that I had done and the growth that I experienced as a person and He knew it was time for me to be allowed to focus on my children and husband because they would need me more than ever at this point.

I am so thankful to realize that. I always know it, I just don't always realize it. And it happens a lot....we don't always know why certain things happen to us, or why we are impressed to make particular decisions, or just why we are where we are. But you can bet, if we are trying to live the commandments and do what's right, after a period of time passes, we will be able to look back and understand His reasons. His ways are not our ways, and hindsight is always 20/20.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Self control

Life has been a bit crazier than usual lately, and even though that is what this blog is supposed to be about I think I'll spare all the exciting details.

What I did want to share was our Family Home Evening the other night. Let me first give a little bit of background: Bria has been awful lately. Not just a little hard to deal with...downright impossible. The nursery rhyme fits her perfectly: "When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid." Mainly she has had a difficult time controlling her actions when she is angry, and instead resorting to kicking, biting, pinching and the like. (I, her mother who brought her into this world, am usually the recepient of the aforementioned.)

Chloe hasn't been such a little angel either when she is angry, so we decided to have FHE about self-control. There was a great little lesson in the manual and I prepared it. We started with the scripture: "Bridle all your passions that ye may be filled with love." Then we talked about how it is okay to be angry, but it isn't okay to scream, hit, growl or anything like unto it. After that we discussed ways we could calm ourselves down so that we wouldn't act on our emotions.

While we were discussing this, Bria leaned over to me and whispered: "This isn't a very good Family Home Evening, Mommy. Talking about self-control is not fun."

Suffice it to say, we're still working on it...and I am the one counting to ten and taking deep breaths while Bria learns the necessity of self-control.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The best laid plans....

Today was one of those days where I set out with a huge list of tasks to accomplish, determined to be productive in every way. And yet, as the saying goes..."the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." It might have been better if I had stayed home and watched TV all day today. I would have accomplished almost the same amount and I wouldn't have wasted so much gas.

This was my to do list for the day:

  • Pick up dry cleaning
  • Buy diapers
  • Buy stuff to make Bria's birthday cupcakes for her Kindergarten class.
  • Scrapbook store for specific cardstock colors
  • World Market: See if they have necessary spices for luau food
  • Buy football stickers for Visiting Teaching Conference invitations
  • Buy something to make the missionaries for dinner (signed up at the last minute yesterday, didn't really have anything suitable)
  • Go to the copy center to copy invitations for Visiting Teaching Conference
  • Also work on Young Women invitation project at copy center
  • Do 2 loads of laundry
  • Mop floors
  • Vacuum
  • Do dishes

So, I mapped it all out and came up with what I thought was a clever plan to get me where I needed to go starting at one end of Power road and ending on the other. (You really have to plan carefully with the outrageous prices of gas these days.) Here is what actually happened, in the order it happened:

  • Go to small scrapbook store, knowing they might not have everything I needed. Find all but the red cardstock, so I decide to just donate a whole piece I have to the cause rather than drive 12 miles to the other store. They also don't have the right color for the other part of my project, but I figure Michael's would have it and they are on my "planned route" for the day.
  • Go to pick up dry cleaning, only to find out that when she said it would be ready on Monday, she really meant it would be ready on Monday after 5:00 pm. Leave empty-handed.
  • Stop into Michael's to see if they have the right cardstock for my project. They don't. I buy some clearance ribbon instead. (At least it's pretty cute.)
  • Go into World Market and peruse their food aisles. I can't find anything that I need for the luau. Ask for help and she does find sea salt for me, but there isn't any Hawaiian sea salt. I don't know if it really matters, but I figure it does, since there was French sea salt, Greek sea salt, Mediterranean sea salt, Italian sea salt and Asian sea salt. Since they also don't have Aloha Shoyu Sauce, I call Joel and he recommends to just hold off on sea salt since whoever carrys the "Aloha" stuff will likely carry the "Hawaiian" stuff as well.
  • Get back into the car and drive further north on Power...arrive at Kinko's. Chloe has fallen completely asleep by now and is a dead weight on me, making it rather difficult to cut and tape my YW project. After making four or five copies, I realize it's going to look better to just print them on the computer (even though I only have 5 pieces of the right color cardstock...), and I move on to copying the Visiting Teaching Conference invitations.
  • Stand in line forever to get the cardstock for the invitations, only to discover that Kinko's is out of the right color of blue. I decide that it won't do any good to worry about it and just go with a different blue. I am not in love with the color, but I decide that it's better to cross this project off my list for the day.
  • Once the copies are made on the cardstock, I decide to use the Kinko's paper cutter to save wear and tear on my personal paper trimmer. After three cuts, it completely stops working. I fiddle with it, and then end up waiting in line to use the other one. When it is my turn, I work on cutting 60 pieces of paper while trying to keep an eye on Chloe (she has now woken up) as she curiously roams around the copy center. When I have only about 10 left, the blade on that paper cutter stops working. The employee tells me, "the guys know how to fix it, but they are too busy to bother with it." She fiddles with it, though, and amazingly, gets it to work. I finish my stack and pack up to leave.
  • Last stop: WalMart. By this time I feel like I am just too tired to actually make dinner for the missionaries, so I opt for the easy (but more expensive) road: A Stouffer's lasagna, a baguette and a Sara Lee cheesecake. I will assign Joel to make a salad. I remember to buy cake mix, frosting, food coloring and marshmallows for Bria's "creepcakes." (She saw these in Martha Stewart Kids and insists that we make them as her birthday treat for her Kindergarten class.) I forget to buy the chocolate chips and licorice that are also needed. I decide to check the craft aisle to see if perchance WalMart has the right color cardstock for the YW project. They don't. I checkout in the world's slowest line and go load my car. Only when I'm driving home do I realize that not only did I forget the other "creepcake" ingredients, I also forgot diapers (kind of important) and the football stickers.
  • I don't have time to go back in, nor do I have time to stop at any other store. So I head home.
  • Arrive home just minutes before Bria gets home from school (I told you I didn't have time to go back in).
  • I put the Stouffer's lasagna in the oven and try to start my household chores. Most of these should have been started before I left, but weren't because today was just one of those phone call days.
  • I watered my garden (not on list, but needed to be done).
  • I did mop the floors and do the dishes, but I did not vacuum or get my laundry done.

Anyway, just one of those days, where NOTHING works how it is planned. And tomorrow I will have to start all over again on the majority of my list, and hope that I can at least cross off a few more things.

It does make me think, though, that in the grand scheme of things, what we plan isn't usually what happens (no matter HOW well laid out our plans are) and that we just need to roll with the punches, while somehow trying to still meet our goals. So many times life seems to be like can be frustrating, but we sure do learn a lot in the process...such as, no one in the world seems to carry flesh-colored cardstock (I know it exists, though, I have 5 pieces of it, and Paperkins are made out of it), and a few other important lessons, like patience and long-suffering.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Cast not away therefore your confidence.

More than ten years ago, when I was 19 years old, I saw a flyer hanging in the HFAC (Harris Fine Arts home on BYU campus). It was announcing auditions for a "music mission" in Nauvoo...participants needed to be proficient in singing, acting and dancing. As a vocal performance major, I had the singing down, and since I had at one time been accepted into the Music/Dance/Theater program, I thought the other two I could handle. Problem was, the auditions were done.

But I couldn't stop thinking about it for the entire next year, and as soon as that notice went up the next year, I called and set up my audition. Audition day came, and I drove up to Salt Lake where the auditions were being held. They were happening in the Church Office Building and we had to have some special parking permit. Once I got there, I wasn't really sure where to park, and I was so nervous that I was beginning to have second thoughts. I seriously considered turning around and driving back down to Provo and just forgetting the entire thing...and blaming it on not being able to find a parking place. Somewhere in my mind, I tried to hold on to the fact that I really wanted this and had wanted it for a year now. So I steeled myself against my fears, figured out where to park and went into the audition.

Once inside, again I seriously thought I should just leave when I saw how many people were there. There were over 200 girls, and maybe 50 guys. I knew there were roles for 6 women and 6 men, so I didn't feel that my odds were very good at this point. But again, I had to tell myself that I was already there and I might as well try. If nothing else, I could chalk it up to experience....audition experience is always helpful.

I was there all day. I did my initial audition and sat around waiting for callbacks. I made the first cut, and the second cut. Things were looking up....but looking at all the talent that was there, I still didn't have much confidence in it. After all was said and done, we were sent home to wait for a letter in the mail.

A few weeks later I received that letter...and I had been chosen to go! I was thrilled, of course, but couldn't stop thinking about the fact that I had almost thrown the whole entire opportunity right out the window. As it turns out, that summer in the show at Nauvoo was a major turning experience in my life. I really redefined who I was and when I came home, I had an entirely different set of goals than I had had before. we are today, 10 years after I returned home from Nauvoo. I haven't forgotten that lesson, and I have tried hard not to let my fears of failure get in the way of opportunity. Yet still, every day I fight with the little demons in my mind that tell me that I'm not good enough, or smart enough, or creative enough, or organized enough or whatever enough to attain my goals, aspirations and dreams.

Maybe 8 years ago, Elder Holland gave a wonderful devotional at BYU and based it on the scripture in Hebrews 10:3-

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

He reminded us that fear is our greatest enemy. I know he was focusing mainly on receiving an answer to prayer, and then "casting away" the confidence of that answer as we let fears of various sorts come in. I came away from that devotional knowing that it applied to my perpetual fear of failure and the many opportunities I did not allow myself because I was afraid.

So today I am thinking that after 3 years of thinking I can't do it, I am going to finally enter the Scrapbook Hall of Fame contest. All of the old familiar feelings that I'm not good enough, or creative enough or talented enough are beginning to paralyze me right now. But I want to do this...I want to say, just like I said at an audition ten years ago, that if nothing else I can chalk it up to experience. If I don't win, I will still have pushed the limits of my creativity and made myself better, I will still have pages that I love in my books and I will have the dignity of knowing that I didn't give in to my fears....I didn't cast away my confidence. I won't cast away my confidence. I will not turn around and drive back home, because there is always a chance that it just might be the thing that I was meant to do.