Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Daddy In A Box

My Anxiety Light Bulb

Read a talk by Jeffery R. Holland this morning (he is my favorite.) that made a light bulb go off in my head. There were several light-bulb moments, but amongst the most profound was this:

(Here he is quoting from a letter he received from a young mother in regards to her anxieties about raising children.)
"Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes we will be anxious,” she said, “and will plead for His help."

Wait. What? We are given anxiety for a reason??
I had never thought of it like that. I've always thought of my anxiety as a weakness...I'd thought it represented a mis-trust in my Father in Heaven. I thought it showed how much my faith was lacking. It never occurred to me that maybe it's a gift from my Heavenly Father; designed to lead me to Him...designed to bring me to my knees.

All of our weaknesses eventually become strengths.
Worry leads me to my Father; teaches me to rely on Him. Worry about my baby leads me to pray about my baby. Feelings of inadequacy bring me to One who is completely adequate. They humble me and teach me to trust more completely in Him.

Every moment I plead with my Father during a moment of panic or fear is a moment that I'm speaking to Him; that I am displaying trust in Him.

My mind has been blown, ladies and gentlemen.

It's a good talk....here's the link in case you're interested:

Monday, February 27, 2012

How Doctor Who Helped Me Find My "GAH!"

I've decided it's time for a light-hearted post as last two were fairly heavy and border-line depressing.

My baby is sleeping and I've officially caught up on everyone's blogs. I've also cleaned my living room, finished my laundry (washed, folded AND put away all in the same day. Wonders never cease.) AND have begun defrosting dinner. (Which means I put frozen meat in a bowl of hot water. Be impressed.)

I live my life through a series of obsessions. It's a delightfully nerdy way to live. When I was eight, I couldn't get over The Babysitter's Club. I read every single book in the series and even formed my own "Babysitter's Club" with my very good friends, Jenni and Gracie. Good times they were; waiting desperately by the phone for the calls of parents needing a sitter and offering cash. Spoilers: They never came. At least there were snacks.

Then I turned eleven and became much more sophisticated and delved into the world of Harry Potter, never to fully return to reality. I still read the entire series about once ever two years and will probably do this for the rest of my life. I don't think I can accurately describe my love for that world...or at least...I can't describe what it used to be. Imagine a large-ish explosion of joy and giddy noise. That was me every time I heard a word that rhymed with 'muggle'.

Then, I went through my American Idol phase. Every Tuesday and Wednesday night I would turn the volume up as loud as I could without being kicked out by my parents. I would then become drastically attached to certain contestants and would hope with all the fervor that a 15-year-old heart could muster that Paula and Simon were secretly lovers. But it was after the show ended that the true nerd-fest could begin. We're talking hours of singing whiney ballads into hairbrushes for a rapt audience of stuffies. Until my dad would come in and tell me the madness must cease. I'm not lying, guys, it was awesome.

We're not going to talk about my tiny Twilight phase...mostly because people I really respect read this blog and I don't want them to learn the truth. So we'll skip over that and briefly mention Star Trek, (remember that Thanksgiving break when my entire family rented and watched EVERY. SINGLE. MOVIE.?) Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and pretty much any other nerdy, main-stream movie or book that was being produced. I devoured them all.

I also delved into the area of obsession over Broadway shows which is an entirely other category of nerd. Steven Sondheim and I had out moment in the sun; Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park With George...I learned them all by heart. Any musical that used to be a Disney movie also won my heart. And I had to allow room for the Phantom of the Opera and Wicked goodness since everyone and their dog loved it even if they didn't know Broadway like I knew Broadway.

Then, suddenly, life became real and the well of obsession ran dry for a couple of years. I mean, I still loved movies and books and musicals and all kinds of good things...but it wasn't the same. It wasn't live or die love. It wasn't heart pounding, can't wait to get my hands, eyes and ears all OVER that business kind of interest. I read The Hunger Games during this dry spell. Loved those books...but that was it. I just loved them. I didn't live them.

I've been missing those moments where my thoughts and rare spare moments have been filled with something that I just can't get enough of. I've been hoping and wishing that something would come along. In desperation, I've been re-reading and re-watching some old favorites; hoping that something would ignite the spark that I know is in me to fall in love with a story. And I liked it all, as I always do...but it didn't make me feel like thing. That "GAH!" thing. You know?

So then, Michelle and Andrea were like, "Hey, you should watch Doctor Who."
And I was like, "No. It's stupid."
And they were like, "No. It's brilliant. And you'd love it."
And I was like, "No. I'm too pregnant." Which didn't make any sense, but at the time, I was using that excuse for just about everything.

But as I started getting settled in Bakersfield after our move and started getting more and more pregnant and more and more restless, I finally relented out of sheer boredom. But I decided I'd make fun of it as thoroughly as I could. I was determined to stay detached. I was desperate not to love it. I was convinced that I would never stoop so low as to be associated with the amount of nerdiness required to love that show. I mean, he flies through time and space in a blue police box and has adventures.

My plan worked for the first season. It was horrifyingly cheesy. The only reason I stuck with it was because there would be an odd episode here and there that was scary enough that I was mildly entertained. Also, I was so pregnant and it was so hot that I was basically stuck on the couch and Michelle and Andrea forced it on me. And then...David Tennant became the Doctor. And my world began to become a little bit more exciting. And then it became more exciting. And more exciting. And every episode made me happier and happier. And that spark...that "GAH!" began to flicker.

I remember very distinctly the moments following David Tennant's farewell and Matt Smith's debut as the new Doctor. Shem watched David's final episode with us. We drove home together after it was over. I don't remember what we talked about because my memories of the night consist of the Luke-sized lump in my throat as I choked back the tears that were threatening to escape and embarrass the snot out of me in front of my ridiculously good-looking husband. Later, when I was alone, I would unleash the torrents of hysteric sobs and be embarrassed only in front of me. And boyyyy did I judge myself for that moment. I'm still judging myself for that moment. But that was the moment! The "GAH!" moment. The moment where I realized, "Finally! I've found that new something. I. Am. So. Excited."

So, I gave Matt Smith a chance even though I was convinced I'd never love him like I'd loved David. But then, they gave us River and now my Doctor Who obsession is complete and all-encompasing. I can't get enough. I love every bit of it. I love the writing, the directing, the acting, the story, the characters, the special effects (okay, I lied about the special effects...let's face it...they're kinda Power Rangers meets 2001: Space Odyssey. They make you want to die.) I've been...converted, if you will. And now, with only two more episodes until the season 6 finale...I am dying a little on the inside. It'll be 2 or 3 more months until my "GAH!" can once again be satisfied. But I can't resist...I just want to devour the remaining three episodes.

I love life. There are just so many fun things to enjoy. So many "GAH!" moments to live through. I live for my "GAH!" moments. Everyone needs one every once in a while...they make all things become fantastic.

To my fellow Whovians:
May you continue to tweet Steven Moffat ceaselessly to inform him that we would (please) demand that River become the new companion when Amy and Rory have bade the show adieu.

And to those of you who have a little nerd in your heart:
I highly recommend Doctor Who as your next nerdy endeavor.

And to those of you who are judging me for this entire post:
Why are you still reading this?? I'm a little impressed that you made it through the whole thing.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

On: Death and Dying

Warning: proceed with caution. I'm not gonna lie, this entry is not coming up roses. It's rather morose. It does have a happy ending...but even that's a little rocky. So. Just. Know that you're reading thought vomit. No impulse control went into this entry.

*Disclaimer: I am not depressed. I am quite happy. I love my life. Everyday is beautiful. It's just this one thing lately...this one...something...

Sometimes I can't figure out the right words. This is one of those times. There's this...something inside of me. It's just out of my grasp; just outside the boundaries of my ability to communicate it. It's an emotion, I think; it's a repetitive theme that's been swirling around lately. Death? Loss? The feeling associated with separation? Coming to terms with my own mortality? I can't quite put a finger on it.

All I know is that there are four facts I believe are responsible for this new-found irrational fear of loss and death and such:

1. It has been EVERYWHERE lately.
I don't know what's going on, but suddenly all of these tragic stories are popping up about children dying or old friends or people's grandparents or their spouses or THEMSELVES. (I watched "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch and let me tell you, it is fantastically uplifting and morbidly depressing all at the same time. I highly recommend it.) On Sunday in Relief Society we were having a lesson on women in church history. These women overcame things that I can't even begin to imagine. I know it was supposed to be inspiring and make us feel strong and capable as women, but it left me feeling absolutely broken-hearted for them instead. Which is weird for me. I usually tend to focus more on the uplifting parts of lessons like that. Some of it probably had to do with the fact that I was holding my precious, perfect, sleeping little boy while they read a story about a woman who's son was born while they were on their pilgrimage to the Salt Lake Valley. He was born in the summer, so he did alright for the first five months, but then they arrived in Utah and built a house just in time for winter. A month into that winter, the baby got sick and no matter how hard the mother and her sister tried to keep him from dying, he finally succumbed. Well. Awesome. So here I am with my sweet, sleeping five month old boy and I'm listening to this story about this mother fighting through the night to quiet her dying baby's cries. I literally had to leave the room I was sobbing so hard. And it wasn't the good kind of sobbing where you're having all of these realizations and spiritual epiphanies. This provides a good segue into reason number 2 that I'm struggling with this whole 'death' concept:

2. I'm entirely too empathetic.
I inherited this trait from my mother. When I say I feel your pain...I am not exaggerating. I FEEL your pain. I mean, granted, I don't claim to feel it to the degree that you are undoubtedly feeling it...but let me tell you, it will keep me up at night. I cry for mother's who have lost babies harder now that I have my own. I cry for widows harder now that I'm married. I feel that ache more profoundly than I ever have before which leads us to number three:

3. I love more deeply than I used to.
I've always been highly emotional. I think with my heart, not with my head. But ever since July of 2010 when I fell in love for the first time, I have started to experience a different level of love. Then, I welcomed a baby boy into my home and I can't even begin to describe how much it hurts to love that child. It's like you love so hard it breaks your heart. So if loving him hurts, can you imagine what losing him would feel like??

4. I've never done the loss thing.
My junior year, a friend of mine passed away. It was sudden. She was 17. We were best friends when I was 8 and 9. We used to have sleep-overs and slip n' slide parties and play Game-Boy together and sing together...all that good stuff. Then, I moved to Bakersfield and we sort of lost contact. Every once in a while I'd see her at dances and we'd chat. The last time I ever spoke to her, I told her I loved her name and I wanted to have a daughter with that name someday. She laughed. Then I danced away. The next time I heard her name, my mother was telling me she'd been in a car accident. Her funeral was one of the hardest things I've ever been to. But it wasn't because we were close. It was because of the look on her mother's face. It was grief I can't comprehend. It was like every part of her was shattered...her world had been taken from her...she couldn't function. Standing probably took every ounce of strength she had. I can't get that face out of my head. It hurts me when I see it. I don't ever want to look like that. I haven't had to yet. I haven't even lost a grandparent. Both sets are still alive. The closest encounters I have had with death have been experienced through people I am close with...and those about kill me.

And here's the rub: I believe in an afterlife. Can you imagine the pain involved in loss if you DIDN'T believe in an afterlife??

I know that death is a part of this life. I know that it is a necessary step. My theology is very specific on the death subject. It's very hopeful. We are sealed together for time and all eternity; never to lose each other completely. What a beautiful doctrine! I know that doctrine is full of hope and truth and comfort, but lately I can't tap into that.

What about right now? What about that hurt that makes you feel like you can't move?

Someday soon, and again and again, I will learn how to move after a loss. I'm dreading it. I wish I knew when it was coming, or in what form it is coming. But I don't and that is part of death's power: fear of the unknown. It could come at any time to any one in any form. It could be fast. It could be slow and drawn out. It could be unexpected. It could be planned and prepared for. But however it comes (and come it will) it still leaves the living lonely. Someone's life is shattered everyday as they lose someone they love, but in that same moment, someone's lives are completed as they welcome new life or meet their 'one and only'. How can so much joy and so much grief be experienced simultaneously? How does the whole world not stop when someone leaves it or enters it?

I wish I could sit down with someone who has experienced this kind of loss and ask them how they wake up every morning and function. How do they move on? How do they keep their world from stopping? How can they experience joy after experiencing such profound pain? How do they not live everyday in fear that death will come again?

Is it because of the balance of joy and pain? Can they continue because there is a promise out there that life is not over yet? Maybe they know somewhere in the back of their minds that there is someone somewhere experiencing a joy that is equivalent to their pain and that someday, that will be them.

Life, love, laughter, fun, joy, happiness...they are all waiting for us. As is death. But that's the thing: death only lasts for a moment; joy is eternal. There is always hope for happiness. The Lord designed it that way because He loves us. And He wants us to be happy and optimistic. He wants us to experience the kind of love that is so profound that the idea of losing it causes us overwhelming sadness...because then we get to love that way. The way He loves. Unconditionally. Wholly. Desperately. And then we can understand how important it is to Him that we come back to Him. Because He loves us the way I love Luke. And more. So hard that the idea of losing us is unbearable. Maybe that is why I hurt like this for death I've not known yet...so that I can understand the way that Heavenly Father loves me and wants me back.


Thanks blogger, for allowing that thought vomit.
As always, it's been extremely therapeutic.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And I Keep On Rockin'

"Worry is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere."

This evening, after my son was put down, I hopped on Pinterest to take a quick (Ha. Quick. Remember that one time when I lied about the length of time that I spent on Pinterest? Me too.) gander at all the lovelies there are in the world. I happened across a pin that linked me back to an article called "Top Five Regrets of the Dying". Intrigued, I clicked. These were collected by a nurse who had been working with the elderly for some-odd years and had collected a list of things they frequently said were their biggest regrets. She says these are the top five most common regrets:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

So I thought about it. I mean, I really thought about it, and I have to say if I were to die tomorrow...those would not be my top 5 regrets. I feel like I'm living the life I'm happy with living, I often play with my baby in lieu of doing dishes, I often tell people EXACTLY how I feel, I have a facebook (very useful in fulfilling desire number 4) and I generally allow myself to be plenty happy. HOWEVER. Each of these regrets branch off to create a single sub-category that I consider to be a very real behavior I exude that needs eradicating lest I do die tomorrow and it becomes my Regret Number One:

I worry.

I worry that my house will never be clean and someday the prophet will drop by to check on me and there will be a sink full of dishes, a dead bug chilling on the welcome mat, baby toys strewn about and folded laundry keeping the couch company. I worry that I'm not working hard enough. I worry that the feelings I express to others will offend them. I worry that people don't actually want to stay in touch with me and that I'm just clinging. I worry that I won't get enough sleep and that I'll be exhausted the next day. When I wake up in the middle of the night and my baby isn't crying, I worry that he's dead. (haha. No, really, though...I have to talk myself out of checking on him every single time.) I worry that I'm not being the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect friend, perfect daughter, perfect employee. And I worry that when I'm sad, it must mean that I'm not trying hard enough to be happy.

I worry all the time. I'm a professional worrier. I don't WANT to be, but I don't know how NOT to be.

I don't want to have regrets when I die. I want to just know that I lived the best life that I knew how to live. I think it'll help to know that things don't end here. Things go on. It's not a one shot only type deal. There will be more beauty to discover if I miss some of the beauty here. There will be people to love if I can't love them all here. There will be work to do if I don't do it all here. There will be choirs to sing in, children to mother, people to meet and places to explore.

BUT...I don't want to worry my life away! I don't want to constantly need a plan. I don't want to constantly be in a frenzy or a hurry or a panic. I want to let things go. Things will go wrong, I won't be perfect, I'll make mistakes, tragedies will hit, hard times will be gone through. I want to be okay with that! But it causes a pit in my stomach just thinking about all that unknown over which I have no control.

Worry is so inherently a part of me. It's engrained into my very being. How do I etch that out?? How do I melt those parts away?

I don't know. I just don't know yet.