Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Perfect 10!

      Lately, I've been a bit discouraged and started exhibiting some detrimental, yet familiar, behavior: Staying up late, eating unhealthy foods, wasting time, etc. It's usually how I get when I'm up against a deadline or just have a whole bunch of stress piled up. Not helpful.
      I have a nearly impossible cake topper to create that's due in less than four weeks. We're also hosting a family reunion in less than three weeks and there is a huge list of things to get done before that happens. Most of those things can't happen until we have money to do them. The others just take so much organization, work and "umph" that I just get exhausted thinking about them. So, I stop. I escape.
      Well, yesterday when I rolled out of bed at 9:53am my eyes caught hold of a book on the bottom shelf of my bedside table that I haven't touched in months. It's a book by Marianne Williamson called, "A Return to Love". What I've read, so far, I absolutely love. My favorite quote from the book (only from what I've already read, that is) is this:
          “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
      So, as always whenever I have read bits of the book, I began to be inspired to act. But, still, in my laziness, I sat down in front of YouTube and put in a search for Marianne Williamson. I spent another hour listening to one of her lectures about creativity and leadership. It seems the biggest message I ever hear from her is to become the best version of yourself, and that the only way to do that is to have charity. So, I got up. I decided to write down my thoughts, not only so I wouldn't forget them, but also so that they will be further ingrained in my head.
      I was remembering a conversation I had with a friend the other day and she was telling me about her weight loss goals and her progress, so far. In the past three years she has lost over seventy pounds, but the most progress has been in the past six months. She had a goal to lose a certain number of pounds by a certain date and if she accomplished that, she would reward herself with a bike. Well, life happened and she got busy and distracted as the deadline came closer. A friend of hers (not me) convinced her that she was asking too much of herself and to set a more realistic goal by cutting her original goal in half. At the time that she was telling me this, I thought, "Yeah, well, you have to be realistic, right? It sounds much more doable. Great idea!"
      But then, today as I thought back on that, the thought came to me:  What if, instead of cutting the original goal in half, she doubled it? How much more weight would she lose? Now, of course she most likely wouldn't be able to meet that higher goal, but her progress just might be a lot greater if she were to try for it. There is the argument that consistently not meeting short term goals fosters discouragement, which can result in halting progression, altogether. But, I don't think it would, as long as one's consistent efforts foster greater progression towards a bigger goal.
      When I was in college I had a very inspired art professor. I had him for Basic Design and again for Figure Drawing. His name is Osral Allred. At the beginning of the semester he told us that we needed to have thick skin to be in his class. He was right. At the beginning of class each day we had to put our completed assignments up on the board for all to see. Then he, along with the class, would critique each student's work. His grading system was 0-10 for each assignment. If you didn't do the assignment at all, of course you got a 0, but a 10 meant perfection! He said that in all his years of teaching art he had never given a 10 on any assignment. Oh, to be that first student to get a 10! It would have been the last, too, because I took Figure Drawing during his very last year before he retired. The healthy competition among my classmates kept us eager and alive! It showed in our work, too, because we weren't competing with each other. We were competing with ourselves. I never would have progressed as much as I did if I had not been reaching for that perfect 10. No, I never did get that 10, but I got a lot of 9's and even scored a 9.5 a couple of times. Could I have gotten a 10, though, if I had just worked harder? I don't know. But the more I progressed, the closer I came to knowing what Osral Allred's perception of perfection was.
      I think that's why we are told to become perfect, even as Christ and Heavenly Father are perfect. Can we do it right now? No. But can we do it at all? Yes. We have more than just a semester to reach that goal, and the closer we get to that goal the more we understand what perfection really is, and the more attainable that goal becomes.
      The image that comes to mind when I think of reaching that ultimate goal (becoming the best version of ourselves/realizing our potential) is that all too familiar image of trying to get to the top of an escalator that's going down. So many times when I make a little progress toward my goal, I celebrate and then stop progressing. It's as if I am on that escalator and I take one step upwards and stop. I don't stop, though, I just move backwards again. Can I reach the top of the escalator? Yes. How? By doing all I can right now. I don't have to run full-speed, I just have to consistently move upward faster than I was moving downward. It will be hard, but I can do it.

      Can I become what Heavenly Father intends me to become? Yes. How? By doing all I can right now. One of my favorite quotes is this, "Man is at his best when reaching for something beyond his grasp." So my next step up that escalator is to figure out what short term goals I need to set right now that will keep me reaching and progressing. It will be hard, but far more rewarding than difficult when I glance back along the way and see how far I've come.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hot & Cold

I've heard it said that the Lord can't steer a parked car. For over a year Nathan and I have had the feeling that we need to make a big move soon, accompanied, of course, by our desire to FINALLY own a house. I've been aching to be near my parents so that our girls can have grandparents close by again. Nathan has a very good job here, though, and it's such a scary thing to have to start all over in a new place with a new job. So, in our search for our next home, we've been butting heads about which state to settle on. I did NOT want to look around for housing here in Minnesota and Nathan did NOT want to look anywhere else. We stayed like this for a long time, but still praying for direction all along the way.  We were getting nowhere!
This summer our family took a super fun trip to Utah and Idaho, with a beautifully scenic train trip in between to Denver, Colorado and back. When the girls and I took off for Idaho, Nathan took off for home to get a couple more weeks of work in before coming back to pick us up. We were both hoping for different things to come from my time spent in Idaho with some of my family. Nathan was sort of hoping I would get so sick of family that I would want to live anywhere BUT Utah or Idaho. Not possible!!  I was hoping to find a home and a job and an answer to prayer that Idaho was the place Heavenly Father had in mind for our family. Neither one happened.
Something did happen, though, to both of us while we were apart. I thought more and more about moving closer to family and resolved that, if it wasn't where Heavenly Father wanted me and our family at that time, I didn't want it, either. Nathan thought more and more about things and resolved that if the Lord wants our family to live in a particular place other than Minnesota, then he'd better explore other possible career opportunities. We both talked and agreed that we just need to move forward and try and find a place to live, starting with Minnesota.
So, when I came home I started looking around here in Minnesota at different houses for sale. Every time I did, though, that same feeling as before would creep into my mind as if someone was telling me, "No, this isn't it. Try something else." It felt a little like I was playing Hot & Cold. Whenever a new house came up that met our criteria I would hear, "colder....colder..." But I figured it was just me still wanting to move out west, so I would ignore it.
One afternoon as I was looking at real estate on Craigslist I got the urge to, just for fun, look for possible jobs in Idaho (my first choice from the beginning). But before I clicked on Idaho, I had a feeling (warmer...) to click on Utah. Then I clicked on the Provo/Orem area (...warmer...). After scanning through the job listings and finding nothing that sounded great, I typed in Ephraim, Utah. Still nothing. So, then I started looking at available real estate around Ephraim (...even warmer...). I found a few houses that I started to get excited about and wanted to show them to Nathan....just for fun.
When Nathan came home from work we both sat down by the computer and I started telling him about why I started looking at housing in Ephraim, instead of Minnesota. When I got to the part where I typed in Ephraim I suddenly couldn't speak anymore. Tears sprang to my eyes and in my confusion I looked at Nathan. He also had tears in his eyes! "Wow," I said. "we're moving to Ephraim."
"I guess we are!" he said. Then we grabbed each other and hugged for a long time.....blah, blah, blah...
We finally got an answer and we got it together, at the same time! We're moving to Ephraim, Utah.......someday. Now all we have to do is find Nathan a job. I am so excited! It feels so, so right! I'm so happy and can't wait to start this next chapter of our lives.
As for our awesome vacation, I'll post some pictures later.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cabbage Patch Family

We're excited to get our garden going for the summer. We're expanding it a bit, but still keeping it simple because my thumb is any color but green! We had a discussion during family night about all of us pitching in for the sake of helping out, rather than earning treats or money. The girls were actually enthusiastic about doing their part to help grow the fruits and veggies by weeding and taking turns watering it. I'll never have to ask them to harvest because that's the most exciting part of gardening for them (and me!). They even suggested different things they could do around the house to help out. We still have plenty of one-time chores they can bid on to earn money once in a while. Bekah has her eye on some knitting needles and yarn that she wants to buy soon, so she's been asking what chores she could do to earn money for them.
I have been so impressed with these girls, lately!  I taught them the proper way to empty and fill the dishwasher and they all work together and do it quickly and cheerfully. I think working together like that really helps promote a good attitude, but I know the importance of developing independent work habits. Lack of motivation is a big stumbling block in that area! I've noticed a change in their overall attitudes, though, when it comes to taking initiative and helping without being asked to do things. I carry a water bottle around wherever I go and am constantly emptying and filling it. Ember (7) watches me like a hawk sometimes and waits for me to take that last sip. She'll rush over, grab it, and fill it up for me. She'll even put ice in it! She sometimes likes to try and do it secretly and surprise me with a full bottle. It's so sweet! It's often a race between Bekah (9) and Ember to see who can get to the water bottle first. I do wish they'd do more things like that for each other, though.
They're pretty good to each other, too, despite the fact that they practice their cat fighting skills every day. If I or Nathan has one child with us we occasionally get a little treat. Whichever girl we have usually either saves it to divide it with her sisters, or makes sure we get enough of whatever it is for the other two.
I think the slightly bigger garden this year will be both hard on us work wise, and really good for us in so many ways. Bring on the weeds!