A Little Bit of Normal

Normal, what does that even mean? It seems that so many of us are trying to attain this level of normalcy in one way or another. So what defines normal? I just have no idea! In my world I secretly admire those individuals that are completely and totally themselves. For me I lack the self-confidence to be me with no reserves.So why the hold up? What are these reservations about?

I  can only speak from my point of view of course. I suffer from some deep seated insecurities, and I  fear rejection. There it is – all on the line! Why is this you may ask… Well I’m sure it goes back to my childhood and all that. When I was a kid normal was a mom and dad happily married, raising their kids together, and going on vacations during the summer break. Just rainbows and sunshine everyday for all those “normal” people. I know now this isn’t reality for most people.

I am hoping that as I get older these feelings will resolve themselves. I remind myself frequently that it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I think the truly important thing is how do we measure up to Heavenly Father. I have been trying to align my thinking to how am I doing as a daughter of God. When we change our line of thinking to this I think we can attain a normalcy that will suit us just perfectly.

In the end I think that normal is just different for each of us. Finding what that is, and being comfortable with ourselves, is a wonderful place to be. What’s your normal?

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One of My Doors

We all have doors that have meaning for us. Our front door to our home where we live, and all the real life that happens behind those doors. Our bedroom door where we enter to find respite from the cares of the day and a good night sleep. Doors to our past that are sometimes hard to open, and sometimes we just keep them shut. Then there are doors to our closets filled with skeletons that we hope no one finds out about (of course this may be more of an issue for some more so than for others!)

The door that is on my mind is the front door to my grandparents house. Oh did I ever love going to visit my paternal grandparents. It was the best feeling walking up excitedly to their house and being greeted with warm hugs and loving smiles from their sweet faces. I was some what timid when I would hear their dogs barking, until I had the reassurance from them their dogs were more bark and no bite! I loved walking through my grandmas door and smelling her sweet baking, usually my favorite coffee cake!

My grandfather has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. This disease has become quite bad over the last couple years, and he is now in a nursing home. There isn’t anymore baking being done in my grandmothers kitchen because she spends her days at the nursing home with my grandfather. Last Christmas my grandmother didn’t set out all of her decorations because she was too depressed about being alone for the holidays. The door that I remember walking through as a child will never be the same. My grandfather won’t be sitting at the kitchen table tinkering with some doodad. The happy faces that would greet me when I would visit have been replaced with tired and worn out souls that are living one day at a time.

They say when one door closes another one opens. In this case that really is not true. The door to the past, and all the memories is just that-simply memories. There isn’t another door that could hold those same sacred memories for me. I hold these times dear to my heart because I know I won’t be able to experience them again. I wish I would have appreciated them more as a child. I wish I would have taken a picture of those small moments so I could have them to look back on now. I wish I would have savored each and every time my grandfather would open the door to their house with the most amazing smile, because he doesn’t do that any longer. I don’t even know how much time he has left to live some days.

While we have these doors that we enter each and every single day, or the ones we pass through for holidays and special events, let us try to savor the time that we have to pass through those thresholds. Let us take a moment to appreciate the smiling faces that greet us and are happy we are entering in through their doors. We never know when may be the last time we have those moments, and before we know it they could all just be memories.

The Story Behind a Door

Feeling Empty

Feeling Empty…

Have you ever had feelings of emptiness? I know I have had this feeling before, more times than I can count. It surely isn’t a good feeling to have, but it happens. I have been reflecting on this feeling of emptiness a lot recently. Here are some thoughts… if you care to read them!

My life isn’t truly empty. I have been blessed to have the knowledge of, and faith in, a loving and caring Heavenly Father. I have an incredible man that loves me and lets me know it each and every single day. I have been blessed with 6 fantastic kids, even if they do cause feelings similar to being pecked to death by chickens at times! Conscientiously I know all of this, so then why do I sometimes have these feelings of emptiness? I’m glad you asked.

For me these feelings arise more so when I feel as though I have given as much as I can and tried my hardest to help others. When I feel so drained from doing what I can, and giving my all, and am left feeling depleted. I feel that empty feeling when I feel like life just keeps delivering blow after blow right to my proverbial gut. It’s in those times that I just feel like I have been asked, and have given too much-I’m just empty.

SO, what to do when these feelings arise you say?! That I do not know. I take comfort in the fact that I know these times have happened before and I miraculously made it through. I also find comfort and peace in my Savior. It does not mean these feelings subside, or just disappear, it’s more learning how to keep going despite the loneliness I feel on the inside. It sucks having these feelings of emptiness, it really does.

When those times come, and I’m sure they will sooner or later, we can take comfort in the thought that we can make it through this. When we have given all that we can and are left feeling empty, we can keep going no matter how slow or painful it may be to do so. That’s where we find our strength. It’s also where we learn, so maybe when we find someone else that’s feeling empty we can know how best to help them because we have been there before.

Analog Life

Analog

Oh let’s talk about analog for a moment, and I’m not talking clocks here, I’m talking about old fashioned ways of life. Remember the days of Polaroid pictures, VHS tapes, and hand written letters. Does anyone remember when we had to be home to watch our favorite shows, and couldn’t just record or watch them whenever we want? Now we have Netflix marathons instead of waiting for next weeks episode.

The one thing I miss, like really miss, are hand written letters in the mail. I use to love going to the mailbox and finding a letter or note in there for me. It is not the same logging into my email and finding messages (personally I dread it). I miss the days when someone thought enough of me to sit down and write a letter or send a card to me. It was more personal and thoughtful to receive a letter that way.

Those times are few and far between nowadays, however, sadly. I am tempted sometimes to find a pen-pal and write to them every few weeks. Just to be able to feel that excitement again of receiving a letter in the mail in return. The one person I can count on to still send me notes through the mail is my grandmother. She has such beautiful handwriting, and I love when she sends me a card to let me know she hasn’t forgotten about me. My dear grandma won’t be around for ever, and that will be something I will miss about her.

I know I should be better about writing to others as well, and I’m not the greatest at that. As efficient as email is (and quick of course as well), but it does not beat the nostalgia and thoughtfulness of a hand written letter every once in a while. So what do you say? Are you ready to break out your pen and paper and send someone a letter to let them know you’re thinking of them? I hope so, and I’m sure whoever receives a letter will be thankful as well.

Thoughts on Agency

Oh the agency of others… So frustrating sometimes! Yes, I am aware of the importance of it in the whole grand scheme of things, but seriously I wish we could pause the agency of others at times! How much easier would life be if that were possible. To take away the chance of others to hurt, disappoint, or trouble us. Life would be a lot easier to handle if this were the case wouldn’t it?!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and as I was talking to a friend of mine about this (I love to talk to others and hear their opinions on things!), I had a thought. While the agency of others does affect us, and at times may hurt us, it just has to be so. When a baby is learning to walk we don’t stop them from falling down, because they have to learn what works and what doesn’t. When people use their agency, and by chance it causes harm to us, we learn. Hopefully those who are the cause of such woe will eventually learn, and make amends, for their actions; we can’t sit around and wait for that though.

It is incredibly difficult for me to sit back and watch others cause suffering in others lives, sadly it is a part of this thing called life. Learning how to let these things go, and realizing the growth and learning that can happen from these moments, might be what it’s all about. What say you?

Losing Loved Ones

Loss, such a big word with for so few letters. I am sure many of us have lost someone near and dear to us. It hurts and there is no way to get away from it. When we lose someone we love there isn’t a way for them to be replaced, we have to just learn how to live without them in our lives. I think the hardest part of it, at least for me, is that they aren’t there. When someone we love dies we are just left with a void where they use to be.

A few years ago, 3 to be exact, my dear Aunt passed away. She was like a mother to me and I loved talking to her. I knew I could call her whenever I needed someone to talk to, and I could trust her advice. My Aunt knew me my whole life, she knew how I grew up, and the obstacles I had to overcome. I sincerely looked up to her, and always felt so much love from her. It broke my heart when she died.

As the years have gone on the loss has been easier to handle. I still miss her like crazy, and I have wished on numerous occasions that I could call her up and talk to her again. I have no doubts that she is doing well where she is, and I feel certain I will see her again. It doesn’t mean that I don’t wish she were here for me now though. I wish she would have been able to meet my little girl, and I wish she could see how well my boys are growing up. I believe she knows though, and that gives me comfort.

Losing someone we love is never easy. Whether it happens suddenly, or we know  it may be forthcoming, it is never easy. I know in my own life, that while the void my Aunt left can’t be filled, I have been blessed to have people step in to help. After the loss of my Aunt I saw many tender mercies that helped carry me through those difficult days. While the pain wasn’t taken away, I at least felt loved and like I wasn’t alone.

A Mighty Transformation

Transformation

In my life I have gone through a mighty transformation. The home in which I grew up, and the problems my mom had, statistically I should have been an alcoholic. Isn’t that what they say? The child of an alcoholic is more likely to be an alcoholic as well. I had the blessing of not being confined to that fate though.

When I was 16 I became pregnant with my oldest son. As soon as I knew I was pregnant I made the decision that I wouldn’t have my son living in the same type of environment as I had grown up in. I decided I was not going to drink ever again, and to avoid all temptation to do so. I wanted to make sure another child wouldn’t be subjected to that kind of living situation.

This mighty transformation was not mine alone, I know I had help from a loving Father in Heaven as well. I did not grow up in a religious home, but I was introduced to it after I had my son. This was a great blessing to me, and my son. Having a source of love and strength to help me transform my life from where I was growing up was a miracle. I am grateful my kids have had a more stable home to live in, and a chance at a better life. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it at the end of the day. It can be difficult to transform your life when it seems like things are hopeless, but I am proof that a mighty transformation is possible.

Joy in the Journey

I was driving home recently and I had a thought, well more of an analogy, so bear with me! I was thinking how interesting it is that not all lanes on the highway are created equal. We can all travel down the same road, but some lanes are more bumpy than others. Some of us grain and moan  about the conditions of the road, others zoom past in the fast lane giving no regard of what fellow travelers are facing. Others are stuck on the side of the road due to various reasons.

All sorts of people on these roads, just like in life. Some have it easier than others on this road of life. Certain people travel down really bumpy roads, some zoom by having no thought for what others are going through. Sadly, some in society are broken on the side lines, unsure of how to go on. There are some that change lanes and have experienced all lanes. 

While I know I don’t have all the answers, and believe you me I have asked why many times. I have felt stuck in the crummy lane for far too long. I have been reassured that “..all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (Doctrine & Covenants 122:7). I do wish sometimes things were clear and made more sense, I suppose that isn’t faith though. So here’s to enduring the rough patches, and finding joy in the journey of this thing called life.

One of My Origin Stories

Origin Story

Stories make up our lives, we all have them. Some are harder to tell than others, this is one of those stories for me. By telling this story I hope to take away more of its power over me, so it no longer has the capability to cause me anxiety. It has taken me a long time to have the courage to tell this story, and I will warn you now it may not be easy to read. My hope is that by sharing this story that others will find hope, and know they are not alone.

When I was 13 the last shred of my childhood was taken from me, I was raped. They say that more times than not when these things happen it is someone you know, this is true in my case as well. In the apartments where my mom and I lived there was a nice older man that would let me sleep in his spare bedroom when my mom was drunk and belligerent. He would even take me to school in the morning so I wouldn’t miss any more days than I already had. It was nice to have a quiet place to sleep, one where I wasn’t getting woken up in the middle of the night for ridiculous reasons.

On one particular night the neighbors 20 something-year-old son came home after a night of drinking. He didn’t usually come over, and I had only met him a handful of times before. He climbed into to the bed with me and started taking advantage of me. I told him to stop, I tried to get him off of me, but he wouldn’t stop. When it was over I went to the bathroom and cried, he just went to sleep. That night I slept on the couch instead of going back to my apartment, I didn’t want to deal with my mom. I wanted to just be alone, and I had never felt so utterly alone before that night.

I didn’t tell anyone what had happened to me for a very long time. I felt ashamed, I felt like it was my fault, and I was worried about what would happen if I told. I kept it to myself and started drinking and being an altogether bad teenager; I was trying to numb the pain I was feeling. I felt broken, and like I was going to be just another statistic. I certainly didn’t feel like anyone would have cared even if I did tell, no one had seemed to care about much else that had been going on in my life up until this point.

Years later I finally sought help, and I was blessed to have a wonderful counselor that helped me deal with the trauma of what had happened. After all those years of not talking about it I was finally healing. I have learned I am worth more than the bad things that have happened to me. I am not just another statistic, and there is hope and healing to get over the pain of traumatic events. While this story is a part of my past, it does not define me. It is now simply a part of where I have come from, a place where I have had to rebuild, and a part of what makes me who I am- a survivor.