Sunday, July 5, 2009

Make Up Your Mind!

I have noticed lately that things have been really great for me. I have been so positive and felt a peace in my soul that I haven't had in a long time. Why is that, I wonder?
To backtrack a little bit, I started this blog to help myself keep positive and to fight depression, a condition I seem to battle often. When I first had it I didn't know what it was. Years later I went through a deep depression and had to go on medicine for awhile. Now when I get it, I have learned how to overcome it without the use of anti-depressants or doctor visits. One of the ways to keep my spirits up and fight off the debilitating effects of depression is to keep a happy journal and this blog has been that for me.
Now, to move on, I have noticed that my mind has a lot to do with the way I feel. When I have wanted something very much, I go after it and nothing stands in my way. Is that true for all of us? Yes.
Well, if you really want to be happy, just make up your mind you want to be!
A few years ago I would have balked at someone who told me that. Depression can be a hard thing to overcome and it's not just an unhappy moment in your life. It's a physical condition that happens in your brain that causes your thoughts to be negative and sometimes worse. You can't always fight it yourself. (See for more information about this disease. Especially if you don't understand it. You need to.)
But these days many people think they should stay on medicine to help them with their depression. This is not true. You CAN fight it! You CAN get off the anti-depressants and live normal again!
Don't get me wrong - I have been to the depths of despair so great I wanted nothing more to do with life. I have sat in my closet crying without hope because I can't even decide what to wear. I have known exactly what it's like to know that I could seriously get a gun and put it to my head without feeling bad about it. I've been to that level more than a few times and at different times in my life.
This is why it is even more glorious news to know that I can beat the blues. I have learned to handle this disease and its crippling effects and you can, too. I hope you know that.
For those who have never suffered this disease or at least not knowingly suffered from it, please remember that you are the most important person to someone who may be going through it. Just a phone call or a note can bring them out of it. Is that amazing, or what? But it's true.
So, here's my happy part: make up your mind that you want to be happy! Look for everything positive about your day, your life, your situation and focus hard! You can do it!
And the best thing you can do - here's the secret, seriously - are you ready??? - is focus on someone else. When you are feeling down, do something for others. Go make someone else smile, make some brownies for your friend or the lady down the street who is all alone. Somehow, serving others makes us forget our own troubles and lifts our spirits. Wow, so I guess the Savior really knows what he is talking about when he tells us to do that, huh???
Peace is not a worldwide feeling until the world, one person at a time, puts it in their hearts. You can't force world peace but you can start with yourself, spread it to your friends, and then pass it on until the whole world knows about it. And I believe that peace comes from our Heavenly Father. He will help you if you seek it and ask him to help you.
So, make up your mind! Be happy! And let me know how you feel. I'm there for you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Family, Family, Family!

Did you ever notice that Easter seems to be a very family oriented occasion? Aside from the most important meaning - that of our Savior's mission and all that it means to us - it seems to be centered on family togetherness as well.
I have never been big on the Easter Bunny or any of that kind of thing but I do understand the feeling of celebrating Spring. There is rebirth in the land and it seems to symbolize the "rebirth" of Christ when he was resurrected. I can understand that kind of celebration.
When my children were little we used to hide eggs filled with money and treats and let them search for them. That was always done on Saturday so that we could reserve Sunday for the true meaning of Easter. This of course is just how I felt about it personally and that doesn't mean anyone else is wrong. There are many great ways to celebrate the holiday. This was just ours.
And now I am feeling a certain kind of rejuvenation coming on that seems to fit with the whole Easter and Spring season. It seems I am moving on in life but at the same time entering a new world where I am just a spring chick. Although I hate to admit it, I am entering into the world of middle age!
Just as an eighth grader goes from the oldest at school to an itty bitty freshman, this phase of my life is part of the growth that I am wishing would slow down and yet a new beginning into another season of my life. (Since the alternative would be not-living, I'll take the age!)
I know it won't be too much longer until I really enter that next phase - grandparenthood. This is sort of like the summer vacation before I enter high school. My oldest daughter will probably be looking at marriage soon. My oldest son is returning from his mission in less than a month. And my younger daughter has already entered her twenties, making her eligible any time in the next few years to be married. (And next year my two youngest sons will be in high school!) So I am trying to prepare myself for the G word - grandma.
I know this may sound like I am pushing it but I really do need some time to get used to the fact that I will have two generations beneath me in the not-so-distant future. I'm not ready to be old! My hair says otherwise (more than a few gray hairs have surfaced!) and some days my body says so, too, but my mind is still stuck in the twenties. Could it really be possible that I have three children in their twenties?
The other part of getting to this point in my life is a certain freedom that comes with having your family grow up. On one hand this freedom is a little scary - I am terrified of being alone - but I have found ways to use some of my free time to my advantage. I have finally written a book, I have time to work on crafts that I couldn't when I had little ones around, and I have more time to spend with my husband since I don't have to constantly watch babies. So there is a "positive" side.
I decided awhile back that I wanted to live to be 100. If I reach that goal, great, but if not, at least I will get as close as I can before I die. And if our "real" age could be calculated by the average of our physical age, our mental age and our "wanna-be" age, I would remain somewhere in the neighborhood of 27. Thus, I will eternally be 27. Even when I'm a grandma.
Yes, I am determined to be a fun grandma who goes hiking and plays baseball with the kids. I think I'm on the right track so far but I do need to get in better shape. (Round is not the shape I want to be!)
Maybe if we all get together and gang up on Father Time, we can just stay young. Anyone with me? Of course, I'm looking forward to the next generation so we'll have to be gentle. I just don't want to look old. Hmmm, maybe it's Mother Nature we need to have a little talk with ...

Friday, April 3, 2009

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Tougher!

So we are sitting at the brink of yet another trial; another unemployment trial, that is! My husband's job just got deleted so he is looking for something new. Again. I guess more than a new job is on the calendar for awhile.
While I wouldn't recommend this for anyone, I've learned that trials come to us throughout our lives and that more often than not they turn out to be the mere 'changing of the guard,' so to speak. So many times when something happens, it means that the Lord has found something better for us. We just need to have the faith to hold out until it comes along.
My husband has been through this many times. In the past few years he has had to change jobs and careers quite a few times. On our credit score it doesn't look good: creditors want to see someone stay within the same career path to show stability, I guess. But doesn't it also show good work ethics if someone is willing to do whatever it takes to support his family, even if that means changing what he does for a living?
Lee graduated from college in 1986 with a Bachelor's in Accounting. He worked in that field for about 14 years until the economy forced the company he worked for to lay him off. Not able to find another accounting job, he found a job with a yellow page company and began a career in sales. When we decided to move back 'home' to Utah to take care of his parents, he found a job in insurance. When this didn't pay enough to support his family, he looked for other jobs. (The area we were in is in a terrible crisis for jobs.) He ended up working at a plastic manufacturing company and then eventually for a natural gas jobber in Wyoming. With the economy even lower now, he finds himself unemployed again.
So how many times must a man be tried? This question pops into my head sometimes when I wonder why we have to endure this trial once again. But Lee's patience and faith are high, his attitude positive and his willingness to be the breadwinner is amazing. We are all feeling like we will be blessed, mostly because his outlook is positive. Hurray for great husbands and fathers!
I know many of our friends and family are praying for us and offering their help in whatever way they can. That is the best feeling, to know we are not alone. We will certainly be blessed for that! And in a short time we will find out what the Lord has in store for us. For now, we'll just keep the faith!

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Been Six Weeks, Mr. Groundhog!

Just the thought of Spring coming to town has got me thinking of some very fun things. I am really looking forward to all the new growth popping up and spreading some color to the dreary world of winter. Not that I like spring (I really don't like rain and mud and the wishy-washy-ness of the weather), that's my husband's favorite season. But I am a shutterbug and love to take pictures of beautiful things like flowers, so I am looking forward to my colorful friends poking their heads up soon. Plus the coming of spring also means that my favorite season, summer, is getting closer to appearing as well!
So that brings me to my next thought: what am I going to do this summer? I love the outdoors and going camping and seeing new sights! (Which is weird because I hate getting dirty.) Now that we live just a stone's throw from Yellowstone National Park, I'm sure I will be spending at least a couple weekends there. We love to camp at Island Park and float down the river. We have seen moose there, right on the banks as we floated by! We drive to Yellowstone for the day and then come back to the campground and have s'mores. But other than that, I haven't done much camping in Idaho. I grew up camping mostly in the Sierras, places like Mammoth Mountain, Mono Lake, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Angels Camp, Calaveras Big Trees, Sequoia Park and a lot of little places all through those areas that no one has even heard of. I could tell you a lot about California camping as well as quite a few places in southern Utah. We have hiked Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks, Bryce National Park, Brian Head and a few others. But I am, as yet, still unlearned when it comes to Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. I have been to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole. I’ve even hiked the Martin Handcart trail at Martin’s Cove. But for "every weekend" kind of camping, I am unfamiliar. Anyone out there have some suggestions? I live in southeastern Idaho and besides camping, I have a couple family members who love to fish. So bring on the camping ideas! And while we’re at it, tell me your favorite camping meals. We love Dutch oven stuff, s’mores (as already mentioned) and foil dinners. I would love to hear about some new ideas, though.
And just so you know, we are hoping to go to Mount Rushmore some time this summer, too. Anyone been there? Where’s the best place to stay?
So, bring it on, everyone! And let’s make this a happy day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chef Wars At Home

So my oldest daughter and I have been having a competition with our chef abilities, much to the delight of my husband and sons. It all started when she decided to go to culinary school and began fixing all sorts of different and delicious meals. This got me wanting to do the same so I fired myself up and got on the bandwagon. She also has been trying to figure out ways to make healthier meals and got me totally hooked on "The Sneaky Chef" books. I have been trying new things, trying to cook healthier, and have actually enjoyed making food for everyone. You have to understand that when my kids were younger I hated cooking because A) nobody appreciated the effort I went through, B) there was always at least one or two kids who didn't like something and C) it was just another mess I had to clean up later. So Lee did most the cooking in those days. He didn't mind. And he did a pretty good job of keeping us from starving to death! It was great to have someone else help me out at the end of a long day of chasing babies, so I love him for all of that!
But now it's his turn to enjoy a meal that he didn't have to fix. I have kids who are old enough now to help out, clean up, and just eat up, shut up or go without!
Now that I am in the kitchen more, I have discovered a few fun things; that there are a lot of cool gadgets out there that our mothers and grandmothers never had. I have an automatic rice steamer that gets the rice done just right every time. I have a bread machine, a slow cooker, non-stick pans, a hand blender, air-bake pans that won't burn the cookies, a microwave, a kitchen aide, and a ton of Pampered Chef gadgets that make cooking a breeze! But what's my favorite, you ask? Well, I have quite a few but I will list just a couple. The first one is my garlic press. I never knew garlic was so much fun until this little thingy! I use garlic in much of my cooking now because I can actually use it fresh. Yay! The other thing would be my Kitchen Aide. I love that I can just put the ingredients in and let it do all the work. I have been trying to make homemade bread and cookies and stuff more often and this really helps. And did you know you can buy an ice cream maker for it? It's $80, so I have to save up for it, but it's on my list! I also want the pasta maker, but it's a lot more expensive. Ahhhh, some day ...
So tell me, what's your favorite kitchen gadget or machine that you like to use? Where can we find one if we want to purchase it? I'm waiting to hear all the favorites - it's almost dinner time!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Helping Hands and Hearts At Home

What is it about depression that is contagious? Maybe as women we just have some kind of sixth sense that allows us to walk in a room and "feel" the atmosphere, thus making it easy to pick up on the vibes of others then emulate them. This is a scientific fact, noted in the expression of our monthly cycles: get two women in the same household and they will soon be on the same cycle, whether or not they started out that way!
My 20 year old daughter has been battling depression for a couple months now and has finally reached the point where she has had to move home for awhile to help deal with it. Whether it's the pressures of working and paying bills and trying to go to college or something else, she needs her family right now. Well, that's okay with us. We always welcome our kids back home, no matter where they are in their lives. But I think I feel a little sad now, too and I wonder if depression is "contagious," at least for women. Men tend to be able to keep their own views and feelings no matter what else is going on around them. They are blessedly oblivious when it comes to matters of the soul. We curse them sometimes when they aren't sensitive or caring (no Mother's Day present for ME???) but when they can go to a party where two women are silently feuding and come home happy, it does seem a blessing.
So, even though I have been through depression myself, what's the best way to help someone else I love through this horrible time? What can I do to make things better? When I talk with her she tells me she knows that time will heal things, that she should do positive things, but it still hurts and she still cries. Well, her sister gave her a box of Kleenex and talks gently to her. I got her a stuffed ducky to hold, heat up the heating pad for her each night, and give her lots of hugs. I even battled a huge spider for her (well, it was bigger than a pencil eraser, and that's huge enough) and won! (I am usually the one begging for one of the boys or my husband to do that for me!) If anyone has any suggestions for some ways to help her out, please post them. After all, "to do whatsoever is gentle and human - to give and to serve in humanity's name" is what we do best!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blast From the Past

What is it about meeting up with old friends again that can make you feel so good? Recently I have been able to find a bunch of friends I had long since lost touch with. It all happened on Facebook ...
First, a good friend named Sheri searched for me on the site and got in touch with me. We found out we lived just 40 miles apart! We met for lunch and the first thing we did? Gave each other a BIG hug, 35 years in the waiting! We had not seen each other since we were 10, hadn't written since we were 22, and were finally able to get back in touch 22 years later. That set off a roller coaster ride for me that hasn't quit yet.
I decided that if she could find me, how many other people would I be able to find myself? I searched first for one of my best friends from high school. She was the first person I met when I moved to the desert at age 11. I was her bridesmaid and we had been able to get together a few times after we started having children, but then we just sort of lost touch. I found her daughter on Facebook and wrote to her, hoping to find Cheryl again. It worked and I have been searching for and finding friends ever since!
Another friend, Taunya, I hadn't seen since our college days and today I am going to meet her in a nearby town to catch up on everything. And I am elated!
So, what is it about finding friends that makes you so happy? Why is it that friendship is so important anyway?
As people, I think we are not meant to be alone. We are creatures of family, needing each other to keep up our hope and our determination to succeed. When my grandmother got Alzheimer's my mom and I found out that one of the ways to combat the disease was to keep socially active. People who withdraw from social activities tend to become worse.
I also think the Lord meant for us to need each other so that we could help each other return to Him. Why else would he have us do temple work? Why would we need to go on missions and teach others? Why would he give men the priesthood, a power that they can only use to help others and not directly on themselves? If you think about it, just about everything the Lord tells us to do is for our salvation, yet it is always about serving others, teaching others, uplifting others, helping others. Missions, visiting teaching, home teaching, callings, families, temple work, genealogy, everything we do is about others. Hmmm ...
This brings me to another point I've been thinking about lately. Somehow service brings feelings of joy to your own heart and I am beginning to realize that the Lord has probably set it up that way on purpose. Whenever I have felt sad or lonely or in any way depressed or bad, if I put someone else first I have always felt better. And it's not the pat on the back or the thank you that you may receive that makes you feel better. It's the built in design the Lord has put in place that automatically feeds your soul. There's a kind of blessing that comes from doing it and the reward is a more happy, confident you.
With this in mind, tell me what you think about it all! What kinds of things have you found make you feel better, what things have you done in the past that really made a difference in the lives of your family and friends? We all need ideas on how to serve one another. So, let's get rolling!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Let's Get Started!

I started posting notes on my Facebook page and now I think it would be fun to have a blog page where everyone can add to the fun. I have found that being positive - actually writing or saying things that are good about yourself, your day, your family - has a profound effect on the way you see everything and the way you react. When I was depressed after having my last baby I had a tough time being cheerful. After taking some medicine to get my brain on track again, I realized that my attitude played a big role in what I was feeling. While it may sound like that means it was all in my head, that's not entirely correct. Clinical depression is as much a disease as the flu or a cold and should be treated with caution and care. When you have reached the debts of that kind of depression, it becomes a physical ailment that must be treated like any other physical illness (i.e. with medicine, a doctor's care, etc.) But to keep ourselves from slipping away to that point again takes some brain training. Luckily when I was depressed I had friends who convinced me to see a doctor. I was under the old-fashioned impression that "depression" just meant I was sad. It was all in my head. All I had to do was think it away. I was wrong. I went to a psychologist who let me talk things out and gave me anti-depressants to help me out, but that was only part of the problem, I learned. Once I controlled my physical symptoms, I needed to exercise my brain, my mental attitude so to speak, by working at becoming positive again. Later I went to a therapist who actually had me do some mental exercises and that's when I learned the power of positive thinking. Your brain is stimulated by physical and mental input and the mental part I had power over. A couple years later as I dealt with a middle-ear infection, I re-learned the power my brain had over my body. The infection was just not going away and it was very painful. One day, sick of dealing with it, I looked at myself in the mirror and said aloud "you WILL get better! This ear infection is going away NOW!" To my surprise and delight, the infection was gone within two days. If only I had realized this three weeks earlier! A couple years ago as I teetered on the edge of depression once again, I knew I still had time to drive it away before it became clinical. I had recently been involved in a leadership group and followed the advice of those people: read positive self-help books and listen to CDs of speakers with positive advice. I also got a "Grateful Journal" from my daughter with instructions to write down three positive things that I was thankful for each day. I did this and soon I was feeling much better.
As I live each day with a positive attitude, I am able to cope with my daily life much better. Hearing from my friends makes me even more happy and helping others feel good again gives me pleasure in my heart. This site is dedicated to that kind of positive reinforcement and soul-building opportunities that we as women can give to each other. If we keep each other buoyed, no one will drown. So, let's get started!