05.12.17

Legacy of Love

This weekend workshop is to REMEMBER the  LEGACY of LOVE that has been passed on to you through the generations.

weekend workshop - legacy of love

What are your Legacies?

When you think of the legacies passed down from generation to generation what comes to mind?

Let’s make a list: homemade rolls, songs and games traveling in the car, camping, beautiful hand crocheted blankets, family prayer, books, birthday cards with crisp bills, garden tomatoes, or maybe  Christmas eve dinner.

What about the lessons we’ve learned and the values that come from those legacies?

Making others feel welcome, humor, the value of an education, hard work, comforting the sick, gathering to laugh and eat yummy food, an adventurous spirit, and what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ.

The question for this workshop is:

What legacy of love do you want to be remembered by and to pass on to the next generations?

4 girls legacy

Let’s have fun with this workshop! See the beautiful and loving legacies left to you and please look beyond any troubled or broken ones. There is always some silver lining and love in every family line. Here’s a few ‘LEGACY OF LOVE’ options so you can make this challenge your own…

Time Traveling

Use your journal to write a letter of gratitude to your past generations and let them know what you’re doing to remember them. Or write to your future generations about this legacy that brings such joy and love into your life and how you hope they will continue to shape and create it as their own. Rich memories, names, places, and traditions, if not recorded, will be lost in time.

mailbox-legacy

Living the Legacy

What tradition or legacy came to mind when I asked you to list those that brought you joy? This Mother’s Day weekend is the perfect time to honor these memories and bring them to life! I’m going to plant my garden; one of the first jobs I remember having as a child was watering the garden. I’m also going to make my grandma’s yummy carrot cake and gather around the kitchen table and share some memories and laughter with loved ones. If you’re feeling really ambitious, take a generational picture with your mom, someday it will be priceless- I promise.

4 generation legacy picture

This photo of four generations beautifully captures a legacy of love.  This is my friend Carol Morgan and her daughter Ellison Green and her daughter Morgan Anne Parkinson and her daughter Ellison.  Carol has a gift for passing on traditions and remembrances of her ancestors to her family. She started a family ski trip to Targhee in 1966, the year the resort opened. Her family was young and just beginning and this legacy is still going strong. This year at the age of 91 she skied all 3 days and was the last one off the hill. Not very many people can say they skied with their great grandma.

Do Some Digging

What are your roots? Where did your love for adventure come from? Or where did the family bread recipe begin? My first digging into my family roots experience was a genealogy library in Nauvoo, Illinois. Wow was I ever surprised to discover a rich ancestry of faith, strong willed pioneers and missionaries.

Begin searching into some great ancestry sites like Family Search on lds.org, or drop into your local Family History Center. There’s a really fun one on Park City Main Street called The Park City Family Tree Center. No need to fear if it’s all new to you because there will be lots of sweet computer gurus there to help you. I discovered my 4th Great Grandma Betty became the “doctor woman” of the community, riding horseback all hours to help the sick with her homemade remedies and herbs.

family roots legacy

Our hope in doing this workshop is that you will remember the legacy of love in your life and with gratitude, pass it along! Also, realize that for the positive or negative you will leave a legacy. If you want it to live on and be remembered you have to do something about that, it’s a choice. I’m choosing to pass on a rich LEGACY of LOVE.. (and hopefully the sense of adventure). It’s never too late to begin.

.dandelion legacy

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Celebrate the women who gave  you life!

 

XOXO

Judy

 

05.10.17

Real Life Featuring Megan Sumpter

Another Eating Disorder Story?

My eating disorder story began eight years ago. From here on, I will refer to it as ED. It is a long story, and it is a complicated story. I could write books and more books about my experiences the past eight years with ED. On this post, I could write paragraph after paragraph about my restricting, my excessive exercise, the evolution to bingeing and purging, my counselors, my set backs, my accomplishments, how my friends influenced me, how I had to come home early from a mission because of ED, the tearful nights, the shame, the lies, the secrecy, the hope, the strength, and the real recovery process. Yes indeed, I could share it all.

But I won’t.

I was asked to write my real life story… and for too long, ED has been my story. For too long, ED has been my identity. As I sat pondering how to share my story, I realized that the best thing I could share is this…

I am not my eating disorder.

It is as simple as that. And you know what else?… You are not your eating disorder, or your anxiety, your OCD, your depression, or your problems.

I allowed myself to believe that ED was such a huge part of who I was. There were even times where I didn’t know who I would be without it; no, I was literally terrified of who I would be without it.

I allowed ED to take so much from me. It buried and hid away so much of who I REALLY am.

When I finally dug deep in recovery, I started to see glimpses of what REAL life really is. To me, this was thrilling! I pushed harder in recovery because I wanted the life I had been missing out on. Soon I began to notice traits about myself that I had forgotten. Then I began to remember things I once enjoyed; things that I had pushed under the rug years ago.

So then, eating disorder aside, what is my real story?

The Real Me

My name is Megan. I am 24 years old. I love singing, especially in front of large crowds, or alone in my car at the top of my lungs. My husband got me into rock climbing 2 years ago, and now we are obsessed, we would go every day if we could! One of my favorite things in the world is laughing till I cry; it makes me feel so free and so human. I still sleep with a stuffed bear, and I am proud of it. Thunderstorms make me feel so excited. I love dogs… but only the kind that don’t shed… because I think dog hair is gross. Honestly more than anything in the world, I really really want to be a mom. I am obsessed with my nephew Nash… he is probably my second favorite human being on the earth (second only to my husband). Oh, and I am terrified of ants… I have no Idea why.

…and again, I could go on and on about what REALLY makes me, me. And I love those things so much more than the long sad story I could have started.

The point is this… things happen to us, they change us, they make us grow, they hurt, or they uplift, but they are not us. You have a beautiful soul; created specifically how it is for a reason. Whatever quirks you have, your unique traits, your funny likes or dislikes, and the way you treat others… that’s the real you!

My story doesn’t have to be the dark sad details of my eating disorder. Your story doesn’t have to be a dark or sad story either.

Love the Child in You

My counselor asked me to find a picture of myself as a little girl; eating disorder free. She said to look at the picture and remember that person. You would never speak to a child the way you speak to yourself now would you? And you would never ask a child to bury everything about themselves in order to fit into a certain pair of pants. You are that child. Underneath all the hard things you have gone through, he or she is there.

It is perfectly ok to go through hard things, and to change. I believe that is the purpose of this life. Yes, my eight years of struggle forever changed me. But I am not that struggle, I am not my eating disorder. I am so much more, and so are you.

I pray that you remember who you are. You may have to go back a long time in your memory, but I promise that person is still there.

Wishing you a beautiful day.

XOXO

Megan

05.08.17

A Secret to Happiness

Recently I’ve discovered a beautifully simple secret that has unlocked so many doors in my life. Although it’s simple, it isn’t necessarily easy (at first!). Like so many things, practice makes perfect. And perfecting this little trick has literally made my life a thousand times more carefree. Sounds good, no?

Learning to Laugh

You ready? Learning to laugh. Yep! That’s it.

There are so many things I could say about this but instead, i’m just going to share a recent story that embodies the importance of this principle.

The Principle of Laughter

Recently, my little family loaded up to go run some Saturday errands. When we arrived to our first stop, my husband pulled the babe out of her carseat and cringed when his hand felt that wonderfully warm mush that haunts parents and clean clothes alike. We had officially entered blowout mode and all hands were on deck.

Mother Daughter

I was on baby duty, trying to minimize the impact of the explosion. My husband was on carseat duty, wiping down and cleaning up the casualties left in the wake of my daughter’s poop bomb.

Any parent’s out there understand the hilariously stressful coordination it takes to clean up from the aftermath of a blowout, especially when on the road. When I asked my husband to grab the extra clothes from the diaper bag, it didn’t take long to realize there were absolutely no clothes in there. Zero. Zip. Nada.

So, our adorably naked baby joined us on the remainder of our errands.

Happy baby

Some times I think back to the type of tendencies I had prior to learning the principle of laughter. That situation would have melted me. I would have worried and stressed the entire time about what everyone would have thought. I would have worried that everyone would be judging me as a parent. I would have demeaned myself and my abilities as a mother because well, I’m human, and forgot a change of clothes.

Happy Baby Costume

Lemons to Lemonade

But three cheers for laughter because we were able to take a pretty crappy (see what I did there?) situation and make it full of smiles and laughter. Real lemons to lemonade type magic. And you know what? People did judge me. (I know because some lady in Costco didn’t know how to whisper and made her disapproval very clear).

But other people smiled and some even said “Blowout? We’ve been there!” I heard stories from other parents of their hilarious parenting mishaps.

Smiling Boy

It all shakes down to this. Some people will judge you for being human and making mistakes. Some will embrace you and share their experiences to let you know you aren’t alone. But there is only one person that can make you feel bad for the every day slip ups that happen to all of us. And that one person is you. The choice is absolutely yours.

Happy Girl

My hope is that you choose to be free. Choose to laugh. Choose to embrace that you are a human juggling life and every now and then you will drop the ball. Pick it up, shake it off, and you just keep on going with a smile on your face. Life is far too short to be taken too seriously.

Wishing you moments filled with laughter,

XOXO
Kimberly

 

 

05.05.17

Bigger Pants, Bigger Life – Weekend Workshop

weekend workshop - full recovery

For a really long time, I believed that I could achieve recovery by just wanting it bad enough. I would casually attend my therapy sessions, and do some of the at home work they assigned. Our sessions were productive, but I was not making much progress toward full recovery.

I am not sure what finally clicked, but I realized that in order to fully recover, hard work was needed. I started taking her challenges and at home work more seriously. As a result of my new effort, I saw increased progress. I began hitting milestones in recovery that I never imagined I would hit.

Burning the Pants.

One of my favorite challenges I have ever done was the burning of the pants. For so long I held on to a pair of pants as a sign that I was still skinny enough. My therapist was always telling me to get rid of such items in my life. I thought it was so silly. One day I was trying to squeeze into the pants and found myself feeling angry at myself for not fitting into them better. Then it hit me, I thought, “What the heck am I doing? This is so stupid. I have to get rid of these pants!” So, I decided to burn them.

Here is my experience…. make sure you watch both videos.

 

This was, hands down, one of the most liberating experiences of my life. After the camera turned off, I cried for a good 15 minutes. I never thought I would burn those pants…. but it was more than just burning a pair of old jeans…I never thought burning those pants would help me release my tight grip on the overzealous desire to be thin. Burning the pants sparked my drive and energy to recover.

Do Your Hard Work.

Perhaps you are holding back in your recovery as well. What is stopping you from a full recovery? What hard work do you need to do? Is there something you need to let go of?

I challenge you this weekend, to take a step that you have been putting off. You know what it is. There is something that you know would propel your recovery, it is probably very hard, but you need to do it.

Perhaps, like me, you need to get rid of your “skinny” clothes. Maybe your big step is telling your spouse or a loved one that you have a problem and that you need help. Perhaps your big step is setting up an appointment to see a counselor, or setting time aside for yourself to exercise, read, or write. Maybe your big step is getting rid of a toxic relationship, or setting a boundary with a coworker.

I don’t know what you are personally going through, so I can’t decide what this step is, but you can. Deep down you know the hard work that is required to make progress toward a full recovery.

I believe in you. The first step is the hardest, but it also gives you the most strength and belief in yourself.

Roasting marshmallows over the burning pants

 

With all the love and hope in the world, I wish you courage and a belief in yourself this weekend as you begin your full recovery.

XOXO

Megan

05.03.17

Real Life Featuring Melodie Webb

We Choose Love

My friends asked me to share how I have overcome fear.  I was hesitant of the opportunity and have really (seriously, really) struggled with this task.  In a conversation with my daughter about wishing I hadn’t accepted, she helped me to discover why all of the other dozen drafts weren’t acceptable and had been scrapped.

 

I can’t share with you how I have overcome fear … because I haven’t.

 

Before I shed light on that reality … I’ll share with you who I am.

 

I’m a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother (Mimi, in my case) to some of the most beautiful souls who have ever graced the planet.  My blessings are numerous, my cup overflowing.  I know the privilege to love and be loved and I cherish life.

 

Family is everything to me.  Always has been, always will be.  I wanted a dozen children – I wanted to be surrounded by mess and noise and beautiful people to love and fuss over.  I was an author, public speaker, and creator of games on the subject of close, happy families and I did my best as an intentional mother to practice what I preached.

 

4 children laying on ground

 

23 years ago today, 9 days after the due date of a particularly long and challenging pregnancy, my baby daughter (and final child) was born.  I was instantly and irreversibly smitten with her silken hair, soft blue eyes, and chubby cheeks.  She was perfect in every way, and although only my 4th child, she completed me.  And, it was a full, ample, exquisite complete and we lived life accordingly.  As with my other children, I added one more person I now suddenly could not live without.

 

baby on tummy

 

It doesn’t mean we didn’t have our fair share of difficulty, or even at times what seemed to be an unfair share of difficulty.  We just had a lot to live for and we worked hard at what didn’t come easily.

 

I had an aversion to fear.  Quite frankly, it scared me, so I tried hard not to ever experience it. I shut out thoughts of the horrors of losing any of my children, and taught them to eat their vegetables, wear a helmet and/or seat belt, and what to do in the case of fire.  Our basement had a room stock-piled with enough emergency food, water, candles, and toilet paper to keep at least 5 families our size safe in a disaster.  We would have all we needed in the event (God forbid) that we experienced tragedy.

 

 

With my children taught how to turn off the water to the house, passwords memorized to avoid danger with strangers, and my absolute assurance that there was no such thing as monsters to come and take them in the night, they were always tucked safely into bed with a hug and kiss after prayers to keep us safe from harm or accident.  We never went without saying “I love you, goodnight.”  It was our safe haven, and that safety was assured by our preparation, good choices, and blessings from heaven.

 

Even when I was “brave” enough to pray that I could accept God’s will if it were otherwise, I could never quite end it there and would have to choke out a quick tag line …

 

“But, please … just don’t let it hurt.”

 

Fair weather fan of life, … that’s me.

 

kids on slide

 

Unfortunately, life isn’t all fair weather.  And, fair weather was my life without the reality of something to be truly, genuinely afraid ofI characterize our life into two phases now, “before fear” and “since”.  And, the reality is that you can’t ever really experience courage until real fear is staring you in the face.

 

You see, I had lied about monsters coming in the night and nothing in the basement storage room could have prevented or prepared our precious family for the fearful and heart-wrenching tragedy staring each of us in the face.

 

child jumping into water

 

We now would experience something of which to be horribly, shake in your boots afraid.  That precious baby daughter who was born 23 years ago today had a rare Childhood Cancer.  So rare in fact, that there have only been 200 known cases a year, but so horribly vicious, that it is one of the leading killers amongst all far more prevalent cancers.  5 children (including her) in history have survived a second onset, and of those, none recurred in such vital places as hers.  She is the only one in history to have beaten it three times.  There isn’t a survivor of a 4th onset.  Hers set in for the 4th and final time as she began her sophomore year in high school.  The beast was just unrelenting; no matter how many times she claimed a clean and solid victory over it.  How something so vile found its way into something so perfect is simply beyond me.  How my thinking that basement storage could prevent or prepare for any disaster and grant us freedom from fear is also simply beyond me.

 

family picture in leaves

 

The battle was fierce and intense and full of fear.  There was reason for it.  Fear wasn’t a sin against our faith; it wasn’t a weakness, or an error in judgment.  It was exactly the emotion connected to watching her go through what she had to go through.  No one could anticipate any different.  The love we felt for her was inseparably connected with the fear of losing her … of having to live without her.   The horror was real. It wasn’t just scary; it was terrifying.

 

And then, she slipped through our fingers and returned to the God who gave her life.

 

beautiful girl

 

And, we were left to pick up the pieces of ourselves, to somehow discover “how” to live without her.

 

In doing so, we see that some fear will remain a part of our story, for it is inseparably connected with loving each other.  So, we will embrace it, for it drew us closer to the One who overcame death and hell by his Grace, matchless Mercy, and eternal Love.  Experiencing fear has made us more intimately, personally, and profoundly familiar with the infinite Hope engraved in his hands.

 

We didn’t overcome fear, but Jesus Christ has, and he will, just as he promised.  I have scooped up all my ashes that he has promised me beauty for.  And, my feet prepare for the day He trades my mourning for dancing.

 

And, I do not fear that He keeps His promises.

 

I wasn’t preserved knowing profound heartache and sacrifice, or prevented from knowing gripping fear.  I wasn’t prepared for the profound sorrow and grief that is so intertwined in my story.  There wasn’t chemotherapy in the basement, or a sturdy enough password to keep the monsters out of our dark … but there was a foundation of belief and an experience of his love that assures us a joyous reunion with her again one day.

 

While we grieve in a society that tries to stifle it, we continue to embrace the hard emotions that come with life’s experience.  We’ve learned that they are most often associated with loving an angel gone too soon from this life.  So, while it is hard for some to understand, we aren’t trying to “get over it.”  We believe that grief is not something we travel through; it is something we will travel with.  And, while my prayers asked for a pain-free life, it was as nonsensical as asking for a love-free life.  The privilege to love and be loved also intrinsically accompanies this exhilarating journey of life.  Thank heavens (and the CEO thereof) He doesn’t intend to take away our love just to free us of pain or fear ….

While for now it may seem daunting, painful, and often frightening, for me and my house: we choose love.

mother and daughter together

05.01.17

HOPE FOR THE ONE… Rescuing

Throwing Life Preservers to The Drowning

Parenting is never easy. My daughter was in Jr. High when I began noticing the red flags of an eating disorder. I had seen others go down this road and knew all too well the dangers and struggles involved. We’ve all had those mommy moments where you have the thought, ‘where is the instruction manual on how to parent?’ When situations arise, that I have no clue how to handle, I oft times say out load, “Who said I could be the mother? I don’t know how to fix this or save my child…”

After the initial panic and fears, I knelt in prayer and asked for guidance and the words to say. I then went down to her bedroom, and from deep in my heart, we talked. I’m not sure all that was said that day, but we both remember it as the day rescuing began. I promised her that our family would not let her drown, and that I was going to start throwing out life preservers…and that’s what we did.

The pains and heartbreak of parenting can be debilitating if we let it swallow us. I was at a 12-step support group when I stated that I was there to learn what to do to save my child, and was told, “Your child already has a Savior, you be their mother.” So, what do you do when your child is drowning with anxiety, an eating disorder, depression, pornography, self-harm, addictions, or rebellion? I promise all of us will face something like this at one time or another, and all parents will feel guilt! With help from the spirit, we found resources, people, programs, books and answers to what became a long journey into recovery. Now looking back we can see the growth and strength we all gained, the greatest being witnesses to the hand of God.

So, what would I tell a person grasped in the panic and fear of how to help a loved one that is drowning? Start throwing life preservers!

(I have a list of ideas that can be “Life Preserves” at the end of this post)

Running the Rapids

6 people running the river in rapids

This is a trip where my children- now adults- all got in the raft and floated the snake river, while Erik and I watched the grandchildren. There are preparations and precautions you take before rafting a river. First the life jacket must be securely on, and the raft properly rigged. Then we learn clear instructions on what to do if tossed from the raft. Running rapids is exciting and a wild ride, but the river can also be unpredictable, cold and dangerous.

In rescuing, there are also precautions and preparations taken, just as running the river.

I call it the 3P’s: THE PEOPLE, THE POWER AND THE PROGRAM.

Time and time again this answer came after seeking answers in prayer, “We have the people, the power and the program”

THE PEOPLE:

Gather a support team of trusted family, friends and the Lord. This is vital, because you can’t always be the one doing the lifting, sometimes you need to be lifted. Trying to do this yourself is like a lone soldier running into the battle alone; not valiant just stupid. Also on our team were church leaders and friends who had gone through an eating disorder and recovered successfully.

“Our Father in heaven knows His children’s needs better than anyone else. It is His work and glory to help us at every turn, giving marvelous temporal and spiritual resources to help us on our path to return to Him” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

THE POWER:

This, for us, was spiritual support. I believe God is all knowing, all powerful and has pure love for each of us- what more can I say. We called upon the power of priesthood blessings in the big rapids. Also the energy from exercise, sleep, good nutrition and getting out in nature will sustain you. A walk in nature together was our medicine and is now one of our fondest memories.

THE PROGRAMS:

Seek out a councilor that is a good mix with your child. We really studied this out together and were divinely guided. There are also so many good support groups out there. Getting involved in acts of service is also healing because you get out of your head and self pity and help others. You may also find that service releases endorphins.

man falling from airplane

What about the one who isn’t drowning but has deliberately jumped from the raft and is rebelling against the “Life Preserves” we are throwing and is determined to face the rapids their own way? This is what I’ve discovered as a mom:

Encourage:

Speak words that are positive and uplifting. Let them know you believe in their dreams- even if it’s not what you want for them. I had to learn this the hard way with my son’s goal to be a Navy Seal. Be their greatest fan!

Accept Them as They Are:

I believe we all need love and acceptance, just like we need air and water. I had an experience where actually telling a child, “I love and accept you as you are!” opened the door for healing and forgiveness to take place.

Understand:

We all have weaknesses and fears of failing. Our children need us to be there for them. I wasn’t even aware that my child felt misunderstood and like a disappointment. Think about how good you feel when someone takes the time to understand and listen to what you’re going through. Put down your phones and turn off the noise and sincerely listen to them without judgement. I promise it can soften hearts.

Show Love Unfeigned:

Try to see them through God’s eyes as the child of great worth that they are. This can be hard when a child is acting unlovable and hurtful. In my experience, this is when they need the most love, and I must swallow my pride and anger. Kindness is powerful! Every time I talked to my child as a lecture, or with criticizing words, feelings were hurt and walls went up. But when I sincerely loved by serving, and showed kindness, those walls came down. I also believe in hugging and apologizing. It’s good for our children to know we are not perfect and make mistakes too.

(Unfeigned: genuine; sincere)

THEN LET GO AND LET GOD TAKE OVER.

I also have found it helpful to be honest with my children, let them know sometimes (most of the time) parents make mistakes, and that I’m doing the best I can. No one is perfect. Of course I want them to try to be their best, but I don’t expect perfection from either one of us …cause that’s crazy thinking! So, I ask for the same love and acceptance from them. Most of the time my actions are out of love and concern for their welfare and safety on the river of life.

After all is said, I really do try to be joyful! Who wants to be around a sour pickle sucker all the time? I had to apply the same rules to loving myself, and letting go of guilt. I have a new favorite saying, “I can’t change what I wore yesterday any easier then I can change the past.” Repentance is simply making a course change, and then looking downstream! Enjoy the ride!

 

XOXO

Judy

lady holding up rock

“When my children remember their childhood, I want only for them to remember that their mother gave it her all. She worried too much, she failed at times and she did not always get it right… but she tried her hardest to teach them about kindness, love, compassion and honesty. Even if she had to learn it from her own mistakes she loved them enough to keep going, even when things seemed hopeless, even when life knocked her down. I want them to remember me as the woman who always got back up.”

Some Life Preservers we found helpful:

LDS Addiction recovery program

Life Changing Services– “Eternal Warriors” course or “Mothers Who Know” support group

66 Positive Things You Should Be Saying to Your Child;

Larry Barkdull “Rescuing Wayward Children

The Center for Change: Outpatient Therapy

04.28.17

Weekend Workshop

It’s no mystery that change requires action. You know, the whole, ‘your dreams don’t work unless you do’? Well, it’s true! But man. It can be overwhelming to see where you want to be and feel so discouraged because of where you are. We get it. That’s why we are introducing WEEKEND WORKSHOPS.

weekend workshop

Every Friday we will introduce a simple activity that we hope will boost your morale and brighten your outlook. Give it a try for at least a day. If you love it, find a way to incorporate it into your daily or weekly routine. Then check back the following week for another way to, you guessed it, improve your life!

Look at these mini workshops as baby steps. Simple ways to keep improving yourself, no matter where you are. So let’s get to it.

Gratitude Workshop

Expressing gratitude is an amazing way to change how you think. In my experience, when I go in to any given situation with an attitude of gratitude I am slower to judge, more kind and loving, and over all, happier. There is so much good in everything and everyone! Being grateful is the secret key that unlocks the door to the magical world of positivity.

So here is where you come in. Take this weekend head on with an attitude of gratitude! Do this workshop and in return, get good vibes! It’s that simple.

Workshop: Gratitude Writing Task

Take time this weekend to sit down and write a heart felt thank you letter to someone. Sit down and write an honest to goodness pen and paper letter. Lick the envelope, stick the stamp, and drop it in the mail. (Mother’s day is right around the corner, how convenient!)

Wanna know the best part of this workshop? The entire experience of expressing that gratitude and then sending it off means major bonus points for you.

flower envelope

Dr. Christian Jarrett conducted a brain-scanning study that was published in NeuroImage. He found that “even months after a simple, short gratitude writing task, people’s brains are still wired to feel extra thankful. The implication is that gratitude tasks work, at least in part, because they have a self-perpetuating nature: The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.”

Psychological benefits that include (but aren’t limited to) a feeling of well-being and reduced depression. Sign me up! *Insert hand raise emoji here* Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving.

We hope this simple activity will give you all the good feels and motivate you to make gratitude more of a habit. Share with us your weekend workshop success stories, we wanna hear!

Happy writing, friends!

XOXO

Kimberly

 

 

 

 

04.26.17

EQUANIMITY AS A MOTHER

REAL LIFE STORY FEATURING JUDY COOLEY

e·qua·nim·i·ty
NOUN
Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation:
“she accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity”

I like to compare my journey as a mother, to a hike to the top of a mountain peak.

On the hike, the trail starts out exciting and we are admire the beauty along the way. There is a quickness in our pace and anticipation of the summit.

As the elevation increases, the incline becomes steep and rocky. Thirst, hunger and fatigue begin set in. We become keenly aware of the pains, the heaviness of the load, and perhaps some hot spots where blisters are forming. Words of encouragement are spoken, arms are extended to help each other over big boulders. Often, hearts become discouraged and some want to give up.

Sometimes, we notice the storm clouds gathering, we hear thunder clashing and the temperature quickly drops. Quickly we find shelter to avoid the danger of a mountain storm. Gathering together we wait out the storm. Extra clothing is needed for warmth, and prayers are said for protection, courage and equanimity. The storm eventually ceases and together we start climbing again, once again helping each other upward, onward to the top. We are chanting “We can do this! We go Forever!” Joy and relief wash over us while standing on the summit, beautiful vistas lay at our feet, and we feel a great sense of accomplishment.

We pause a moment to kiss the sky, say prayers of gratitude, and take pictures to remember. Then it’s back down the mountain, which is a whole different adventure, with it’s own joys and trials.

I remember starting out on adventures with my little family- what fun! The biggest worry was if I remembered the sunscreen and snacks, and trying to keep up with them as they scampered off in different directions. Motherhood is full of fun and precious moments all along the way. You just have to stop and notice them and enjoy the scenery.  Take the time to create traditions, family vacations, laughter and fond memories because this will be the shelter they seek when the lightening strikes.

The anticipation of reaching the top is the dreams and hopes we all have for our children. I have high expectations for my children, of course. I want them to be happy, but even more then that, I hope they’re self reliant, honest and accountable, and have a determination to reach the top for themselves. I also hope for kind and helpful travelers along the way and for them to find an eternal traveling companion to begin their own family and adventures. (who doesn’t want to be a grandparent?)

We will all struggle over boulders and feel the heaviness of the weight on our shoulders. The threatening storms may be when your child deals with bullies, has been exposed to pornography, hindered with sever anxiety, develops an eating disorder, struggles with depression,  participates in destructive behavior or addictions. This is where reaching out to each other and cheering each other is vital. Family prayer and time set aside to teach correct principles is the gathering together to wait out the storms and wrapping them up in warm protection.

Recently a violent storm caught us off guard threatening our family; a child battling a faith crisis, willful rebellion, and suicidal thoughts tested our equanimity and resolve. There was a one point where every single one of us was beaten down by the storm. Some didn’t want to continue on the climb and had lost vision of the summit. This is when we each had to dig down deep get on our knees and remember why we where on this journey and remind each other, “We go Forever” Hold on this storm will pass.

I don’t think I’m unique. To a parent ALL storms feel threatening to getting the whole family safely to the peak. Those summit moments for me have been when my children chose the right, found good companions, my sweet grand babies, graduated, served missions, increase their talents, tenderly take care of each other, and still found time to go on adventures with us.  What I’ve learned and what my words of hope to you are: Enjoy the journey, All storms will pass; equanimity is found in faith in Jesus Christ. I also know that everyone, especially our children, have their own journey to experience to the summit.

It is in the hard climb where we learn and gain strength. We are given weaknesses and struggles to humble us and so it is for our children. “All these things shall give thee experience.” That is not easy on a mothers heart or nerves but this I know- we will all enjoy that bliss on the summit!

I have been blessed with the gift of a joyful spirit and the ability to overcome sadness and darkness. But, I allowed the dark storm clouds to over shadow me. I felt abandoned and beaten. How grateful I am for my family and loved ones picking me up and wrapping me in love. I reached out to friends, a support group and a counselor. Most importantly I reached out to my Heavenly Father; where I found hope again, and peace in sacred moments in prayer, scripture study and quiet holy places.

Do you remember a great storm once on a sea where the waves beat into a ship. Some cried out in fear, “carest thou not that we parish!” And The Savior arose, and rebuked the wind, and said, “Peace, Be Still” and the winds ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, “Why are ye so fearful? I envision Him speaking these words to me each time my fears of the storm arise. His peace washes over me. I’m finding my joyful spirit again and the strength to continue onward and upward.

I once had a friend tell me. All will end well, and if it isn’t well it’s not the end.

Keep climbing dear friends! I wish you a happy and joy filled journey, I Believe you can do this!

 

Judy

X0X0

04.24.17

5 Ways to Find Peace

WHEN YOU’RE FALLING TO PIECES

You guys, life is hard! Recently I have had many close friends share with me such hard things they are going through. It literally breaks my heart for them and their families! I want to just bundle them up in the coziest blanket, wrap my arms around them and take all their problems away. All I can do is share what I have learned through my journey, and hope and pray it helps them.

FINDING PEACE

5 ways to find peace

These same friends recently asked me how I have found peace while dealing with anxiety and depression. At first, I wasn’t sure what to tell them because it wasn’t just one thing that helped me, so I named 10 different things that helped. I left them feeling so overwhelmed, they didn’t know where to start and they left almost more lost than before asking me for help. SOOO I have come up with the 5 main things that helped me find peace when I was completely falling to pieces. I am so excited to share them with you, and hope they help you find the peace you are searching for!

1. Attitude of Gratitude

Think back to the joy you felt the last time a friend helped you out or your spouse helped with dinner—you can’t help but feel happiness right? A growing mound of evidence shows that giving thanks can also have a lasting effect on your mood, ease stress, and help you set priorities. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that people who wrote and delivered a heartfelt thank-you letter actually felt these effects for a full month after, and the same researchers discovered that writing down three positive things each day for a week kept happiness levels high for up to six months. Amazing right?

5 ways to find peace

Take time to write your blessings down and then remind yourself throughout your day and develop an overall attitude of gratitude.  This is a great way to ease stress, set priorities, and focus on what’s important in  your life!

2. Forgive and Forget

5 ways to find peace

I found that during my darkest days of depression I was not only feeling down in the dumps about life but I was also so mad at myself. Mad that I couldn’t be the mom and wife my family needed me to be. Not only was I mad at myself, but I was also harboring anger towards my sweet husband. I was being eaten alive by guilt and resentment. It wasn’t until I forgave myself that I could begin to heal and move forward.

Forgiving ourselves or others for wrong doings sets us free. Think of people who you may be harboring ill feelings towards and forgive them. This may take time, it may hurt and may not be easy. In the end it will be worth it!

3.Look For The Good

5 ways to find peace

If you are looking for the bad, you will surely find it! Try reprograming your mind to see the good. This takes practice and work, but can bring you so much joy and peace!

My husband and I were sitting on a park bench in Central Park, we were people watching (Central Park has some prime people watching). We were watching the exact same scenario unfold in front of us, but our outlooks on this scenario were completely different. My husband was seeing the good in people and in life and I couldn’t stop focusing on the negative and how bad people were. It was a really eye opening experience for me. I decided on that park bench to see the good. It has been hard work, and to be honest I still struggle with it, but I am here to tell you there is good in everyone and every situation. Look for the good.

 

4. Live In The Moment

“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Don’t let life pass you by; live in the moment. When I read that quote, I felt like I had been slapped in the face. Living in the moment or being mindful was a whole new concept to me. I was first introduced to it when I started seeing my counselor. I had heard the terms but I didn’t completely understand the concept. When my counselor explained this to me I was slapped in the face again, I finally knew what I had been doing wrong for almost three decades: I had been letting life pass me by. I was simply a bystander. I don’t want to be a bystander anymore. I don’t want to go to bed at night wondering where my day went. I don’t want to wake up twenty years from now not knowing what I’ve done with my life. I was letting my anxiety and depression live my life for me. I was living afraid of the future and guilt of the past.

Anxiety, an illness of our time, comes primarily from our inability to live in the moment -Thich Nhat Hanh

Living in the moment frees us from the events of the past and the fear of the future. When we are able to just live for the moment we are able to enjoy life for what it is.

5. Simplify

One aspect of simplifying is decluttering your life. So I ask you, what does your bedroom look like? Or what about your desk at work? I know that when I am stressed, my bedroom and closet become the catch all for life. They become super cluttered and it seems that every item that doesn’t have a home gets set on my dresser. My bedroom should be a haven for me and my husband but instead it becomes a dump station. Your mess is a reflection of you and your state of being. Simplify. Declutter your life physically and mentally.

Developing routines is another way to simplify life. Knowing what you’re going to do next and being consist in those actions brings a peace of mind. Set doable routines and practice those routines everyday. Notice the peace this brings. For example, my kids and I have a morning routine that we follow. My children know what to expect each morning and things flow so much better when we follow that routine.

5 ways to fins peace

 

I hope applying these 5 concepts into your life can help you find peace like they have for me. I know It is so much easier to stay stuck in a rut or throw yourself a pity party (trust me, I got really good at throwing pity parties). So I challenge you to start finding your peace! It is worth it and so are YOU!

XOXO

Sarah

PC: Nicole Maxfield www.colemaxfieldphotography.com

 

 

 

04.21.17

Remember, You are Loved.

I recently attended a funeral of a friend who committed suicide. It was my first time ever going to that type of funeral, and I didn’t know what to expect. As I entered that room with a heavy heart, I was overwhelmed at how crowded the room was. Almost every seat was filled. He had been struggling for a long time, and had felt so lonely for a long time, but as I looked around the room, he was surrounded by people. I listened to the wonderful and kind things that his family had to say about him; they talked about how he was their hero, how they have always looked up to him so much, how deeply and genuinely they love him, how painfully they would miss him.

I had a thought during the funeral that has been running around in my mind over and over again. I wish that this man would have really truly known how many people loved him, and how many lives he had touched.

In the darkness, it may seem that we are all alone. I know I am guilty of laying on my own bed, sobbing, wishing that I wasn’t so alone, and wishing that someone could help me. In reality, I am surrounded, just as my friend, by people who love me and would be there in seconds if they knew my struggle! I have no doubt in my mind, that each of you are also surrounded by such people, whether they are family, friends, neighbors, church members or coworkers. People LOVE you. People care about you.

It is hard to have the desire to reach out when we are in the darkness. It is hard to put down those walls and open up to someone; to let someone help you – but it is worth it.

I recently had an experience of my own like this. I was having a terrible day, I was filled with depression and anxiety, I wanted to disappear. My mom randomly called to talk about her day. I felt annoyed that she was interrupting my wallowing and quickly ended the phone call. A small moment after,  I realized that she was reaching out to me. Perhaps she had felt the need to call and check on me. I called her back. We talked for a long time. It took a while for her to break down the walls that I put up, but she listened to me, for a really long time, cry and talk about my struggles and my horrible day.

At the end of the phone call, I remembered my thought I had at the funeral, how I wish that man would have really truly known how surrounded by love he was. I wish that for every person alive; for those who struggle with depression and anxiety and eating disorders and all the types of disorders. I wish that for the poor and the beggars, for the criminals and the liars, I wish it for everyone. If people truly knew how much they were surrounded by love, I know this world would be such a better place.

I can’t make you believe me, I know that. But I promise, however hard it may seem, it is so worth it to let someone know you are struggling. I believe you will be surprised at how they will respond with love and affection.

Know that I am here, and I love you.

XOXO

Megan