Has it ever happened to you where you are seeking an answer from Heavenly Father (or the Divine Deity that you give thanks to) regarding your life and the path that you should take? And when you receive an answer, you take a moment to reflect on it and then shake your head and think to yourself, “You have GOT to be kidding…right?”. There are times in my life where I am of the opinion that He has a terrific sense of humor and I’m being “Punk’d”!
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to the greater Phoenix area and visit some old friends and I made some wonderful new ones. I had a great time socializing and ate some great food at Los Taquitos (might I recommend the fish tacos? They are small so order at least 2 or more!!) and at Thee Pitts Again (the pulled pork was so very tender and as Guy Fieri would say: The sauce is killer!). I did a little sight seeing, but not as much as I would have liked. I guess next time I go I will have to make ‘dates’ with my friends to do stuff!
I also spent quite a bit of time in the Mesa Arizona temple, or on the grounds if it was closed. I love spending time there…the landscaping is so beautiful and well taken care of. Such lovely surroundings make it easier for me to collect my thoughts to organize them better. During my visit there I was torn about things that were happening in my life and I was very much confused. I did a lot of deliberating regarding which choices my Father desires me to make. I felt there were a lot of obstacles in my way and any option I took would have consequences, some of which would just be too difficult for me to handle, or I felt I was not strong enough to follow through with. Why couldn’t my life just stay the way it was without all these bumps? Why couldn’t I just stay where I was and have peace and happiness? Through my tears and my broken heart over the decisions I was faced with, I came across in the book of Alma, chapter 37:
36. Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goes let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
37. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things you shall be lifted up at the last day.
Counsel with the Lord (check) and He will direct me…umm…I knew what it was that Heavenly Father was trying to tell me to do. My problem was that it was too hard, it was too much work, it would take too much time, and most importantly, it would take all my strength. I didn’t know if I could do it. As I fell asleep that night, I knew what I needed to do. I woke in the morning and went to the temple to get clarification and confirmation…to know that I wasn’t just going out of my mind and needed to commit myself as soon as I got home. When I was sitting quietly and talking to my Father, I told Him the decision that I had made, as well as all of the things that I would do to make sure I accomplished the end result and I asked Him if it was the right choice. For the first time in two days, I had a sense of peace and calm and joy come over my mind. I KNEW that what I had chosen to do was pleasing to Him and that He would be with me every step of the way. I know with a certainty that by moving forward I will be able to progress spiritually and in life as a whole, and blessed for my efforts. I know I will be able to accomplish things that I never thought I had the strength to do, because He will be leading me…I am not alone. I know it’s not going to be easy…no one ever said that life was…but it will most definately be worth it. I will be fulfilling one of the commandments that I was given in my Patriarchal Blessing: “Your obligation is to live life in its fullest, to rejoice in the blessings of life, to be happy, to move forward and realize that your life is part of the great plan of our Heavenly Father.”
I am incredibly humbled at the level of understanding and support I have received from friends, other members and from my Branch President when I have told them of my decisions. If at the very least, this journey will help me “refine the spiritual nature that is part of (my) being”, enable me to grow even closer to my Father and to my children, satisfy my curiosities (and theirs) and be filled with many adventures. And when it is all said and done, I hope to be on my way to the highest place one can ever hope to dwell.
Have I mentioned that I have a hard time keeping a journal? Or resolutions? *sigh*
So, I know it has been almost 3 months and so many things have happened in that time, but if I tried to share everything that has happened, I wouldn’t know where to start! So, I will just start again:
“Hi. My name is Tasha. Thank you for coming!”
I have come to realize that part of the reason for my mini-failure in keeping things updated is that I don’t really have a plan. I need to have a plan. I live on plans…organization…and forethought. Ya, that’s a good word: Forethought. I think that those who know me would say that’s a great word to describe me. I am a thinker and love to plan in advance. I thrive in an environment where I can contemplate all possible scenarios and outcomes and make a well informed decision. That way when a situation (or crisis) arises, I will know what to do…most times. Apparently creating a blog was not as well thought out as I initially hoped. Now that I have done some research and consideration, I have come up with a plan. So…here goes!
Since today is Tuesday, I have decided that on these days I will post a picture (one that I have taken and has meaning to me), in support of resolution #6 from my previous post.
It has been almost 7 months since I had my first vacation alone…for 5 days…with no kids. To say the least it was odd at first, but I was able to become somewhat reaquainted with the person I was before I had children. I was able to do things that I wanted to do, for as long as I wanted and I only had my needs to take care of. It was a very enlightening and humbling experience. I was able to rejuvinate myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually (BTW, just thought I would mention that while I can do these things at home without taking a mini-cation, it is challenging to do as a SAHM and in a small branch with about 45 active members, almost half who are children). I met people, other single adults (yea!!), and attended a singles ward for the first time in many years. I was able to sit through a sacrament meeting without having to “shush” anyone, I could concentrate on the talks being given and found that my spiritual cup was filling. I had the privilege to attend the Arizona Temple at least once (or twice!) everyday it was open while I was there. I had a renewed sense of gratitude for the religious teachings that have become an integral part of my life. I came to realize that I have a great strength within myself that I never knew before. I was grateful for the opportunity to take a break from life and indebted to the people who were willing to care for my children while I was away.
As I write this, I am reminded of the deep gut-wrenching sadness that I felt, as I was walking down the ramp to board the plane back home. I became emotional and didn’t know why. As I sat and pondered my mixed emotions (and used up all my tissues), I had the odd sense that I was not “going home”, but that I was “leaving home”. For the first time in my life I felt like I found the place where I truly belonged. It was a combination of geographical location and my state of being. I knew at that moment I would return. That one day I would see my new friends again and make more. That I would have the opportunity to renew the friendship I had with myself and with my Father. That I would be able to over-flow my spiritual cup so that I could continue to grow in the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings that I am provided every day.
For all those new found friends that are reading this post, I have one thing to say: my trip is booked and I will see you soon!
So I spent the day yesterday trying to organize my thoughts on how I wanted to continue on my blog resolution. I figured I would start when something inspired me to do so…and it came to me tonight.
The kids and I sat down for supper and I was watching my two and a half year old try mozza sticks for the first time. He was watching everyone else and saw that they were all having fun pulling on the warm melted cheese and making it all stringy. So he wanted to try, too. This was the result:
This picture speaks to me and really touches my heart. For those who know Nixon, they will know that he is a ball of sunshine and loves to see how things work. He is a wonderful little spirit who, even at such a young age, expresses such joy in little things. I will always remember this experience and how he declared: I love sh-tringy cheese, Mama! It so good!
For many people a new year means a new start. Many people revel in the idea of a new beginning. Others, not so much. For many years I have been one of the those that make resolutions to exercise more or eat better or save money or….you get the idea. It’s great until about week 4 or 5 (if I make it that far!) when I just seem to run out of steam. Sometimes LIFE happens and i just don’t have the same desire or time to fulfill all the resolutions that I made. So, I thought of something different. How about a resolution to keep my resolutions? Does that seem redundant? How could I possibly accomplish this? Well, I think I need to make the resolutions personal, but make the resolution to keep them, public. (Does this make any sense?)
My reasoning behind this is if I make a resolution and don’t keep it, no one will know. However, if I make resolutions and put them out there for ANYone to see, then if I fail to accomplish my goals, SOMEone will know….and it will be another thing that I have failed to finish…(sometimes I wonder if I have ADD because I can take on a dozen projects at once, but can’t seem to finish any…I am getting better, but it is still a struggle!)
Anyway, this brings me (and you!) here. I am going on a journey of self-improvement…teaching myself to take control over my actions, my happiness, my future and my spiritual progression. Would you like to follow along?
Last night, as the clock was striking midnight for those in the Eastern time zone, I started to make a list of the things that I want to accomplish, keeping in mind my living situation, my time management skills (or lack of them) and what I felt was reasonable or manageable. Nothing like putting the bar high and setting myself up for failure (another tendency!)
So, without further ado, here is my list of 11 items that I plan to fulfill by the end of 2012:
1. Lose inches and tone muscle. I am currently 5’4” and weigh 138.4 lbs. My goal is to lose inches (with a weight loss of at least 10 lbs) and tone the muscle that I have. I plan to do this by eating plenty of vegetables, lean proteins and staying away from sugary/starchy items. I was born with a sweet tooth that has haunted me since childhood…and I plan to control the things that pass my lips. And for anyone that thinks this is not possible or thinks that it is too hard, I have to say that I decided one day to give up caffeine, and I did. I haven’t looked back.
2. Be more positive. I find myself some days with a scowl on my face that just won’t go away. I have no idea why, but it’s like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I just can’t shake it off. I have always known that being happy is a choice. A person needs to change their mindset and view on the world to make a change within themselves. I firmly believe that by keeping an open mind and not rushing to judgements on ANYthing, will leave me in a better place mentally. I will then have the CHOICE to be happy or feel another emotion (sadness, anger, despair, etc.). I know that as I make the choice to be happy, I will find more joy in my life, in my responsibilities as a parent and be an example others can look up to.
3. Travel. I was bitten by the travel bug and have SO many places that I would like to see, hear and experience. It is hard on a limited income and with young children, for me to just “go” somewhere. I will take the opportunities to travel when I am given them but when I can, I will also take time to travel with my children. I feel that it is important for my children to experience other cultures, countries, foods and ethnicities. These are things that I am passionate about learning and I hope to share my experiences with my children as well. I believe that it is important if they are to become open minded, educated and well-rounded adults.
4. Fall in love! This has been a sore subject with me for a very long time and I have never understood the importance of a “traditional” family. I have been married before and I am now divorced…I have been for years. I’ve been independent for a long time and I’ve been perfectly happy being a single mother. I never saw myself as a SAHM; I wanted to work! It gave me time without my children and it kept me sane! I always had my own identity and I was never known as “so-and-so’s” mom. I was me and I liked it that way. Then I would be done work…I would pick up the kids from daycare, rush home, make supper, clean the house, bathe the children, put them to bed and flop on my bed exhausted from my second job as “Supermom”. No wonder I was stressed out! I’m feeling the stress just remembering my life back then! March 2011 brought a HUGE change for my family. We experienced the loss of our home to a fire. The contents to our townhouse were severely smoke damaged and although there a few things were saved, the majority of it needed to be replaced. A move to a new town closer to family and long-time friends, brought a speck of light into my (at that time) dull existence. Making this change more for my family than myself was my intent, but really do things ever work out the way we plan? After many years of on-again, off-again religious activity, I made the choice to regularly attend meetings for the benefit of my children. I had resigned myself to thinking that I would never again partake of the sacrament or hold a calling or ever set foot in a temple again. Although I was reluctant to make certain changes within myself, I came to realize that if I wanted my children to grow up to be respectable people with righteous desires and attitudes, I needed to be that example for them. I needed to show them that not only did I believe the things they were being taught, but that I was willing to reflect those teachings in my life. We have a great Branch President…he gets you to do the things you never thought you would do, without you really even knowing it! His gentle suggestions, combined with my guilt for being a prodigal daughter of God, got me on the path that I am on now and I have made significant changes in my life over the past nine months. Once I started doing what my Branch President asked me to do, I couldn’t stop…I didn’t want to. It felt so good to be on that path, but so hard also. I have been blessed financially so that I do not have to work outside the home. After spending the last 9 months at home with the children, I can’t even imagine not being there for them when they come home from school. I understand the importance of one parent at home. Looking around me I realize that everything I ever wanted was what I was taught years ago. I want to have a forever family. I want to be sealed in the temple. I want a companion who will help me raise the children in righteousness and help me teach them all the things that I am re-learning. A few of the members in the branch are of great support to me and the missionaries we had were a huge blessing…but I know the responsibility to teach them is mine and I know I needed help. For the first time that I can recall, not only do I need someone beside me, but I actually want someone with me. And I know that whomever Heavenly Father has for me, he is an amazing person.
5. Genealogy and Temple work. I have names submitted already and work that I have started, but now I need to update what I have and submit the new names so that the work can be done. Also, I want to do my first sealing.
6. Take more pictures! My kids are growing fast and because there are 4 of them, my time is split doing so many things! I need to stop and take the time for more pictures before they are all grown up and I forget what they were like.
7. Start a “Happiness Jar”. Take the empty peanut butter jar that we have and maybe decorate it (great project for the kids!) and every day (or week) write down something that made me happy. Whether it is an anecdote of one of the children or an “A-ha!” moment, write it down and put it in the jar. Then when I am having a hard day or feel like life kicked me in the head, I just need to open it up and read a few to get myself back on the path to happiness. I have done this before and it worked as a great visual when I could start to see it filled up, reminding me of all the things I have to be grateful for.
8. Kill them with Kindness. I don’t remember where I heard this phrase, but the idea is simple. Be kind to everyone I meet, in all different situations. Do a good deed weekly. Find a positive twist to any situation. One missionary I know used to always get into trouble as a child/teen (even as an adult!) and all he did was smile. When someone frowned at him or made a rude remark, he smiled…didn’t let someone else’s attitude bring him down. What a great example of strength! Imagine if I did that? Every day? People would want to know what I’m smiling about…what makes me happy. What a great way to share with them my secret to happiness!
9. Learn Something New. This could be learning how to play a hymn on the piano, or a new cooking technique. It could be trying a new food that I never thought I would like. Or maybe teaching myself how to use a photo editing software! Trying to learn something new every day may seem overwhelming, so I am going to try it weekly. By making goals that are reasonable and manageable, I cannot fail.
10. Organization. Keep my home and my life in an organized manner so both will run efficiently. Make my house a home and truly make it a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory and order so that it is a house of God.
11. Fulfill My Calling to the BEST of My Ability. So, this last resolution has a few parts to it. One is my church calling. Just before Christmas I was asked to accept a calling as the Branch Music Director….to which I readily agreed! I am SO excited to do this and I have so many ideas that I don’t know where to start! I need to make sure that I am prepared every week and that includes prayerfully choosing the hymns for sacrament meeting. I also want to be able to increase my understanding of the scriptures and of gospel doctrine. I will do this by taking time each night (after the kids are in bed!) to study the lessons for the next week and take notes on questions, thoughts and feelings to share with the class when appropriate to do so.
Second is my calling as a mother. When it comes to my children I need to relinquish a teeny tiny bit of the control that I have and start saying “Yes” a little more, as long as it is something manageable and reasonable. Once a month I will make something for my children that they can take to school and share with their friends and classmates. Whether it’s hair clips, cake pops or cookies…make them feel special and appreciated by their peers. I also need to keep teaching my children the principles of the gospel and encourage them to choose the right. Family home evening is going to be more of a regular thing that I can prepare for on Sunday nights.
Third, my calling as a Daughter of God. I need to be what my Patriarchal Blessing tells me I am. Not hiding the qualities and traits I have been blessed with, but rather exemplify the generosity of my Heavenly Father by being who He made me to be. I have been told I “have every characteristic of noble womanhood, the ability to nurture, to strengthen and to teach by the power of the Spirit….Through the qualities of your heart and spirit you will be an influence for good amongst your fellowmen, a light on a hill, an example of gentility, of love and of kindness and courage”. I know that as I perfect these qualities, my life will become easier to manage and the righteous desires of my heart will be fulfilled.
So, now where to begin?!? Well, this is the first post of many and although I aim to post a few times a week, I hope that you will follow along with me. Feel free to comment, provide words of encouragement, ask questions or leave helpful hints. I am very new to this whole blog thing and I know there are so many things I can do to make this “prettier”, so if you can help I would appreciate it!