Things You Are Doing Right And You Didn’t Even Know It

You know what? I am doing so much stuff wrong! So often, I have noticed, there are articles popping out at me from the internet telling me I am doing something wrong – or 10 things or 100. I was curious, so I typed into the MSN search: “things you are doing wrong” – here are the suggestions that popped up: “Things you are doing wrong everyday…in the kitchen…with your hair…on your android…and you don’t know it. 10 things you are doing wrong. 100 things you are doing wrong.”

Then I typed: “Things you are doing right” – Guess what came up as suggestions? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. When I hit the search button anyway, a few things came up about doing things right, but mostly it was “How to do things right” or, in other words, what you are doing wrong.

Really? Is this what we need? To be told a we are doing at least 10 things wrong in every aspect of our lives? “10 things you are doing wrong before you even get out of bed” – OK, I just made that up, but I bet it’s out there.

So, here’s 5 things you are doing right, and you didn’t even know it

  1. Your presence made someone happy. Whether it is online or in person, something you did touched someone’s life – and you don’t even know it. Truth.
  2. You created something new. Think about it – whether it was a physical thing (dinner, a blog post, a craft, a letter, a smile) or a feeling (gratitude, happiness, laughter) YOU created something new. Wow.
  3. You did what was needed even when it was hard. You did – if you can’t remember when, ask someone who knows you. They’ll remember.
  4. You were there for someone when no one else was. Yes, you were. Don’t deny it.
  5. You got out of bed (or got your day started by reading my blog in bed, either way)! Seriously, sometimes that is hard work. And you did it! I don’t even care which side you got off on!

So, there we have it. Five things you are doing right and you didn’t even know it. There are more, and I challenge you to think of them – maybe even write them down if you have a moment. Because you are doing 100s of things right, and you may not even know it.

 

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Todd

Please bear with me, as this could be the most personal story I have ever sent into the blog-o-sphere:

Sometimes moments happen in life that are very hard to put into words. The following happened to me 16 years ago, and I am only now attempting to make what occurred form meaning in the English language.

I was about 20 years old when I volunteered for a few days in a friend’s elementary school class. The class she taught was a specialized one. It had only about 10 children in it, aged from about 8 to 10 years old. All of the children in the class had mental and/or emotional disabilities or diseases that they had had since birth.

One day I was asked to escort one of the boys, I’ll call him Todd, to the office. He was leaving early that day and needed to wait for his ride there. All was well until another little boy walked into the office. Suddenly, Todd became very agitated and started yelling profanity at the other boy.

I immediately took Todd out of the office to wait outside. There was a large raised planter with a tree and some bushes in it near the office door. I had Todd sit on the concrete rim of the planter and I stood next to him. By this time, he was very agitated and was yelling the worse profanity I had ever heard at every child that walked past. Mostly they just looked very surprised and kept walking.

I had never been in a situation like this before. I’m sure I said some things along the lines of, “Todd, you need to stop that.” But he kept shouting – oblivious to me standing there at all.

Human beings are, by nature, a bit self centered. It only makes sense that we would mostly focus on what directly affects us. And in my short 20 years of life I had occasion only every once in awhile to go outside my little world. In situations I couldn’t control, especially one such as this, my reaction would most likely have been to become quite agitated about the whole thing…and maybe even a bit angry at the one causing all the commotion. But – that is not what happened that sunny day that I stood next to little Todd as he yelled obscenities out into the world.

In that moment, I changed.

All was still inside me and I was overcome with love for this little boy. I walked up to him and hugged him. I’m sure it broke all kinds of rules. But in that moment, I wasn’t thinking about being a school volunteer or Todd being a kid I met last week. We were just a brother and sister on this planet – children of God – both just doing the best that we knew how. And in that moment – we were both still.

I don’t know what happened to Todd. I hope he had more good teachers like that friend of mine. I hope he has mentors and helpers and people who lift him up. I hope he was able to realize his amazing potential. I sure owe him – because he taught me something in that moment.

As I stood there next to Todd and felt that overwhelming love – I got a glimpse of God’s love for Todd. He loved Todd as he shouted and cursed – he loved me as I stood there not knowing what to do.

When we are so confused that all we can do is yell obscenities out into the world – God still loves us. He felt the pain of that little boy that day as He has felt all our pain. He is sad when we are sad. He is standing ready to wrap us in His arms so that we may be still.

I’ve shared this scripture before, but it bears repeating: Isiah 49:16 “Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

Strength Beyond the Reef

DISCLAIMER: This post contains spoilers in reference to Disney’s movie, Moana.

A few months  ago, my husband and I took our daughter to see Disney’s Moana. Moana is a girl who lives on an island and is destined to become her tribe’s leader one day. For reasons in the island’s past, the people never go beyond the reef of their home. From the time Moana is little she longs to explore outside her little world. She and her father, the chief, have constant friction over this. After a particularly tough argument, Moana’s mother, Sina, comes to talk to her. She tells Moana more about her father’s own past, and why it is dangerous to go beyond the reef. She says, “Sometimes, who we wish we were, what we wish we could do – it’s just not meant to be.”

Soon after this, things escalate to the point that Moana must leave her island in order to save it. She knows her parents will not let her go, so she runs to hurriedly pack supplies. Suddenly, her mother is standing in the doorway – looking scared and out of breath from following her daughter. Moana and the audience are ready for another argument. I was ready for a mother’s hurt look as her daughter leaves.  Without a  word, Sina kneels down in front of her daughter. She puts the last of the supplies into the basket and holds it up to Moana – tears in her eyes.

Granted, I am a movie crier, it usually doesn’t take much. But of all the moments in the movie that one might guess was tear worthy (at least from me) this is the one that got me. Nothing moved me more than the moment that Sina realizes it is time to let her baby go and do the things she needs to do. The expression on her face said to me, “Okay, I know you need to do this, and I really don’t want that to be true. But I am behind you. You go now.” In her face, I saw my own.

My daughter will be 12 this year. Still a few years from going beyond the reef. But those years do go by so quickly. Even before she’s gone that far the storms are there. Am I doing enough? Have I done enough? So when the day comes when she has to go, she will be ready to face winds and rain and even a realm of monsters? Unfortunately, we don’t even have to go beyond our reef to come into contact with these things. But someday she will have to do so without me. I can help her pack her bags, but I cannot go with her.

Does she know that she is beautiful? Does she know that she is strong? Does she know that she is smart? Does she know that when no one else can be there that God is? That she is never truly alone? Have I given her these truths to take with her into the storm?

I hope so. I hope that I can do as Sina did. That I can help her pack her bag, and though I may not want it to be true, I can say, “I know you need to do this. I am behind you. You can do it.”

Big Deal

I want to share something with all of you. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I hesitated to share it at first, because it actually feels quite personal. But I finally decided that I wanted to share it. Someone may feel the same way that I do.

Television is bringing me down lately: bringing me down spirit and soul. I think I finally put my finger on it. It seems that every show I’ve tried watching lately is bombarding me with lies.

Can I be really frank right now? Sex is a big deal. It is sacred. It is life changing and it is a BIG DEAL. On TV it isn’t. On TV sex is as common place as brushing your teeth in the morning and as life changing as an amusement park. That was fun – now it’s over. TV is full of this lie.

Violence. Violence is a big deal. We are surrounded with it so often in life. I don’t want it winking at me from my television set, saying it’s no big deal. The good guy was violent and it’s OK because it’s no big deal. That is a lie, and it is an insult to those who put their lives on the line to protect us everyday. Violence is a BIG DEAL.

Human beings. So many shows just disgrace human beings making us look hurtful or  stupid. They make parents look selfish and kids look like liars and it’s no big deal. There isn’t much market for charity and compassion. But it is out there. Human beings are a big deal. We are children of God who loves us. We are beings with spirits and hopes and lives. Jesus Christ died for us. We are a BIG DEAL.

So, I am tired of television bringing me down. I am tired of allowing it to lie to me. That is not entertainment. I am not saying I am going to shut off my television and never look at it again (not yet, anyway) but I am going to be drastically changing my watching habits. I sat down with my daughter tonight and watched a show that was over 50 years old. And she laughed and I laughed and we were entertained and I am going to go to bed without feeling drained and down. And that is a big deal, too.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

I used to be an early decorator. I wanted my Christmas tree up on November 1st. What can I say? I love Christmas trees. I love Christmas. When I married my husband, we compromised on putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my husband’s favorite holiday, and he doesn’t like when it is skipped over.

I have been married nearly 13 years now, and I am just beginning to realize that I agree. We all know that Christmas stuff pops up in the store around Oct. 1st. And, granted, there is some Christmas planning that may require more than four weeks of time – but it does seem that Thanksgiving is becoming a day to eat turkey in between Halloween and Christmas. I have been very guilty of that in my life.

Well, I am putting out this vow to the internet universe: no more. No more will I skip over Thanksgiving. I have so much in my life to be grateful for. I want to make November a month of gratitude in my life and in my home. Then when Christmas time comes around, maybe I will be in a better mind set. I won’t be thinking so much about trees and gifts, but about my gratitude for my Savior. What a miracle His birth and life and death and resurrection and Atonement were. May I make this Thanksgiving month one of gratitude: to those around me who bless my life everyday, to my husband and my daughter who bring me eternal joy,to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for blessing me with all these things and more.

 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. Pslams 95:5

Some Days – a few Mothers’ Day thoughts

Some days.

Some days it feels like you are the only one who has a pile of dirty clothes on the floor and a pile of clean ones on the couch.

Some days it feels like the best thing to do with those dishes in the kitchen would be to throw them in the dumpster and start over.

Some days it feels like the mountain of stuff you did yesterday and the day before and the day before that – didn’t make a dent in what you need to do.

Some days it feels like you haven’t done anything.

Some days it feels like you haven’t done anything right.

Some days it feels like I haven’t done anything right.

This mother’s day I am going to give myself a present. I am going to see what I am doing right – I may even kick it up a notch and for 24 hours see only what I am doing right. I may just banish those bad thoughts to the back of my brain for the day and let the good ones have a parade.

After all, its about time they had a turn.

Some days.

Some days my daughter and I dance in front of the credits at the theater and we don’t care who sees.

Some days I put up a tent in my bedroom at ten o’clock at night because she’s been looking forward to this Mama/ Daughter slumber party all week.

Some days I watch Scooby Doo AGAIN.

Some days I shut Scooby Doo off – and we play – no matter what else is going on.

Some days we read our scriptures together.

Some days I run back to the school with the glasses/lunch/homework.

Some days we laugh so hard we can’t breathe.

Some days it’s hard.

Everyday its worth it.

Happy Mother’s Day, me. Remember that you are doing your best and that your best has the infinite potential to get better.

Field Trip

My daughter is not what you’d call a morning person – but this morning she was up a good half an hour before her alarm went off. Why? Because it is field trip day! She has been looking forward to this field trip since the beginning of the school year, which, when you are nine years old, is practically FOREVER.

After making a substantial breakfast (no snack time today) and explaining what substantial meant, I braided my daughter’s hair and reminded her to take bites of said breakfast. We looked up the weather and found a sweater. She put her newly purchased sunglasses on and I helped with the sunscreen. We got the camera out of the bag her Dad and I found last night and took her picture. Then, with lunch in hand, water bottles filled, and camera replaced, we headed off to school.

This is the farthest away field trip that my girl has ever been on, and one of the few that her mother has not come along as a chaperon. They had limited chaperon places available, and so I told my daughter that I should give another parent a chance to go along. Now, I won’t lie, I also may have been looking a little forward to sitting this one out. I like to hang out with my daughter, but being responsible for a bunch of kids in a place I’ve never been and riding in a school bus for an extended period of time are things I don’t really mind missing. But, this morning I’m kind of wishing I’d have secured my spot when I could have.

It is hard to send her off without me – to wonder if I have prepared her enough. As we made our way to school, I repeated last minute instructions that she already knew. Then I hugged her and told her to have tons of fun and that I loved her and would see her soon. On the way home I made a checklist in my mind: lunch – check, camera – check, water bottles – check, sun screen – check…I also prayed (again) for her to be safe and healthy on this trip.

As my daughter gets older, her adventures will get bigger, and doubtless farther away. The years slip by so quickly, and there is so much to do to prepare her. When she leaves to go out on her own will she have her sun screen? Will she know her parents love her? That God loves her? That, no matter what, we always will? Will she know which path to take?

I’m sure the many times that I send my daughter off without me in the future, I will be praying, I will be giving her last minute instructions as she walks out the door, I will be giving her one more hug. And someday when she heads out on her own and I cannot be with her, I hope I get the chance to say, “I love you. Have tons of fun. I will see you soon.”

Chalk on the Sidewalk

Let me let you in on the normal after school routine around here: I pick up my daughter from school. On the way home, we chat about our days and I usually ask her what she has to do for homework. When we get home, I let her have a half an hour break in which she eats a snack (or two or three) and then begins homework time. Homework time usually consists of me nagging her to do her homework every five seconds or trying to let her get at it on her own only to discover a couple hours later that we still have a long way to go. We’re usually done about bedtime – or, you know, later. Needless to say, we’re still working on the whole homework dynamic thing.

Recently, I bought a box of sidewalk chalk for 99 cents. As of this afternoon it had yet to be opened. Upon arriving home, my daughter asked if she could play with the sidewalk chalk outside. I thought for a moment, this week has been so busy it seems like all I’ve done is nag my kid. Sometimes it seems like weeks go by when nagging is our entire (or most) of our interaction. “Hurry we have to be there.” “You haven’t started your math yet?” “Put your shoes away.” “Get ready for bed.” So, today, when she asked about the chalk –

I said, “Sure.”

She said, “With you?”

I said, “Yes.” At this point she got more excited than I care to admit.

So, we went outside and drew with chalk. For the first half an hour, I didn’t even ask her what she had for homework, though that was hard for me. I think it was the first time in my life that I actually used up a piece of sidewalk chalk. In fact, we used up two, and I got chalk all over my pants, and we created a masterpiece.

When we were finished, we took a picture, because we knew that chalk on the sidewalk doesn’t last very long. Childhood fades all too quickly – and that is something I need to remember. So, here’s our masterpiece, which I like to call, “Sometimes homework will just have to wait.”chalk

A New Year’s Prayer – Thanks be to God

Light shines through
The striped blue curtains
Glows on past the dusty blinds
Lighting up the room around me
Showing how this new year starts
A cluttered room
With scattered chairs, an extra table, seatless couch
Items of all kinds have gathered
In this little, lit up space
Light dances round
And shows me more
A couch who’s cushions not gone far
Off to make a cousin’s bed
Extra chairs and tables needed
For loved ones coming through the door
Clutter in the form of games, Christmas gifts, and late night snacks
Laughter seems to dance around them
In the light come through the cracks
New year you have come to greet me
In my cluttered lovely home
May family, laughter, and light fill you
And may I see it when they do.