Feb 23, 2013

Hope For The Best?

I bet you already knew that if you have, "the feeling that what you want can be had or that events will turn out for the best" you have hope.

Recently I received a shot of hope. Just to be clear my hope never went away...oh no it has been hanging out on my couch every day but today it happened to get a shot that caused it to get up off the couch and do some pacing :) Don't worry these shots are not illegal I am pretty sure they happen to most of us. And sometimes these shots of hope are followed by more (addicted to hope much? :) but sometimes the hope shot is followed by disappointment. I am trying to remind myself of this fact. You know the whole "hope for the best but expect the worst." Yeah, where is that quote from anyway? Would you believe Mel Brooks ? :)

The hard part of the whole thing is that tiny annoying word best. Who decides what is best for me? And do I have any say in it? Do I have to wait for the best or can I go and find it? Will I recognize best? Will I be able to understand it really is the best? Can I accept it? How long do you have hope? Forever? For two months? For 36 hours? Did you know the word best means, "most advantageous, suitable, or desirable?" Sometimes it takes years for us to realize that what happened was "for the best." UGH 

What if the things that turn out to be for the best are not what I want? :) Best is sort of a plain word anyway/ I mean I want, "the feeling that what I want can be had or that events will turn out...marvelously, or fabulously, or how about happy ever after-ly...not just best. :)

And here is a good question...do I deserve to hope?

How do you know what you deserve?

Okay now I am going crazy on you I better go find some chocolate...it is for the best :)

Feb 17, 2013

"I is Kind. I is Smart. I is Important."

Remember the time when you finally realized you can not make everyone happy? What about that time you realized you simply can not let other people have power over you? Where were you when you learned that grown ups can be mean? I had some silly notion that being mean magically ended when you left middle school. Were you 44 when you learned that there are some people no matter what you say will never, ever understand you? Oh, and then there was the sad sad day that you realized that there are some people you simply have to stay away from....yes, no matter what. I lived most of my life thinking I could win over those people and I took whatever meanness they dished out to me and subjected myself to their toxic-ness over and over and over again thinking it was the right thing to do and that I could change them and that I just misunderstood them and they surely did not mean what they said....um, they did :) I kept inviting them and reaching out to them and getting burned. Yeah, good times :) There ought to be a medal for this stuff :)

 I hate complicated relationships.  I want peace, love and I guess I can not leave out hippy beads :) I don't want to have to think about protecting myself all the time. I want to be who I am. I want people to be nice to my children and me because it is the right thing to do. I want to make sure I never cause pain to anyone. It makes me ache to think there is a possibility I have ever caused someone to cry with my words.

I think after years of slowly realizing that things simply do not work the way they do in my head I finally know with all my might that all that should matter is that Heavenly Father knows that Jennifer is doing her best. She is being true to herself and her values and treating others the way she knows he would want her to. I can't make you like me. I can't make you realize I am doing the very best I can at everything I do. No matter how big of a tantrum I throw I can't make you understand that I really do have very true, honest and kind intentions. Strangely you and I can definitely agree that I am SO not perfect :)

As incredibly painful as my learning curve has been I love that each time someone hurts me I realize I have become stronger. I get over it quicker. I deal with it in a more mature way :) As yucky as it may be it is a pretty awesome feeling to realize you are ever so slowly "getting it" Yes, I just may be growing up :)

I felt a little foolish and sad as I realized I had been giving so much time and energy to the mean people in my life that I had completely forgotten all the lovely, kind, unconditional people. How eternally grateful I am for them. I love these people and there are so many of them in my life. There they are being so patient with me as I learn what truly matters. They don't mind telling me the same thing over and over. They see my goodness. They pick up the phone when they see it's me :) They know how to say hard things in such a kind way that you know they genuinely want to help you and care about you :)

I was thinking about that little girl in the movie The Help and how her nanny taught her to say "I is kind. I is smart. I is important." All that seems to really matter is that we know these things without a doubt and then when people come into our lives who seem to need to insist that we are none of those things we can ignore them and not let their words devastate us.

Thanks for letting me use my blog to ramble today. I think it was mostly for me :) I wish I was using the space to tell you about a craft I made or something cute one of my kids said or some awesome vacation I went on. But I am instead using it to try to make sense of why people can't be nice. It seems so simple.

Feb 15, 2013

Volunteering at the Westfield Athenaeum.

My love of libraries and books started when I was teeny tiny. There is no disputing this fact. I vividly remember organizing my books on my bookshelf in my room by height. It always frustrated me that I could not have them organized by height and alphabetically at the same time....sigh, just. not. possible. I loved making library cards for my books so I could write names on them of people who do not exist but yet somehow checked out books from my library that happened to be on my bookshelf in my room. I think I am the only person on the planet that misses the old practice of stamping the books with the date to return them more than anything in the world.

About a year ago someone mentioned the idea of volunteering to me as a possibility of a smallish step towards recovering from the middle of a lovely life muddle. The idea stuck in my head and it took some time but I finally worked up my courage to ask for a volunteer application at the boys and girls library in our public library in town. I brought the nice,smooth application home ever so carefully and I filled it out in my very best handwriting with my favorite pen. I worried over parts of the application that I was not able to clearly answer due to my extreme lack of experience. I worried excessively about that lack of experience thing. The finished application sat nice and neat on the counter by our phone for quite awhile then it migrated to my nightstand in my room. Then it moved to the kitchen table, it even spent some time in the front seat and the back seat of my car. Needless to say the nice, neat, perfectly written application now had some gucky spots on it from its journeys.I finally tossed it. Yeah, can you say lack of courage? Lack of confidence? Lack of....well you know just lots of lack. I was greatly disappointed in myself and my lack. The days continued to plug on some better than others and whenever there were down days without any progress or monumental breakthroughs the thought would again come to my mind about how I really needed to volunteer. I finally went and got another application...filled it out ...and immediately turned it in just like that...easy peasy japanesy. I have no idea why this is how I roll but it is. I seem to always need practice runs :) Everyone on the planet wishes it took me as long to open my mouth to say what I am feeling as it did for me to act on volunteering :)

About a week later after they CORI checked me and made sure I had never been in jail the head of the children's department at the library called me and asked me if I could start volunteering that week. I was SO excited. Our library is in the very center of our town. It is an old, elegant building with a ton of character. High ceilings, creaking radiator sounds in the cold months, lots of levels, murals on the walls, old paintings, tall windows, long drapes. I truly love it.

On my first day of volunteering I got handed a list of books that were award winners, some stickers that proclaimed award winner on them, and a roll of clear stickers to put over the top of the award sticker to insure it would never come off. I spent the first three times I went volunteering to the library finding out first if the library even owned the award winning book, then finding the book, and lastly putting the stickers on the spine of the book. I adored every minute of this process. I loved getting to know where things were. I loved learning something new, I loved re-discovering books that I had read years ago but forgotten and even better was adding books to my, "I have to read this right now" list.

 Since I started volunteering the first week of January  I have settled into a very cozy volunteer routine. I go in at least twice a week usually on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 12.

Sometimes I get to search for books that have been declared lost or missing. I love doing this it is like a treasure hunt and I am so thrilled when I find a missing or lost book which I often do :)

 Sometimes the librarians ask me to help make their crafts for the story times they conduct during the week. This part makes me a little more nervous because it often involves the Ellison machine or the laminating machine. The Ellison fascinates me now that it and I have an understanding and I am over my Ellison machine fear. At least 50 wooden blocks sit on little shelves on the wall by the Ellison, all different shapes, letters, numbers and much more are on the blocks. You choose the shape you want, you lay your paper under the press and set the block on top of the paper, then you pull the handle and it presses the blade on the bottom of the block into the paper and voila you have punched out a shape. I really need one of these machines in my house :) I think the latest version of Ellison is a Cricut machine. But I love the old fashioned and it works very well with no trace of a sassy computer like attitude.

The laminating machine should not scare me but it does a little. I like to do things exactly right and that is harder to do the first few times you laminate as you get used to where the right temperature is and how fast to put down the items you are laminating :)

Sometimes I get to go upstairs to the young adult section and search for books.

Sometimes I get a list of all the books that have not been checked out in a long time, I get to go find them and load them all on a cart and take them to the librarian so she can decide which ones stay in the library and which ones go to the book sale. I feel so sad about all those books that never got checked out. A lot of them looked very interesting to me. I mean who would not want to know all about the inventor of crayons...Mr. Binney? It made me wonder about how much kids even read books these days.

I can't help but enjoy observing different moms and dads with their kids in the library. All sorts of fun conversations are overheard by me :)

I honestly could do this everyday. The librarians are all very nice and I am slowly figuring them and their relationships with each other. I love feeling part of something. They have already asked me if I will help with the huge library book sale which is in April and that is like asking me if I want to go to Disneyland. I was SO excited and can not wait until it is time to organize all those books for the sale.

This is a teeny tiny step towards my future. I seem to move slowly when it comes to some things. But I am thrilled this worked out and I can not begin to tell you how much I needed this library volunteer gig :)

Feb 9, 2013

Delivering The Paper.

Years and years ago when we lived in Princeton, New Jersey we had four little kids, the cost of living on the east coast was high, the hubby had his first real world job and we all know how those pay. I have no idea where I got the idea to get a paper route to help make money but the point is I got the idea and the rest is history. Much to my husband's chagrin I signed up to deliver the Trenton Times everyday. The papers would get dropped super early in the morning on the street outside our apartments on Bayard Lane in Princeton. I would get up while everyone was still sleeping and go out and fold them into our car. I can not remember the exact amount of papers we had but it was well over a hundred. I delivered them most of the time but some times the hubby would get up and deliver them before work. Sometimes the hubby would be out of town and then I would wake my 4 little sleeping kiddos and stick them in the car and go deliver those papers. I was also in charge of billing everyone on the route and I would line the bills up all in order in a shoebox that we would take with us on the weekends. We did that route the whole time we lived in New Jersey. I will never forget the relief when a week before we moved to Kansas we quit it.

When we got to Kansas money was still tight but I had lots of little kiddos at home with me so what is the best way to make money when you can't during the day? Um yeah, paper routes. This time the hubby did the route plus doing his daytime job at the University of Kansas.

 During this time in Kansas our oldest kid, Zach, decided he needed the latest handheld electronic device...I think it was a Gameboy? It would cost about $80.00. I decided he needed to earn the money himself. So I found out that there was a little paper in Lawrence that was delivered once a week during the day and we signed up to do it. Zach did this little route and earned his money and bought his Gameboy. We kept the route for several years and only quit because we moved.

I loved that the kids were earning their own money, learning about work, and commitment. It was a ton of work for me getting them to follow through with doing the route, driving them since the routes were not in our neighborhood, making them go back to put the papers in the right place when they were lazy, pretending it was fun, but in the end it was worth it. I confess that by now I was a little addicted to the kids having this extra money.

So when we moved to Indiana guess what we got? Yeah, we got another paper route. This one was the most challenging yet. It was two days a week but it had to be delivered by 6 in the morning and by this time I had kids that were in early morning seminary at the church. So, Miriam did one morning and Madeline did the other morning so that they were only sacrificing one day of sleep. I would wake them up at about three in the morning and we would drive the route which took us two hours to do. It was a lot of papers. It was clear out in the country. After the route we would run home, get ready for seminary, go to seminary, go straight to school, and then to track or soccer practice after school. They made quite a bit of money on this route and we had some quality bonding time listening to our music and driving in the car for those two hours but it was definitely a sacrifice for all of us. Driving this route in the winter was where I overcame my fear of driving in the snow for once and for all.

Now we live in Massachusetts and we have two paper routes. They are afternoon routes and they are not too big. As with all the routes we have had these routes have rotated through our kids but right now Tatiana does one that has 19 papers and Joe does the other that has 26 papers and on Saturday Natalie does both the routes so she can have a little money too. Tatiana has $900 dollars saved from doing the paper routes and Joe has been able to purchase almost anything his heart desires with his earnings. Notice there is no use of the word "saved" in the sentence about Joe and the paper route :)

Why all this reminiscing about paper routes? Well another route opened up in our area and I have decided to take it for me. At 36 papers it is one of the biggest routes that the Westfield Evening News has. I could use a little bit of extra money and I am not quite yet in a spot where I can have a real job since I still have little kids who need me at home. These routes only take about 20 minutes to do and I could walk, bike, or even run this one to combine money making with exercise :) I start my new job on the 18th of February and I am very excited about it. I hope it all works out as fabulously as it appears it will in my head.

These routes have been a bother but we have a lot of memories associated with them. There is the time that Madeline got bit by a dog on a route. There is the lady who tipped the kids $100.00. There is our Suburban with the side runners that the kids would stand on while I inched down the streets...yeah, bad mom moment :) There is getting super stuck in the snow. There was me backing into a mailman truck. And don't forget the wonder at discovering most people tip the paper carrier at Christmas.

So wish me luck with my new job. I am a paper girl I always dreamed of this day :)

Feb 8, 2013

The BYU Magazine is True :)

This week our BYU Magazine came. I look forward to this magazine coming with all my heart. The minute it comes I try to find a place to hide so I can inhale every word on every page. In all the years since my hubby graduated from BYU and, as alumni, we started getting this magazine I have yet to be disappointed with an issue. There is always a fabulous article that I think I need to rip out, put in a page protector, share with everyone, and save forever and ever. There is always something in each issue that makes me long to have endless discussions around a campfire, don't all monumental discussions happen around a campfire? So many times an article in the BYU Magazine has led me on a hunt to find a recommended book or watch a you tube video or google a person to learn more. I always walk away from reading it with a quest to need to know more about something.

When I got this issue, I have no idea why, I started reading it from the back page and not the front page. Weird huh? I always scan over the lists in the back of BYU Alumni who have recently died. I have no idea why I do this the chances of me seeing a name I would recognize are teeny tiny. Then there are some page long articles about BYU alumni who have discovered something, achieved something, or learned something. This time one of these short articles caught my eye because the title was, "Want to Be Happier? Disrupt Yourself." Gosh darn it, I do want to be happier. I think about this fact every minute of every day actually. I am constantly wondering what is the right thing for me to do to find where happy is for Jennifer. So you know I HAD to read this article because who would not wonder how disrupting yourself could make you happier? The woman who the article is about seems to be one of those people that never ever thought she couldn't do something. She has a ton of courage and after starting on Wall Street as a secretary over the course of fifteen years she eventually became an equity analyst. She talks about decisions she has made through the years that have disrupted her life, changed her course she was traveling on, and how she assumed that most women were doing the same things she was. But then she found out that this assumption was simply not true. She discovered that many women do not dare to dream at all they do not even think it is their privilege to dream. I can not do the article justice here but it has really been on my mind for a week now.Whitney Johnson's challenge to me to "rethink the fundamentals of my life and figure out what I was meant to do....DISRUPT my status quo." Do I have enough courage to do it? She wrote a book called, Dream. Dare. Do and I have been looking for a copy of it and, of course, I googled her and watched a video of a talk she gave.So far I have not found anyone who wants to play "talk about it to death" with me :)

I continued on in my reading of my magazine using the bizarre from back to front method. I could spend pages and pages telling you all about what I learned. But I will just mention the article about Mitt Romney that starts on page thirty. This article is a summary of an address that Mitt Romney gave in 1999 and it is about success and oh, so much more. It starts with him talking about success and how when you are young everyone tells you your success is up to you but he says he is not convinced it is totally up to you. It is a mix of so many things he says...your choices....the mental equipment you are born with ( love that..."mental equipment")....serendipity(my favorite word....Mitt Romney believes in it :)....and even our loving Heavenly Father has a place in the mix of the factors that determine our success. This was all interesting and I underlined it all but what really got me was later in the article when he talks about a time in his life when he and five partners in a firm that he had founded were, "at each other's throats."  He says that it seemed that "they all wanted different things from their lives and from their business." They finally meet with a "team-building consultant-psychologist"... yeah, who knew those existed? This person told them that "if they lived their lives in conflict with their core values they would experience stress, ill health, and deep regret." Wow! When I read that it socked me hard. Yes, words can sock :)

 I have been thinking ever since then about what my core values are and if I am living my life so that I am true to them. Who wants regret, stress and ill health hanging around any more than necessary? Who even realizes that the reason they possibly have those things in their life are because they are not living in a way that is true to their core values? This consultant/psychologist guy sat Mitt and his peeps down and had them each make a list of the top five or six people they most admired and respected. Then they had to write next to each of those names five or six attributes that they thought of when they thought of that person. Then when they were all done with that they could look at those attributes that were listed most frequently and ta-da have a list that represented their core values. So guess what I have been working on? Yeah, my lists. It is taking longer than I thought it would to figure out who I respect and why. But I am excited to discover on paper staring back at me what my core values truly are and then to figure out how to construct a life around me that is true to those values so that Mr. Regret, Mr.Sickness, and Mr.Stress can't find me. Do you love that I am doing this when I am 44 years old and I have seven kids and a husband staring at me? Yeah, definitely good times :)

So here's to another issue of BYU Magazine. It gave me a framework for figuring out the answers to a few questions I had been asking for the last two years....bless it's heart....I am so glad someone is writing this magazine just for me mother of seven in Massachusetts :)