Nov 14, 2015

What Is Love?

So last summer I got this sinking fear that I had no idea what love was. I was deeply concerned that I was 47 and did not know how to love someone. I realized that I am somewhat stingy with those three words. I don't find myself feeling like I think love should feel very often :) My brain honestly had started to wonder, "What does it feel like if someone loves you?" How do you show love? Can you fake it? As I looked around at church, at the store, at restaurants, and at events I attended it looked like everyone seemed to have someone to love and someone to love them. What compelled them to love that person? How did they know they needed to say it? What did it feel like? Was it hard or was it easy? If I tell you I love you what does it mean you expect from me? Overthinking love? Who me?

One day I decided I needed answers so I sheepishly googled "what is love?" and before you mercilessly tease me about googling, "what is love?" I must tell you that in 2012 that was the most googled question....yeah, I know it is 2015. Anyway, I read, and read, and read about love. I tried to find reputable sources. Who is the leading authority on love anyway? I took notes, in my special polka dot notebook, with the perfectly lined paper in it, that I write all important things in. I was determined to figure this out. I need to recognize love.

Mister Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood fame described love like this:

"Love isn't a perfect state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."

Almost everything I read confirmed Mister Roger's observations. If you love someone you love their imperfections and those imperfections become unique qualities to you. I think it is probably called unconditional. You see their flaws and still love them. So if someone tells me they love me they surely know about my faults and they are A-OK with them, right?

C.S.Lewis has written books about love and has many fabulous things to say about the topic but my favorite quote would have to be this one:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and you heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round, with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless,airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

Being vulnerable is yucky business. What does it even mean? The dictionary says it means you are capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or are liable, or exposed to disease, disaster. if you are vulnerable you are accessible and open to attack. Vulnerability goes against everything we are taught. Wear sunscreen. Wear sunglasses. Don't climb up the slide. Don't eat bacon for every meal. (just wanted to make sure you were reading) Wear a coat. Get immunized. Take an umbrella. Protect yourself in every way. Be guarded. Be safe. Be secure. Did you know if you are vulnerable, it means you are okay with you. And if you are okay with you then you can be okay with anyone else because you understand that no one is perfect. It is the only way if you want a relationship. But did I mention it is yucky business?

Guess what Oprah Winfrey said about love?

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."

Have you ever thought about who you love? Why do you love them? How do you know it's love? Why is it possible to love someone and they do not love you? How does that even happen? Hello, they love them back....right now :) Yeah, you can not make someone love someone they don't want to love. My daughter once told me that marrying for love is a fairly new idea people used to never marry for was for money or status nothing as frivolous as love. I don't know, the idea of mattering enough to someone that they make me a priority in their life plus they adore my flaws, sounds pretty good to me....bring on the love. Tina Turner sings "What's love got to do with it? What's love but a secondhand emotion?" I tend to be a romantic and think love has everything to do with it....

Nov 10, 2015

Will Tell You All Things What You Should Do.

So I need a place to have my papers I am writing so that I can have them saved and eventually put into my blog book. It is also more possible that my children will read them if I have them here rather than sending them torturous mom lecture emails :) So here is my second paper I have written this semester. I am having the best time writing these.....

Something that caught my attention as I was reading in 2nd Nephi 32:3 this week was the footnote by the word “tell” in the sentence, “for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do,” If you look down at the footnote it says, “TG Problem solving.” I was intrigued. Life is nothing but problem solving. Is this telling me that the words of Christ will help me with all my problem solving? His words will tell me, “all things what I should do?” As I was thinking about this idea I had the realization that, “Wait, does that say that problem solving is in the topical guide?” I wondered which scriptures the topical guide would have put under the heading of problem solving? I was surprised as I started going down the list of scriptures, looking them up, how many of the scriptures were well known, plain, often used scriptures that I would not have thought to use when it came to problem solving but all made perfect “ah ha” moment sense when I read them.

For example, James 1:5 was on the list, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Joseph Smith had a problem. He did not know what church to join. He recognized that the message in this scripture would help him solve his problem. So he acted on it and got an answer. When we are having a problem it actually means we are lacking wisdom. So this scripture is plain and simple in the instructions to use when you are having a problem, ask of God.

Another plain and simple, well used scripture that was under the heading of problem solving was Matthew 11:28. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It’s true, when we do have a problem heavy laden is a perfect way to describe how we feel. We do spend a lot of time labouring about our problem. Here again, in Matthew is a very simple answer to how to solve our problem. Come unto him.

In Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 we also get advice on problem solving. The words in this verse give us a little more information as to how we need to come to him. We cannot just simply ask. It says in this verse that we must also study the problem out in our mind then ask Heavenly Father if our thoughts and decisions on our problems are right. And it tells us how it will feel if we have solved our problem…our bosom shall burn within us. Which is a peaceful feeling.

I was very interested to find Doctrine and Covenants 88:124 listed under the heading of problem solving. But as I read again for the hundredth time, “Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and mind may be invigorated.” I wondered what does this verse have to do with problem solving? Then I thought about how if you are taking the advice that is listed in this verse you are most likely to have less problems and also you are likely to be in top form to deal with the problems that do come your way because you are well rested and your body will be invigorated.

            I was thrilled with all the discoveries and information that came with following this one little footnote for the word “tell”. Now I have a stronger testimony of the fact that we have a loving heavenly father that is genuinely interested in our problems and truly wants us to come to him with them and trust that he can and will help us with them. He will tell us all things what we should do. We just need to come to him prepared and trusting believing as it says in Matthew 7:7 that if we ask it shall be given to us.

Nov 8, 2015

Too Nice?

We have to talk about being too nice. And we must be nice while we are doing it :) As I have become a bus driver I have realized something that you all already know about me. I am too nice. I have assigned seats. I have given out referrals. I have stopped the bus and not moved until everyone was quiet. I have done it all. But apparently I am still too nice. I don't understand. What does a person have to do to not be nice around here? I have been firm. I have been consistent. I have set boundaries. Why am I still too nice?

I was going to try to trick you into thinking this is the only area of my life that I am too nice in but I figured you knew better. Honestly, the reason my life is where it is right now, at this exact moment, is because I have been too nice in the past. Did you know that it is so unusual to find people who are too nice that most people do not trust people who are too nice? When I heard this I had this ah ha moment where this moment in my past came to my mind. You see there was this couple we would often invite to Sunday dinner and the wife would always ask what she could bring to dinner. I have always had the philosophy that if I invite you to dinner I am doing it to give you a break from cooking so if someone offers to bring something when I invite them I let them, but I give them something easy so that they can have their Sunday afternoon free from cooking. I would always assign this girl the green salad. She thought this meant that I did not trust her to make anything else. Which was the furthest thing from my mind. I really was just trying to be nice but she was confident I had an ulterior motive. Does that make sense? She did not trust my niceness.... she could not even fathom that this had anything to do with nice. You see, in her mind ,I had an evil plan to make her bring salads to my house forever and ever. Now that I am thinking about it I can remember other times in my life where I was being myself and was not trusted because it simply was not normal to the other person. No one believes that too nice is sincere. What to do? Punch them all?

I already know that being too nice is not good but if you want to make a comment about it feel free. It was unsettling to read about it over, and over, and over again. Not one single article I read defended nice people. Even my 16 year old knew, she happened to saunter into my room just now and asked what I was reading about and when I told her she immediately weighed in on the topic with what she had learned in her sixth grade Health class in Massachusetts about the very topic of being too nice. She made sure I understood that I do not want to be aggressive....just assertive.... definitely not nice. She even had an example of being too nice from a My Little Pony episode involving Fluttershy. I feel like I have been living under a rock...a nice rock mind you :)

Is there someone out there who will unconditionally love someone who is too nice or is my lot in life to always be taken for granted, not respected, and used because I am too nice? If I go to the movie with you and you ask me what I want to see if I really don't care, which is going to be very likely, am I too nice if I tell you I will see what you want to see? I am being honest. Am I still too nice?

I am reading Gone With The Wind right now and Scarlett O'hara HATES Melanie Hamilton because she thinks she is too nice. Melanie is always seeing the positive and defending people and it drives Scarlett freaking crazy. But I just read about an incident where Scarlett starts catching glimpses of how tough Melanie is underneath. I am on page 493 of a 1024 page book and I am interested to see if Scarlett ends up being a fan of nice Melanie, or not.

Someone said in one of the articles I read that, "nice people are not bad, the problem is how society approaches nice people is bad." Society is unappreciative of nice things. That made me feel a little better. See it's not all me. So do people think like Scarlett thought of Melanie that if you are too nice you are weak? I am not weak. Well let me think about that for a minute before I possibly throw an untruth out there on the internet for you all to see and throw in my face. Let's add a word to that sentence...I am not I have been in the past. I still have one person that hangs out in my life that I let walk all over me, and take advantage me as much as they want. I have no idea why it is just this one person I let take me for granted year after year. Why I do not expect this person to return invitations, hang out, or dedicate time to me. These are basic friendship things that I still keep waiting for this friend to "get." If you want to go to lunch and give me a serious talking to about this situation I just confessed to I am free this Friday at 11 meet me at Jack Sprat's restaurant downtown Cottage Grove. But trust me, I already know what I need to do :)

I have learned a lot while I have been thinking about this personality trait of being too nice. I think I have decided that being nice is not bad. It is who I am and I like who I am. I just need to make sure that along with the nice I need to make sure I am honest with others and myself. And it probably would not hurt to have the courage I need to make sure I am not taken advantage of, or taken for granted. But that still leaves me with a bus full of fifty kids with behavior issues :)

Nov 6, 2015

Shut The Front Door.

Doors. They let things in and they keep things out. Sometimes we slam them to show our feelings. We can knock on them to let someone know we are there. We have been known to accidentally shut fingers in them. Some of us have been known to kick them. We can decide to open them just a crack or we can fling them wide open. We can stand quietly outside of a closed one and listen.

When someone knocks on our door unexpectedly it startles us and we wonder...should we open it? It is hard to open the door if you are not sure who is going to be there. What if it is someone you do not want to see? But if you are expecting someone and you hear a knock on your door you are so excited to open the door, right?

When I was in Estonia last summer my son and his wife could not come to pick me up from the airport when I arrived since they do not own a car so I was given instructions on how to get a taxi in Estonia since I do not speak Estonian. I just needed to just show the driver my sons address and he would get me there. It worked, he did get me a tall, Soviet era, high rise apartment building that was next to another tall, Soviet era, high rise apartment building that was next to another tall, Soviet era, high rise apartment building. It was around midnight Estonian time and the taxi driver helped me get my two, very heavy suitcases out of the taxi and then he left me alone in the dark, in front of this building. My cell phone did not work in Estonia. I had no wifi to send my son a message on Facebook to tell them I was there. I honestly did not know what to do. The address seemed foreign to me since it is written differently from our addresses said Sutiste tee and then two numbers separated by a dash. I did not have any idea if either of the words meant street or apartment? Was it the name of the area? Or the name of the building? The only door to get into the building was locked. You had to have a special sort of key to get in. I stood there for about ten minutes wondering what my plan was going to be. A closed door never felt so lonely. I saw a lady walking my way with her dog (yes, in the middle of the night). I prayed she might understand English and that she would not think I was crazy. She did not understand English but I showed her my son's address on a piece of paper and apparently I looked distressed enough that she decided to help me. She walked over to the building, pushed a button and I think she said something in Russian into a speaker. The button was to Zach's apartment and he came and opened the door for me. Open doors, those are nice.

Closed doors, not as nice? Well unless there is a blizzard outside then it would be good to have a closed door. And I guess a closed door is probably good when it comes to the bathroom. Oh and many a time a closed and locked door helped me when I was wrapping Christmas presents. I have also appreciated a closed door when I had a toddler that thought nap time did not apply to them. Closed doors can keep people from seeing you cry. They also keep people from seeing you eat the candy you took from them :) Oh alright maybe closed doors are not so bad and have their place.

I have noticed that if I am in a room I usually prefer the door open. It just feels claustrophobic to me if it is shut. When you are a mom you just need the door open so you can hear what is going on. Teenagers tend to prefer doors shut. Toddlers usually beg you not to close them. Speaking of closed doors I have to tell you I am terrible at locking doors. Our house doors were only ever locked if we went on vacation for an excessively long time. But locking doors is a whole another blog for another day.

When I was about 11 and living in California my siblings and I would play a game with the door that went from our garage into our house. It was the sort of door that would close all by itself when you let it go so we would stretch our foot back to hold it and lean as far into the house as we could get and then when we were ready we would take our foot off of the door and race as fast as we could down the hall and into the middle of the house to see how far we could get before the door shut. This game was very popular until I raced around the corner one day smack into one of my sisters and got myself some stitches.

 While I was in Estonia this summer with my son and his family I got to spend some time in glorious old town Tallinn. One of the first things I noticed about old town Tallinn was that all the buildings and houses had different doors. The pictures I have posted with this blog are just some of the doors I saw. So many colors. So many designs. So many different sizes and shapes. Each door was unique and had character.

Just today I was thinking about our chicken coop door which is not closing and latching very well because it is a little warped from water and sun. Doors can do that.

There are a lot of doors in my life right now. Some are open. Some are closed.
Some I slowly open, peer around, maybe even start to come around the door and then something happens that forces me to go back behind the door again and hide.

One of my doors is going back to school That one is wide open and I am loving it.

One of my doors is figuring out what I want to be when I grow up...yeah here is what that one looks like :)

Another door is relationships. This one will get opened a little and then for all sorts of reasons will have to close again. The revolving nature of this door is frustrating but I know it is teaching me and making me better? UGH.... so I am going to be grateful for it. So right now at this exact moment this door looks like this. (Yes, that is my yellow outfit :)

It has been interesting to muse about doors as I drive along everyday in my school bus... opening and closing my door .....letting kids on and letting kids off.

I got a beautiful journal from my friend Gail for my birthday last week and I have decided it is my most special journal. In it I am going to write down which doors I want to go through and how I can get through them and where I hope they lead. Lots of lists and goals all written using my favorite pen.