Family March 2017

Family March 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Balancing Act

I took an hour nap today. For the first time in years. It felt great, and I felt a lot happier afterward.  I struggle in finding balance in my life and often take on more than I can handle.  I always try to simplify, but often feel that I can't give up anything.  I have worked hard this school year to make more time for self-care and to balance all my responsibilities with homeschooling, teaching seminary, maintaining our home, and meeting my personal needs.  I'm starting to realize that I have always put off exercise and my interests, which has led to dissatisfaction and resentment. 

I really want to listen to my body more instead of just pushing through. I often forget and stretch myself too thin.  I'm not entirely sure how this happens.  For one thing I don't like to say no to anything.  Often I feel that many things depend on me, but I can't do everything for everyone, so I have to be more selective.  I also sense my mortality more in my mid-40's when the body begins its slow decline.  I read a wonderful book about aging in our society called, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.  I realize that aging is inevitable, but there are things I can do now to have a higher quality of life.  I also realize that my time on earth is finite and I need to be more intentional about how I spend my remaining time. 

I've thought through what my priorities are, and I don't have any burning desire to learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby.  I suppose that could change, but I'm pretty happy with my current interests.  I think at this point I want to continue expanding on my current interests including reading, knitting, piano/organ, exercise, cooking, writing, and quilting.  I love continuing education in the counseling field.  I also have some more years of homeschooling ahead of me that I want to do well.  One thing I want to do more of in the future is travel.  We're approaching expensive years of college/missions/weddings, so that may not be possible right away, but I intend to make it happen in the future.

I am happy to say that as I look back over the first half of my life I have very few regrets and no major ones.  I am happy to see my children grow up to be intelligent, sensitive, thinking, good, hard-working, spiritual people all with their own unique talents and interests.  I enjoy our changing relationships as they turn into young adults.  I am grateful that I pushed through getting my Master's Degree to work as a counselor, which I find very fulfilling.  I have grown so much through the multitude of church callings I have served in.  I wish that I had closer friendships.  This has been hard both to make new friends when I move so often and to keep the friendships after we move on. I would like to make more friends in time, but I do have my people I've found with whom I try to surround myself.  My best choice I made in my life was marrying Nathan.  He is a perfect complement to me and helps me to be my best self.  Thank goodness he is my best friend!  Overall, I'm finding my balance in life.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Image result for emdr

One of the therapies that I have always been interested in learning to do is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  My favorite clients to work with are my Trauma clients, but they do come with major challenges.  Not all trauma causes dysfunction, and the more resilient we are, the better we bounce back from trauma.  Sometimes, though, trauma is so overwhelming that we don't automatically bounce back and it can impact our emotions, our thoughts and even our physical health. 

There are several interesting books that talk about the specific physical effects of trauma including The Body Keeps the Score.  Sometimes trauma is not properly processed in the brain which leads to some debilitating effects.  Some basic impacts are that the Amygdala, or fear center of the brain is enlarged. The speech center of the brain is suppressed as well as the entire left hemisphere which is largely responsible for thinking, problem solving and making sense of the world around us.  In addition, the Broadman's area of the brain is triggered every time we remember our trauma which is an area that is normally only triggered when we process new experiences.  As a result, people with unprocessed trauma feel as if they are re-experiencing it over and over again.  They are unable to find a voice about it, and they feel a heightened sense of fear at triggers and have a harder time coming down from the fear.

EMDR is the best known therapy for helping clients to reprocess their trauma completely and permanently.  I have worked with many clients and done it myself and it is astonishing how well it works and those old triggers no longer bother us.  I have had clients who have suffered for years and in a short amount of time those old memories no longer have any impact on them.  It really is miraculous.  I feel that working with these people is a sacred honor.  I love seeing the transformation they make and the burden lifted.  Sometimes the preparation stage is slow, particularly if they have experienced complicated trauma, but if they keeping coming I have fully confidence in the process. In addition people who have had small-t trauma can find a higher quality of life.

It's taken years of hard work and study to get to this stage, and I am grateful for the ability and time that I have had.  The reason I am in this field is to help others who are unable to help themselves.  I believe that it is akin to the gift of healing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Seasons

We have finished another successful school year and I marvel that I have been homeschooling for 14 years now.  This year I have really struggled with having enough energy and scaled back my involvement in extracurricular activities.  Even though it felt plenty busy life seemed more balanced and carved out time each week to do a toning workout.  I have been feeling a little better, and was contemplating increasing my workouts this summer as well as yard projects when I got a surprising call to teach seminary next school year. 

I seem to receive every calling I have in the church about 4 years before I am ready for it.  I should not have been surprised when just a few weeks earlier I had the thought that my life was really settling down and getting easier.  This will be a huge challenge for several reasons including the biggest one that it will change my entire routine.  I will be starting at 6 every morning, bumping my jogging with Nathan, sleeping in occasionally and a lot of free time that will be devoted to preparation.  I'm thankful that I was able to find out at the beginning of the summer, so I have time to prepare. I love learning and I am excited at the prospect of feasting on the words of Christ.

I spent last week helping the girls paint and redo their room.  They were tired of the dark purple and green and ready for a softer color.  We chose a pale blue and spray painted their desks white. I think it turned out well.  Our only other project this summer is to rip out the carpet in the boy's bathroom and tile it.  Slowly but surely we are whittling off the vast list of house projects.  Nathan is also staining the deck this summer.  I'm staying out of that project as I did it alone last time and I don't have the energy to help. We intend to downsize in our next home so we have time and money that don't go solely into our house. 

Life is good.  My kids are growing up and I'm starting to glimpse a life that doesn't center only around their activities.  I'm really glad that I went back to school when I did.  Work is a nice balance with my part-time schedule and gives me plenty to learn and think about.  For now, I am savoring this season.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Brandon's First Area

Super crazy week.  I left the MTC last Monday and headed out to Queretaro.  After interviews we got our assignments. I was assigned to the Celaya, Alamos area with Elder Molina as my trainer. He's a super good missionary, and we've been working extremely hard.  He's from Arizona, and we get along super great!  It's been tough work here though because everyone is so Catholic, but the people are very kind.  Everything about Mexico is wild. Especially the bus rides haha.  I've seen some stuff here that I wouldn't have ever thought of in the US. There's so much poverty, it's pretty insane. I really didn't understand a whole lot of Spanish this week, but hopefully over the next couple months I can understand more. Well, I don't have much time, so I'll talk to you more next week! Love you guys!

Life Changes

I haven't posted on my blog for quite a while.  Lots of things got in the way. 

I found myself drowning in my life at the peak of busyness and something had to give.

As I read back through my old posts I see the life of someone I used to be, but I am different and my life has been changing in many ways.

My oldest son has gone to college for a semester and is now on a mission in Mexico.  My other children are working on chasing him out of the home which comes with the mixture of emotions.  My youngest is growing up.

I am starting to follow some of my interests.  I am getting more training in my counseling world.  I started taking piano lessons.  I am in a writing group.  I am still reading.  I am improving my knitting skills.  I am growing a little garden.  I am learning how to quilt.  I am doing some home projects as time and money allow. 

Mostly, I am starting to reinvent what life looks like as my kids grow up.  I often find myself struggling in knowing what exactly I want to do with my life.  The funny thing about turning 40 is that now time is more finite and I no longer feel that I can do anything I want, so I have to be more choosy about what I decide to do.  I spend more time analyzing what I really enjoy.  I am starting to discard what feels superfluous and invest in what really matters to me. 

This is my new season.  I have always been responsible, but I would like to have some fun too.  Have some adventures.  Be intentional about my life.  Find daily joy in how I spend my time.  I like writing in my blog, and I want to get back to it, but write about what matters to me and not do it for anyone else.  Post on what is important.  So here's to changes for better or worse.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rest in Peace, Togo Rio Grande

Once upon a time there was a young family who moved from California to Colorado.  Their children were very sad because they had to move so far from their friends and family.  They begged and begged for a puppy of their very own.

 One night, while their parents attended a charity auction at the Inn of the Rio Grande, they impulsively bid on a purebred beagle puppy. To their delight, they won the bid and couldn't wait to bring this puppy home to their children.  They named him Togo Rio Grande....a noble name for a noble dog.  Togo was a family name as well and came with an array of stories describing brave and loyal acts.

 These naive parents sometimes regretted this decision in the beginning.  Their new puppy wasn't potty trained as they had been led to believe, and they spent more than one occasion cleaning up accidents in the house.  In addition, Togo chewed through many rescue heroes and barbies before he grew out of the puppy stage.  For some time, he believed his name was Togo Leave-it.

But despite these challenges, Togo provided so much joy and laughter to this little family and was always on the perimeter of the action....that is when he didn't follow his nose into trouble.

Togo, and their cat, Alli were never friends, but they were able to achieve an uneasy truce in the sunshine during the winter months. 

This little family continued to grow and their little girl Danielle fell in love with Togo before she could even crawl.  They became good pals and were generally nearby each other.

Somehow, time has a way of speeding up and this family started to grow.  They moved from their childhood home to a new state and adjusted to Oregon.  Life went faster and faster and often they took Togo for granted.  He mellowed out and spent lots of time sleeping and lying in the sun.

During Christmas break of 2015, Togo stopped eating as much of his food and slept more than usual.  But this busy family didn't seem to notice the changes because they were so subtle.

They finally realized the week of Valentine's Day 2016 that one of their great loves was dying of kidney failure.  They suffered and grieved as they watched him weaken but never lose his dignity.  He was loyal to the end and a regal beagle!

This family was changed by owning such a good dog, and they appreciated him all the more when he was no longer with him....but he will always be part of their family and in their hearts.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Breadth vs. Depth

I often struggle with balancing my desire to learn new things with my desire to become more proficient at the things I have already started learning.  I want to improve my skills on the piano, yet I would love to learn to play the guitar.  I would like to become more skilled at knitting, but I would still love to learn a foreign language.  I feel a desire to practice writing and yet want to read more books than there is time for.  I want additional training as a counselor but need to be there for my kids during their formative years.  Inside there is always a struggle for competing desires in finite time.

Sadly, we are limited in our time and must balance our competing wishes.  All the way through my 30's I felt that with enough practice I could do anything I want.  Now that I am older I am realizing that I have finite time and energy and must be more choosy about what is really important to me.  The hard thing for me is deciding what I really want to do.  I want to do everything!  But alas, I can't.  So I sometimes become paralyzed by indecision and do nothing.

It reminds me of the parable of the talents.  I suppose it should be good enough for me to use my talents the best I can, double them and improve myself so that the Lord will tell me that I have done well and am a good and faithful servant. 

I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never be great at any one thing.  I won't be the best counselor, author, mother, leader, friend, wife, knitter.  But I will try my best to continue to improve myself, and I will hopefully always be progressing in one way or another.  My hope is that when I am too old to see or move around on my own that I will be able to sit back and feel joy over the well-spent years that I enjoyed (that is as long as I'm not afflicted with Alzheimers).  And who knows, maybe this dog can still learn new tricks!