Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happiness is a Choice

Seeing a freshly mopped floor with muddy footprints on it, not being invited to a friend's party, burning dinner, showing up late to an appointment, not getting enough sleep at night, taking on too many projects at once, or loosing your car keys are all great examples of things that would cause someone to be angry. Interestingly enough, studies have proven that anger is a natural response to a situation for roughly 120 seconds and after that it is a choice for that person to remain angry. Reminding myself to not be frustrated for longer than that sometimes requires me to take a Mommy time-out! I can say screaming into a pillow works great though. Ha ha.

Finding the right balance is different for each person. We all struggle with so many things in our lives so what works for me may not work for others. Having time to do things for myself every once in a while is crucial for me maintaining my sanity. It's interesting how if I take care of myself it's a lot easier for me to come home and focus on my family and other obligations. Feelings of guilt for taking that time for just me are hard to overcome but I have to remind myself it is really okay.

We weren't sent to earth to only feel happiness. How could we know what happiness is without experiencing the contrast of sadness. No one enjoys feeling sad but one thing I know for certain is that sadness is only temporary. It is your choice how long uncomfortable feelings of sadness and frustration will linger with you for. Experiencing the intense sadness and emptiness we feel after losing Natalie is something I didn't think a person could function with. While not everyone is dealing with a trial as difficult as ours, the method of healing is the same.

The atonement is truly a gift. Knowing that you aren't alone in your trials and that Christ has suffered through the exact feelings you experience brings such comfort. While it doesn't take our trials away to know this, it does allows us to endure our trials well. It's very simple really, we acknowledge His sacrifice and ask for His constant guidance. For whatever reason, people make the choice to not embrace this wonderful gift of the atonement. Perhaps people are just stubborn or maybe they lack the faith. I can say that while things are never perfect in our lives, I notice that when I choose to be happy despite my circumstances it makes the trials I'm experiencing not as bad.

This week in particular I have made a concerted effort to indulge this theory to try and pull myself out of my depressive funk I have been in lately. I made goals to do specific things to enrich my family's wellbeing. You'll see some examples below in pictures of some things I was doing. It resulted in me being more sleep deprived than normal, facing some of my anxiety, my hands being used to the extent that they cracked and bled, and had me saying the word "No" to taking on more responsibilities (I know people who really know me and are reading this are shocked that word found its way into my vocabulary but I used it!).  To see the smiles on my husband and kids faces because I was choosing to be happy and participate in life made me realize how very important that choice is.

Parents are the biggest examples and kids are always watching. We set the tone for the mood in our home. If I'm calm and kind my children mimic the same attitudes. It's like a big game of follow the leader. While I'm definatly not saying I do this flawlessly, I do have a strong belief that this is another tool that is helping us to heal and develop a stronger foundation for our family to continue to build on and feel the safety and comfort we all seek. Choose to be happy you will never regret it.

This is during the girls cheer competition this week. There were vendors and a boutique that we explored and found some fun things to do that put a smile on everyone's faces. Who knew some face paint and balloon animals could bring some much needed healing?!

When it snowed at the beginning of the week my kids said "Natalie sent us snow! It's a late Merry Christmas from her!". 

I took time away late one evening to go with some of my friends to decorate another of our friend's house for her birthday. I was so busy that whole day and had so much to do but taking a break to do this for 30 minutes was just what I needed. It allowed me to goof off (notice the missing shoe and sock) and do a small act of service to show how much we love our friend. I love my friends!

This was a lunch date the following day to celebrate her birthday. The giggling and socializing helped me through a very difficult day. I had taken my kids to the dentist for the first time since Natalie has passed away. I was a wreck at the Dentist and bawled my eyes out. I came to lunch right after we finished and found such comfort with these amazing ladies.

Chase had his last basketball game this week so even though I hadn't ever got ready this day I showed up at the game with pizza donuts and drinks to celebrate. My cute niece and her little boy also came to cheer Chase on. The last sport Chase played was football and Natalie came to every game and loved watching him. With basketball I struggled sitting there without juggling Natalie and Savannah. To me it felt all wrong. I faced my anxiety and came anyways to see my sweet boy play in this game. 

Isn't this sweet of Chase! I came out to finish grabbing groceries out of my car to find Chase fast asleep on the floor of my car. I love sweet moments like this.
It reminded me of this day last year when I had driven across town to the store only to look bank and find all three of my precious children asleep. Priceless memory. A happy one.

Friday, February 27, 2015

New Normal

Describing me as a perfectionist OCD control freak would be fairly close to accurate. I enjoy stability and daily life to be predictable. I am a creature of habit. When life goes as planned I feel calm and controlled. Having those expectations all of the time are unrealistic but it doesn't stop me from seeking that feeling of safety. The vision I see in my mind of how events in my life will take place are  never the same as I dream them up to be. Typically I always see room for improvement in everything I do. My goal is always to do better than my best.

The past 4 months has thrown our once stable lives into a blender and mixed everything up to be something completely unrecognizable to what it used to be. Understandable considering our circumstances but it's incredibly frustrating and scary to try to rebuild our lives in this "new normal" stage. The fear of the unknown in what lays ahead in our future can be very debilitating to think about at times.

If there is anything I have learned it is we truly have very little control over our lives. Sure you choose what to eat and what clothes to wear but things of greater importance are out of our hands. I do believe we have a say to some degree in how things in our lives will go. This is where prayer becomes essential. Heavenly Father hears every prayer and takes them into account. A bishop once counseled me to be careful when you pray because you just might get what you ask for and it may be contrary to His will. Sometimes I wonder if we had been given the time to gather people together in prayer if it would have changed Natalie's outcome.

Where we live there has been some families who have recently had to experience another very difficult trial. Though our situations are different they are both extremes in different directions where our sweet daughter was taken from us and is now in heaven, their children are still here on earth with them but are severely handicapped. The longing and missing we feel for Natalie is constantly with us and will never go away but for these other families they have to endure the pain of watching their child suffer.

It's embarrassing to admit but I used to struggle with wishing we still had our daughter here like these other families do. What I didn't realize is I couldn't handle watching Natalie go through the challenges their children are experiencing. I feel a small comfort knowing that Natalie didn't suffer and is free from a life that would have left her severely handicapped as well had she survived. Natalie was lovely and I wouldn't want her to live a life that would have left her being anything other than that.

Heavenly Father knows our hearts and knows what is best for us. Even though we don't understand why things happen in our lives, if we have faith and trust in the Lord we will always make it through. That is truly the reason our family is able to function. He holds us and carries us every second of every day and places angels in our lives at just the right times. We will endure this trial because there is nothing that will stop us from being with our sweet girl again.

Friday, February 20, 2015


So here it is 4:45 am and I've been up tonight since 3:45 am before I gave in and decided to attempt writing to release some of my emotions I keep bottled up. "Just write" our grief counselor told me. Doing so means I have to face my thoughts which is a very scary thing for me. However, I have learned I clearly can do hard things!

As long as I can remember I have been a night owl. I never would want to go to bed and possibly miss out on something. I would say 6-8 hours of sleep each night has been more normal for me than probably the 9-10 hours my body wishes I would give it. I swear I used to really enjoy sleep, once I finally got to bed! There are so many factors that influence my sleep quality; temperature in our home, noises from kids waking up, sickness, obsessing with the next day's schedule, kids sneaking in to sleep (kick) next to us, dogs barking and nightmares are the most common examples.

The past 4 months have understandably been the most difficult time I've ever had attempting to sleep.  I wasn't aware of the trials that I would face at night. There is an intense weight I feel at night like never before in my life or at least I've never noticed it as much as I do now. Temptations to give into feelings of guilt and doubt become so hard to avoid perhaps because of the idle time we have once our children are all in bed. I dread that time for fear of being alone with my thoughts that plague me. 

Attempting to take sleeping medication has been something I struggle with as well. The dependency a person can have on them was enough for me to quit using them after a few months. Falling asleep isn't the most difficult part anyways, it's the nightmares I face once I finally do fall asleep that make it impossible to actually sleep. For me, the nightmares are different each night and it seems like I continually am faced with my fears in them. My assumption is that this is my brain trying to process the trauma we have experienced and it is manifested in my sleep or lack thereof. 

My belief is that in the darkness Satan dwells and Christ is the light. I seek the light because of the feelings of warmth, peace and comfort it brings. There is a scripture I love that brings me great comfort in Psalm 30:5 "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning". So simple but incredibly accurate with my situation. It is no coincidence that during the day I can function better with the light that surrounds me and that at night I battle against the thoughts and feelings that the darkness brings. It is a battle we all face to different degrees and circumstances. The beauty of this is that we are not alone to face our battles. Our Savior is there to comfort and guide us every step of the way. My testimony of that very principal has increased so much because I have no doubt that I could not have made it to where I am today without Him leading the way for me. The hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour" is my anthem I sing frequently throughout the day.

The atonement is such a marvelous gift! I love the quote by Carlfred Broderick "The gospel of Jesus Christ is not an insurance against pain, it is a resource in the event of pain." My perception as a child was if I follow the commandments and do my best to choose the right that I could avoid any pain and difficult trials, but I was wrong that is not how it is. Rather, because I follow Christ WHEN adversity comes I will have His help to guide me through. I know I can make it through this trial with Him by my side and what an amazing blessing that is! 

Here's hoping I can keep this momentum and write more often. For now, I'll just focus on sleep. The morning is only 1 hour away at this point but maybe I'll just watch the sunrise. I can always see a little bit of Natalie in it.