Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Big End-of-Summer-Blogathon: Part one-ZION

And that's a wrap! Summer is over..... and it was the busiest summer EVER..... and I'm exhausted..... and I haven't blogged in months.... and I still don't have any time to blog.... but I feel I owe myself SOMETHING to look back on this summer and remember that it wasn't just some wild blur of road trips and camping and summer camps and family together-time that was all clumped together. We did a lot of things and we had a lot of fun on many different, separate occasions!

First off, school got out on May 22 and we packed up and went camping May 23. I really wanted to go family camping right away just to get that feeling that it was officially summer, into our systems. Like, see? We're camping!! It  must officially be summer! So we headed to Zion NP. It was raining when we got there. We saw more waterfalls than I've ever seen there before! It was a little chilly and we all got soaked that first day, but we barely noticed because Zion National Park is so stinkin gorgeous. You can't help but enjoy yourself at Zion even when it's raining out. The only regret I have is that we really love to swim in the Virgin River at Zion but it was still too cold. We usually camp there in July or August when it's hotter out and we can swim for hours. Next time we will camp later in the summer. We did, however, get to ride our bikes all over the trails and up the canyon. Jonah and I road the 8 miles to the lodge and back and Malachi road on the tag-along for the first time. We looked in the gift shops, had prickly pear cactus lollipops, saw lots of wild-life, went for little hikes, rode the shuttle bus, visited the museum, and played games in our campsight. 

I really love ZNP. It's not only one of my most favorite places in the world but one that makes me feel pure joy and  love from my Heavenly Father when I'm there. It's peacefulness and beauty has a spiritual element to it that is indescribable to me. I know it's gotten real crowded over the past decade or so but that won't ever stop me from going there. It's my place and these are my people:














Next up Part 2-- My trip to Hawaii!

Monday, May 27, 2019

On Friendship

This fall our eleven year old is starting middle school and can't go to the same school as the friends and peers he's been with since Kindergarten. It's been rough on him! He's super bummed about it and has expressed how sad he is about not being able to experience middle school with his best buddies. The reason why is because he has been attending an "out of bounds" school, which is a school that is not in our neighborhood boundaries. We chose this school because it specialized in the STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), which is something we wanted our kid's to experience in their public education.  However, now that he is starting middle school they have closed the open enrollment due to overcrowding and he has to attend the middle school in our neighborhood boundary and not the one from his current school's boundaries. There are other kids from his school that have to attend our neighborhood school, too, but those kids don't happen to be Odin's best buddies. 
So yah, we are sad for him, and we tried doing everything that we possibly could, including talking with the superintendent in her office and begging her to let just one more child into their school--a bright, intelligent, creative child who excels at everything he does.....but no luck. 
But, I think the good news is that he's reached an acceptance to it now and is now preparing for 6th grade at the neighborhood middle school. I'm so proud of his resilience and ability to move forward in a tough situation.

One thing we've talked to him about is how friendships will constantly change throughout his life, and that's a likely part of life. The good friends he has now may not be his friends in 1, 2, or even 5 years from now. He's going to make new friends at this new school, new friends in high school, new friends on his mission, in college, at jobs he'll have, through sports, through church, and wherever he moves that he will make new friends. I explained that It's important to be a good friend and to nurture the friendships we have, but don't be too upset if friendships change over time into something completely different than we thought.

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately, especially as I am getting ready to go back to Hawaii where I will get together with some old friends from high school. In high school I had a group of really good girl-friends that I was inseparable from. We hung out after school, on weekends, surfed together, went to concerts together, went to parties together, and got into all sorts of teenage trouble together. Those were some of the greatest and most enjoyable times of my life of which I wouldn't trade for the world! However, as we got older and graduated high school we went many of different directions. Some of us moved away to college, moved away for jobs, went travelling, and some of us stayed on the islands a little bit longer, trying to figure out what to do next.... (me)! It was a time of separation and figuring out life, and to be honest, I haven't felt close to those girls for many, many years. It's been more recently that we've reconnected through facebook and have been able to reminisce on all the good memories plus share ourselves and our families with each other. 
Then in early adulthood I made new friends through work and in my community. Then came my time to move off the island where I started work at ANASAZI foundation and met some amazing like-minded friends that became my newest best friends. Then up to BYU-Provo where I met some more best friends. Then of course I met and married my ultimate best friend and life-partner, Micah. 

After marriage we moved (CA), then moved (ID), then moved (UT), then moved again (SLC), then moved again (HI),  then moved for one last time to where we are now (UT). In all those years of moving I managed to make a few good keeper-friends in each place we lived, whom I will cherish to this day. These, of course, are the friends I made during my mommying years. Connecting with other mothers was so vital to my motherhood survival! I am so grateful for my fellow-mom friends who I've shared and learnt so much from during the child-rearing years these past 13 years. These friends all live in different places, but I'm able to keep in touch through--you guessed it--facebook! So grateful to be able to keep in touch over lands and seas apart! 
Now I've been in the same place for the past 6 years and have made new friends, said goodbye to some friends that have moved away, made more friends that have moved in, and will continue to make more friends as life unfolds. I don't think, though, that I've made as close of friends in my adult years as I did in high school and college.  With all this coming and going and moving and changing, having kids, and then living in a small community where everyone's best friend is their sister who lives next door, I haven't had a chance to get really close to anyone like I used to be able to. It's been somewhat of a struggle for me to try really hard to make close friends here only to find myself making nice acquaintances over and over again. It's fun to know lots of people but it's even greater to have people who care about you on a regular basis. It's been a long work in progress but I think I'm finally getting there. 
MY 40th birthday party! FRIENDS!
It really does take time to get to know people. I can't remember where I heard it but someone said that it takes about 100 hours of spending time with another person to develop an actual friendship. I believe it, only I don't like it! I don't like it because it means I can't just have 5 new BFF's right away, I have to wait it out, get to know them better, find out if they're a good fit, test out our chemistry, and then develop a long-term relationship. Blah. I just want good friends right away!
Something that life coach Jody Moore said which has stuck with me is that when it comes to friends, we have to throw out the manual on friendship, because there ISN'T ONE! Meaning, if we set up a bunch of rules and expectations about how our friends should and shouldn't be, then we will probably be disappointed all the time when they don't show up in the ways we want them to.
 Sure their are basic tenets to being a good friend, but if we expect friends to act and do the things we think they should, most of the time we will probably be longing for different friends. 
For instance if you decide that a good friend is someone that brings a gift to your door on your birthday, and then your birthday comes around and that good friend doesn't show up, you're going to feel pretty disappointed! Even if the person is still a good friend, but maybe a friend that doesn't bring gifts on birthdays, she can still be a good friend. Or perhaps you have a rule that a good friend is someone who swaps kids with you, but then you find that your friend doesn't want to babysit your kids at all. She, too, can still be a good friend, but maybe one that doesn't want to watch extra kids (totally me). So, anyways, the point is that we have to realize that friendships come in lots of different forms and sometimes they look differently than we think.

I had a huge eye-opener recently when someone who I've considered a good friend for a long time did something completely out of my friendship expectation-zone. I was very disappointed and couldn't believe that a good friend could behave in such a shocking way! It wasn't anything obviously rude or personally harmful to me, but was something that I just didn't expect from a good friend. I was bitter and upset about it for several weeks until I realized several things:
1. I was making rules for our friendship that she wasn't aware of, therefore expecting her to do things she couldn't possibly know about.
2. I was expecting her to behave how I would behave in the situation, not how she would behave.
3. And finally I asked myself, Is she really that good of a friend? I mean, maybe I've been under the illusion all these years that we were way closer that I thought! We had some defining moments of friendship 25 years ago that bonded us together, then a few more occasions over the next ten years where we met up and bonded over some more moments...but really?...we haven't had much quality time together to develop a closer friendship for the past 15 years! The memories of our friendship are strong, but people change. Perhaps we've changed and moved on and perhaps that's okay.

So, once I was able to stop and realize that I was making up friendship expectations for an illusory friend it was much easier for me to let go of the disappointment and anger I was feeling towards her!
That kind of makes me laugh but also it's really liberating to realize that so much of how we react to things is all in our heads. If we change the way we're thinking, we can change the way we feel!

I'm not upset with my friend anymore (it's okay, she never knew I was upset and she'll never read this or figure out it was her anyways), in fact I've let go of all the longing I've felt over the years for her to be the kind of friend I want her to be. I had a long list of expectations I needed her to follow and she wasn't following any of them but now I realize it's okay. It's more important and satisfying for me to be the type of friend I want to be than to expect it from others. 

Which brings me to my next realization about friendship--I haven't had a best friend since high school and that's okay! I've made so many wonderful soul-sister friends in my life that I don't feel it necessary to have one best girl-friend! In fact, I think it can be kinda alienating to other good friends to isolate one friend as your "favorite." I have so many favorites and am blessed to have wonderful people in my life that I can call friends. Or maybe I'm just jealous because I don't have a best friend. Haha. Maybe I would feel differently if there was one special girl-friend that showed up with gifts on my birthday, called me for lunch dates, texted just to chat, kept up with my life and the lives of my children, supported me in my hopes and dreams, never judged me or doubted me.....Like how I just wrote a bunch of rules for how a best friend should be? I don't know how best friends should be, does anyone? Maybe I'll find out someday when all of a sudden someone is blowing my mind by exceeding all my friendship expectations.

I'm excited to see my old friends in Hawaii next week! Though we've all grown apart over the years, we have so much to talk about and catch up on! We could probably spend an entire night talking about all the wild shenanigans we got ourselves into. It's going to be awesome! I don't have any of the friends that I had in elementary school, however, just middle and high school.  Those were the most fun and most formative years.
I'm also excited to keep nurturing the friendships I have now. I'm going to keep putting in my hundreds of hours in and get to know some of these amazing women around me. 
I'm excited to see where these relationships go and to be a better friend to those around me along the way. 
I'm also excited for our Odin. He's such a wonderful, caring kid. I KNOW he'll make good friends in his life wherever he goes. 

Below: The cutest cookies my friend brought me on my birthday! And I didn't even expect her to!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

A post about overcoming challenges and Arches. Not sure if they go together but oh well.

Something I've been working hard at is to be emotionally and mentally strong enough to "handle" the challenges that come my way. Two 1/2 years ago when I started my online college degree the stress was too much for me. The pressure of getting deadlines finished, studying for tests, and writing papers while also caring for our four small children was more than I could take.

I started experiencing such a sudden overload of stress at the time that anytime even the simplest of things didn't work out would result in major depression and desperation. For instance my child spilling milk on the table would result in overwhelming tears, my car not starting was a complete catastrophe, my dog escaping the yard would have been the catalyst of the day to throw me into a deep, dark depression.....and so on. None of this was either healthy or helpful in my life so I quit college. It was a major disappointment for me, as I assumed it was college that was causing all my problems, not me that needed major help. However, as time went on I realized that it was me that needed major help. 

As I prayed for answers God led me to know that I could do all the things I wanted to do but I had to overcome some major mental obstacles that were blocking my mind from moving forward in my life the way I needed and wanted to. I realized that I couldn't live out the rest of my life hiding away from stress. 
When things get too stressful I have a tendency to  withdraw from my husband, withdraw from people around me, and focus solely on my negative,  ruminating thoughts. I become a solitary island, where nobody can bother me or hurt me because on my island I can hyper- focus on myself where nobody else's problems will affect me and where outside stressors can't come in. Here on my lonely island I can hyper-focus on my eating habits, I can hyper-focus on losing weight, I can hyper-focus on cleaning the house, organizing my stuff, getting rid of  junk,  a Netflix TV series, and especially I can hyper focus on all the things I wish were different in my life. 

However, none of this is healthy when you are part of a family system, especially as a pillar of strength for growing children that depend on your ability to show up for them each day-- to lead them, guide them, and direct them in how to overcome obstacles and stressors in their own lives. And none of this is healthy when you are in a married relationship that requires consistent love, nurturing, and  care to keep it growing and evolving into the part of the system that is the strongest and most reliable.  Families are hard, but they are a beautiful thing if they are nurtured and cared for. 
So, I realized that if I wanted my own little family to be the strong, unified group that we are (it's a work in progress), and if I wanted to strengthen my marriage (also a work in progress), and If I wanted to face the stressors that not only come with facing hard things but also with day-to-day living, I needed to figure out how to overcome my personal hangups in life.
And I'm so glad that I did. It'as been a long road to self discovery these past 2 1/2 years, and not to mention over $1000 dollars worth of therapy later, but it has been life-changing and necessary, and I believe God has blessed us with the means to receive this help, especially since our insurance really stinks. And God has blessed me to be open to receiving this help because He knew I could change and He knew I would need to be stronger in life so I could bless my family. 
I was led to doing EMDR therapy, a type of therapy for people with post-traumatic-stress-disorder. It changed the way my brain perceives hard challenges and stress. For instance say something like losing my phone at Wal mart, which in my old post-traumatic-stress brain would've suddenly triggered panic and I'd start to hyper focus on past traumas and bad experiences from my teenage years, now my brain just gives a nod to my lost phone. It acknowledges that my phone is lost, that it sucks that my phone is lost, and that's it. No self-battery or negative  thoughts about how I can't keep it together, or how I'm such a loser for losing my phone, or how my lost phone reflects every thing I'm failing at in life. No withdrawing into myself and pushing out the world. Now It's just a lost phone, and that's it. I can get another one and I'm still a good person.

This PTSD therapy I did has prepared me for, not only for lost phones, but for some really hard challenges that have come my way since then. I've always been under the impression that I can only handle so many hard things at once, but turns out I can handle a million hard things at once. Not because I want to but because that's just the way life is. Hard things seem to come all at once and really BIG, and if I hadn't been doing this therapy and trying to overcome my hangups I would be drowning right now. I mean, I am sorta drowning--it hasn't been easy, but I've noticed a HUGE change within myself that I am handling things way better than I did before, that I am still treading water and pushing myself whereas before I would've let myself sink by now.....into despair, depression, sadness, loneliness, and withdrawal. But I am here! And I am doing it. I am showing up for my family, showing up for my responsibilities, showing up for myself, and doing hard things I never thought possible. 

There is help out there for everyone who needs it. The self-improvement industry is huge right now and for a good reason! People have realized that they can be happier, more resilient, have more joy and and peace in their lives, and do very difficult hard things by following the footsteps of those who have gone before them or learning from experts who study the human mind or both. There are so many resources out there to improve and I'm not afraid to use them. 
However, I do believe in praying and being directed to the resources that will work for YOU and help you improve the best in your own life. Over years of self-discovery I've found that I do really well with the RIGHT therapist, not just any therapist. When I found Andrea, I knew she was the one to help me change my life.  
I've also found that when I listen to life-coach podcasts like Jody Moore, I take what applies to my life and leave the rest. Not everything she says is gospel. It's okay to pick and choose what you need to apply to your life,  even in small doses. 
I've also found that there are some really good self-help books out there, and some lousy ones. Choose wisely.
 I've found that listening to my inner gut is the most powerful. If my friend kindly invites me to a yoga class but I feel that sprinting up a mountain would be better for me that morning, I'm going to say no thanks and sprint up that mountain. Knowing what my mind and body needs when I need it is crucial. 
How I use my time is crucial. It's ok to say no to people and things that don't serve you. No I don't want to play volleyball once a week, no I don't want to join the PTA, no I don't want to run a 5k right now, no I'm not interested in attending your jewelry-selling party, no I can't help with YW camp this year, no I can't babysit your kids...and so on. You're not saying no because you are selfish, you are saying no because you simply can't.do.everything and you need to leave time, energy, and space for the things that matter most in your life. There will be other times when I will say yes to many of those things, but not right now. Not when I am finding the balance to show up each day as a mother, wife, student, scout leader, gym daycare worker, friend, ministering sister, and all the other hats I wear throughout my week .  
I've also found that medical intervention has blessed my life. I never wanted to be on medication but the mental stability and emotional clarity I've experienced would argue otherwise. Medication is a modern miracle and a blessing to those who need it. Anyone who says otherwise has not experienced clinical depression.
My faith also helps me immensely. Christ is my rock and foundation and I turn to Him for answers constantly. And He constantly answers them, which is a beautiful thing to have. 

I'd say for anyone who needs to change their habits or their hangups or their mental health or the way their brain interprets the world, or whatever it is that is holding you back from living life to the fullest, pray to find the resources that will work for you. Pray to find the answers you need through the people and things that can help you the most. I am living proof right now, as I am working towards my college degree, raising my four beautiful children, being married to my amazing husband, and wearing many other hats, that I can do hard things (even things I never wanted to do like college algebra and raising a child with social anxiety and clinical depression). I have to remember to stop and remind myself how far I've come because I am doing pretty awesome.

We went to Arches National Park for Spring break. It was magical. I'm just going to post what I posted from my Instagram account:
"To say we had a wonderful time would be a massive understatement! Family camping for us Is a special time, a sacred time, a time to bond, create forever memories, and love each other even more. ♥️ I also had a pretty huge and powerful spiritual AWAKENING while I was there, as I received some answers to my prayers that I've been needing to hear. The native Americans revered arches as sacred portals to the past and future. I really felt the spiritual nature of this place as contributing to my inner desires for answers at this time, however I don't think I need to drive back here to receive the spiritual awakening that I received, I just think God was waiting for me to ask the right questions at the right time. 😀 This time was at 3 a.m. while I was restlessly walking around staring up at the bright moon, looking out over this amazing landscape from God. I couldn't have asked for a better moment to awaken to new understanding."

We really did have a magical time at Arches! I was able to hike up to Delicate Arch twice, once with my family and once the following day by myself. It blew me away both times, mostly because you don't realize how massive it is. It looks so tiny on the Utah license plate, then when you get up there it's this towering, 60 foot tall giant, but the most beautiful giant. I was impressed...again and again, and this wasn't even my first time seeing it!

Here's a bunch of other photos I took! Already can't wait to go back!
 Hiking on the Landscape Arch trail
 Landscape Arch:

 More Arches

 We're Utahns now-the hat proves it.
 Four boys in their element:
 Z loved to play on this "lizard rock" when he was four. We had to go back and climb on it and pretend to be lizards. 

 The Arch behind our camp sight near the amphitheater
 Campsight #22 aka our home for 4 days:
Hiking with Mally. He was hilarious. He kept needing lots of breaks. He kept holding his shorts up to cool down his legs. He took off his shoes at one point and went barefoot. He liked having a hand to hold or a shoulder ride. 
Water break: 

 Sand dunes:
 I promise they were having fun....

Til next time, Arches!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Preparing for General Conference

This past Saturday evening I was asked to prepare a 5 minute talk for the next morning on how to prepare for General Conference which is coming up this weekend, April 5-6. I was delighted! The last time I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting was 4 years ago (aside from bearing my testimony some fast Sundays) and I was happy to prepare a little something for our congregation. After I sat down, of course, I thought of all the things I forgot to include, and all the things I meant to say but didn't because of time constraints, but overall I think it went  pretty well. General Conference is something that I have grown to love and look forward to, and my testimony of it's awesomeness grows even bigger every 6 months when it comes around again.
I threw away the paper holding my notes, but here's the gist of what I said:

First off, I love General Conference. I love that every 6 months we get to stop what we're doing and listen to the inspiration and revelation from our Heavenly father through our living Prophet and Apostles and other church leaders. I love that we get to feel the spirit so strongly in our homes as we listen and watch on TV's, computers, or whatever devices we can access. This past General Conference I felt the spirit really strongly testifying to me that President Nelson truly is a prophet of God and that this is Christ's true restored church on the earth today. The powerful spirit I felt was more than I was expecting for some reason. It was almost electrifying and overwhelming to me to realize the spirit could be so powerful just by turning on the T.V. to watch General Conference. I was really grateful for that witness and testimony which allowed me to open my heart and mind to all the amazing truths I would hear that weekend. 

In preparation for General Conference we make sure our children know that General Conference is important to us as a family and is "what we do" as a family. We talk about it coming up, we talk about how important it is, and we talk about how we're going to spend the weekend watching it.  Growing up I remember watching General Conference off and on as a kid but it wasn't something we did regularly. By the time I was a young teen I didn't understand the importance of why I would sit and watch a bunch of old dudes talking for hours. It seemed boring and counterproductive (basically I would rather be surfing). However, as a young adult I started attending General Conference again with my Latter-Day Saint friends from BYU-H and was simply blown away by the beautiful and profound gospel truths I was hearing. I immediately felt joy and happiness that I was able to gain the wisdom and insights again but also a profound sense of  loss for all the years I missed out, for not understanding what blessings come from participating in GC. And, it's not just a bunch of old dudes talking, there are some amazing women, too, plus inspirational music from the Tabernacle Choir.

In our family today we watch General Conference consistently every 6 months because we believe that as we consistently participate in GC we can gain strength and unity as a family, gain testimonies of the gospel truths we hear, and teach our children the importance of listening to out Prophet and leaders. Consistency, and expecting everyone to participate, is key in preparing for General Conference. If General Conference is important to you, it becomes important to your family. Watching General Conference as a family is "what we do."
Another way to prepare for General Conference is to prepare for our young children to participate. It isn't easy for a lot of children to sit through General Conference and for many kids, it is simply impossible. It is eight hours of sit-down time, broken up into 2 hour sessions, but still, for many young families you really have to get creative.  I suggest printing off those LDS general Conference activity booklets. They help keep kids engaged with activities that help them to focus and pay attention to the speakers. There's GC themed pages to color, puzzles, BINGO, word finds, picture matching, etc to keep them entertained and engaged while listening. For the even younger crowd I always bring out the legos to keep their little hands busy as we watch, although sometimes they can be too loud. For the kids that simply can't sit still or stop talking, my husband and I take turns taking them out of the room, per session. So instead of spending two agonizing hours trying to keep a non-stop talker and mover quiet, one of us takes them to the park (or backyard or upstairs) or anywhere away from the TV room, while the other family members get to watch GC in peace and quiet, then for the next session we switch. This way, at least one of us can enjoy 
the session with the family, and then of course there are a million ways to catch up later on! 

This has worked out great for us in the past. I know someday we'll all get to watch GC all together as a family, but this is what works for now, especially with a four year old that never.stops.talking. :) It's really important to be patient with yourselves and make accommodations for your family for General Conference. Be patient as you figure out what works best for your family situation. For some families who are single parents or who don't have the support around GC that they'd like, be patient with yourselves as you figure out how to make the most with what you've got to work with. Don't be afraid to make the necessary accommodations you need while you figure it out. Any General Conference is better than no General Conference at all! And for those that can sit and watch uninterrupted for 8 hours, reveling in the power and awesomeness that is GC without little people interrupting you constantly, I am jealous, but I will get there someday!........
I am kidding because I do love watching GC with my little family. I hope they know how important it is to me and my husband and that they can feel the spirit more abundantly in their lives as they consistently participate and let the blessings of GC pour into their hearts and our home.

Watching General Conference is a choice. Nobody is making you watch it and nobody is going to check up on you to see if you watched it. Just like everything else in this gospel we get to choose if we want to reap from the blessings that are offered. We can also prepare by praying for guidance in understanding and receiving the things we need to know. As we listen to GC we can gain a better understanding of gospel principles, receive answers to questions and prayers, receive inspiration, and also receive a renewed determination to live the gospel and better follow Jesus Christ.

I am personally excited for this coming weekend's conference. I know that as we prepare for conference we can make it an enjoyable and fun tradition for our families, and even create a family culture around it that is consistent, accommodating, and long-lasting.

The End

Not in my talk but in my head right now-- I just wanted to briefly share that I am so grateful for this gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a strength and foundation in my life that I consistently rely on. There aren't many more things important in this life than following my Savior and having faith in His plan for us. I am constantly in awe of how much He loves me and how much He consistently answers my prayers and gives me guidance in my life. I am in awe of the power and strength that comes from small acts of faith such as daily prayers and scriptures. The other day as I was reading my scriptures I suddenly received inspiration about something I needed to know that had nothing to do with what I was reading in the scriptures. But I learn through those experiences that God speaks to us through our simple acts of faith in Him. As I keep His commandments and stay close to Him, he stays close to me.
This world is full of so many opinions and choices and it's easy to get lost out there. Especially on the internet. I have so many friends (who are members of the church) that are really struggling with trying to know what is real and true. They are struggling with varying societal views, with newfound feminist views, with their political beliefs, with how to raise their children, with what others think about their religion, etc... It's all good and healthy and wonderful to ask questions as we establish beliefs and develop our faith and of course we all have varying opinions about how the world works, but when it comes down to it, what is real and true is in the gospel. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the light, and He will show us what is real and true as we follow Him. As we feast upon the words of Christ through the scriptures, as we get down on our knees and pray every day to God, as we keep the commandments, stay firm in the promises me made at baptism, and listen to our Prophet and apostles, Christ will show us the way. I believe this and I know this with all my heart. I have witnessed huge blessings and miracles in my life and through the lives of others through these truths. Why is it so easy to forget? Christ won't let us forget when we stay close to Him. This I know.

Now The End for real. 


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Club is more than that

I often can't believe our book club has been going strong for over 3 years now! When Tiffany from my ward invited me to come to a book club at Courtney's house, I never imagined that 3 years later this book club would still be meeting, that it would be a huge source of enjoyment and personal satisfaction for me, and especially  that I would meet and become friends with some of the greatest people I know, all through a monthly book club! 

It's  definitely not the same book club that it was 3 years ago (Tiffany and Courtney are long gone) as It's gone through several transformations through the years.  The first big change is that we no longer meet at each other's homes. We used to take turns each week hosting book club at a different member's home, complete with providing snacks and preparing book club questions for the group. However, one night we spontaneously decided to meet at the Starbucks inside the deli at the local grocery store and realized we loved it! They not only have a lounge with comfy chairs but now nobody feels obligated to clean their houses, or keep their kids quiet, or provide snacks that would meet everyone's dietary needs! At the deli you just show up, buy some food if you want it, and relax on a chair to discuss books! Plus we even have the bonus of people-watching. haha.

The second change is that we don't advertise through our ward anymore. When I was in the Relief Society presidency I made it a point to invite any and every sister in the ward to come join us for book club! I advertised it on the ward Facebook page, made fliers to hand out, and called it a Relief Society Book Club for sisters that loved to read. We had several sisters show up until several months into it when someone complain that we were reading inappropriate books that wouldn't be appropriate for a church-sponsored book club. I admit there was some swearing in one and maybe some sexual descriptions in another book we read, but other than that I couldn't recall very many inappropriate things. However,  I also respectfully understand that everyone has different levels of sensitivity when it comes to things of the spirit. Some people are negatively affected by swearing, others by sexuality, and others by violence, even in the mildest forms. So, to respect the sensitivity of others and not ruffle any feathers at church we stopped advertising at church. But no worries! We still have a great group of (slightly irreverent sisters) from the ward who come plus some amazing ladies from the community. And we are always welcoming more!

Another change we made is we stopped ordering books from the Utah Book Buzz program every month. For the first 6 months we loved Book Buzz! Using the Book Buzz was a cheap and easy way to get lots of books at a time for our book club, but the drawbacks were 1.) That they started charging $3 per book and 2.) It was kinda stressful for me every month to pick up the books from the library, collect the money from everyone, and then collect all the books back from everyone and then turn all the books back in at the library (yes, I put myself in charge of this because nobody else wanted to.) And 3.) It was often hard to choose titles from the Book Buzz list because we couldn't tell what the book even was until we clicked on the link, which was a long and arduous process trying to choose one book with 10-12 other women. Often we'd end up choosing a book that "sounded good" only to find out when it arrived that it was a long, boring, 850 page novel that nobody wanted to read or a memoir on old-fashioned recipes from the 1950's.....
Now we just expect everyone to get the book on their own, whether they check it out from the library, get it on Audible, order a copy from betterworldbooks, or whatever. It's working out fine. I always get mine from the library because....it's free. 

The last change to book club is that it's not just a book club anymore. It's evolved into a wonderful group of friends who are eager to meet up every month for talking, laughing, catching up on each other's lives, and of course, discussing our love of books!
I'm so glad I started attending a book club. Sometimes it's hard to put yourself out there to do new things. I remember being so nervous at the first meetup in 2014 because I'd never been to a book club and I didn't know if I would have anything meaningful to contribute. I mean, I loved to read, but other than writing papers for English class, I'd never discussed my reading materials with anyone else! But, as it tuns out, you can say absolutely ANYTHING at book clubs. You can discuss your favorite quotes, praise your favorite characters, describe your favorite scenes, dig deep or not dig at all, or you can complain about how it didn't meet your expectations at all and you hated every bit of it! All opinions are welcomed at book club. 

There's a really funny episode of Malcolm in the middle where the mother, Lois, starts attending a book club with some of the other ladies in her neighborhood. At the first meeting she shows up excited to discuss the assigned book, all ready to delve into her intellectual side while getting a nice break from her four boys at home, only to discover that the other moms had different intentions. It turned out that "book club" was an escape for frustrated housewives to get drunk, unwind, and act unruly without their husbands and children around. Ha! To Lois's surprise (and somewhat relief) nobody even opened the book!
Sometimes I think about that as I head to book club. Although we don't drink at our meetups and I wouldn't call any of my friends frustrated housewives, book club is a nice way to unwind, get recharged, and act a little unruly for a change!
Chocolate Lasagna I made for my friend's birthday at book club!  
Here's the list of books we've read up til today: 
1.The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
2. The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews
3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein
4. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
6. Unbroken by Lauren HIllenbrand
7. Dealing With Dragons #1 by Patricia C. Wrede
8. Words by Heart by Ouida Sebestyen
9.  Wonder by R.J Palacio
10. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
11. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
12. These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
14. Let Us Eat Cake by Sharon Boorstin
15. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
16. Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly
17. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
18. Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck
19. Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli
20. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews
21. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
22. Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck
23. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
24. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
25. Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
26. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
27. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
28. Does my Head look big in this? Randa Abdah-Fattah
30. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
31. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
32. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
33. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
34. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
35. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
36. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
37. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by Jon Boyne
39. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
40. Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
41. Educated by Tara Westover
42. The Broken Road by Paul Richard Evans
43. The Forgotten Road by Richard Paul Evans
44. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
45. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Henry Ford
46. Not If I save you First by Ally Carter
47. The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright

There's definitely been some good ones and some bad ones! The best two books I've read this year were Educated (thanks Dad!) and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The worst two were Uncommon Type (Tom Hanks please stick to acting) and Love and Luck (I just don't love teen-dramas) My favorite genres of books to read are historical fiction. My least favorite genres of books to read are boring non-fiction. :)

I highly recommend finding a book club and joining it! You never know what you'll find!
Happy reading to one and all!