Sunday, April 3, 2011

Re: Kami's post

I don't know if this is exactly what Kami was talking about, but I have been thinking about weakness, discipline, gratitude and purposeful-living for the past four months in a very intense way.  In the past six months I've had a huge paradigm shift and been able to completely change how I felt about something that had been bothering me for about five years prior and causing a lot of problems for me (which then rubbed off on my marriage although I didn't realize that's what was happening until recently).

The short details - I hated where I lived and resented my husband for making me move here.  I also hated my calling and resented my husband for not releasing me (while he was Bishop) even though he knew how miserable I was.

I'll tell you some of what has helped me.

When the Primary President moved me to a new class (thank the Lord!) I received fresh motivation to fulfill and magnify my calling.  All my callings, really (including mother and wife).

Some changes that I made in my life at that time that I think made a big difference:

1.  I started using my Mead notebook.  I have a notebook that I keep by my bed at night.  Every night before bed I write down my to-do list for the next day.  Not only does it clear my mind, but it helps me to remember to think about things I might not otherwise.  I only write down 10 things ( I limit myself), and I try to pull stuff from a variety of life areas - such as service, gospel study, housework, schoolwork, exercise, etc.  It has really helped me to focus my day.  Some days after I list my 10 things I have a list running on the side of "don't forget" items that I also need to do.  But mentally having a list of 10 has been great for me.  The notebook usually comes downstairs with me in the morning to refer to.  Having a checklist is good for me.  It helps me feel accomplished - and helps me keep my expectations realistic.

2.  I realized one evening that I had to exercise more discipline in my life (in several areas) and that is one of the purposes of this life.  For me to learn control.  I CONTROL MY LIFE - to the extent that I control the choices I make and what I choose to do with my time.  I decided my priorities were way out of whack.  Not enough time to read scriptures...but I was still making time to check my email.  I realized that I had to fix that.  I had to stop letting the little things rule my life.  My actions reveal where my true priorities are.  So if my priority is to have Gospel Study every day and tell every child I love them, then I darn well better do that.  I included exercise, and much as I hate, and dread getting up early to do it, I have noticed (to my chagrin) that I really do feel better on the days that I do it.  My energy level is much higher.  I just need to somehow turn that into motivation at 6am.

3.  On a personal note - I realized that I had been blaming my husband for my unhappiness.  I read several talks about choosing happiness and gratitude and knew that I had been subtly undermining my marriage with my discontent.  I would go through spurts of unhappiness and really be unhappy with Josh for dragging me to this place.  The truth is, he did choose to move here and although I didn't want to - I didn't TELL him at the time.  That's my fault - not his.  I realized I had to be like the Little Purple Pansies as the primary song goes.  I started by finding things that I was grateful for about my circumstances.  I also started praying for opportunities to provide service to those around me.  My theory was - you love those you serve, so if I could develop more love for those around me I would love being here with them.  I happened to be reading a talk that said to pray for opportunities to serve.  I have put that into practice a few times (when I remember) and sincerely asked the Lord to send me a service opportunity that day.  It's been really interesting what has popped up. 

4.  I re-read President Uchtdorf's talk about creating and realized that part of my unhappiness stemmed from the fact that I wasn't creating anything.  Long story short - I had given up several hobbies due to changing needs, but I hadn't replaced them with any new hobbies and I really felt like I was stagnating.  This is something I'm still working on - but even the small steps I've made towards creating have brightened my life and brought me much joy.  It is not a worthless thing to create beauty (in food, handicrafts, decorating, garden, etc).  In fact, I think it is a God-given ability and mandate.

So in reading Kami's post again - now that I've talked about what I wanted to talk about - I think the key is to set realistic expectations.  I definitely struggle.  I have told my husband time and time again (when he comes home to a wrecked house and no clean laundry) that I can be a good housekeeper or a good mother, but I can't do either well at the same time. You asked, How do you balance necessary guilt... To which I say, I don't.  I just feel the guilt and accept it.   ;-)
Except now it occurs to me that necessary guilt motivates us and helps us recognize areas where we really do need to improve.  It's like a mental kick in the pants.  Unnecessary guilt makes us feel down, depressed, and unworthy.  I'm quite familiar with both kinds.

Last thing - when my children are driving me crazy (above and beyond the norm) I have found it beneficial to take a break.  Drop the expectations.  Go outside (we go to the beach or the Botanical Gardens).  Don't do anything workish.  Enjoy being a family.  Start fresh the next day.  Otherwise I just get angry and do and say things that I regret later.  Laundry and school, and even dinner, can wait.  

Julia - those books sound good!

No comments: