Let It Be Me

Everyone needs friends. Friendship is a beautiful support system of people that love you and want you to be happy. They support you, they hold you, they cry with you, they applaud you, and they eat with you ūüôā I’m pretty convinced that we can’t make it through hard times without friends.

This month my calendar has a beautiful quote: “She felt wrapped in the arms of community.” There is a beautiful power in community and especially the community of friendship.

Some people prove to be there more or less than you thought they were. But regardless of this, you need people that you could call. . . When I got divorced, it was interesting to see who reached out, who were the silent supporters, who were the conversation starters, and who were those that preferred to continue almost as if ¬†nothing had happened. Everyone has their own style of support and that’s okay. But regardless of how everyone chose to express it, I felt an outpouring of support, kind thoughts, words of encouragement, love, and of course, sugar!

We all need love. We all need friends. Jesus Christ set the perfect example and was a great friend. When his friend Lazarus died he came to his sisters and mourned with them. They cried together. Keep in mind that this was before he was going to raise him from the dead. He knew that everything would be okay, but that didn’t prevent him from sympathizing with others and really feeling the pain of loss. Christ considered his apostles as his closest friends, and his atonement and sacrifice was not only an act of mercy, but of friendship:¬†“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)

So, if you’re like me, then your first thought is thinking, “well, who are my friends? Why don’t they show themselves?” It’s pretty easy to point out the short-comings of our friends and pin-point what we think that they could be doing to be better to us. But I’m pretty sure that the best way to bring greater friendship into your life is to live the principle of “be the friend that you would like to have.”

Maybe it’s time to reach out and be that kind of friend to someone else. We have little purpose in life if we are not serving others around us and finding meaning beyond ourselves. It’s so easy to think about how the world is so unjust towards us, but it takes the heart of a friend to actually try and change the world. One small act of kindness at a time. How can we support and love each other? Remember, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17)

I’ve thought more about showing compassion, love, and support to my own friends. When people consistently feel this love from you, then they want to selflessly repay it as well. The fruit of this mutual service and companionship is true friendship. “Giving opens the way for receiving” (Florence Scovel Shinn).

I’ve been incredibly blessed with the support and friendship of many wonderful people. ¬†We have memories together and they know me and have seen me through many different experiences. They may not be exactly like me or think the way that I do, but they love me, and that’s all I could ever ask for. I’m hoping that I can be good enough to deserve other’s true, deep, and abiding friendship in return.

Friendship is at the heart of all important relationships and human connections. The quality that people are looking for most in their romantic partners is friendship. You can never love someone without being their friend first and foremost.

I’m loving this song that I recently came across:

Let it Be Me (Ray LaMontagne)

There may come a time
A time in everyone’s life
Where nothing seems to go your way
Where nothing seems to turn out right

There may come a time
You just can’t seem to find your way
For every door you walk on to
Seems like they get slammed in your face

That’s when you need someone
Someone that you can call
And when all your faith is gone
Feels like you can’t go on
Let it be me
Let it be me
If it’s a friend that you need
Let it be me
Let it be me

We all need friends. It’s an essential part of the human experience and healing. Think about who your friends are and how you can show them your love.

If it’s a friend that you need, let it be me.

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When Dreams Die

Okay, so I’ve been pretty bad about posting lately. But here’s the thing: it’s scary to talk about your life. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “then why did she start this blog anyway?” And yes, you’re right. But I’m trying to figure out the balance between disclosing information that will help others and spilling my guts on the internet. I recognize that this can be a fine line, and I’m trying to find the balance.

Today, I’m going to share something personal (well, let’s face it, it’s all personal). But it’s a little harder to share the real and honest personal things than the “lift your head up/keep a good attitude” personal things.

It is hard when dreams die. Especially when they crash land in a completely catastrophic way. It’s very difficult to get over the initial shock of the day when you wake up and everything is fine, and by the end of the day you’re in shock, have had a break-down, and your reality is shattered. You know that life will never be the same, and you can’t pretend. Then, as time goes on, you start to forget the immediacy of the pain, and things get a little more bearable day by day.

But every once in a while, you have one of those days where something reminds you of that dream. And I had that today. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not that I want to be back in that dream. It is truly dead, and I don’t believe in fantasies. It’s not a longing, it’s just a loss. It’s a state of emptiness and you’re not sure how to fill it. Today I was supposed to be somewhere else. I would have been doing different things and having distinctly different experiences. I had a different life-plan and if that had stayed in place I would be in a completely different position. But it didn’t.

As a casual observer, you may know nothing of this kind of experience. Or you might be intimately acquainted with the concept of mourning a dream that has died. If you have, let me just say that you are not alone. If you haven’t, then maybe this can help you try and understand when someone else in your life deals with this kind of thing.

It may have been a long time since the traumatic event happened. You might not even think about it, except for in passing. But memory has a strong and bitter potency. Some things hit you like a wall of bricks, and all of a sudden, your thoughts are completely fixated on this lost dream. This may happen at a time that seems especially inconvenient or out of place, but you can’t control it. And then, you’re trying to just live the day, but everything seems out of place and you can’t distinguish one reality from the other.

Today I had this experience. It was tough. I contemplated, I mourned, and I cried. I felt more alone than I had felt in a long time. I wondered what had happened to all of those lost dreams. It felt like I had been robbed; like someone came into my room in the middle of the night and stole everything that I treasured. All of a sudden, the next day, I couldn’t find them anymore, and the treasure was lost.

In those moments of emptiness, I question a lot of things, most of all my likelihood of ever returning to “normalcy.” I am scared that I will never get there, despite my efforts. I’m scared that no one will ever be able to share this with me, or want to. I’m scared that I’ll be cursed with the emptiness forever, or that maybe a new dream will never come.

But I think that for now, I’ll just feel those feelings, and then let it go. I was working with a counselor who focused a lot on cognitive theory and the idea of self-control over thoughts. I was worried about mastering my feelings. Finally he told me that I couldn’t. I couldn’t run from my feelings and I couldn’t transform them all. I was astounded by this statement, since I was certain that he would instead teach me about the power my mind had over negativity.

But instead, he told me to feel and to process. And then, let it pass. Let it go (that particular emotion, not the entire trauma from everything- that would be too much to ask!). ¬†So that’s what I’m going to do. And I’ll focus more on how exactly I’m going to pick up those pieces tomorrow.

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Embracing

So here’s another piece of insight from my post here about goals for March from my calendar.

Embrace Beginnings

So, to start off, I should say that I’m not usually one for embracing beginnings, especially when I’m not sure what the end is. I usually work towards a goal and I love checking off things on my task list along the way.

In the recent months I have realized that this clear-cut strategy is not the best way to get through life. Facing beginnings is tough enough for me, let alone trying to actually embrace & welcome them. So I’ve been working a lot on appreciating and loving my current circumstances instead of waiting for that “I’ll be happy when. . . . I’m married again/loved/finish school/can really support myself/etc.”

This week I learned a few new things about embracing. I learned that I need to slow down and stop trying to think that my value is based on putting checks in the boxes. Thinking that somehow I would be more complete if I were in a different stage of life is not how I’m going to find peace. Everyone’s experiences, decisions, and choices are personal and unique. It would be silly of me to think that I’m supposed to be someone else to be more “presentable” to God, my family, society, etc.

Embracing beginnings allows me to heal. Embracing beginnings allows me to imagine that my life will be different than I thought before. It allows me to imagine a better future, explore new opportunities, find beauty in places I would never have thought of looking before.

Beginnings are different than routine. Beginnings are very scary for me because they’re unknowable and untested. I don’t like trusting things that I don’t know. Beginnings are risky because they have the possibility of failing or making me feel like I’ve made yet another mistake.

But ultimately I’ve decided that they’re worth the possibilities. Also, because I’ve made the commitment to be¬†courageous;¬†it kind of mandates that I take action instead of living in fear. Dang it ūüôā

Embracing beginnings allows me to know myself. I’ve come to do this through many things, but especially through yoga. Okay, so I’m not crazy regular, but I can’t even tell you how much I love yoga! Yoga makes me happier and more confident in my body, its abilities, and my health. It makes me a better person because it forces me to clear my mind.

This last class we focused on inhaling a good thing that we were searching for. The instructor asked us to narrow it down to one word. Well, that was easy for me: peace. It had been a crazy week full of conflicts, remembering anger and resentment. I could feel the anger and borderline hatred eating away at me, which of course just made me even more mad at myself! Inhale peace, exhale and push out everything else that blocks this. Inhale balance, silence, stability, confidence. Exhale doubts, angers, losses, burned bridges, and insecurities. Spending some time to focus on nothing but peace and my inner self through meditation helped me embrace these unsteady beginnings. I’m moving on, and that’s always a good thing.

I’m moving on because finally I’m mentally leaving the past and embracing the future and its possibilities. I recently reached a milestone in my recovery process that I’m very proud of! I embrace this beginning like a hug from an old friend that I knew would finally come back for me.

I’m embracing the process and the person it’s helping me become.

This month my calendar says: a life plan began to open up. More thoughts on that to come. I know you all wish you had a calendar as cool as mine!

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Fears & Negative Thoughts

Okay, so I’ve been working on a few things that I listed¬†here upon which I promised I would expound. Admittedly, I haven’t been so great at my first one, so I’ll skip that for today ūüôā

  • Surrender your fears
  • Free yourself from negative thoughts

All of these are things that I’ve been battling with lately, so I’m going to try and bring some heartfelt honesty to this post with the end-goal being inspiration and knowledge instead of pity.

I would probably say that the most unexpected consequence of everything that I went through, including divorce, was a major blow to self-esteem. Confidence and self-worth is absolutely trashed. Everything from second-thoughts and over-worrying about past decisions, to projecting those fears into the future, have deeply colored elements of my self-perception.

Doubts (of self) include anything from fault-finding, demanding perfection, feeling trapped by the past, worrying that everyone can clearly see every single one of your flaws, wondering why anyone would take the time to care about you again, worrying if you’re worth the trouble. . . . and the list goes on. The thing is, I know that this is bad and unreasonable, but sometimes I just can’t help it and these self-defeating doubts creep in and literally haunt me. And it’s not an instantaneous realization or a dirty spot that you can spot-clean. It’s like suddenly realizing that something that you thought was spotless is actually filthy and it seems close to impossible to ever get out all the stains.

Even if you’re battling these demons, it’s a process of eventual victory. Even when you’re committed to a good attitude it doesn’t mean that shadows of the past just go away. Some days I win and some days I’m pretty obviously losing. So I guess my message here is two-fold: 1) doubts & fears are a normal part of this process, 2) you still have power to combat these but shouldn’t beat yourself up from lack of perfection if you’re not always 100% hopeful.

I love the first thought from the list: “surrender your fears.” I think she uses the word surrender because she recognizes that you can’t necessarily let fears go. It’s not that you shouldn’t have fears, it’s that you need to turn these over to another power. I surrender my fears to God, and I think it’s an act of trust on my part. “God, all of these terrible things have happened to me and as a result I feel pretty worthless and scared of what’s going to happen. But I’m going to turn these over to you and believe you when you say that you have a plan for my life. I’m going to trust that you know me perfectly, can comfort me perfectly, and that if we take this journey together, at the end I will be a different person than I am now.”

You can’t ignore your fears and insecurities; they’re there. But you can surrender and choose to trust something greater than yourself. As you channel this negativity to another outlet you will find yourself more freed from negative thoughts.

I’ve found that it’s helpful to replace negative thoughts with an opposite statement (even if I’m having a hard time believing the validity of it). Example: “I feel like crap. Maybe this catastrophe is a reflection of my abilities or worth. Maybe what so-and-so said is true and in the end I’m just not as important or significant as others.” Rebuttal: God said that the worth of souls is great in his sight. He’s the only one that we should trust in regards to our real worth. I know that I have divine qualities and that I am a Child of God. Because of this I have potential and Christ’s atonement makes it possible for me to conquer my past, fears, weaknesses, and sins.

How’s that for an internal battle? But seriously, when you can think of eternal truths that battle specific and temporary problems, you will be much more empowered. Example: I feel like no one will ever love me again. Rebuttal: That is a pretty permanent assertion when your circumstances really are temporary and not based on your own choices.

“We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today; Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin) Please repeat this to yourself.

Our worth is not fleeting and it is not based on events, misperceptions, or even what others think of us. It’s based on our personal relationship with God.

Next time you face your fears, try to surrender them. Trust. Next time you have negative thoughts, free yourself by countering it with an eternal truth. Don’t look into the mirrors around you to find a reflection of your worth; look to the only true source.

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March Journeys

Do you remember when I posted about my 2011 inspirational calendar here? Well, here are the urgings of the March “journey to wings.” I know that I need to work on every single one of these, but I’ll bolded a few that I’ll be concentrating on for the rest of the month. I’ll post about how I’m doing with each one.

I’d encourage you to pick one for yourself and post it on your mirror. Let me know how your journey to wings goes!

  • Let it go
  • Surrender your fear
  • Liberate your doubts
  • Unleash your intuition
  • Take a risk
  • Do the thing you didn’t think you could
  • Manifest courage
  • Take the journey back to your self
  • Free yourself from negative thoughts
  • Embrace beginnings
  • Release your worry
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Courage

This character trait has taken on a new role in my life. Here are some various interpretations that I have found:

(Definitions)

1. The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

2. To have¬†the¬†courage¬†of¬†one’s¬†convictions,¬†to act¬†in¬†accordance with¬†one’s¬†beliefs,¬†especially¬†in¬†spite¬†of¬†criticism.

The origin of courage is Middle English (denoting the heart, as the seat of feelings): from Old French¬†corage, from Latin¬†cor ‘heart.’

The literal root of this word is heart. Think of all the beautiful associations that this allows us! Don’t you just love language?

One of things that I love about the first definition is that courage asks us to face danger, fear, and pain not if it comes in some hypothetical sense, but when. We all have situations, trials, and surprises that we could have never foreseen. Anyone can suffer a loss of a relationship that they thought would last forever, of trust, of a child, or of a close friend that it seems hard to live without. But these situations in and of themselves are not what define us. It’s how we react to those difficulties that will determine our success and happiness.

So why not react courageously? I have met way too many people that live in fear of the world. Fear of what will happen if they face the truth, if they face consequences, or if they’re required to step it up in order to really succeed. We are so much more successful if we confront things head on, face our fears, and laugh in the face of those who try to destroy our happiness. Because there certainly are forces out there that want nothing more than for everyone else to be miserable like they are.

And there are also so many people that provide counterfeits to courage. Counterfeit: maybe if I ignore this and it seems like it’s not there, then I have been successful because I don’t have this problem. Truth: It takes courage to confront and admit limitations. Counterfeit: If I look happy and pretend that everything’s okay, even when I’m screaming on the inside, then it’s pretty much the same. Truth: It takes courage to share.

Truth: having courage is hard. No one ever said it was easy, but it is oh, so much more worth it in the end. You are guaranteed to be triumphant. Courage is something that can never be taken away from you. . .the choice is entirely yours. It’s your own attitude- you have divine gifts and potential, including those to choose!

Courage is strength. Courage is fortitude. Courage is faith. Courage is optimism. Courage is recognizing that you can’t do it all and asking for what you need. Courage is trust in the future (even if that’s beyond this life). Courage is humility. Courage is confidence. Courage is growth. Courage is doing hard things.

I now value courage as one of the most important traits of a successful person. I’m attracted to all people with courage and want to emulate them; they are my heroes. You can’t be a hero if you don’t do the hard stuff.

So, my friends, take courage. Be strong. Let’s rely on each other and build the character to be courageous. . . I think that it’s worth it ūüôā It’s also the only true path to being the best person that we can be.

“Bravery doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. It means you go anyway”

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear”

And here’s another one just for fun ūüôā

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Finding Peace

When my marriage started falling apart, I found that everything around me seemed to spin faster, and in a more confusing & convoluted manner. I started thinking not in terms of weeks, or days, but simply in the “now.” Thinking too much got me so crazy that I would become static, and could only move forward by thinking about things one day at a time.

Needless to say, I was a little crazy. For a long time I would have so many thoughts and feelings that I would purposely run myself late into the night. I would avoid the typical late-night demons we face and drive myself to exhaustion. This forced me into deep, long sleeps because I was so tired. I would wake up in the morning and just soak up those first few minutes of consciousness when you don’t quite remember anything that’s happened in the last little while. Then it would hit me like a brick wall and I would start all over again.

Finding that exhausting rest was the highlight of my day. I then realized that I wanted more than exhaustion; I wanted peace. I wanted to be calm again. Clearly this would not be possible yet through my mortal circumstances. But as I grew to understand God, the gospel, and the scriptures, I came to realize that peace is not something that you find in your circumstances. Sure, peace is like a beach vacation, but how often does that happen? And do we have to live our entire lives from vacation to vacation in order to have some rest? The answer is a happy and resounding “no!”

Peace is possible here and now through Christ. A few weeks ago I was in a fantastic Relief Society lesson in which we discussed some situations in which people were searching for that peace amidst desperation. In Mark 4:38, you have the apostles in the tempest who were afraid that their boat would be ripped to shreds while they were tossed on the sea. In their desperation they cried “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” And even Joseph Smith in D&C 121 asked earnestly after being persecuted & thrown in jail (once again) “Oh God, where art thou?”

These are pretty desperate cries and from people who were very close to God, and even they began to request validation through the saving power of the Lord. It was then that we discussed how his simple answer to Joseph (v. 7) “Peace be unto thy soul” and it’s effect in our lives. Clearly God did not remove Joseph from his trials, burn down the prison in an earthquake (like in the Book of Mormon), and bring them peaceful circumstances through a politically triumphant Messiah (for which the Jews were searching). No, the peace did not come that way.

He brought peace to his soul. In Relief Society we discussed how God will probably not remove us from the storm but will calm the storm within. Through Christ’s sacrifice and our knowledge that we have a Father in Heaven that loves us and is with us, we can experience peace, even in the middle of chaos. I began to find that peace and it became a solace, even in the midst of the storm. God’s ultimate wish is for us to find that peace. “My Peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth. . . let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) He doesn’t want us to be afraid or scared in the midst of the storm. He wants us to have faith in the peace that he gives, which unfortunately is unlike the beach-side peace (dang it). In all seriousness though, his peace is much better!

Even Christ himself took solace in that peace of the abiding presence in the Father, even as he was about to approach the night where he would atone for the sins of the world and experience betrayal of every kind. “Behold, the hour cometh. . . that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:32-33)

Christ has overcome the world. He brings peace that is unlike what we experience in the world; it’s an internal peace. We can all have access to this in order to find solace from the storm that won’t go away. He promised that we would have storms.

When you’re facing those storms, and people who’ve been through crap say “I’ve found peace,” it’s not that everything is okay or that we’re happy with the way that things are, or that we’re super-confident and ready to take on the world. It simply means that things are now right. You can have peace, and if you haven’t been taking the time to find it, I promise you that life is much more enjoyable when you do find it.

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