Thursday, May 10, 2012

Our Everests.

On this upward and sometimes hazardous journey, each of us meets our share of daily challenges. If we are not careful, as we peer through the narrow lens of self-interest, we may feel that life is bringing us more than our fair share of trials- that somehow others seem to be getting off more lightly.

But the tests of life are tailored for our own best interests, and all will face the burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful as well as just and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way.

-Jeffery R. Holland

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

You reap what you sow

First a darling picture of my Kate for good measure:


Now on to serious business. I remember being outraged about a particular life lesson when I was a teenager. I discovered poignantly at that time that life was not going to be fair. Life would also never get easier- it was going to get harder as I got stronger. I was at the bottom of an uphill climb, and there was no fighting it. Just had to start hiking.
I was also ticked that there were these opposing forces in life- the first one trying to destroy me and second one that would make me the greatest person I could be. The first one was loud and easy to see and follow and too clever for words, and the second was really quiet, didn't beg for attention, and you had to look hard for it. I knew my own smarts and knew before this life was over I would be tricked numerous times into making myself miserable by the first.

I learned during those formative years that everything what we will refer to as society taught me to do was actually the opposite of what would make me happy. I'm aware this term has faults- there is a lot of good to society. I just can't think of a term that embodies the  destructive force I'm going for.

Some examples.
Society: you need to fit in with everyone around you so that they will accept you. This means doing what they do and one-upping their badness just a little. That makes you cooler. You will have more friends. The more you fit in and do what others do, the happier you will be.

Fact: You are a one-and-only. Everyone is unique and has their own adventure to live. Doing things that you know are wrong will make you sad and make your self-esteem self-destruct. This makes you do worse things, that you will continue justifying, until you are in a weird dark place that is hard to pull out of unless you have really good friends. Those really good friends celebrate your individuality and don't try to pour homogenous fit-in-to-be-cool goop all over you.

Society: Gossip makes you more friends. Don't keep your friend's secrets; disperse them with the whisper "but don't tell anyone...I've only told you." It makes you seem like you care about trust.

Fact: Gossip hurts everyone involved and makes people gossip more about you. You lose your real friends because they can't trust you. Don't get caught up in it.
Society: Receiving is way more fun than giving. Take advantage of others.
Fact: Giving is actually way more fun than receiving.

Society: Protect your heart. It is the only way to survive.

Fact: Though a more vulnerable heart will get a lot more beatings, it is also more open to receive love and help the pain of others. An open heart ends up making you real friendships and makes you happier because you're doing good in the world and feel true love.

Society: When someone in your life screws up, hold a grudge. Forego your trust in them. Forgiveness is not an option- hold on to the hurt. It will protect you.

Fact: Hurt protects no one. It just hurts. Forgiveness is healing. The emotional pain is worse at the beginning, but allows you to let go of the hurt and free yourself. It lifts instead of drags. Mercy makes you happy. A hardened heart does not.

Fact: Being healthy makes you happy, whatever that means for your body type. I'm glad there are many movements promoting healthy over skinny now, but we all know deep down we're still thinking- yeah yeah but I still want to be skinny as a twig. That would be the world talking loud in your inner ear. Healthy is the goal, but you don't have to be a gym-rat raw vegan who juices half the month to be healthy. Your body will tell you when you're there.

Society: When someone hurts you, get even. Justice will make you happy.

Fact: To be happy, you have to turn the other cheek and let them slap that one too. The happiness is certainly not found in being slapped twice- the happiness is in being a big enough person to not let justice get in the way of charity. Look a little deeper- that person who hurt you probably didn't do it for the surface reason your pride told you they did. There are hidden scars on every heart that we can all relate with. Nope, it doesn't justify their behavior,  but it certainly should call upon your heart to not slap them back. Mercy will give you peace and make you happier.
Society: A sweet shiny car, awesome clothes that fit perfectly, cute shoes, a trendy pad to live in, and a monthly pedicure will make you happy.

Fact: Those are surface things. They cover for the shallow part of happiness than can come and go with a light breeze. True happiness is deeper and come from service and giving and searching. It's cool to watch the good examples of main world figures who have figured this out. Ex: Movie stars that get their kicks from doing non-profit charity work. Or trying to have a semi-normal life with their families. They've tasted the world's happiness and realized it ain't all it's cracked up to be. Which brings me to my last point:

Society: Pretty much everything is more important than your family. You, your work, your looks, your warddrobe, your hobbies, your dreams, your phone, you. Family will always be there when all that stuff is finished and then you can spend time with them.

Fact: Family first = true happiness.
So, my readers. Any others you've discovered from the school of hard knocks?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Keeping the wheels turning

My daughter Kate is almost 8 months old. Before she was born I worried quite a bit about how to keep my brain in full function while staying home with her. I thought I'd be bored and thought I'd become...invisible. I was so wrong in so many ways. First- raising this little child has taken every amount of creativity, patience, stamina, and strength that my college and mission years helped me aquire. Second- the only dull moments during the day are when I'm not trying. There is a whole world here at home that I had no idea existed. I have pretty awesome neighbors that have taught me the joys of motherhood, etc. This blog is about my new life as "maman" but also about the "etc" that I know I'm supposed to be discovering. It's a weird spin zone I'm in right now- I have a lot of time to read, learn to cook, to discover my inner artist and keep up on world events, but instead I spend so much of that time playing peek-a-boo, finding new ways to show Kate old toys (I've learned you've really got to be a good salesman to be a good mom), and observing while Kate discovers trees and leaves and bugs. And tries to eat them all. All the things I thought I'd love to do are almost, almost as fun as watching her eat paper, try and rip her toys apart, and yell and coo at angels only she can see.

The title of this blog- the sentamentalist- embodies what I want this site to be about. Of course I'll write about the present with my family- but also about the past (both my own and that of others), amazing quotes from people who "get it", some spiritual spice because I think we could use a little more than we probably get, and who knows what else. The "etc" will unveil itself as we go.

So- some appetizers.

I was a European studies graduate planning on interning at the European Parliment (never to return to the states...) when I got married to my handsome best friend Zach. The plans flew out the window and I had a lot to learn about how and where to make my mark on the world. Meade MacGuire hit the nail on the head.

 “Father,where shall I work today?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then he pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.”
And the word he spoke, it was not stern; 
“Art thou working for them or for me?
Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galilee.” 

I didn't realize all the background work that goes into saving the world- one kid at a time. As I'm writing this, Kate is devouring a measuring tape. I should feed my child...and how did it happen that my best friend is an 8 month girl? I love the mysteries of God. Kate can't even talk to me yet but I feel like she gets me and I get her. Most of the time. Next great poem:

"When God wants a great work done
in the world or a great wrong righted,
he goes about it in a very unusual way.
He doesn't stir up his earthquakes
or send forth his thunderbolts.
Instead, he has a helpless baby born,
perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother.
And then God puts the idea into the mother's heart,
and she puts it into the baby's mind.
And then God waits."
E.T. Sullivan

To be continued.