Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Happy Sunday

Today was a Happy Sunday. 💖 💖 💖 Sundays have been triggering sadness and depression for a long time - almost 1.5 years I'd say? I went to the park with a Mormons in transition group with my family today. I met so many people who are in my same shoes, coming to terms with the awakening that they had grown up, or converted to a belief system, a way of looking at life that wasn't real. They too had read the CES letter, devoured books like Rough Stone Rolling, or An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, or In Sacred Loneliness, or listened to endless podcasts like Mormon Stories, A Year of Polygamy, and realized they were either born or converted into a cult.

Seeing so many others who have found themselves in a similar transition helped me let go that I don't have to worry any more that I'm being lead astray. I really can trust my own heart and mind that tells me it's time to really start making peace with the fact that I just was involved in a cult that takes things that already belong to you (good feelings, your family etc.) and sells them back to you at a price....The price of never trusting yourself, the price of following a religion that tells you what you can and can't wear, drink, who you can and shouldn't marry, where to marry, what you can and can't watch or read or listen to (heaven forbid that you learn to moderate anything by yourself) and you need to accept that polygamy was something god wanted, that refusing the priesthood to blacks was ok because they were less righteous in the pre-existence, that looking in a hat at a rock isn't magical, it's just the way god spoke to Joseph because he was used to using it to find gold, that it's not important that the book of Abraham came from a funeral text that has nothing to do with Abraham, DNA and the Lamanites still can't disprove the Book of Mormon etc. etc. etc. These things aren't too much to ask to feel good, be told you're worthy, and have your family in the next life right?

I met people who understood what it was like to have their world view crash in on them and to struggle to find anyone who was willing to talk to them about it because they'd been conditioned to fear anything that made them question the formula. They believed you couldn't listen to your own inner voice, or use your own brain because god had already mapped it all out and so you don't need to bother looking at anything yourself, reasoning out anything yourself, you just walk in that prescribed line and Then you'll have the good feelings and family you want forever.

I loved hanging out with people who love knowing they won't be teaching their kids to put their trust in authorities that have been lied to for generations and keep passing on those lies. That they won't expect their daughters/sons to accept misogynistic attitudes, racist biases, LGBT phobia, or expect females to give up really following their dreams or pursuing the full potential of their education because all they really need to worry about is producing more babies to grow up Mormon. It was really healthy for my girls to see they aren't the only ones in a family going through this massive change.

AND! 'J' chatted and joined in the group, comfortably, authentically, freely, even animatedly. I've had so few experiences where he joined in the conversation and was interested in it. I was so happy and even emotional thinking about it once I got home... to think about how my life was before, living every day feeling like something was wrong with me for not being fulfilled in the role of mother 24/7, and how sorry I was for myself and others were for me, that he was just too shy... Um Nope!! He just isn't interested in talking about Mormon things and the only people I know (knew) well are Mormon and that's where every conversation turns. That's what happens in a cult, things are black and white, critical thinking and differentiation are discouraged and 'J' is just not capable of that. Never has been.

It was a happy Sunday driving home drinking my caramel mocha latte hehe. And I'm really just soaking in snuggling with my sexy, brilliant, individuated man who loved me enough to patiently share a life with me while I believed in magical thinking and closed my eyes to logic and real life history etc. I'm so thankful he loved me enough to not push it down my throat or call me foolish and then trusted me enough to believe me that I loved him more than the church and I was ready to understand what his concerns were. Happy Sunday to you! Spring is for awakenings and new beginnings. It's never all clear, and there is always something to learn. But it sure feels great when you start regaining trust in yourself. 💖 I've been tracking my journey here if you want to read more about my process over the past year and a half.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Making Difficult Choices

I haven't blogged for over 9 months!  I've depended on Instagram and Facebook picture posting to keep others updated and that's been nice and easy.

But today I felt like writing.  In church today, all the women in our ward gathered together, including those serving in Primary and Young Women to hear a message from our bishop.  I haven't been in Relief Society for over 2 years and it was a fun and nice change.  Our bishop talked about how he has to calibrate his truck's GPS to find his way, and our clocks on our phones are always calibrating.  We also need to calibrate ourselves to the Lord's directions.  I'd been thinking a lot about several things in my life that this message applied to.  One of those things has been a decision about my oldest daughter, 'C', and her participation in ballet class.

I am seeing that she is still a pleaser as the oldest child.  Even if her will seems stronger than mine was at her age, even if she argues with me and trusts other authorities more...she still wants my approval too and I don't ever want to abuse that and make her do stuff just for me.

Clarissa has been doing ballet since she was 2.5.  I've just kept registering each year taking for granted that she wants to continue. Last year I started asking if she wanted me to sign her up again and she said why wouldn't you?  I said I was just making sure she still liked it.  She said sometimes she has a lot to do but she thinks she's fine.  She has some anxiety and with the addition of Activity Days for church on Tues evenings, piano practice and homework, dance twice a week has started to feel overwhelming for her.  I hoped doing the summer class would help reduce the stress for the new year with switching studios because she'd meet classmates and teachers beforehand.  But we just had our first week of the new school year and she's been breaking down in tears with stress and already asking how she'll do it all when dance starts and Activity Days are at the same time.

I realize that each of us has differing energy levels and I want to honor that.  I also have wanted to foster her natural talents.  She's such a natural ballerina, it's been really hard to consider taking a break from it! But I don't want her doing it for me.  She says she likes dance and she's always done it so it will be weird to not be doing it, but she is overwhelmed and tired of being stressed all the time.

So after weeks of prayer and thought, it looks like we'll probably be taking a break from ballet for 'C' for 4 months to see if it brings back balance and helps her practice better stress management, and to help her decide if she wants to continue for herself or not. It's been emotional for both of us and yet I feel it's important for her to know that who she is is not determined by activities.

I want her self worth to be deeper than some activity she wears.  We've decided this together and I've told her she can start again in the Spring if that's what she wants.   She's only 10 (soon) and should be feeling joy in life, not the pressure of the world on her shoulders.  She takes everything very seriously.  With all this said, I believe a short hiatus is the best way to get on track and to see if she's doing it for the love of dance (and that love has waned recently) or just for the attention and approval of mom and others.  It will be interesting to see if this makes her realize how much she truly loves it or if she doesn't feel too bad about it.  It will also give us a chance to improve our quality time together, for her to practice her own agency, and for her to practice time management.

Now I have to see if still doing ballet for 'B' anyway is right or not.  I'm such a worry wart.  I worry 'B' might say things that makes 'C' feel bad about not going.  I worry being at the dance studio with me and not going in will make 'C' sad or regretful or jealous.  But it's true that as my mom said, "Those are the consequences and emotions that she needs to experience so she can try on not returning."  It's hard to watch her experience those difficult feelings.  The thing she said she has felt most when making this choice was confusion.  She said she feels overwhelmed thinking about going to dance, and overwhelmed thinking about not going.  I told her it isn't a decision about forever - just for 4 months.  I think this helped.

'C' and I had a beautiful chat tonight about being a daughter of God and how His love for us is more than about what we do well... And so is my love for her. That who she is is so much more than dance.  I talked about how some people who spend their whole lives working towards something like the Olympics might have an injury or get too old to do the sport anymore.  If they can't do that one thing anymore does it make them a different person?  Are they no longer loveable or important?  Was what they did what made them who they are?  She said no.  I said that's right.  I told her she is more than just a ballerina.  She smiled and said she also sings and plays piano and draws.  I told her that's true.  And you're also a daughter of God, my daughter, my friend, a big sister, and that your spirit is the same whether your body is dancing or not; and I love you because you're 'C'!  I want you to feel joy in life, to know how to be able to handle life's challenges no matter what comes your way.  I think some people lose the one thing they're good at and don't know who they are anymore...and I don't want that for you.  I want you to know that life is full of lots of choices and ways to find joy and that you get to choose.  Dance is just one way of expressing who you are.  If it isn't bringing you joy, you get to choose what to do.  I felt the Spirit so strongly during our chat.  And that is the only thing helping me let go.

I realize now that fear of doing something wrong, of interfering with her future, of not teaching her to stick with things when things get hard etc. made me push down the scratching feelings that were warning me that I needed to pay better attention.  I needed to pay attention to her signals, as well as check my own motivations.  It is a growing period for us both.  I am grateful that the Lord does try to speak to us, even if it takes us a while to hear Him.  I think I too needed to be reminded that we are all human beings, not human doings, and we're spirit children of God, first and foremost.

Before bed tonight we prayed together for a feeling of peace about our decision to take a break and to be able to recognize the Spirit.  I hugged her and kissed her goodnight and I left her room feeling like this is what re-calibrating feels like sometimes.  Just as the bishop said today, that when we choose the best things, we sometimes have to let some good things go.  For us right now, the best thing is having the peace in our lives that allows us to focus on what matters most, to have the Spirit with us, and to calm some of the stress and chaos we fought all last year.  When we're crazy stressed about hurrying out the door for dance when there will be homework and piano practice to return to, and when her anxiety is peaked because she feels she doesn't get any downtime or choice in how her days go - we are not full of the Spirit - but full of contention and hurry, hurry.  Where is the time for scripture study, meditation, or prayer in all that rush?  I'll confess, I often have them pray for the morning while I drive, or I'll read the scriptures to them while they brush their teeth.  Is there really so little time for what matters most?  I think recalibration is indeed in order.

I'm working part-time (around 4-6 hours/day Mon-Fri) for my sister's business, Four Seasons Photography and so it will be all the more important that my mind is focused on nurturing my girls when they get home from school, balanced with my own needs of unwinding from a day of working.  I could write a whole separate blog post about how the timing and ways this job has come about has blessed my life and how the timing is finally right.  But I won't bore you further.  I am grateful for the different ways the Lord has lead us.  It might seem like a small thing to some, and that at soon-to-be-10 years of age, the choice to take a break from dance is not that big of a deal.  But in my life it has felt very integrated with many, many other things and coming to this decision has brought a lot of other things into focus too.  And for 'C' it is probably one of the biggest decisions she's made thus far.  I'm thankful for the Gospel's emphasis on agency, in helping me remember that she needs to learn to make her own choices and that my job is to influence her to look to the principles the Lord teaches, and help her ease into a place in life when I let go completely.  This has been good practice for these things for us both.

Who knows when I'll blog again.  The Instagram and Facebook updating is so convenient; it might not be for another 9 months!  Until next time, sending love and hope that you too can find alignment in ways your own life needs calibrating.  It is a great blessing to know that what matters to us, matters to the Lord and His Spirit is an amazing resource for direction and peace.

Some other thoughts on the topic:

'Forget Me Not' - Elder Uchtdorf

Avoiding Spiritual Drift

Point of Safe Return

Friday, November 22, 2013

Giving Thanks

Whew! What happens to a blog when you decide to take a break? Months go by with zero updating. I only realized it because I gave the blog link to a friend today and saw the date of my last post. So, before the Holidays are upon us, I think I'll share some pictures from our summer and Disneyland vacation. And before I do that, I want to give thanks. I am overwhelmed by the sweet messages of love sent to me from heaven in unexpected ways. I am blessed with goodness abounding in my life. I often lose sight of these blessings and then I'm hit full force by the bounty of God's goodness to me and must immediately stop cold and notice, and whisper a prayer of gratitude. I am so thankful for the simple beauties of nature and living. I am thankful for the loving and supportive people in my life. I am thankful to be a wife of a man I love dearly and a mother of two jewels that teach me humility, patience, and honesty each day. I could give a miles long list of little things like our kittens and our home and good food and music, mountain views, cars, technology, freedom etc. The naming of gifts of life are endless. Let it suffice to say that I need only pause and look to be reminded of the endless ways the Lord says 'I love you.'

'C' turned 9 years old in August and had a fantastic time with her friends.

We also went to a family reunion in McCall, ID that month.

We enjoyed painting our pumkins for Halloween:
This Autumn has had some gorgeous skies:
I think the Fall is the most lovely time of year.
We are not the traveling or vacationing sort. I do enjoy traveling when I get the chance, but for the most part, we are homebodies. So it was quite the adventure to visit Disneyland this October. It truly was a magical experience because we shared in the wonder and excitement our girls naturally bring as children. They enjoyed flying on the plane for the first time and entering the 'Magical Kingdom' for the first time. The weather was perfect and the lines were not long at all. It was a fabulous time of year to go!

Disneyland 2013 - slideshow

We wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope you can find the 'love notes' from the Lord to you personally!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Spring 2013

Where has the time gone?

Well, I'll tell you!  It's been spent being trained and adjusting to a new year with new schedules and responsibilities.  I think I disappeared from the radar after Christmas when I received the calling to be the 1st Counselor in the Primary Presidency.  I quickly learned how indebted we all are to those who have served our children for years.  There is just so much more that happens behind the scenes to create the program our children enjoy than I really ever understood.  It has been so humbling to take a small part in serving in the inspired program for the Lord's children.  I'm so thankful to be serving with 3 amazing women who teach and uplift and serve me each week.  I have had to face my own limitations, my own weaknesses, and had to learn how to work harder at becoming in tune with the Lord's Spirit.  I have so much to learn, but I feel that is why the Lord has blessed me with this privilege and challenge; because He wants to teach me.

I'm 5 weeks in with my new part-time, work from home/virtual office job for a new and starting staffing agency.  I looked for years to find something I could do from home since C was a baby.  But I guess the time wasn't right until now.  I feel this job that allows me to work from home and be there to do carpool and home for sick-kids-days, and not have a commute or heft child care costs has just dropped from the sky.  It's perfect timing now that B will be in school all day this upcoming school year.  I applied for a regular job and when this staffing agency called to see if I would be interested in a different job and learned what hours I am looking for, the owner asked to meet with me to work for his company instead.  I feel it has been a win-win for both of us so far.

The girls have completed their year of dance, they've graduated from Kindergarten and 3rd grade, they've completed a 2 week swimming course, continue to learn to play the piano, and are having a grand time of being growing girls and blessing our family. C is loving her chance to attend Activity Days with the 8 year olds and will soon turn 9 in August before moving up to the older girls' group.  I have loved having the chance to learn more about the Activity Days girls in our Primary.  The leaders are giving such selfless service and I am so thankful for righteous, Christlike women who love and teach our girls.  

Doing Sharing Time, Conducting and Class Visits has also been a growing, yet fun experience in Primary too.  Most of all, I love seeing how the Lord's guidance in putting us together has brought such a cohesive and synergetic presidency experience.  We're not perfect, we're all very different from each other, but we all bring something new to the table and find that we each offer a piece of the whole that is needed.

Just today, I brought my girls with me to the baptism of 2 girls in our Primary.  They live next door to us and their parents/extended family that they live with are not active in church.  But, about a month and a half ago, one of the girls saw us outside and came over to say hi.  We were having family night in the yard because J was fixing a broken sprinkler head and it was nice weather.  The neighbor girl was very curious and not shy at all.  Because I said hi to her, she took it as an invitation to join us.  She plopped right down next to me so I decided to just keep teaching the lesson.  She saw that it was about Jesus and asked if we go to church.  I told her we did.  She said, well I could come to church with you if you want.  I told her, yes she could and told her when we go.  Then she said she went before but that they don't go now.  We finished the lesson and went inside.  J overheard her run back home yelling, 'Them over there wants me to go to church with them!'  She and her sister asked their grandpa to take them to church and they've been coming ever since.  When I attended a ward council meeting for my president who was gone, I told them about the experience.  They had the ward mission leader contact the sister missionaries in our area.  These two girls (ages 8 and 9) were so enthusiastic and told the missionary sister on the spot, - yes you can teach us, I want to be baptized!  Needless to say, it didn't take long for that special day to arrive.  They've come to Activity Days as well and it has been such a wonderful experience for my girls to learn about missionary work, and loving and accepting those around them.  I feel very humbled that the Lord used such a tiny thing as saying hello and allowing a neighbor to sit with us in FHE be a stepping stone to bringing two beautiful daughters of God into His Kingdom.  I am so thankful that our Primary President stayed on top of things to help encourage them to come to primary, Activity Days, and plan a baptism date.  She certainly has a missionary heart.  It has been a beautiful experience so far this year to visit children who haven't come to church but see them come to activities and make friends.  The Gospel is a Beautiful, Wonderful Thing!

I sat with our girls today and made a summer schedule of things to do with them each day of the week for the 6 weeks of summer they have before returning to school Mid August.   (Mon. is Bake Day, Tues. is Swim Day etc.)  With my part-time job it will require them being more flexible to have their fun around my schedule, but I think we planned enough things that they will be motivated to work with it. 

C had her ballet exams the last week of June.  We just got the notification of what level they want her to be in.  When we first started at C&C Ballet last year she was in Pre-Ballet.  She should have started level 1 this year but after exams they put her in level 2. So she was the youngest in her class this year (they were all 9 or 10).  They have recommended she start level 4 this upcoming year (if she takes an Intermediate Summer course).  I talked with her about it tonight and she is still trying to decide what she wants.  We've been carpooling with a girl that also lives in Herriman since the studio is in South Jordan.  C didn't like the idea of not having anyone she knows be in her class next year.  I reminded her she didn't know anyone at the start of this year either but she reminded me of the luck we had when we found out she knew the girl we now carpool with.  (Nevermind that we didn't know that when we started.)  She also said that it might be hard to have to do the stuff that even older girls do.  I agreed and told her it will be at a faster pace.  But that it isn't really moving up 2 levels because she just did level 2, and would be moving to level 3 normally so she's only skipping one level.  She argued that she would have been in level 1 this year if they hadn't already moved her up so she would really be moving 2 levels ahead.  (She's a smarty pants, this one.)  I reminded her of what she'd said when she saw the level 1 dance at the dress rehearsal - that it looked really easy and she was glad she was in the older group.  

They also start auditioning for performance groups at age 10 and it requires that they do Jazz and Ballet but they give a major discount for those who do it because it does require more time.  She would need to take a Jazz class as well this year if she wanted to be caught up enough to try out later.  A lot of the technique from ballet would cross over, and she picks things up so fast.  But I'm perfectly happy if she wants to only do ballet.  We watched some youtubes of jazz and ballet dancing and she was amazed at some younger girls dancing like pros!  (She is currently a big fish in a little pond and I think it opened her eyes a bit.)  I'm so proud of her and her amazing talents.  I am happy she can feel confident and feel like a leader in her group.  It's been good for her self esteem.  In the long run, I want her to follow her heart.  I told her I will support her decision.  The level 3 class is at a later time than the level 4, but we would be able to continue our carpool with the girl she knows if we don't move up.  It's looking like she is going to feel best about sticking with level 3.  I will definitely support her choice.  Carpool certainly makes my life easier since it is twice a week and B's class is at another time.  

I think it must be old programming in my head telling me to push her to reach for the stars and to really excel and not be afraid of hard work and that I believe she can do it!  All of that is still true and fine and good.  But I also know my daughter.  She has anxiety (unfortunately like her mother) and she has to pace herself.  She still reaches a place of stress on the days she has more homework than normal and has to rush off to dance that evening.  She never wants to quit dance when I give her the option, but she does express the stress of having less downtime.  So I think having a space of time after homework/dinner before dance, since the lower level is later, could actually be another advantage.  This is a good exercise in letting go of perfectionism for me.  I feel that I've eased and relaxed my expectations sooo much since I was a teenager and young adult.  And because of that, spending time with my Super-Mom sister, of 5 kids and always on the go along with her church calling and photography business, I wonder if I'm just being lazy.  But I've studied personality typing and psychology not only in college but for years at home as a hobby.  And I've learned that I am an introvert.  It doesn't mean I'm shy.  I'm also a feeler (vs. a thinker) so it means I care more about connecting with people, and that I really care.  But unlike my extraverted siblings (both sisters) who get their energy from going out of the house and seeing and being with people, I am actually exerting energy to do that and I gain my energy from having quiet time at home and time alone when possible.  And I prefer to be one-on-one than in a big group.  This means that pushing myself to do more and go more would only serve to make me drained, empty and ornery!  I have to respect that difference and limitation in myself.  My sis is not only an extravert, but she is also a thinker, she doesn't have the same sensitivities that I do.  And she is also more comfortable flying by the seat of her pants, and bending/flexing her routine on a whim.  I need structure, I need a plan, I prefer to look ahead and have a game plan.  C is the same way, she needs downtime and she needs a routine.  (I can't decide if she's a thinker or feeler yet though.)  B is more like her daddy, she can be flexible with her own schedule, as long as she is the one making the choice about it.  And she is most definitely a feeler.  Isn't personality typology FUN?  hehehehe  Sorry, I'm just having fun rambling.

B has decided she wants to try tumbling this year.  She won't be doing dance this year.  She'll be starting 1st grade and it's just blowing my mind how big she's getting.  She is having a harder time sticking with her piano practice.  C was very motivated by my sticker chart/prize system.  She would just sit at the piano every day on her own and ask me for help as needed.  B doesn't think about piano unless I remind her and sit her down to do it (and sometimes it is a bit of a battle.)  But she does want to keep learning - I just have to be better at making it something on my to-do list each day.  I have felt like B needs some influence from someone more carefree and artistic.  I really feel she has a love of art.  She can color and draw all day.  She makes up stories, makes up songs, creates her own games.  She really is so creative.  I haven't figured out how to encourage that like I should.  My crafting/art etc. is not free-flowing. . .I swear B needs her own little arts and craft room with better supplies and with drawers to put it all in or better yet, walls to post them on.  She cries her eyes out whenever I ask her to choose 1 or 2 to save out of the 20 pictures she makes each week.  She just loves all her art/love notes etc. and believes everything is special.  I think she is in danger of becoming a hoarder - she also keeps empty wrappers, twirly bows, feathers, gems from play jewelry that have broken off, you name it, it is a special prize.  I think we compromise pretty well - she has 4 drawers full of her stuff that as long as I can't see it on the floor, she can keep it.  But I confess, sometimes, if it's been weeks, I go through those drawers when she is at school and make room for the new stuff she will add because I don't think we need to treasure every Strawberry Shortcake coloring book page she's ever colored.  LOL!

Anyway, this is the latest of what's going on over here.  We're looking forward to making great memories this summer.

Here are the clips of B's Dance Recital and Clarissa rehearsing the recital piece on picture day.  

Here is the Dress Rehearsal, it was fun to see her improvement from last year.

B was perfect in rehearsal but must have been socially buzzed on the recital night because, as you can see, she sort of missed her cue.  LOL

C missed her recital because of an awful flu that just really took her down.  I'm so thankful I recorded her in costume on picture day, practicing, so we didn't completely miss seeing all her hard work and success for this year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Dance Recital!!

It's that time of year again! One of my favorite parts of this season is watching my ballerinas on stage! The lighting was different this year and made for a much fuzzier image in our videos - but our girls shined brightly on stage and did a beautiful job.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Celebrations & Recitals

We've celebrated Halloween as well as Thanksgiving and have begun the Holiday Season.  I'm so very grateful for family and have really enjoyed time with my side of the family as well as 'J's side.  I am in awe of the goodness of God in my life.  He has given me health, protection, love, family, friends, freedom, talents, trials, and very personally meaningful experiences that have shaped me and changed me and continue to teach me every day.  I feel inadequate to express and acknowledge the goodness of God in my life.  My meager contributions are but a token of what I feel for Him, and the ability to make them come from Him.  We truly are debtors to the Lord.  I look forward to another Christmas Season to focus more fully on His example of love and giving and strive to overcome my selfish nature.  Thank heavens for this probationary state on earth to work out our own Salvation with Him.

Here is a slide show of the past celebrations and activities we've enjoyed:

My ultimate favorite and preferred way to praise the Lord is through music.  I'm very aware of my novice abilities and yet I feel my spirit communicates with His Spirit to communicate what I feel and so it transcends the limited skills I have.  I taught 'C' piano starting at age 5 and this year she began with a new teacher.  I wanted her to have the experience of playing for her peers in a recital.  Yesterday she was able to have that experience.  I started teaching 'B' this year and recorded her current songs too.  I'm very thankful for the piano I was given as a wedding present from my in-laws that has brought so many years of music into our home.  It is a joy to watch my girls begin to play it now.

 (Waiting for her turn to play; with a good friend in her class, and the daughter of her teacher.)
('B' made G-ma a necklace and enjoyed sitting with her during the recital.)

(Their teacher taught them how to bow and to do it before and after they play - 'C' took it very seriously.)

Their dance recitals are coming soon and I am excited for another year to watch my ballerinas on the stage.  I hope everyone gets the chance to have moments of peace and contentment this season as they reflect on all that is good in their life.  My husband and children are truly the brightest spot of each day.  I'm very thankful that I can be forgiven of my sins, and that my weaknesses can be overcome through the grace and sacrifice of my Savior.  I'm most grateful that our Eternal Father sent His Son to the earth to atone for each of our sins, to be the Mediator with the Father, and to know how to succor us during our adversities.  He truly is the Light, the Truth, and the Way.  Because of Him, these jewels that are my daughters and husband may be mine for eternity if we each stay close to Him, and choose to serve Him.  That is my deepest prayer and eternal wish.

Let the Holiday Season Begin!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Good Spirits

Spending time with the elderly is such a blast!  I'm not kidding!  I've only done it a few times but I want to keep going back.  Here's a few reasons why:

I walk in the rest home with guitar in hand and one of the 'cute old ladies' pipes up 'Hey! You're pretty!  What's your name?" "Chrystal, what's yours?" (In a ho-hum voice) "Lois. Chrystal is prettier than Lois. . . .everything is prettier than Lois." I smile big and say, "I don't think so."  She brightens and says, "Don't you?"

The staff help each of the residents move their walkers around and find their seats. Lois is standing and waiting for quite some time. She looks over at me and says, "They always forget about me because I'm so fat and ugly!" She says it with such a big smile on her face you know she's cracking a joke. I chuckle and say, "Nah...that's not it!" Again she says, "You don't think so?"

We sing through some of the sweeter songs like 'Wild Irish Rose' and 'Beautiful Dreamer' and then I decide to step away from the electric keyboard and use the guitar. I start with one that makes me chuckle: "All Hail, The Gang's All Here....what the heck do we care, what the heck do we care now?' The only male in the room smiles really big when we finish and I ask, "Did you like that one?" He smiles and says with as much attitude as one can in their 70-80's, "What the HELL do we care, what the HELL do we care NOW!" Nodding and smiling. HAHAHA  (We have a bit of a rebel in our midst perhaps?)

As we move through some of their favorites like 'Oh Susanna,' and 'Go Tell It On the Mountain' - I start thinking I must really be doing great because they're singing with so much gusto (despite the fact that they're all singing an octave below me and often monotone! heheh). But then I realize once I get home, maybe some of them were excited but more likely, some of them are just deaf and so they can't help but be loud!

When I passed around the tambourines and maracas, some of the ladies that weren't participating really got into the rhythm of the songs and I caught a few smiles brush past a face or two. When the activities director came back into the room and asked them to give me a hand, they did with genuine warmth and one called out - 'We sing pretty good!'

Maybe I only play the top hand for half of the songs and maybe I only know a few chords and strum patterns on the guitar, and maybe my voice doesn't belong on any contemporary stage, but with these 'old souls', I feel right at home. They love being noticed, they enjoy remembering the good old days, and they make me feel like just sharing a moment of music with them is the funnest thing in their week! I can't help but leave with a huge smile on my face knowing that personality, social connection and a sense of humor doesn't dim when we age. I leave grateful that I don't need help to skootch over on a couch or to stand up yet, that I can still hear myself talk without hollering, and that I can get in my car and drive myself anywhere I want.  This experience makes it easier to remember to see the individual in everyone I meet - no matter how old or young, rough around the edges or timid - we're all sharing the same earth and feel good when treated with respect and kindness.  I'm grateful to be reminded that I can love music and people and life in any setting - I've just got to keep my sense of humor and an attitude of gratitude, something I think these lovely elderly folk know a thing or two about!