Monday, March 25, 2019

Do You Want to Be Happy?

My ramblings on finding happiness in life!

When I was young I had a record with a song called Do You Want to Be Happy?

Here are the lyrics as I recall them:

Do you want to feel happy? Do you want to feel joyful? Do you want to feel gladness in your heart? There's a way to feel happy. There's a way to feel joyful. There's a way to feel glad if you will start and do something nice for somebody else that's what Jesus did. Don't be afraid it won't hurt you to try it. Do something nice for somebody else that's the way to live happy, joyful, gladly. It doesn't have to be something grand something small will do. Surely you know someone who has a need so... do something nice for somebody else. Jesus taught us to love everyone all the while to serve everyone make them smile will you do something nice for somebody else, do something nice for somebody else...

From a young age, the idea that happiness comes from serving others was one I embraced. I had fabulous examples from my parents. My dad is the kindest most generous man I know. My mother though gone from this earth for the past 13 years left me a legacy of service and unconditional love to follow and try to emulate.

I've been thinking a lot about kindness & service. I love to do random acts of kindness. I'm one who signs up to help every chance I get when there is a service opportunity. I do a lot of volunteer work at the temple and at our community theaters. I take meals, drop off gifts, write notes, doorbell ditch treats, etc.

Whenever I am having an off day I've learned the quickest way to get out a funk is to do something for someone. While never a boy scout I love their slogan to "do a good turn daily". If a day goes by and I haven't done something nice for someone I'm not living in harmony with what I believe. It can be a simple as a text or Instagram message. Or perhaps I make and drop off cookies or write and deliver a thank you note.

Recently someone asked me "Why are you always doing things like this?"
My only response was it's just who I am.

I find great joy and satisfaction in doing kind things for other people. I honestly don't expect anything in return. However, I have seen time and time again that what goes around comes around. I believe we really do attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. If I'm focusing on serving and loving others good things come my way. Rarely is it from the person I served or was kind too. The idea of Karma ("getting what you give" or "reaping what you sow") is one that resonates with me. I've seen it played out over and over again.

If I live in the high vibrations of love, service, kindness, and gratitude good things come my way.

Does that mean life is always easy? Heck no! Like most people, I've faced and continue to face challenges with health, money, marriage, children, the death of loved ones, and more.

Occasionally the people around me are mean or thoughtless and sometimes even cruel. In those cases, I try to go with the adage to "Kill 'Em With Kindness". I believe people are innately good but we are all struggling with challenges and hard things.

I heard a quote several years ago that went something like this:

I am responsible for my own happiness, so you’re off the hook

No one can offend me or make me angry or upset. I choose how I respond. The best way to do that is through kindness.

In the past, someone close to me would often accuse me of wearing rose-colored glasses as I refuse to focus on the negative in others. I love this quote by Gordon B Hinckley.

I do not suggest that you simply put on rose-colored glasses to make the world look rosy. I ask, rather, that you look above and beyond the negative, the critical, the cynical, the doubtful, to the positive. 

If looking above and beyond the negative, the critical, the cynical, the doubtful, to the positive equates to wearing rose-colored glasses then bring it on cause that's how I want to live.

One of my favorite movies has always been Disney's Pollyanna.

Pollyanna knew the secrets to happy living... 

Look for the Good

Play the Glad Game - find something to be glad about in every situation

If you focus on the good you will find it. Everyone has good within them and in this all too often negative world looking for and finding the good in situations and people can turn a negative situation into something positive.

My favorite saying comes from a talk by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin - Come What May and Love It!

In that talk, he said the following:
When we fell down, she expected us to pick ourselves up and get going again. So the advice my mother gave to me then wasn’t altogether unexpected. It has stayed with me all my life.
“Joseph,” she said, “come what may, and love it.”
I have often reflected on that counsel.
I think she may have meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.
How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.
It's ok to have sad days and we won't always feel happy.  Sometimes life sucks. However, we can try to seek out and find the silver lining in every storm.

This is so much good in this world. Find it. Focus on it. Embrace it. Be the Good!
I love this quote often attributed to Mother Teresa:

“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway."

In a recent conference address, Michelle D Craig shared a story about a young girl who made a tie for President Kimball. She followed up that story with this thought::
“Never suppress a generous thought.” Sometimes when I have an impression to do something for someone, I wonder if it was a prompting or just my own thoughts. But I am reminded that “that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.”
Whether they are direct promptings or just impulses to help, a good deed is never wasted, for “charity never faileth”—and is never the wrong response.
Often the timing is inconvenient, and we seldom know the impact of our small acts of service. But every now and then, we will recognize that we have been instruments in the hands of God and we will be grateful to know that the Holy Ghost working through us is a manifestation of God’s approval.

I've tried hard to respond anytime I have the thought to do something nice for someone else. Whether a direct prompting or just an impulse to help I've decided it doesn't really matter.

I love life. I love others. I love serving. I love being kind. I love looking for the good even when it's difficult to find. I hope to wear out my life in the service of others. That's the best way I've found to find true happiness.

"Be the reason someone smiles today."

"Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy." ~Buddah

"I've been searching for ways to heal myself, and I've found that kindness is the best way." ~Lady Gaga

What have you done to be kind today? Who have you helped? Have you done any good in the world today?

The Wake Up Call

I am one who NEVER gets sick.

Ok, you got me, that's a slight exaggeration because I do occasionally get sick but honestly, it is a rare occurrence. I can't remember the last time I threw up or took antibiotics or went to the doctor for anything besides the free annual physical insurance covers. I've had 3 of those physicals in the past 12 years just to establish myself as an existing patient. I've been to an Orthopedic Surgeon and Physical Therapist for a compound fracture of my leg that required surgery back in 2012 and I went to the doctor when I was pregnant, but my youngest is now 13 so it's been a while.

Last July I got sick. It was right after 4th of July. Just some sort of virus that Kylie had gotten a few days before me. I didn't have time to be sick and it didn't take me out like it did Kylie. I didn't feel well and was exhausted but I couldn't climb into bed and be sick so I just soldiered on. My son Bryce was coming home from his mission on July 11th. We had a mission homecoming and a family trip to Vegas and California planned. So I just did what had to be done but it took me a long time to feel like I had recovered from that illness. I was exhausted and tired and felt like I'd lost the pep in my step but really I was burning the candle at both ends and had a lot of my plate so I didn't think much of it. I had two kids to get ready and off to college, a book blog to run, school starting for my 2 kids who were still at home, etc.

At some point in August, I started to feel numbness on a spot on the lower portion of my left cheekbone. I thought I might have a tooth infection. I had my semi-annual cleaning/checkup coming up in a couple weeks and it was just annoying, not painful, so I figured I would wait and talk to the dentist since it hadn't gotten any worse. My dentist said it wasn't tooth related and could be caused by any number of things including a virus. He told me it might get worse before it got better but he didn't seem concerned about it. Since I was just starting to fully recover from the illness I had in July I thought it was likely from that virus. I didn't think much more about it until the numbness started to spread to most of the left side of my face. And then down my arm. There were a few days that were really frustrating because I would be sitting at the computer typing and it felt like my left hand would not obey what my brain was telling it to do. I had to concentrate and think really hard to remember which keys on the keyboard to push to type and to get my hand to do what I wanted it to. And my vision started to go weird. It was almost like I was looking at things through a fog. I could see but it took extra effort for my eyes to work correctly and focus on the screen. It reminded me a little bit of what it felt like when I used to get migraines but I didn't have a headache.

I started to do some research on the internet. The number one diagnosis for the symptoms I was having came back as MS. And if not that then one of a host of other neurological disorders. I figured I should call the doctor and at least set up an appointment. I was a month shy of being able to come in for my annual free well check up and the doctor was booked out for several weeks but I did schedule an appointment. I then had some good almost symptom free days so I canceled the appointment thinking I was overreacting and would just wait until I could go in for free. And then the symptoms returned. At this point, we were going on a cruise in a few weeks during mid-October so I scheduled an appointment for when we returned. I was honestly getting quite concerned and just hoped and prayed that there would be no issues on the cruise.

I did research natural cures for MS. It was way too early to get a diagnosis like that but after talking with a friend who has MS about how her disease started I was worried because everything she described was what I was experiencing. I did know that what I had was neurological/nerve related and likely caused by demyelination so I started taking the recommended healing herbs and started taking a good vitamin. I went to bed early, cut back on my works schedule and tried to eliminate as much stress from my life as I could. Things pretty much stayed status quo. Nothing got worse but I still had numbness and vision issues. And I was tired. Many days found me needing a nap in the afternoon to make it through the day.

All went well on our cruise. We had a great time and I slept a lot, ate a lot and got lots of sun and relaxation. Although I was probably the only one on the ship in bed by 10 pm every night.

Fast forward to mid-November. It's now the weekend before my doctor's appointment and my aunt stopped in when she was on her way through town. She has been to medical school and has a wealth of knowledge but swings heavily towards alternative medicine and treatments. She suggested I start taking CBD oil and begin a gut healing protocol using Liquid Silver & Aloe Vera Juice. I decided to wait and see what the doctor said. In the end, I was so grateful for my aunt's advice and recommendations because I found the doctor I saw later in the week to be far from helpful. The doctor diagnosed me with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Truth it was my trigeminal nerve where the numbness started. But I never had the "pain" that is typically associated with that condition and the symptoms I was having were quite different than the fact sheet she gave me. Basically, I was just told to wait and see if anything else develops. I left the office feeling like it was a waste of time and opted to try the suggestions my aunt made since I was now going on nearly 3 months of numbness and vision issues.

I am a believer in the bodies amazing ability to heal itself if given the chance. It is now 4 months since I saw the doctor and I am symptom-free. It has been nearly 2 months since I had any numbness.

In hindsight, I'm extremely grateful for that health scare. It was a real wake up call for me. It forced me to take a look at my life. If my days are in fact numbered then I am going to make the most out of every one of them.

I've always valued people and experience far more than possessions. I don't need a new fancy car or the latest iPhone. I don't need designer clothes or a big house.

If something brings me joy I'm going to embrace it even if that means going to see the same play (Camelot) 5 times.
I'm going to look for people to serve and do random acts of kindness.
I'm spending time in the temple and doing family history work.
I'm volunteering at nearly every theater in town because I love musicals!
I took on the position as the telephone operator coordinator at the temple.
I've likely gone overboard on random acts of kindness but doing so makes me happy.

I decided to focus on 5 things this year.

Temple & Family History Work
My Family
Volunteering at places I love (temple and theater)
Service & Kindness
My Health

If things don't fall into one of those categories they likely don't have a place in my life right now. I have at least temporarily closed down my book blogs. I once loved running them but they became something that was taking too much time and causing too much stress. I cut back my hours at work to basically nothing.

I'm choosing to more fully embrace the good in life and let go of everything negative that doesn't need to be part of my life.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

I'll Build You a Rainbow

My mom passed away nearly 13 years ago. She was an amazing woman who though imperfect was the perfect mother for me. She loved unconditional, served tirelessly and taught me to love the Lord.

Her death was unexpected as she died from an aneurysm at the age of 55. When she passed away her life was in order. It was far too soon and she was way too young but I saw God's hand in the events of her passing and that brought me comfort. It was a defining time in my life. Either the gospel was true and I would see my mother again or it wasn't and she was gone. The experiences I had solidified my testimony and knowledge that families are forever. I will see my mother again. She raised me right and taught me what I need to succeed in this life. I'm forever grateful that God blessed me with wonderful parents.

There is an old video called I'll Build You A Rainbow. It always makes me cry. I had a mom like Jaime's. I've tried to be that kind of mother to my children. I've succeeded wonderfully in some ways and failed miserably in others. In this video, a rainbow is a sign that reminds Jamie of his mother but for me, it is actual rain. My mother loved the rain. There have been a couple experiences I've had where rain let me know my mother was present. I know that families are forever and that my mother lives. She's in a better place likely busy serving others as she did in this life. I will see her again someday. I'm grateful for this knowledge.

The one thing I have wished is that my mom would have written in a journal. I wish on days I'm missing her or struggling or needing counsel and advice that I could read about her struggles, thoughts, and experiences.

I myself have been very sporadic in keeping a journal. My friend writes a blog she calls Dear Kids. It's her way of documenting the things that happen in their lives and sharing counsel and advice to her children.

A recent health scare got me thinking of my own mortality. If I pass away at the same age my mom did that doesn't leave me very many years left on this earth. I have felt impressed to start recording some of my thoughts, beliefs, and experiences.

So that's what this blog is. A place where when I feel impressed to do so I will share my thoughts, struggles, and experiences so someday my kids or grandkids will be able to know how much I loved them, loved the Lord and loved life.