LIFE CLEANSE: OUTLINE

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“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” Stephen R. Covey

So do you remember a while back, well it would have been at the beginning of the year when I posted we were going on a beach trip and then I was coming back to start my 2014 LIFE CLEANSE?

Did you see my post right after about our crazy stressful trip that, although full of mercy and learning, left me a bit frazzled?

Here’s the deal, I was originally planning a 90-DAY LIFE CLEANSE. Yep, whole thing start to finish from January through March.

Well, here it is April and I’m just now getting to the next Phase!

At first I was kind of getting down on myself, which was definitely not helping the process, and then I thought to myself, “Come on Meg! Who put a time limit on this thing anyway?! You did! Nobody else is imposing these time restrictions! You silly thing, just keep working on improving, stop with the crazy/impossible expectations!”

So, here I am. I went back to the original 2014 LIFE CLEANSE title to relieve my personal anxiety on the subject. Plans are more motivating to me when they have a title;) Also, I’ve taken a more “Move on when you’re ready” approach to reaching the next phase.

Each Phase of my plan has a Section that I can work on exclusively or in connection with the other two sections. Also, each section tries to focus on a different aspect of my being (ie: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, etc.)

Here’s my ORIGINAL plan:

Phase 1: Renew, Revitalize, Reflect

Renew: This is meant to be a more Spiritual and Emotional Section of Improvement. Spiritually I want to Repent and Forgive (mostly myself), moving forward, as if I was starting life anew. Emotionally I want to leave Discouragement and Self-doubt behind and move forward with Hope and Courage.

Revitalize: This is a more Physical Section of Improvement. For myself, I know I need to focus more on self-care, especially rest. Sleep, breaks, and focusing more on where I’m “letting myself go” physically. It’s impossible to fill everyone’s bucket from my empty one. Also, in my surroundings, to make myself more efficient and productive I’m organizing, downsizing, and deep cleaning my home. This “spring-cleaning” is always very refreshing for me.

Reflect: This is a Mental, although touching on the Emotional and Spiritual Improvement Sections as well. This will of course require Heavenly help, my knees will get a workout With this Section I want to focus on three main questions: What do I really need to change in my life ? What is/are the root(s) of what is holding me back from this change? What changes can I make that will make change in my family?

Phase 2: Study, Strengthen, Synthesize

Study: A mostly Spiritual Section, a need to focus more on the quality of my study rather than quantity. I’ve been going through the motions lately and don’t feel the invigoration of learning and inspiration as strongly as I once did. I mostly want to focus on my study of Scripture, being “IN” my prayers and not just habitual monologues, and the topics that I have pondered on during my time of Reflection in Phase 1.

Strengthen: In this Physical focused Section I was to hone my routines/habits. Making sure I “Put first things first” (Stephen Covey), namely my study and self-care. Also, taking a literal interpretation of the section, I want to focus more on changing my exercise routine to include more strength training. I’m finding I can do my daily Mommy tasks when my body is in better condition.

Synthesize: This will be mostly a Mental Section. I want to focus on how I can use the emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of my being to work together more efficiently and productively. I believe this will mean paying more attention to timing, and highs and lows of the day/week/etc. For this section I will focus more on receiving guidance through prayer, and daily planning, using a long-term vision. Also I plan to write the things I’m discovering about myself so that I can forecast what, when, and how to do tasks/activities.

Phase 3: Clarify, Cleanse, Create

Clarify: This will be a Mental and probably Emotional Section. At this point in the process I am hoping I can define what really are the roots of my personal vices. The idea being, to kill the problem from the source.

Cleanse: A Physical Section that will focus mostly on food cleansing. Omitting some foods and adding others to cleanse my body of toxins and hopefully find a good food balance that will lessen the “build-up” in the future.

Create: Another Mental, Spiritual and Emotional Section mix. Now that I have found the roots, I want to create a “game-plan” of how I can use my virtues to eliminate the vices. This will probably be an ongoing process but I’m thinking that the earlier Phases will help me get rid of distraction and focus on the things that will empower me to make real change.

Another thing I noticed after I started working was that the Phases kind of overlap. Right now I’m still working on Revitalize from Phase 1, and I’m learning that Renew is something that needs to happen more regularly…. but I’ve moved on to all three Phases in Phase 2, albeit slowly;).

I’m hoping this makes sense. Sometimes my ideas only make sense to me;)
I’ll be posting and hopefully vlogging some of what I’ve been learning in this process of Cleansing my life. My main goal is to find the main roots of change in my life that need to be made. I realize that some may take a life-time to change but I think that the identifying and concentrating on specifics will help me progress more successfully.

It’s Your Call

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Walking through “Las Piedrotas” in Tapalpa, Mexico. Can you see the little munchkins waiting on me up there? 

Sometimes answers are like walking out of a cave into the bright sunlight. An instant warmth and sense of deep awareness.

Other times it’s more like waking when it’s still pitch black outside, an then watching as the shadows slowly disappear, and the sun takes its’ rightful place in the sky. Blackness fading away to grey and finally a bright yellow of newness and understanding.

Yep, sometimes the answers come very clearly, very forcefully, there is no doubt. But many times, or should I say, most of the time, my answers come with a little insight here and a little more there. Like a sculptor that methodically chisels away at a block of marble to release the masterpiece waiting beneath its’ surface.

I’m dealing with one of those right now. The second method. The slow elimination and determined chipping away. You see, I know there is a God. I know He is there. I know he listens when I pray. I know He answers. But just as any loving parent, I believe He knows that we cannot just be given the answers to all of our questions and problems. Sometimes He answers immediately and clearly. Sometimes he leads us and guides us almost just as clearly. And sometimes I think he says, “It’s your call”.

I detest this answer. I don’t want to make the call. I don’t know that I’m ready to make the call. All by myself? All on my own? But am I really on my own? No, not really. He’s my Father. He’ll tell me what He thinks, but not directly, not obviously. I must search. I must listen. I must quiet my soul in order to hear.

That is what I’m in the midst of right now. It’s actually a question I ask myself every year. Am I still sure that we should be homeschooling our children?

For the first few years, I really felt a calling. I KNEW it was what we needed to do. As our journey embarked I soon discovered that our first child would have significant struggles in any other school setting, which added confirmation to our decision.

Then a few more moves, a few more children, a few changes of employment and a plethora of changes to our homeschooling….I felt I was starting to “get it”. I felt like we could make this work. I felt a culture forming that I craved. I smiled. We can do this.

But as I just told a dear friend who is struggling with the same decision, for different reasons…Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And just because you shouldn’t now, doesn’t mean you can’t later. There is a plan and a time for everything.

A couple years ago my husband started making the steps and changes necessary to be completely self-employed. At the beginning of this year we made the final and complete leap into the world of self-employment. This means he is working from home whenever he is not attending meetings, giving trainings and/or travelling. It has mostly been a gradual change and we thought that we were figuring it out. I have always tried my best to help with my husband’s work when he was an employee and now even more as we have a family business. But I admit, I am both hesitant and ignorant. Sometimes I just don’t know what in the world I am doing! I really don’t want to mess something up that is that important. Other times I feel like if I put too much into it than I’m neglecting my responsibilities as a mother and teacher. It’s always been a difficult balance, for me.

Over the past few months I have been reflecting a lot on my priorities in order to create a good balance and decide where I need to make improvements. It was amongst this journey that my husband asked one day, “Are you sure we are supposed to be homeschooling?”

At first I was a bit flabbergasted. Though not involved with the process much, he has always been very supportive of my endeavors.

Unfortunately, I continued to react with my natural responses to his critiques….defensive mode on….How dare he… After all we’ve been through? Does he not see I’m trying my best? Doesn’t he see that the kids learn better this way?

Wait….wait for it…ok, now reflection hits….but this is my husband. My eternal companion. My best friend. What if he’s right? What if I’m doing something wrong? What if I need to have my focus elsewhere?…..

Well, very long story short, by the end of the day I was an emotional mess. I have since been spending the majority of my thinking time grappling with this subject. I’ve searched, pondered and prayed….even fasted. I feel my answer is….It’s your call….not really what I was looking for….definitely not the easy route. I have already been guided. For the moment I’ve decided to finish the school year and come to a final decision by our summer break.  I know the answer will come. Hopefully it’s before I become a habitual insomniac 😉

To all of you who’ve struggled with this, or a similar decision….what helped you?

News!

Hey Everyone! 

Just to let you know that I (finally) updated my “About” page! It only took me a year to introduce the whole family 🙂 Check it out and get to know us a bit better. As I type there is a flurry of preparation to leave for the beach, a LONG awaited short vacation that we’re all looking forward to. When we get back look out for my upcoming posts on my 2014 LIFE CLEANSE, a self-improvement program that I made up for myself this year to revitalize and create change that is needed in my own life. We’ll talk soon!

The Roller-Coaster

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So funny how silence can feel like a cold, uninviting void or a soft welcoming blanket. Chocolate a calming balm of Gilead or a secret, forbidden indulgence. Children’s laughter a musical joy that sends your heart singing or a rake of noise that boils your irritation. A song can be a warm whimsical welcome to nostalgia or a deep aching remembrance of heartache. Even a hug can become a two-sided coin of acceptance and love or of awkward realization of detachment.

What can make such straightforward things have two totally different outcomes? Well……you……

It’s us, our feelings and memories of feelings that create our world. Even very logical people are susceptible to the human code of emotion. I would argue that our deep emotions make us human. So why is it that we are so confused about what to do with them?

I ponder over this a lot. As a youth I used improper coping mechanisms that buried all negative emotion to the point of becoming blank, unfeeling. I can tell you that I did not feel human, actually life became very meaningless.

Fortunately, I continued my habits of prayer, gospel study, worship and devotions during this difficult time and the right people, experiences, and thoughts were put in my path so that I could find my way out of that dark and dreary waste. God is good.

Once I started allowing myself to feel again it was a bit of a mess. A mess that unfortunately, I still find myself in every now and again. I knew and know that learning to control my emotions did not mean that I would get rid of them or ignore them or belittle myself for them…..I must feel them and deal with them…..Easier said than done.

So, now as I still am working on dealing with negative feelings in a healthy way I find three things that have helped me beyond measure;

  1. God

–          If I am putting God first in my life, it is just easier. I show Him that He is first by reading and studying His words every day, praying daily, going to my Sunday worship services, and trying to do as He would do. Then I have His Spirit to guide me, and  I can know the BEST way to deal with an emotion or avoid many negative ones altogether.

  1. Step Away but don’t Put Away…yet….

–          When I’m feeling something negative I try to take a step away from the emotion to look at it, identify it, and see why I would be feeling this way. This helps me see the problem and I can better attack it at its source.

Also, many times I think I am feeling one thing but the root of the problem is really another (anger turning out to be loneliness or mourning, etc)

There are also times when my emotions are so mixed up, usually because other people are involved and I don’t have enough information to come to a conclusion, that I HAVE to put it away or get rid of it altogether. If I think for some reason I will need to analyze the feelings in the future I literally picture putting them in a glass jar and twisting the top on and putting them on a shelf in the corner of my mind. If I don’t see any reason for hanging on to those feelings then I blow them away into the sky and picture them fading away into oblivion. This may seem corny, but it works!

  1. Make a Plan

-Sometimes we need a game plan.

My biggest downfalls are depressive/discouragement type feelings and anger so when I get inklings of these feelings I first analyze and find the source and then I get to work.

With the “down” feelings I usually find that it’s one of three things, over-worked, under-worked, or comparing. When I’m over-worked, I take a break. When I’m what I call “under-worked”, it means I’m not striving for excellence, just going through the motions and not improving and learning. If this is the case I start the goal-setting and planning and add other interesting and uplifting reading material to my daily study.

Comparing…. Well, this is a hard one. Sometimes it is good, because it makes me realize something I need to improve on. Many times though it’s destructive because I’m comparing the surface level of what I see in someone elses life, with what is most likely one of their strengths, with a deep, down and ugly view of my own life with what is usually one of my weaknesses. This is when I have to slap myself into being realistic, make any changes I think are necessary and turn the rest over to the Lord.

Emotion is a beautiful gift from God. But like everything else, there is opposition. This is necessary, how can we know joy without sorrow? Forgiveness without offense? Love without loneliness? Humility without anger? However, we will decide what becomes of us by how we deal with these complexities of life. For me, there are days when it’s a minute by minute battle of what I will allow to take over my life. But when I put God first, take a step back and make a plan, the battle becomes a mere discussion and my virtue can increase. And that is what I strive for, a virtuous life.

What helps you to deal with the emotions of life?

The Pebble

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Do you ever wonder if you really make a difference? Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing really matters? Do you ever feel that your contribution is meaningless?

I’ve been thinking about this subject over the past few weeks. My thoughts became increasingly poignant when I watched a video the other day about WWII and some university students that tried to protest the Nazi regime through their own propaganda. In the end, the investigation pointed to 3, but mainly 2 students that had masterminded the majority of the information and distribution of the propaganda. They were executed for their efforts. However their legacy lived on and their voice was heard and made a positive difference.

After wiping away the tears, I got to thinking….am I making a difference? Is what I’m doing really going to matter?

My first thoughts were rather discouraging. But as I started to analyze my influence a bit more deeply I began to picture a pebble being thrown into an enormous lake. True, for the most part it would go unnoticed. But, that tiny pebble would cause ripples, even a bit of a splash, and had the power to even rock a boat.

I am not perfect. But I am trying my best. I am a child of God, a woman, a wife, a mother. I may not matter to others but I do matter to some, and I do matter to God. He sees me. He cares. He knows of my efforts.

I also know that every day I am making a statement. Every day that I choose to put my God, my marriage and family first I am telling them and everyone that will take notice that I know what real success is. Every day that I choose to use kindness instead of anger, disdain, or negativity, I am testifying that goodness wins. Every day that I choose to protect and sanctify my body with healthy habits and modesty I am showing God that I am grateful for His gift to me and my family and anyone else that will take notice that our bodies are sacred. Every day that I walk out with my family I am showing that I know that we are ALL beloved children of God, that He sees us, not our skin. Every Sunday when I’m going to church and spending the day in a worshipful attitude, I am testifying of my belief in the teachings of the Bible. Every day that I choose virtue and integrity over convenience and image I am telling my children what really matters. What I say and what I do says to the world and especially to my family what and who I am.

I think as Moms we sometimes get mixed messages.

The world tells us to do all and be all. This is more in the sense of superficial success, a skin-deep perfection…..have the amazing career, the money, the “perfect” body, the “perfect” house and the “perfect” family. Not only is this a tainted view of happiness, it never really brings happiness.

On the other hand, the Lord tells us to be virtuous and true to Him, our husbands and our families. Our purpose and mission is to teach and guide and lead the children of God to be the leaders and kind of people He wants them to be. What amazing trust our God must have in us women!

While trying our best and looking to God to fill in gaps, will bring happiness and even joy as we strive to fulfill this incredible role, it can seem daunting at times and we can become discouraged. Part of this discouragement often comes from the fact that although we have basic scriptural outlines and the Spirit to guide our efforts, we will find that there is no “blueprint” for success. Every woman and family is different and there are many details that the Lord will guide us in but not mandate.

Then we have our own personal demons to root out of our being. We all have weaknesses and while a spouse and children can help bring out the best in us, if we are not careful we and they can also end up with the worst of us.

Thankfully, this is all part of the plan. Just like a precious metal or gem, we cannot reach our potential without some tempering, some heat, some pounding off of rough edges.

As I was pondering on what I needed to do to be the kind of person that God wants me to be, and make the difference that I need to make in my children’s lives especially, I then pictured the little “Refresh” icon on my computer. Every now and then I have to sit back, look around, ponder, pray, study and click “Refresh”. The beauty of the atonement is that it works for everyone. I am not perfect BUT I can try again.

The desire to change is often with me but the urgency to do so has been heightened over the past week or so. This urgency to change was especially present today as I read and heard of a young mother, not much older than myself, that died a yesterday due to birth complications. Gratefully, she was a beautiful, Proverbs 31 woman that was ready to meet her Maker. Sadly, she left behind a young husband and 6 children, one of which she would never meet in this life. As I stared at my computer through a curtain of tears I began to think, “Am I ready?” “If I died today would my husband and children really know how much I love them?” “Would they remember me in a positive light?” “Has my pebble made all the ripples and splashes it was meant to make?”

I still have much work to do. I know that I am not alone in my quest. I know that my contributions seem small, but they are needed and they matter. I will “Refresh” and be better each day. Even if my life is only a pebble, the ripples will make a difference. Now I’m going to go hug my family and tell them I love them. Good night!

P.S. Here is the link about the woman I mentioned. A beautiful young woman that has left a husband and 6 children behind, please keep them in your prayers! Our Dearest Katrina!www.youtube.comhttp://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=GqBCZckcPSQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGqBCZckcPSQ

Your Feet Stink

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Are we really who we say we are? Or do we even know?

Today I was thinking of when I was part of a dance company several years back. I remember when I began learning pointe (the funny ballet slippers that you dance on the tops of your toes) that I was pretty self-conscious of my feet. They smelled!

I was pretty serious about dance so I was dancing nearly every spare moment and after rehearsals I didn’t like to take my shoes off around other people cause my feet stunk. Then I remember going into the changing room one day, after everyone, and the smell that wafted from the room was not a pretty one! Then I started realizing, “Hey, everybody else has stinky feet too!”

It may seem like a silly story…ok, it is a silly story, but my point is that everyone has their weaknesses. They may not be the same as mine but we all learn differently…in different ways, at different rates, and for different reasons. We’re all here for a reason. We all have a unique purpose. We don’t all have the same talents, so why would we all have the same weaknesses?

The great part about it is that we can change. Christ died for our sins. Why would we make Him suffer, even now, because we won’t really exercise our faith in Him and let Him help us change!

I am that I am. That’s how God described himself to Moses. After researching the phrase a bit and pondering on the use of it, I feel it’s safe to say the God felt that His actions spoke for themselves. He could call himself “I am” because he had become perfect, whole, at one with Himself. There were no more internal battles with the natural man. No more desire to wrong Himself or another. “I am” was saying that he had reached beyond human nature….He is God.

I’ve been pondering on this many faceted subject for several months and over the past few weeks a different facet has been staring me in the face.

I first started thinking about it when I was posting something to Facebook and read a few of the posts of some friends and some “friends”. Why the quotations? Well, there are friends that you feel actually care for you and your well-being and thus you post and read posts because you care and you know they care.

Then there are “friends”, people that when you really think about it you want to know what they are up too because you kind of want to compare. There are also “friends” that you really don’t think too much about, but you know they want to see what you’re up to because they are comparing. It’s a sad but true aspect of the natural man.

Why was I thinking about this? Because I started realizing that Facebook was affecting my mood and self-esteem, and not in a good way.

Then I started thinking about it…Why do I care? Why am I comparing myself with other people? Why try to be like someone else when I have a much better example to follow? I’m supposed to be comparing myself to myself. Am I a bit better than I was before now? And to God, am I getting closer to becoming more like my Ultimate Example? That’s what really matters.

As I was pondering on this I started thinking, “Besides, we aren’t what we really are on Facebook anyway!” Do you post all your mistakes and horrible traits? Do you post all the really bad pictures of yourself? Well, if you do, good for you, as long as you’re learning from them. But I’ll be honest, I don’t! Facebook is just what is says it is….a FACE. It’s the outside, generally superficial part of our lives for the most part. Why would I compare my life to the 1% of what I see of someone’s life on Facebook.

Then this week I expanded on my pondering when I started falling back into old habits.

I have voice issues. Not the types you’re thinking of….I have a hard time controlling the tone and volume of my voice when I’m upset or frustrated. And if you’re a parent you know that the terms “upset” and “frustrated” are felt frequently in this adventure of parenthood.

Well, I’ve been working on this weakness for several years but especially since having children. I have good days and bad days but for a while there I felt like I had been making progress when a series of events (excuses) weakened my resolve and I started hearing that nasty habit come back into my life.

I remembering hearing somewhere ( I wish I could remember where!) that how you act under stress is really who you are…well, when I started acting monster-ish again I started thinking “Is this who I really am? How sad!”

At first I got a bit down….you know, when you start beating yourself up and then you invite a few more weaknesses and pretty soon you’ve got a real good pity party going…. but then I thought, “No way! This is not who I am! I might struggle with this but I can and I will change! “ So, I am still working on it…..again….still…..but you know what? Tomorrow is a new day. And even if my feet stink, I’m going to enjoy the dance!

Attitude

It seems the word “Attitude” has a bad rap. It’s kind of like the word “Diet”, we tend to get this negative connotation when in fact everyone has some sort of diet and everyone has some sort of attitude. It’s easy to have a good attitude when things are going good. But what about when things aren’t going well, are we doomed to have the cloud of pessimism following us around until things improve?

Isn’t it amazing how our attitude can totally change, for better or worse, the way we feel about a particular experience?  For example, if we are in a bad mood we may take everything our spouse says as a personal attack. We may not even notice that our child is lovingly smiling up at us waiting for a hug. We only see the mess our toddler made and not the carefully painted picture they made for us. We don’t see the beautiful sunshine or wonderful fall leaves. Why is this? Why does a bad mood make everything seem so negative?

Well, my theory is that when we are in a bad mood we are thinking about one person, ourselves.  We are so focused inward that we have blinders on to everything around us.  Thus our feelings are stuck on our own problems and own negativity. The very opposite occurs when we are have a positive attitude. We focus outward. We see, we hear, we experience things from a more holistic and complete approach because we are seeing a bigger picture. We serve because we can see needs beyond ourselves and thus we gain added joy from that service.

These phenomena could be compared to taking a picture. We could just take a picture of the grape jelly stain on the white table cloth. If we do that, we will only see the stain and we won’t have a positive outlook for that poor table. But what if we were to zoom out a bit and take a picture of the entire table. Well, then we might see that the table is made of a beautiful marble or hardwood, that it is set with a seemingly perfect (from this larger view) white table cloth and a beautiful centerpiece of a Thanksgiving cornucopia, which is surrounded by all the lovely and delicious fixings for a Thanksgiving feast. Would our view and thoughts of this table change now? Would we be seeing it in a more positive light?

Well just like the focus of the lens on a camera, we have the power to choose how we are going to look at things and experiences. One of my favorite quotes of late is “We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.” by Thomas S. Monson. We are not a victim of circumstance, we can choose how we will look at and see each aspect of our lives. Is this easy? No, no one ever said it would be, or should be. It’s part of our life’s journey and our duty to learn self-mastery.

If we choose to look at every experience as an opportunity, rather than bad luck or punishment, we will begin to notice two things. First, that nothing is ever as bad as it seems. Secondly, that even when things are bad, there is always something you can learn that will make us better off in the end.

So why not try it? Instead of thinking “Why me?” or “Poor me.”, let’s try thinking, “What can I learn?” and “What CAN I DO?” If you can’t change the situation, you can always change your attitude.

So, what has helped you face challenges with optimism? Have you ever seen a situation in which you could see how a more positive attitude would improve it?