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.

Fill ‘Er Up!

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So I promised in my last post that I would explain the crazy card-stock people standing on my kitchen counter….well, would you believe that they are part of our discipline training?

I’ve used various methods for teaching discipline training but it usually turned out that when it all came out in the wash I was using a punishment/reward program that was only an extrinsic motivation. I didn’t and don’t want that. I want my kids to WANT to OBEY, to WANT to be GOOD. Not because they want something in return or are trying to avoid a bad consequence. I want them to do good for the sake of BEING good. To FEEL what is the right thing to do. Does that make sense? Yes, its ideological and asking a lot of small children but I’m also all about reaching for the moon and at least catching some stars along the way.

One night as I was washing the dishes ( when I do my pondering 🙂 The thought came to me (yep, can’t take credit for it:) of revamping an idea that my husband had used for his team-training modules at work. For his example, he had used buckets and each team member was to fill it will nice things they noticed about others (there was more to it than that but you get the jist). Anyway, I thought that if I could help my kids visualize what their behaviors caused (or contributed to) in themselves and others than maybe it would help them want to make better choices.

So over the course of several Family Counsels this is what we did. Note: when referring to “good” and “bad”, it was based on our family rules and religious beliefs.

FC 1: Had a discussion/devotional on covenants or promises that we make to our Heavenly Father. When we are Christian people what do we commit to do and be?

FC 2: Go rock hunting!

FC 3: Make our own “mini-me”. Using manila folders the kids (and I) drew and cut out a picture that we made of ourselves and taped it to an glass jar full of rocks/beans (we couldn’t find enough rocks)

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FC 4: Discuss how our spirit can FEEL good choices and bad choices. Also, when we make good choices we can have the Holy Spirit to guide us and we have more happiness as a result of both.

FC 5: Discuss that our jar is like our spirit, when we do good things it fills up, bad things take away. Explained our goals of trying to keep our own and others jars filled up during the next week. If someone makes a bad decision then they must take rocks out of their own jar and anyone else that was involved in the decision (sometimes the whole family!). Then they need to think of a way they can fill those jars back up (“I’m sorry” is a start but more action is required). Also, if someone is “caught” doing good things without being “motivated” then they get to add to their jar and anyone else involved in their making a good decision (usually Mom is happier!)

Of course, this isn’t a perfect model of life. Also, the first day was a bit of a hassle trying to manage all the jar nonsense. I really thought about giving up in the first couple hours but even though it was involved and seemingly fluffy…. For us, I think it fulfilled it’s purpose.

By the third day, I could see my kids realizing how their behaviors affected not only them, but others. This time they could SEE a model of what happened to their spirit. For the first couple of days we really focused on how someone FELT when they made a good or bad decision so they could recognize that they could be guided, if they chose to be. I was especially impressed with how much understanding my 3 year old gained in this process- it seemed that  a light bulb went off for her when she saw that SHE could choose how her day would go.

We still have such a long way to go and this is only the beginning of what we’ve been doing as we concentrate on discipline (stay tuned for more posts on our triumphs and failures!), but it was a step or two in the direction we want to be going and that is always so encouraging!

So, what types of activities have helped your family understand or become more disciplined?

Fear, Team Spirit, and Mountains

ImageThree things we going through my mind as we made our journey up to see the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary this past weekend.

One was fear.

I don’t like heights, never have. I have tried to combat this fear by logic and even mountain climbing and rappelling with and without ropes, without much improvement. The actual hike was great because there were no steep cliffs. It was mostly the drive on the VERY narrow road that had almost no guard-railing and then the military trucks careening down the other lane without much regard for staying in their lane…all of which did not dissipate my fears.

Needless to say the seat may have permanent marks from my grip and my Heavenly Father was probably rolling his eyes at my near constant prayer for safety. But, once again we lived through it and I was flooded by a feeling of gratitude for our safe climb and descent.

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Two was Team Spirit.

I really love those experiences when, despite struggle and hardship your family sticks together, remains in good spirits and reaches a goal together.

The climb to the actual sanctuary would have taken my husband and I probably 30 minutes each way if we were to go straight through without stopping. The terrain is not too difficult, but lots and lots of stairs and it has very little pathway that is not inclined.

With our kids it took 2 hours. I was carrying our 2 ½ month old daughter. My husband had our 2 ½ year old daughter, of whom he carried most of the way up and down (about 4 hours in total). Our 7 year old son and 4 year old daughter switched back and forth between Mom and Dad and exploring ahead and behind of us.I felt very blessed that everyone stayed in such a good mood and kept working together to reach our goal.

It felt like life. Sometimes one or another in the family needs a little more help, or a little more patience, or a little bit of encouragement. At times like these, we can either see it as a hindrance to our own progress or as a way for us to grow and learn. In the end we even help ourselves because ultimately aren’t we all trying for the same goal? Don’t we want our family to be with us forever? We can’t do it alone and we’re not meant too. God planned life to be made of families. He knew that we would not only need the help but also helping another makes us a little closer to our goal of living with and being like Him.

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Three was Mountains.

Once we had accomplished the goal of seeing the monarchs the descent seemed much easier and faster. Now the conversation switched from encouragement and motivationI, to reflection.Our family started chatting about the beauty we were seeing and what we were feeling.

We reflected on the peace and calm we felt in this beautifully forested mountain. About why we thought the butterflies would want to go there. It always amazes me of how much children understand spiritual experiences. They may not be able to fully explain it but they know when they are happy and calm and peaceful and they know that those feelings come from God.

It was a wonderful time to help them realize that nature holds a special spiritual power. To point out to them that even ancient prophets such as Moses and Isaiah were called into the mountains to speak with God. Even Jesus himself went to the mountain to talk with His Father in Heaven. Mountains and the surrounding nature help us feel closer to our Maker because we share the same Maker.

The butterflies were beautiful, amazing and truly a marvel to behold. It was also fascinating and rewarding to see how much our children had learned in our study beforehand and marvel at the connections and discoveries they made as we hiked, both in the mind and in the heart. But I think more than anything I was grateful that our family grew and learned …together!

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What to do when you don’t want to….

We all have those days…..maybe you’re sick, maybe not enough sleep, maybe stress, maybe family issues….whatever it is there are days when you wake up and think, “Do I really have to do that today?”

Now, there are usually two options for this question. Either yes or no. Sometimes we really do need to say no. When we are sick to the point of being contagious, or stressed or low on sleep to the point of a volcanic eruption, that is the time to say no. There is no point in making other people miserable along with ourselves.

On the other hand, there are times when we are just a bit under the weather for one reason or another and we still need to face the music. We really can’t justify missing work, not caring for our children and/or not schooling them simply because we don’t really feel like it. Here are a few ways that help me push through those “I don’t wanna!” days.

1. Body

On days that I’m not feeling at my optimum I try to up my intake of health related activities. I take an extra multivitamin, limit my sugar and refined carbs, up the veggies and fruits, pick my favorite workout and give it all I’ve got, and drink more water with a bit of lime to help flush out extra toxins. That way if I am fighting a bug I usually can side step it and if it’s just an emotional down day then I have all the physical help I need to fight that too. If you are having more than the occasional “down” day then it’s time to look at how you are taking care of yourself. Are you getting enough rest, are you hydrating, are you eating health-filled foods, are you exercising? If your body is not taken care of, it will simply not perform, it’s that simple.

2. Mind

If it’s not a physical issue that’s getting you down, maybe you need to clear your head. Maybe you just need an attitude adjustment and simple affirmation/gratitude exercise will do the trick. If you aren’t sure what’s bothering you give yourself some time to think, even better if you can couple it with mindless (meaning not needing to much concentration, like walking, biking, running) physical activity. That way even if you don’t figure it out you have those extra endorphins from your workout to help you feel a little better. If you’re still not sure what’s up or you need to talk it out find a trusted friend, pray or write in your journal. This will help you find the source and solution of the issue. Sometimes your mind just needs to relax too. Soothing music, maybe some stretching or dancing, and allowing yourself to just think pleasant, un-pressured thoughts can help your mind relax and regain balance.

3. Spirit

The spirit is so interconnected with your body and mind that sometimes it’s almost impossible to separate it from them. If the above activities for your body and mind do not help eliminate the down feeling, try feeding your spirit. I usually feed my spirit first because I have found that it feeds my body and mind better than the other way around. If you are a religious person this can be done with worship activities, scripture reading, prayer and pondering. Even if you aren’t religious, allowing your spirit to find comfort in nature or art can help you cope with down days.

4. Have a Plan

I’ve found that if I know what I need to do in a day it helps me take away some of the worry, but also limits the room for procrastination. It especially helps when I have a plan written down (ENORMOUS help with homeschooling) because then I can prioritize and at least do the things that “have” to get done. The days when I’m not as organized can feel like downer days simply because I’m not putting first things first and not being efficient or effective.

5. Give yourself an Incentive

Go ahead. Bribe yourself. Sometimes you just have to get some things done and when you don’t have an excuse, other than you don’t want to, then give yourself another reason to DO IT. I do this a lot with little activities that I really don’t like, such as ironing, by saying the only way I will let myself watch a movie is if I do some ironing at the same time. On days that I really don’t want to do homeschool I say, “Ok, I will do homeschool until such and such an hour and then I will let myself have a nap.” This way not only do I avoid more bad feelings because of the guilt associated with not fulfilling my responsibilities but I also get something I like out of it.

6. Get some Help

Take turns with your spouse or a friend with jobs you really loathe or on days that you just aren’t feeling up to it. Of course scheduling may impede this at times but sometimes you can just call up a “lean on me” person and say, “Can you do this for me today?” Then make sure you have a way to pay them back later, like a special treat or being on call for them. If you are having many down days though it’s time to look to a professional and make sure there is not an underlying illness or psychological issue that needs to be treated.

The important thing is to remember that everybody has days that they just don’t feel like going and doing.  Also, remember that these feelings are generally easily remedied and it won’t last forever, you just have to find a motivation for you to get up and going today. So, whether you need to get more rest, have a chat, or bribe yourself, find what works for you and get up and seize the day!

My Philosophy on Learning

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This life is all about learning. Right? That’s what we came here for, that is the whole plan. We are very blessed that we have the Lord overseeing this learning process and giving us tools and insights along the way. We have His sacred scriptures to guide us as well as the Holy Ghost. I am so very grateful for these incredible gifts in my life.

Now, does that mean that this should be a piece of cake? Of course not. If it were easy then we really wouldn’t learn anything, would we? There are numerous facets to consider. We have our circumstances of family, home, culture….not to mention our gender, personality, and physical capabilities. All of these aspects, as well as others, play an important role in the way we learn and what we will learn throughout all eternity.

Personally, I think that there are no learning disabilities. Yes, I do agree that there are great challenges given to many people that affect their learning, BUT I also agree that most societies have created too small of a box for most people to fit into.  Sometimes a disability simply needs to be thought of as a different way of learning.

Thankfully, we live in a time when “learning styles” are at least recognized as valid in the educational arena. However, we still have to move away from the human’s natural tendency to categorize everything because there are new people being born every day and every day new things are being discovered….we really have no time to lose with placing everyone into a “learning box” and expecting them to thrive and reach their potential.

Thus, I come to my point (took a while didn’t it?) I believe that with all the nuances of learning and the incredible variety of people in existence that we have no choice but to rely on spiritual guidance to find our true potential of learning. What do I mean by this? Well, I think each of us knows basically how we don’t like to learn or what we have trouble learning (mathematics, anyone?). This is a good start. Now, if we can rely more on the way we feel about a particular learning experience we will begin to find our own personal road to our knowledge potential. When we feel that we can’t get enough, that everything is “clicking” and our brain is even bringing in past information to connect to our current experience and perhaps even hypothesizing on future learning….then we know we are in our mode, our method, our way of learning.

Now, for myself, I find that this process of finding our way is greatly enhanced by spiritual development. Prayer, scripture reading, pondering/ meditation, worship/ devotional time….these things bring me a peace, a calmness, and a special “in tune” nature to the workings of the Holy Ghost, who is our biggest ally in helping us find, recognize, and remember. He is what we feel guiding us and helping us connect the dots, so to speak, in the vast expanse of possible learning experience.

Of course, as parents, and I believe especially as mothers, it also becomes our responsibility to not only help ourselves find our way through this learning maze, but also to guide our children. This is using a spiritual method to utilize a seemingly secular activity, but I would argue that they are one and the same. I think many of us would say that we strive to be like God, to act as He would, to be like He is….well, does this not require learning?

When we seek the Lord’s help and guidance we will surely find it, whether it be for our own good or the good of our family. He loves us, he wants us to succeed and success to Him is not “getting by”, it is not being mediocre….he wants us to EXCEL. To truly live is to love, and to love, is to learn.