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Friday, 24 February 2012

Love Unconditionally

I have a phrase I like to say which is "live, laugh, love"... it's my motto if you will. To expand on that I would say, "live well, laugh often, love unconditionally."

I'm always thinking of what I need to do, what I need to be, and what I need to teach my children... and how this will enable me to be the kind of mother my children need... for that is the kind of mother I need to be: the mother my children need. Not the mother they think they want mind you... the mother about whom they can look back when they are grown and say, "Thank you mum for always being there for me. Thank you for not always giving me everything I want, but making sure I had what I really needed. Thank you for teaching me to make decisions and always loving me, even when I didn't make the decision that you liked."

The most important thing I want my children to know is that I love them and that my love is unconditional.

I love both my girls so much that I want to hold on to them forever... but I hope as time goes on that knowing they will be loved no matter what will give them confidence to make good decisions and be whomever they want to be... and that I will have the courage to let them do so.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Gratitude box

Toward the end of last year as part of our family home evening, Jonathan and I decorated a box. The purpose of it was that each day we would write on a small piece of paper someone, some thing or an event that we were grateful for that day. I thought I would share what we wrote. If they are repeated it means that both Jonathan and I wrote the same thing. They are in no particular order, just whichever one I grab I will list.

Neroli Sims; Sean and Davinia Speakman; the Gospel of Jesus Christ; Jonathan's support and enabling me to do things for me; Jonathan's support during my labor, after birth, and always; phone; furniture; Natalie loves her little sister; Relief Society; Karen McCann; forgiveness; Chalmers family; Hayley Grace Hutchings <3; 1st Presidency Christmas devotional; air conditioning; mission; time; home; Book of Mormon; Mum (Jeanette); the atonement; Comfort; Relief Society; Adam [Goodwin]; Jeanette; Humor; Nature; that Jonathan works so hard to serve our family, being especially thoughtful of how I'm feeling being pregnant; roads; food; love; Tracey; Chantelle; Natalie; software; dad (Russell); my wellbeing after birth; Benny Sorrell; the Wilson family; nerf; toys; dvds; memories; education; christmas hampers; mercy; a warm bed; promptings; home and its comforts; Kathryn; Hayley; magna; atonement; clocks; Russell; this pen [the one he was writing with]; computer; cameras; couches; help; Heavenly Father; Prospect ward; wedding ring; drinks;
blessings of tithing; Hayley; Holy Ghost; the Speakmans; tools; libraries; babysitters; cake and biscuit; direction; festiva; free seminar; Natalie; the Holy Ghost; The Plan of Salvation; Tracey's [relatively] 'easy' labor; midwives; Natalie's love; beds; Thomas; books; microwave; Julie Ogden; Sister Pressler; Ellalene; CDs; printer; time with family; wacom tablet; Natalie's laugh; talents; friends; fridge; post-its [Jonathan wrote his on post-its a lot]; testimony; fans; bishop; Hayley; Green Lantern; being able to do study next year; Rise of the Planet of the Apes; washing machines; christmas party; calling; mum (Madelene); Alina; Lisa Chalmers; music - the piano; stereo; hospital; photos; money; wood chisels; Kathryn and Alicia throwing me a baby shower; commandments; electricity; lights; TV; family; white goods; covenants; Living With Toddlers seminar; gas; the ability to love; I didn't have to be induced; Hayley's health; Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ; church; tool boxes

Whew, that took a while to get out. And of course it is by no means a comprehensive list of the events, people and things that we have to be grateful for... but these are the things that came up especially in the last part of 2011!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Juggling act

We all know the scenario: we look at someone we know and wonder how they do it... they're raising a family, their house is always immaculate, they do some work on the side and sometimes they take on other responsibilities too - with  confidence, ease and a smile on their face.

At least that's what we see when we look at them. And it leaves us feeling like we are somehow less than everyone else. Why does everyone else find it so easy when I'm barely managing?

But you know what. Chances are, they too feel like they're about to drop a ball or two sometimes. Likely they have done in the past. The trick is to be brave enough to pick them up again and keep going.

Besides that, you shouldn't be comparing yourself to them anyway. (Easier said than done?)

I like this image. We all have x number of things that we're trying to juggle each week. I know I do. I also know that I am often wondering how I can keep all the balls in the air. I am beginning to understand that if I do drop one it's not the end of the world. I can pick it back up and keep right on going. Sometimes, maybe I even need to let it stay there for a while. After all, it will still be there when I come back for it. The trick is to make sure that you focus on keeping the important ones up.

These are some things that I have done or found that help me to manage the times when I feel I have too much on my plate. (It's a good way to remind myself that I need to apply these things too!)

First - simply, prioritise. If it seems there is too much to do, I find that most often it's because I'm doing too much. When this happens I have to decide which things are important for me to do and which things are just 'nice'. This applies day to day as well as on a weekly basis. Just because I enjoy doing something, doesn't mean it is a priority and at times that means I have to decide that I'm going to cut it out of my schedule, even if it is something I enjoy. This doesn't have to be long-term though. Sometimes it may only be for one day or one week. When I find I have more time on my hands, then I can take it up again. Sometimes this means forgetting the dust bunnies under the bed and just enjoying time with my precious family. On the other hand, sometimes it means staying home and catching up on house work in stead of going out.

Next - if you're struggling to find time to do important things, schedule it. I find that by having a schedule for things I'm more likely to put other things aside and get it done. If you fail to plan you plan to fail, as my husband likes to remind me. Too often I'll get in to the mind set of 'when I get the chance'... which is never as productive for me. Of course being too regimented can do my head in as well, so it is a good idea to have some unscheduled time to do whatever takes your fancy.

For me the most important thing I can do is to not compare how I manage things with how others do. If you need to compare yourself to someone, compare with your past self. If I'm doing things better than I used to, that's good enough for me.

Now I really have to go, and take care of the things... or rather, people that matter most!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Take me with you

This blog is a tribute to some wonderful people. If I had the capacity right now I would fill pages with thanks to many people, but I'll make a start here and hope that those not here mentioned will know that they are no less valued. I also hope that the people who I do mention will recognise that I am talking about them!

D&C 84:106 - And if any man among you be strong in Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may  become strong also.

Today I have been inspired by this scripture. It gives me a vision for what I want to do for those around me, and I also remember in gratitude, wonderful people who have done this for me. I want to thank you.

I have a great friend who is one of the truest people I've ever met. She is someone who would always lend me a listening ear when I wanted to talk and always encouraged me to be my very best self. I learned so much from you as we grew up together and I am grateful that you became a part of my life at a time when I needed a friend just like that.

Not too much later, I met another friend and she became my rock in so many ways. You are still a treasured friend! Thank you for always encouraging me to be myself, and not change in order to fit in with anyone else. That fact has meant more to me than you will ever know. It still bolsters me up today knowing that I have people like you around me who accept me just the way I am.

There are several... but three particular women who I have come to know in the past 2 years that mean so much to me... I don't know whether you realise how much you've helped me in that time and the debt of gratitude I feel I owe to you, but thanks! Thanks for caring and helping and supporting and teaching me. Proud to call you 'friend'.

I have many wonderful extended family members and I love them all, but I want to especially mention one Aunt and Uncle. I will always be grateful to you both for your example, love, and support. It always meant a lot to me (and I'm sure my siblings too) to have you around. To have someone who would come and give me a blessing when I'm sick in the middle of the night or I've cracked my head and am in hospital... *words can't express* I'm so glad to have had my Aunty as a Young Women's leader too, and I loved learning from you in classes and as we associated as family. Thank you both for your example of love and joy in marriage, and helping me have the faith to know that it can happen for me too!

Siblings. Fate made us siblings, but we've chosen to be friends. I'd be lost without any of you. You really are the very best siblings I could have asked for. Thanks for loving me no matter what, making me laugh even when I wanted to cry, helping me solve problems, empathising with me when things suck, and celebrating everything that is amazing.

Thank you to a wonderful mother for being constant. Thank you for bringing us up in difficult circumstances. Thank you for giving me strength to know that I can get through hard things. Thanks for all the times that you wished you could save me the pain, but held my hand (literally and figuratively) through the toughest years and experiences of my life. Thank you for also giving me the courage to take on the biggest adventure of all time - marriage and family. I want to be a mum like you in so many ways!

I am so grateful for a husband who has taught me so much about love. Truly unconditional. No matter how irrational, emotional, or otherwise crazy I may be at times. I wish I were eloquent and could really, truly tell you what it is about you that I am so grateful for, but I'll have to leave that to our ability to understand each other without words.

Last, but certainly not least... thank you to my loving God. I know you sent all these people to me, precisely when I needed them. They have been your hands in my life.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Grateful for my blessings

Yesterday morning I took Hayley to the doctor to get her immunisations. The appointment was set for 9:10am. Of course, there is the usual wait for the doctor... and this time I had a toddler to entertain and a newborn to take care of without any help. Fun! We finally got in to the doctor only for him to fill out a form for the nurses... somewhere in the ten minute wait in line at reception, just wanting to give them the form for the nurse I'll admit I was... less than happy. I may have started getting twitchy and I was certainly muttering under my breath at the ridiculousness of waiting 40 minutes for the doctor to say 'give this to the nurse' and then standing around for another 10 minutes while staff seemed to be taking their sweet time... -CUT-

This is the moment where I realised I was complaining about my blessings. I remembered watching a DVD with John Bytheway. He said that he loved the example of Nephi, who didn't even complain about his problems (remember those murderous brothers of his) and he talked about how we sometimes complain about our blessings... the things we have that we don't think are enough... the car is old, the house is small, the food isn't to our taste. When there are people who would think, "Wow, you have a car! You have a home! You have good food! 

All of a sudden I had an increased appreciation and clearer vision of what it was that I had here. Here in the wonderful country I can take my daughter to competent medical professional... I can have my children immunised against life threatening illnesses, and when they are ill they can be treated. To top that off, I didn't have to pay a cent for this - I think we have an amazing health care system and I'm so grateful for it.

Some people think our medical system / government is flawed and perhaps they're right, but it definitely tops the experience I could be having in many other countries. I'm grateful that if my babies are sick that they can get the proper treatment and that the likelihood is that they will recover full health. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live in fear that they might come in contact with a serious disease and not have the means to cure them.

Of course, this can all be applied in many aspects of life. I begin to wonder if I (and/or the population in general) have a tendency to wish for more and don't recognise the bounty that we have.

So this is my commitment today: look on the bright side, believe that the glass is half full, be grateful for blessings big and small. I will make a greater effort to see how things bless my life rather than how they could be improved.

What are you grateful for?

Monday, 6 February 2012

Blogging begins

So, I'm doing it! I have an 'official' blog. I hope you will get as much enjoyment from reading it as I do from writing about the (often) random things that pop in to my head :P

I don't have time to write want I want to at this moment, but I wanted to officially get started, so I'll leave you with something I've written previously on facebook...

Motherhood is a choice you make everyday to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right things is... and to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong. ~ Donna Bell

What a perfect quote!

It was only recently that I said to myself, I don't think you really understand what life is about until you realise it isn't about you. That's one thing being a mother has taught me: no matter what you have or what you lack, looking after yourself isn't what will bring you ultimate happiness. Don't get me wrong - I strongly believe that you have to work for the things you need (it IS your responsibility) and that it is important to nurture your own soul... but that alone is not going to unlock the door to joy and fulfillment.

I've noticed a common link to the days that leave me with the most fulfillment. They are the days when I have done what needs doing without (too much) complaint. The days when I look at what needs to be done and see a way to make the lives of the people I love most a little better instead of something standing between me and what I'd rather be doing. They are the days when I try a little harder to see a person and not their behaviour; to not judge their motives; to remember that their experience is not the same as mine. What it boils down to is that my days are better when I am looking for ways to serve and seeing others the way Christ would. (Note: I hope these days start coming with greater frequency.)

This really is a choice that you have to make every day. It's not always easy. Sometimes we are hard on ourselves thinking we are the only person to whom this does not come naturally and wondering why we have to fight so hard to be ther person we want to be. Guess what? You're not the only one. It's part of this thing we call life. The good news? You can choose to be the person you want to be. If you fall, get back up. One of my favourite quotes is from Richard G. Scott and he said, "You become what you want to be by consistently being what you want to become." What a powerful statement! Do you want to be something? Is there a quality you want to develop? Practice it! The power is in not giving up when you fall short. Start again right away with trying to be more patient, loving, hardworking, etc. (Whatever it is that you want to be.)

Teaching the hard lessons... this is something that is coming to the forefront of my mind with my eldest at the moment. Life how she needs to learn that in life, you don't anything you want just by virtue of wanting it... like how some behaviours are not acceptable... the usual 2 year old stuff :P Wish me luck!

Continuing to the next point in the quote - sometimes you really, really, really, really, don't for the life of you know what to do! One 'expert' swears by controlled crying, others say that young babies are not equipped for self-soothing and that babies consistently left crying for extended periods of time release stress hormones in to brain etc. etc. *guilt trip* I was part of a FB conversation today and saw people say a few times regarding parental decisions something to this effect: sometimes you make a parenting decision and you will know afterward that it wasn't the best for at least one of your children... but you get over it.So that's what we have to do; we have to put it behind us and learn for next time... or we realise that's just how it has to be. Child A will have less time for xyz when child B comes along. Child B will be yanked from pillar to post when they'd normally be sleeping so that you can do something fun for child A. That's just how it is. It's life. Don't be so hard on yourself, i.e. forgive yourself. 

So, I'll finish where I started - with the quote that inspired me.

Motherhood is a choice you make everyday to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right things is... and to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong. ~ Donna Bell