Sunday, September 8, 2013

Snow - Miserable OR Absolutely Moving.

Since yesterday there has been a non-stop gentle rain where I live.  This morning I ate my cereal sitting on my front porch, just watching the natural beauty that was flowing - and would not be stopped until it was ready.  I love the feeling that comes during those quite moments.  It reminded me of years ago, while camping, waking up before everyone else - and the unmoved beauty, when I felt I was in the middle of a fairy tale and time stood still and I could breathe in what I felt.  Like a sweet smell that fills a home, it's all around and fills the soul.

I remember a time when experiencing the full swing of nature was  not something I enjoyed.  Many years ago, I visited a friend in a valley filled with inversion - the darkness, the cold and the dirty snow that covered everything.  It was a miserable sight.  I was contemplating moving to the same valley and it didn't look like something that would be a great option.

Since that time, I have realized something.  I now LOVE times like that.  It is in these times that we see and feel our inner-selves the most clearly. It truly brings out what we feel inside.  If there is sorrow, we can't push it aside.  If there is fear, we cannot hide from it.  If there is peace, it is amplified.  It is much easier to cover up how we feel; happiness, sorrow, fear, courage, everything can be covered a little when life seems bright and cheery... this is important.

But sometimes it is so helpful to find one's self in a situation where all we can do is be still and know that God is in control.

Sometimes it is very hard to be still. Life moves so quickly and gets overwhelming.  This time of nature happening all around, becomes the greatest time to pause and ponder.  To recognize who is in control - and that is is truly the best option.

These times are so essential - as essential as vitamins and nutrients are to the body, these are the times we give nourishment to the soul.  These are the times that they tops of the mountains come down to us all.  In a sense, there is a time that is accompanied by struggles - as all good things are.  But when we see the experience for what it is - we can realize God has come down to us.  What an honor that can be!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Turning over a new leaf

Over the past semester I really haven't been very social - mostly because my time has been consumed with learning the Spanish language.  Now that the semester is over, I had full plans to continue learning the language at a much slower pace and with much less stress.  (That way the things I learn will actually stick rather than leave my brain after a test.)  Well, this has not been working out super well since I really have little reason to practice...funny how being accountable improves performance.

I have also thought a lot about how the apartment complex I live in is so much different than other places I've lived.  People know each other less - or are less friendly.  I decided that maybe it was just my not really getting to know people in the previous months.  I have planned on becoming more social and improving...with this new decision right about the same time everyone was leaving because they were finished with finals.  Any ideas about the outcome so far?  ;)  Oh well.  I also found some great insights from church today from a talk by Robert D. Hales called Waiting Upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done it is amazing!  I kept thinking about how we (myself certainly included) tend to decide .... is what I want to have happen in .... amount of time.  It will just happen that way if I do .....  While this is certainly a great method of goal making, some things are just not within our realm of control; It is not OUR decision.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A purpose to all things.

Many years ago, as a small child my siblings and I were each given some money to buy presents, or to spend it on what we liked.  Since we grew up in a very small town and a very large family, having money to spend in a mall was not a frequent occurrence.  After I had purchased a few suckers the size of my face for friends or siblings, I thought I would still have enough to do something great with my left over $5.

As we walked out of the mall there was a man dressed in dirty, worn-out clothing, and I overheard my mom and grandparents say something about how he's asking for money because he had no home to my brother.  I decided, everyone I know has a place to live - and does anyone really need candy?  I was at the end of our small group walking and decided I could put my money in his bowl and nobody would know.  I sneaked back to reach up and put my money in his bowl, but as I pulled my hand back the man looked over at me.  Then, with a look of gratitude that I will never forget said, "God bless you child."

Few experiences have had such a profound impact on my life.

I've decided there are things in my life that I would like to improve.  I will start to really "Blog" about my experiences.  The first of which is writing down all the characteristics I was before everything shifted.  It has been very interesting to learn a few things.
One: there will never be a time in life that everything is just perfect.  It's OK, that's why we are here, to always improve.  I knew this was true, I just forgot it.  Even the times when we feel we were our best selves, there are factors that makes us human.
Two: there are some things that come up more frequently than others - those are the more important ones to focus on.
Three: when working to improve oneself, and looking at yourself under an magnifying glass, it becomes more apparent when others seem to show characteristics you desire in a way that is much more than what you are doing.  Again, this is just fine.  It shows a great example of what you can do in a real life setting.

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
Nelson Mandela

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Parenting, Why You Might Be Succeeding and Not Even Know It

Recently I had the opportunity to write a paper to submit to a newspaper.  However I know that it will not be published as it is too long.  I would need to cut it to a sixth of what I have written to have it be the acceptable length.  Because I have felt strongly about my opinions for many years, to cut it even father than what I have would be to cut out the reasons why I think these thoughts are so important.

So with my assignment submitted and article already declined, I a putting my thoughts here.

While there are many things missing, this is at the heart if my thoughts.

            Every person at one time was a child.  In case you were wondering, this is fact.  We have all grown up, or are in the process of growing, into responsible adults; thus contributing to the community, or at least that is the goal of our society.  It is a long process and unfortunately, some do not completely get there.  One possibility I have studied, has been little education in parenting and child development.  I strongly feel that there is not a widespread epidemic of bad parents, but there are many parents who are uneducated in simple things they can do (or are already doing.)
            Something to think about is how education works in our society.  Think about all the things that have required education and tests.  To drive a vehicle, we must take a course, test, and renew our proof of knowledge every few years.  People spend thousands of hours and dollars on education that will lead to a career.  There must be education for CPR, First Aide, gun safety, and even to prepare food, in which you must have proof of passing the tests. However, we bring life into the world without any requirements.  There should be a higher priority on child rearing.
            While I do not have children of my own, I have worked with children who have struggled for many years.  I have also seen many parents give up anywhere from just a few minutes to many years thinking they just do not know what to do with their child.  Frustrations come, but it seems for the general population they could decrease.  The reason why?  Many parents are already doing some of the most basic quality parenting practices, or could start today without much difficulty.
            The biggest difference between children who do well in school and those who do not so well is communication with their parents.  Parents who actually have conversations with their children instill a sense of identity and confidence in their children.  Those children also have better social skills and do better academically (since they have so much experience with language and expressing themselves).
            Surprising as it may seem, when most of the interaction with a child-parent relationship has a focus of comments like “clean your room”, “go outside”, “do your homework”, “it’s time for bed” communication, language and success is not a high priority for children.  Sometimes this communication is all that happens without us realizing it.
            When children have experiences that are positive, no matter how small, they will repeat the action to get the same result.  One basic necessity in school is reading and can be among those positive experiences.  Bedtime stories are great for increasing bonds between parent and child.  In addition, the skill of reading is seeing how the marks on a page have a universal meaning.  But what if parents work the night shift?
            A good rule of thumb is to have a child read for 20 minutes every day.  This could be anytime, anywhere.  However, for the purpose of this article I will get more specific and even easier.
I remember, as a child every day on the way home from school, or whenever the first interaction happened after school, my mother would ask me what my favorite part of the day was.  For those few minutes, my experiences were the most important thing.  At first, I did not have many good things to say.  As the questions continued, I began to look forward to telling my favorite things.  One result of this interaction was looking the whole day for something great to tell, which had an overall result in seeing life with optimism.
One question every day when it was convenient for my mother is all it took.
Another great and basic tool is music.  Music helps children in self-expression in so many ways.  They are able to move their bodies freely and be active to energetic music.  One major element in music with children is a parent who is willing to sing with them.  If a parent can teach and sing songs with their children, they can help with memory, creating bonds, and building self-esteem of both parent and child.  A little side note about building self-esteem with singing is that no talent is required, just a level of excitement.  This one act will build a child up so much, any parent can feel success to some degree in such a short interaction.
Understanding what is developmentally normal for a child is a huge help.  Knowing what kind of books or toys would be best for their age or development level can relieve questions.
            There are numerous ways to obtain this information, but again we are keeping things simple.  Talking to a local librarian about books for the age of your child would be a great place to start with age appropriate reading.  Going to the park on a weekly basis, playing games, or singing simple songs you enjoyed from childhood (or a simple internet search brings many wonderful children’s songs).  There are endless possibilities in how to gain the skills of a simply great parent.
            One foundational element in being a great parent is feeling competent as the mother or father of your child.  While there are many possible avenues to reach this goal, the greatest parents show their children their love.  As the parent, you know your child’s personality.  You know so many more details about their life than any theorist could.  Always remember your influential role.
            In the end, the most important thing for a parent to do is recognize just a few things they are doing right.  The little things go a long way.  While I have given some suggestions, remember the end goal is really just about the child feeling that they have a secure love from the adult they trust.
            Parenting is not an easy task.  At times, these little people can be incredibly frustrating.  However, few things can compare to the joy when a child shows their simple faith that with you by their side, they can conquer the world, or at least survive a scrapped knee.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My "Weakness"...Not Shoes

You know how some women have a weakness for shoes?  They just love to buy and buy shoes, and have so much shoes that they have to have a separate place just to keep them.  I know a few ladies like this, some people love clothes, there's a variety of different loves.  (Over the years scrap-booking has become one - and people have rooms in their homes just for it.)  Interesting phenomenon.  Well, I can understand their love for something like this.  But it may be a little strange...notebooks, journals, and office supplies.  Whenever I go into a store like Staples or Franklin Covey I kind of feel like the Rebecca Bloomwood in "Confessions of a Shopaholic" when she goes into a department store.  I do have more self control - or just avoid going to those stores more since they are not as populous.  One day during the Christmas break my sister said she needed to go to Staples, I was more than happy to take her.  Then as we went, she said that she could do without what she was looking for.  It was at that time I told her my love for Staples.  She had brought that excitement, and we were still going.

As we walked around Staples, I showed her all the things that were wonderful in this store.  I was so excited about all the options...and while I was looking around at this and that - showing everything, I may have teared up a little.  I don't know if it was a while that I had been there or I might have started my period soon after.  Nonetheless, I was so happy!

I also get an email from staples with various coupons.  I found what's call an arc notebook.  This is the perfect notebook!!  Notes, with to do lists, you design everything you want - the way you want it!  And if you decide you want to move something, you can move things around, no prob.  This is the case with most organizers, I realize...but this one just looks cool.

It may be a little like those great shoes or a shirt you think are amazing and realize later that it was totally a fad. When you see pictures you just wonder what you were thinking.  But sometimes if a little piece of joy is brought by what you think will bring order, I think this is good for as long as it lasts. :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Day at Smith's

It's incredible how things work when you have so much more time to do them.  I have had so many things I've wanted to write, but have forgotten most of them.

One great experience was the other day at the grocery store.  I had some coupons sent to me by Smiths-since I have a card, they sent me coupons for things I already buy.  I figured this was a great blessing since one: it was stuff that I normally get anyway, and two: some items were completely free (not even buy one get one, etc, just free.)  However, I was not really sure how I could work this at the self check out.  Thank heaven for actual people checkers.  Once I was in line I noticed that the people in front of me were getting cigarettes and it occurred to me that the only reason why people were in this line had to show identification and get items locked up.  Just then another shopper came behind me with only a large case of beer.  Not that I had anything against these people, I just thought it was funny that the only reason to actually go to a person to check out was because we all had to.

As I was checking out I was being very distracting, giving him these coupons sent to me, that coupon from a dispenser in the store, and my Smith's card to get the discount.  Then at the end of my groceries came the large case of beer.  Matt, the checker asked if this was mine as well.  The guy behind me laughed and said that I couldn't have it, and it was his.  I wondered for a second if his comment related to not wanting someone to take his beverage, or because I always look so young.  In my experience, chances are that it was the later. Which also made me smile even brighter because just earlier in the day I realized I would be turning 27 in 19 days.  It's true, I actually am getting old.  I just don't look like I am.  My new beer drinking friend did suggest that I could use my coupons on his purchase, and the man behind him suggested it could be a new year's present.  Then the first man said it could actually be a birthday present to him.  It really was his birthday, 56 years old, I believe.  That was the first moment in time I really did have a desire to have a coupon for beer.  But I didn't so I bid my new friend happy birthday and parted with a great experience in the grocery store.