Tag Archive | coping

Sending the Right Message

DSC_0538

Jay and I want success for our upcoming marriage!

We appreciate all of the tools and attitude adjustments possible to help us make our adventure together into matrimony one that is joyous throughout our lifetime. We each want to do our part to be accountable for what we create. We also want to avoid pitfalls and mistakes of the past.

So last weekend we especially enjoyed attending a workshop, “Sending the Right Message,” (STRM) by John Canaan. We’ve been to a lot of workshops before, individually and as a couple, and this was my first time at this workshop, while a re-take for Jay. He hadn’t told me too much about it, except that it had opened his heart.

We really appreciated what we experienced there and came away feeling empowered and inspired. What struck me most deeply was that my life is really my choice. While I don’t always choose what happens around me, I DO choose my reactions to it. This includes my thoughts and feelings, actions, and how long I hold on to or cycle these.

All of us make mistakes, so we need a way to unburden ourselves from the guilt. We can’t always make restitution for our errors, either. This class is Christ-centered, explaining that Jesus Christ came to earth exactly for the purpose of redeeming us from our sins and paying them for us through His suffering, knowing we couldn’t make amends for everything. [If you are not a Christian, you may turn to your own beliefs and Higher Power to assist you with this concept of relief from guilt.] Christ not only paid for our own sins, but also for those of the people who hurt and betray us. When we hold grudges against them or retaliate, we hurt ourselves more and cause Christ more suffering. By forgiving them, it doesn’t mean that what they did was not wrong, but rather that we leave judgment to God and allow that person their own experience. We also release ourselves from the poison acid of resentment that hurts us more than it affects them. 12893946-closeup-of-a-representation-of-the-jesus-christ-crown-of-thorns-cross-and-nail

Jay and I are NOT perfect people! We have each seen the other get ‘triggered’ (overwhelmed by negative emotions) in various settings. Sometimes it has been by what the other has done, sometimes by others around us. It is important that we have a way to deal with these upsets as they arise, and not allow them to damage our relationship. By accepting Christ’s Atonement, we forgive ourselves for being human with fears and insecurities that trigger us in reminder situations, and we also forgive others when they act as less than their best selves.

I actually got upset during the workshop with reminder symptoms from prior bad relationship experiences. Jay let me cry on his shoulder, and John Canaan had me write about my feelings and thoughts, asking me to record on paper what the situation reminded me of and to describe my feelings and thoughts about that, then what those reminded me of, and so forth. By doing this, I traced it back to childhood hurts and feeling betrayed and abandoned by loved ones then and later.

John said that we are all very good at sending messages! People get exactly what we mean! The problem is that this message is not necessarily very nice. Because our hearts are filled with negative emotions like fear, mistrust, or resentment, we tend to send defensive or offensive messages. The RIGHT message is LOVE. Only when our hearts are filled with LOVE will we send the RIGHT message.

I learned invaluable ways to fill my heart with LOVE, the simplest of which is to BE STILL and connect with God until I feel whole and complete. Then to SERVE. We LOVE those we SERVE.

This is definitely something Jay and I can use to improve our marriage!

John has a wonderful program, and taught us nine Agreements to make with ourselves in order to be accountable for what we create with our own life. I create my world!

Jay and I signed up for the Mastery 10-week program, which gives one week for each of the Agreements with daily support and a class each week. This will be a retake for Jay, and I want to take it with him. It will be interesting to see how my perspective evolves as by then we will be newlyweds of two-and-a-half months.

I am so excited to be on this grand adventure of life and of marriage with Jay. I feel very humble and blessed to have him as my companion, because he dotes on me! Wow! We hope that with these tools we can keep our love as fresh and vibrant as it is now. We cherish our time together. I look forward of sending Jay a lifetime of the RIGHT messages: “I LOVE you!” and “I love SERVING you!” His happiness is my happiness. I delight in ways to bring him greater joy.

He always seems a step ahead of me in serving each other, so it is a fun game we play together. “I win!” when Jay feels loved! And vice versa. Actually, we both win. We win because we both feel loved and supported. This in turn helps all others we interact with to win: our children, my parents (Jay’s are deceased), our grandchildren, our friends and neighbors, even the people we meet on the street or while shopping. Because when we are connected to each other and to God, our hearts are filled with LOVE and we are sending the RIGHT message to each other and to everyone: L-O-V-E.forever-love-holding-shape-together-mean-loving-each-other-36033051

 

The Third Time’s the Charm

DSC_0634

Which would you rather believe: “The third time’s the charm” or “Three strikes and you’re out”? I prefer to focus on possibilities of success, rather than failure. Still, it can be daunting to accept two failed marriages and then be willing to take on a third, hoping for better results. After all, the definition of insanity is said to be doing the same thing and expecting different results. Something better be different if I want things to be better!

My fiance, Jay, pursued me for fourteen months before I took his intentions seriously. He is a very persistent man! He knew what he wanted and prayed about it, and felt he should continue to date me even when I wasn’t very encouraging. With my track record, I was leery of permanent commitment to him. He reminded me so much of my first husband in looks and mannerisms–the man I thought my first husband was, that is, but turned out not to be. I’d been fooled before, and wasn’t eager to jump back into the fire.

But with loving patience, kindness, and understanding, Jay helped me to realize at last that he really is who he appears to be. He is authentic: sincere, delightfully flawed like I am, and very inspired and spiritual. We are yin and yang for each other, completing each other in our own unique way. This is a second marriage for him, and he also learned much from previous mistakes.

One of my pet peeves is hearing people talk as if divorced people can’t possibly understand relationships nor should they try teaching others about relationships. Really? One can’t learn from their mistakes and have anything valuable to share? My belief is that my mess is my message. “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” said Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the light bulb. Like Mr. Edison, my failures were just ways that didn’t work, and now I can try better ways.

Better ways come through better knowledge and application of that knowledge. I have a partner who is aware, accountable and respectful. Armed with hundreds of hours of personal development seminars and mentoring, including relationship workshops, we make a great team! He is the man I consider my best friend in the world! We are each ready to embark this second/third time into the waters of marriage together, and stay afloat.

DSC_0574

Another misconception I had when young was that people could only truly love when they were young and good-looking. Perhaps I got this from the silly Harlequin Romances I used to read as a teenager. I didn’t realize that age really doesn’t matter, if the couple has their health and faculties–perhaps even if they don’t. I didn’t think older people had passion! I didn’t realize that, even as a grandmother and grandfather, we could relive the same passions we felt as teenagers! Jay makes me feel like I’m sixteen years old again! Our love is as vibrant, young and fresh as if this was our first love, which in many ways, it is.

Our top aspiration is to have an eternal partnership, for we believe that a man and a woman can be sealed together forever. We want our relationship to last not only for time, but for eternity. Our goal is an eternal family unit. Our dreams of a loving, equal partnership are coming true!

We are each aware of the baggage we carry, and have coping tools to deal effectively with what comes up. We’ve already been practicing helping each other work through things when one of us gets triggered emotionally, and this is the man I choose to keep by my side always. He truly is my best friend. With him, I feel calm and confident. He brings balance to my life, for in my quest for independence I sometimes focused too much on material mental goals and not enough on the emotional heart of connecting. I can be my authentic self with Jay. He finds me beautiful no matter how much I dress up or down. We each seek each other’s well being, We belong to the same church and have the same spiritual beliefs, and invite God to be part of our relationship. The contribution of husband, wife, and God will suffice, “for with God all things are possible” (see Mark 10:27). Christ’s Atonement is sufficient. Through Him we are a new man, and a new woman. We are humbled by past failures, but hopeful through faith in Christ.

It took those other times of failure to bring us to this place of finding each other, to appreciate what we have together! Our love feels like a cathedral with stained glass windows of beauty, richness and history. It is sacred to both of us. We cherish this opportunity to love and be loved. To be in a loving, respectful relationship, where we honor each other as a noble son and daughter of God.

We now go forth together, soon to be joined as husband and wife, man and woman, equally yoked and ready for the path the Lord lays before us that we choose. For we truly believe that this time is the charm.

DSC_0613

Stuck in Oz

Dorothy was so eager to get home! All she could think about in Oz was getting home to Kansas. While she appreciated the friends and support she found in Oz, her heart was set only on going home.

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home!”

What if the Ruby Slippers hadn’t worked?

There are no Ruby Slippers for my father. My father is stuck in Oz! He wants desperately to get home. But his Kansas is not an option. It is cost-prohibitive to have someone care for him full time in his home, and he requires 24/7 care. Family is not an option either, as his mental conditions include anger and abusiveness. He suffers from dementia and from cognitive disorders caused by microvascular damage to hundreds of blood vessels in his brain, caused by multiple mini-strokes. All he knows is that he wants to go home. Yesterday!

He is instead in a lovely Veterans Home, a spacious facility with his own room, delicious foods, caring staff, and fun activities.FullSizeRender

There is a garden there, with flowers and vegetables. On the patio of his wing there is a lovely planter box waiting for its first plants.

“Let’s plant some chrysanthemums!” I suggest.

“No, I want to plant things at home,” Dad replies. He misses his 3/4 acre with its many nut and fruit trees, ample space for garden and flowers. He wants to tinker on his own property, his own yard and house.

The Veterans Home staff let us know that he needs to have hope of going home, even if it is not a viable option. His mind does not reason logically. He needs hope of getting home, home to his Kansas. So they let him know what he needs to do to go home. He needs to be able to get into his bathtub by himself. He needs to be able to take medications on his own. Dad is content to work on improving these skills, with the goal of getting home. He is happy and patient with his progress, and participates in activities.

It reminds me of my Aunt Grace. She lived in a nearby care facility. Every day that I visited her, she was so excited: she was going home! Her son was picking her up that very afternoon! She was packed and ready to go! And so it went for her, day after day after day. Hope kept her happy and cheerful. She was going home! And finally, she was allowed to go Home. Home to her beloved husband, who departed this life decades ago. Home to her other loved ones on the far side of the veil. Home to health and a perfect mind. Home to the true Kansas.

I have also wanted to go home to my Kansas. When I found out that my first husband, father of our three children, had been living a double life and not the person he pretended to me to be, I wished I could go back! But there was no Kansas for me to go back to. I was also stuck in Oz, in a land not of my choosing, three children with me. When I remarried, the situation for me was much harder, and I wanted still to get back to Kansas! But Kansas was in the past, and I couldn’t get back there, no matter how I tried.

So after raising the three children plus one from the second marriage, I left and began my own new adventures. I no longer want to return to Kansas. That is only a dream of what might have been, a fantasy of lost opportunities and hopes.  Instead, I have my own corner in Oz. I’m finding new friends, new dreams, new opportunities. I’m at home in Oz.

Hopefully my father can come to terms with living in Oz, since this will be his home now. He can’t understand it, but hopefully he can enjoy the time granted him. Even if it is in Oz.

Forgiving Father

My dad is seventy-six years old. He currently resides in a rehabilitation center, where he’s been regaining strength in his arms and legs to hopefully live on his own again. This week the staff there informed us that living on his own is not a viable option for him, because of his cognitive difficulties. He has dementia. This is only one problem of many.

Dad struggled the past fifteen or so years with the sensation of having bugs in his skin, crawling, itching, and hoping someone could verify their existence. He thought he got the bugs from some kittens he had at the time, which all died soon after he started itching. Dad went to dermatologists, emergency rooms, physicians, and psychiatrists repeatedly over the years hoping for relief. Blood tests and examinations found no markers for parasites of any kind. Dad went to all lengths to kill the bugs he thought lived inside his skin. He put Lysol in his bathwater (don’t do this!), scrubbing at his skin for hours every day. He refused to let family members touch him, for fear he was highly contagious. He tried swimming in the Great Salt Lake, hoping the salts would heal and disinfect. He insisted on a blanket covering car seats he sat on, requesting we wash coverings as soon as we got home. He wiped off chairs in his house before we were allowed to sit. He withdrew from grandchildren, terrified they could catch parasitical bugs. Despite being told by dermatologists that he was safe to be around, or to swim with, Dad held fast to his fear of being highly contagious.

Dad thought anyone who disagreed with his self-diagnosis of bugs were in on a conspiracy against him. He also thought people were stealing from him. He claimed people were coming into his home, replacing his nice things with old versions. He had elaborate theories of why neighbors and others would do this, and stories of what they had done. He opened nearly half a dozen bank accounts, closing one whenever he thought it compromised and opening another. He hoarded possessions. He put multiple locks on his doors. One hospital psychologist told me in passing that Dad was paranoid delusional.

After my parents separated, when I was nine, Dad insisted on psychological examinations for himself and for my mother, hoping to prove he was a more fit parent and should receive full custody. Although my mother suffered from depression, the profile showed that my father had multiple personalities.

I didn’t learn this until I was an adult. I knew as a child that my dad was sometimes Santa, happy, loving and giving. Other times he was Mad Dad, scary and mean–to my mother especially, but also to my sister, brother and me. Dad grew up mainly in foster homes, Grandpa taking him at times until drinking and beating my dad, who was just a boy. It was the kind of home Grandpa grew up in, and Grandpa ran away for good when he was only twelve. Alcoholism went back to my great-great grandfather, with mean drunks, abuse, and divorce. But Dad doesn’t remember bad things he said, the beatings of my mother. He doesn’t understand why she left and destroyed his perfect family.

Now my father is not to live on his own, because it isn’t safe. Neither is it safe to have him in our homes. He still succumbs to temper outbursts. This crossroad is heartbreaking. I feel we have come around full circle. Where once we were dependent upon Dad for our sustenance, he now depends on us to manage his bills, his finances, help him get groceries, and now we decide where he will live.

He won’t want to be anywhere other than home. He wants to keep his house to pass on to my brother. He has no long-term-care insurance. He has some savings, but those could deplete over the years. There is no way that we can satisfy all my father’s desires: to be at home, independent, and in control.

This isn’t just about deciding where my father will live. It is about forgiving Father. It is about understanding his pain, his heartaches and fears throughout his life. It is about recognizing that Santa Dad is my true father, his true heart revealed. Mad Dad is his alter-ego, the suppressed side of fearful anger, the wounded inner child of generations lashing out. It is feeling his anguish, his desires to be a great husband and father, and how life screwed him over as a young child to the point where he couldn’t ever completely sort it out or heal. But he tried. He truly tried.

Santa Dad taught me to tell time, to dive off the edge of the pool, to ride a bicycle. Santa Dad taught me to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Santa Dad taught me to be a virtuous woman. He likened me to a butterfly, encouraging me not to let others rub off the pretty colors from my wings. Santa Dad lived his life for his children. He wanted to keep them safe, keep them healthy, keep them happy.

Father still loves our mother. Two years ago she dreamed about what he’ll be like in heaven, and that when he is healed she will want to be with him again. I too have hope for him to heal in heaven. When Jesus walked the earth, he cast out devils, made the blind from birth to see, cured leprosy, made the lame walk. I know He will heal my father: “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

My parents both express desire to be together in heaven. I’ve told each of them my lifelong plan: that when they die, I will have them sealed together by proxy as husband and wife, and then I will be sealed to them, too (see Matthew 18:18). This to me is the ultimate forgiveness. That imperfect people, living imperfect lives, have hope of being cleansed, purified and healed in Christ, to live together as a truly happy family.

I not only plan where my father will spend the rest of his mortal days, but prepare a place in my heart for him in heaven. I have forgiven Father.

MY CHILD HAS A TUMOR

Today my daughter gets a biopsy done on a tumor. How does a parent deal with something like this? It isn’t the first time she had a tumor, either. A benign tumor in the same spot was successfully removed seven years ago. It peeled miraculously off the nerve to her left arm, and hundreds of tentacles relaxed to allow the whole thing to be pulled from her body. But another grew in its place.

The first time she got a tumor was while she was in massage therapy school. She didn’t tell her parents about it for six months, until she was graduating. She named the lump, “Squish-Squish.” The doctor I took her to see said that the marble-sized lump, above her collar bone, was a fatty lipoma. I went with her to see a surgeon to remove it. Under local anesthetic, the surgeon probed with his gloved hand into her body. As he kept probing, I put my head between my knees, because I suddenly realized he wasn’t finding the end of it, and I could feel my daughter’s discomfort from his finger poking into her un-anesthetized body. I felt nauseous, anxious. She was sent to get CT and MRI scans.

Last week she got another MRI scan. Just last year, she was a new bride. The next month, another tumor appeared. It was egg-sized, below her left collar bone. I wanted her to go see a doctor right away. It can be frustrating to be the parent of an adult child, wanting the best and encouraging but knowing they will do what they want. I waited while she made her decisions and focused on her schoolwork. She got her Associate degree in December with a 4.0 GPA. She finally saw a doctor in December.

Meanwhile, the tumor grew. This one she named, “Lumpy.” It grew to about baseball size, a lump above her left breast. This one had more substance above the skin–the last tumor grew mainly inside the body, where doctors worried it would encroach on her heart. Hopefully “Lumpy” is all above the body, or mostly, and easily removed. My hope is that this one will also be benign, will also peel miraculously from the nerve to her left arm with no stress to the nerve, and that the tentacles will ALL relax, as before, and allow the entire mass to be pulled from her body.

The only difference I hope for in outcome, is that there never be any other mass to take its place. That this is the end of the tumors in her body.

Right now, she is waiting for the doctor. He’s putting her under anesthesia during the biopsy, which is very wise. Like her mother, medical procedures make her nauseous. Even getting her ears pierced as a young teenager, she got sick to her stomach and we had to cancel our planned lunch celebration.

I think one of the hardest parts of having a tumor is the waiting, the not knowing. Trying not to imagine the worst, but still wanting to be able to face whatever will happen. I am learning faith through this experience. Faith to me means exercising my thoughts to believe in the very best outcome, that this will turn out well. That this will go as well as last time. And that this is the last time.

KatieAnne on her wedding day

KatieAnne on her wedding day

Why I Pursue Personal Development

Why do I pursue Personal Development courses, books, seminars?  Why invest the time and money? How do they help me fulfill my mission here on earth?

Image

I, like Nephi, “was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father” (1 Nephi 1:1), and then learned in high school and at college while acquiring my bachelor’s degree. In fact, while attending Brigham Young University I learned the AIMS of a BYU Education: “(1) spiritually strengthening, (2) intellectually enlarging, and (3) character building, leading to (4) lifelong learning and service.” Brigham Young said, “Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world’s work, and the power to appreciate life.” Personal development helps me to be of greater service to my family, friends, community, church, and professionally.

What is Personal Development, anyway? Wikipedia says it is, “activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.” A long Wikipedia list follows of ways personal development can assist a person’s well-being, effectiveness, and contributions.

There are many sources for Personal Development. I enjoy reading good books, going to seminars, and listening to audio recordings of books or talks by, those who practice what I want to learn. Recently I listened to Sonya Lyubomirsky’s THE HOW OF HAPPINESS: A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO GETTING THE LIFE YOU WANT.

The 12 recommendations for improving happiness are:         Image

  1. Expressing gratitude

  2. Cultivating optimism

  3. Avoiding overthinking and social comparison

  4. Practicing acts of kindness

  5. Nurturing relationships

  6. Developing strategies for coping

  7. Learning to forgive

  8. Doing more activities that truly engage you

  9. Savoring life’s joys

  10. Committing to your goals

  11. Practicing religion and spirituality

  12. Taking care of your body

Just listening helped me feel happier, as I realized that I control my happiness! I already did so many of these things! I realized these ways to be happier simply put religious teachings into practice, giving me more confidence in the religious views that helped me overcome so much.

One reason I pursue Personal Development is to overcome effects of past abuse and trauma. I find it much more cost- and time-effective than traditional psychotherapy (I’ve used that too, and it has its place). Seminars with activities such as ropes courses, walking barefoot over hot burning coals, and sky diving all helped me to overcome fears and learn that my body can go forward even when the mind is fearful. Getting through the fear, going forward anyway, is powerful in extending my comfort zone. I find a lot of healing in this, and empowerment to know that I am not my past experiences! I have intrinsic and profound worth as a daughter of God.

                                                                                                    Image

I am grateful for the Personal Development gained so far, and intend to continue learning, growing, and stretching throughout my life, to become all I can be in fulfilling my mortal mission.