8.28.2012

Taking the Manhattan Out of the Mormon

After a long day working for a bank in Downtown Manhattan, attending a baby shower in Brooklyn, and then riding the F train home it occured to me that was the 6th baby shower I attended in 7 months. That's a lot of baby shower presents! I imagined my own baby shower one day and hoped I would have a decent attending crowd so we could be gifted as well. I suppose you could say I began to think my gifts were an investment of our money into something that would, later, offer a return. Such is not the proper idea to have when gifting someone (this I now know). Some years later I would move and few, if any, would even know of our turn at celebrating a baby coming into our lives. I (selfishly) thought of all the money we had spent in that ward for so many years gifting babies we would never know.

It wasn't until I had my own baby shower that I was able to learn a valuable lesson. Not about money, but about people. And service. I am not sure what it's like outside of the Mormon culture, but within the Mormon culture when a baby is joining a family it is joining The Ward Family. It has been my experience in three different states and various cities that you pull together and celebrate. Not because you want the same celebration back. Not because you want or expect anything back from that family (it's not an investment). It's just what you do.

Service to one another is just like that. It's not an investment. So many of the people I have given of my time or assistance to are not the same people that will be necessarily able to give it back if I have a need. That makes it challenging, at times, to accept help. You want to be able to pay them back equally, even if you are not in a place to be able to. Because that's the way the world wants you to operate, but charity isn't like the world. Charity is Christ-like.

I think of it like those revolving doors at the entrance of all those sky scrapers in The City. The people who can give of service at a given time are the ones spinning through the door. Some people seem to be able to give a lot (in the door for a while) as others are in and out of the door for brief spots of time. The idea is for all of us to take as many turns jumping into the spinning door whenever we can. And to be okay with yourself if you are not at a place to give much- your time will come later when someone else is in a similar or harder spot.

As a mother of young kids, I have come to realize the importance of checking my 'giving' reserves. I am learning to stop before I offer and pause before I accept the call for a need of another. I take a mental inventory of the urgency of the need, the status of my family and personal needs and determine the level of stress that may or may not be placed upon me and/ or my family. I owe it to my family to not always be the 'yes' person. I got very ill once because I was the 'yes' person at a time in my life once when my family (and personal) needs were not being fully met. I was running on empty- unaware of it at the time- and still giving of myself when I, in fact, needed support. It's an important balance to strike, but not easy to get right.

8.25.2012

not of donkeys

I heard about it from a friend who lost a lot of weight and looked great. After signing up for an obstacle race I knew I needed to get serious about training for it. I took my friend's advice and met with a personal trainer. While I could not justify the high cost of regular sessions, I did sign up for a slightly less expensive option: Group Personal Training. It didn't change my life, but it did slightly change the shape of my rear!

I love this little part of my world. I affectionately refer to it as Hip Hop Nation in my mind. The main trainer plays a mix of fresh tunes I would never listen to on my own accord, however, have come to find that lyrics like 'drop that ass' and 'criminal bootie, oh my God, I could cuff it' paired with tough beats are really motivating. I try to imagine all my hard work during the circuit training will make the back door unbelievably amazing. After having three kids it's not the same eye-catching gem that lured my husband all those years ago. It once was a remarkable asset of mine. I would like to one day reclaim it.

The crowd attending the small class has changed over time. When I began it was largely filled with cougars. While they had amazingly fit bodies, I at least still had my youth! At the present time a handful of bikini models have infiltrated my coveted workout space. I most likely have an extra decade of age on them, so there's that. I am not sure if you have met a bikini model before, so in case you have not I can share some thoughts with you on what it's like to workout with them.

It sucks. Any scrap of confidence you had coming into the room is removed once they inhale the same air. I just leave mine in a little duffel bag by the door and pick it up on the way out. If you could sculpt a perfectly toned body out of a bar of soap (or beautiful wood) it would be these girls. They are works of art. I tell my husband about them. "I have never seen more perfect asses," I say.

I groan of how I hope they are admired at home. If I worked hard enough to look that amazing you better believe I would make Mike polish and buff my glorious bum after every shower. Then there would be candles and songs and chanting as I placed it on a throne at the start of each day. Our lives would revolve around my perfect derrier. If I had one.

8.22.2012

shine

During the summer we overscheduled the children, swam only a handful of times, didn't see enough cousins, didn't feel quite enough sand in our toes, and could have gone to Bahama Buck's more often. Next summer will be better! The cool thing about reflection is that there are also things that went well I would like to repeat.

I was responsible for two major activities through church during the summer. One was to plan and head up a Cub Scout Two Day Camp. This required meetings, phone calls, following-ups, more phone calls, planning, etc. It was nice to pull from my archives of experience and use executive functioning skills I don't usually need as a mommy. It was a beatiful thing to see it in motion as everyone pulled together to put on special, fun days for the boys. It rocked. Not because of me, but because of the collective lot of us.

I was also responsible for Evening Entertainment for Girls Camp. This also rocked. Additionally, it took a lot of time to plan and put things together. There were days the dishes sat in the sink because I went from one thing to the next. I missed the gym for a month. My social life pretty much went on hold while every single spare minute went towards magnifying my church callings. I did this willingly, knowing it was a brief sacrifice that would be worth it.

Each night and morning I would pray for divine guidance on how to best spend my extra time each day. I knew my priority was tending to my family needs and running a household. I am so, so, so easily distracted and struggle to manage my time well. I can easily waste valuable time on things that are not uplifting or offer me zero positive input /recharge. It was important to me that I listened and tried to be in a place to be worthy of the inspiration I sought.

Shortly after these events finalized, our family thought a major change would be happening. The job we prayed for over many years to find for Mike finally presented itself (for the second time). We attended the temple and really wanted to make sure it was ideal. We took our time and gave it more thought than we initially imagined. We asked the employer a lot of questions that needed an extra week to be answered. We moved forward with the plan to accept an offer. I held my breath hoping for the best, but reminded myself to be ready for His will.

The day before the offer letter was to arrive, everything fell apart. The company was releasing all top level employees and there would be no offer letter coming in. While this sounds like devestating news, I laughed at the remarkable timing of it all. I knew we were protected from the stress unemployment. I loved that I was busy trying to get closer to my Heavenly Father and magnify my callings at a time when this happened. It helped us see the beauty of a protected situation and a chance for us to really look at how good we have it. It's not perfect, but we are working hard to lead our little family in the right direction with all our might.

We are still able (and strive moreso since that happened) to make time for family scripture with Mike on the phone and more meaningful Family Home Evenings on Sunday nights before he flies out of town. Mike holds montly PPI's with each child now and I continue to try to focus any extra time I have on something worth while and uplifting. If I could take all my happy insides and toss them into the air, it would look like all the beautiful clouds that have been in the sky this week (minus the rain ones).

Perscpective is a wonderful gift that can come wrapped in so many different kinds of packages.
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