Thursday, January 21, 2021

Finding Hope in Hindsight

     When was the hardest time of your life? The time when you felt like your now would be forever (and that wasn't a pleasant thought)? Do you still feel the way you did back then? I'm praying that the answer to that last question is 'no.' 

    I've sure we've all had those moments when it feels like the hard-knock life. Life has been hard for me lately, and I have begun to feel hopeless in a way. I've prayed and prayed, but haven't felt like I've gotten any peace or inspiration. So, I went back and read a post I wrote at I time when I did feel that inspiration. Over two years ago, I posted about how taking a break from despair was all I could manage. I was too depressed to have hope. It was too hard. I mentioned that I wasn't ready to hope for a career as a teacher or for a healthy relationship. I wasn't ready to hope for those things because, in the moment, it seemed like they never would happen. Like they never could happen. 

    Well...Hindsight is a beautiful gift and looking back, I realize that the despair I felt was so deep and never-ending, was only but a moment in my life. It came and went in the blink of an eye. 

    Two years after losing hope of ever becoming a teacher, I can say that I taught at a middle school. It was different than what I was struggling to hope for. I wasn't a full-time, certified teacher. I worked part-time, taught two classes a day, and worked under a certified teacher. But I had my own classroom, students, and was able to manage it in my own way. I WAS A TEACHER! Something that I didn't believe could happen because I was feeling so hopeless in a moment. 

    Two years after losing hope of ever being in a healthy relationship, I can say that I have been happily married for one year, nine months, one week, and one day. Not only am I in a healthy relationship, but I have been blessed with a wonderful daughter as well. I NEVER THOUGHT THAT COULD HAPPEN! I had wanted a family, but I didn't dare hope for one back then. I had been through too much rejection and heartbreak, or so I felt at the time. In hindsight, the despair I was feeling back then was not the eternity that I believed it to be in the moment.

I don't share these things to boast of my blessings, for I do feel truly blessed. Rather, I share these things as an example of how hindsight can help us have hope. Your now is not your forever. Just like my then is not my present. It might feel like whatever you're going through will never end. It might be challenging to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is. I can't see the light at the end of my tunnel right now, but I know it's there because I've been through it before. 

Try reflecting on how far you have come. Think of things you never thought would happen, but have. Even if things don't turn out the way we expect, they always turn out. And on the days when having hope seems just too hard, take a break from despair. Embrace the good moments and let the good moments embrace you. Say a prayer and find hope in hindsight. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Have I Done Any Good?

How have you changed the world? What efforts have you made to make the world a better place? Have you done any good in the world today? One of my favorite hymns asks some of those same questions. It says

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love.  

Doing good truly is a pleasure, but it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Especially when it feels like the world is coming to an end. I used to be so passionate about making a difference. It didn't matter what I was doing, I had big dreams to change the world for the better in any way that I could think of. I still want the world to be a better place and I would love to be a part of making that happen, but lately I've just been trying to survive. When I got married, I was so excited to change the world with my husband! But then I got caught up in myself and trying to figure out how to be a wife that I forgot about serving others. I couldn't see beyond myself or my husband. When I became a teacher, I was thrilled to be able to make a difference in the lives of my students. But then I got caught up in myself and making sure that I was teaching all the material and doing it accurately. I was so focused on technicalities that I missed many opportunities to serve my students in meaningful ways. And then Covid-19 hit. I am literally just trying to survive. Avoiding people, keeping my home a clean and happy environment that won't drive my husband and me bonkers, and once again, just caught up in myself. I haven't been thinking about doing good and helping those in need. 

I'm sure we can all understand this. It happens! But life is about more than just survival and being caught up in ourselves. We need to be making connections and reaching out to others in meaningful ways despite the difficulties we may face. It's not about simply doing nice things here and there. It's about having an attitude of love and service for all people. We need to find and develop a passion for serving others. In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah chapter 2, King Benjamin explains why:

"22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?"

Our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ descended from His heavenly home to do for us what we could not and cannot do for ourselves. He has paid the price for our sins and made it possible for us to one day return to live with Him in Heaven. He is the reason that Heavenly Father's plan of happiness is made possible. He is the reason we are on the earth today with bodies of flesh and bone. King Benjamin explains that we need to serve others because Jesus Christ gave us our lives and we are forever indebted to Him. We will never be able to repay Christ for what He has done for us, but we can show Him that we are infinitely grateful and that we will give our lives to Him as He gave His life for us.

King Benjamin also points out that the Lord has commanded us to love and serve others. Beyond following His commandments for the sake of showing our love for Him, the Lord has promised to bless us immediately (even more so than He already has) when we do keep His commandments.

Jesus Christ dedicated his life to serving others. Even through persecution and temptations, He was always reaching out to others by listening to, healing, forgiving, and loving all that He encountered. He is a Heavenly King. King Benjamin was an earthly king. He spent his days serving his people as well. He says, "14 And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne..."  King Benjamin served his people in ways that most kings in history have never and will never try. He taught that "...When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

Why did he labor so hard even though he was a king and ruler over the people? Because he loved God and thus loved his people. King Benjamin goes on to ask, "If I, whom ye call you king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?" Of course they should! And the same goes for us and the Lord. If Christ, who is our Heavenly King, did spend His mortal ministry laboring to serve all, then ought not we to labor to serve all as well?

The scriptures continue, "19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!"

Let us all thank our Heavenly King by serving Him. By serving His children. What's stopping us? Too busy? Don't care? Lost the passion for it? Nothing should take precedent over keeping the commandments of Christ. We should never be too busy for others and we better care, gosh dang it! I lost my passion for service for a little while, but the Book of Mormon has helped remind me why service is so important, and that flame of passion has been reignited!

If you are struggling to feel the desire to serve, then pray, get up and go serve. As we actively seek to help others and make a difference in the world, the joy we feel from that service will propel us forward into continual action. Create the passion and go do good in the world!

I love you all! <3 
In the comments, I'd love to hear (1) how someone has served you in a meaningful way and/or (2) how serving others has blessed your life.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


     Aladdin recently came out as a live-action film. Similarly to the other live-action Disney movies, new songs were written and added to enhance the story line. In this particular show, a song was written entitled, "Speechless," sung by Jasmine. This song inspired me in a number of ways so I decided to make it a theme for the next couple of my posts. The topic that I would like to focus on today is mental illness and why those who have it should not remain speechless.
     To begin, I'd like to share some statistics with you. Banyan Mental Health has expressed that "approximately 1 in 5 adults, 43.8 million, Americans experience some form of mental illness in a given year." Mental illness is widespread and the number of people affected is rapidly increasing. If almost half of American adults deal with it, why is it so hard to talk about? Over time, society has developed a negative stigma regarding mental illness that leads many people to believe that there is something wrong with those who experience it. Many people who struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, also buy into the stigma. This can lead people to bottle up their thoughts and emotions.
     A clinical psychologist, Victoria Tarratt says, "Suppressing your emotions, whether it's anger, sadness, grief or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body. The effect is the same even if the core emotion is different... We know that it can affect blood pressure, memory, and self-esteem." She goes on to explain that the risk of diabetes and heart disease is also increased as well as there being greater chances of problems regarding 'memory, aggression, anxiety, and depression.' Expressing emotions is crucial; especially to those who struggle with mental issues.
     As someone who has dealt with depression, I know that it can feel like it is the master. It feels like no one else could possibly see my problems as being as difficult as I feel they are. It can feel as though sharing my depressive thoughts and feelings would do nothing but drag others down. These feelings can be as real as anything, but they're not always true. One of the most important things a person can do when struggling with depression is to speak up. Seeking help can be harder than solid rock and it takes courage, but it is worth it. Speaking up is a step to receiving the mental healthcare necessary to overcoming these struggles, it can relieve those afflicted of carrying the burden all alone, it releases much of the pent-up emotion that Dr. Tarratt spoke of earlier, and it can help to raise awareness and gove support and hope to others.
     As a high school senior with this newfound knowledge that I had depression, I decided not to tell too many people. Most people knew me as an overly positive person and I didn't want that to change. Despite my efforts, I definitely was not the same as I had always been. I was more somber and I didn't actively participate in social settings as much. It felt like I was losing friends and being excluded left and right. There was a part of me that didn't want to express my feelings at all because it might be viewed as gossiping. Holding in all of those emotions had me feeling like my head might explode. I later learned from the doctor that it's actually extremely healthy to talk about my depression. As I began speaking of it more, I learned that a great number of the people I interacted with daily also struggled with depression. We began talking, became better friends, and were able to help each other through difficult times.
     Mental illness can often feel more powerful than we feel. It can seem like it controls us; like we can't resist it. I'm hear today to tell you that YOU ARE POWERFUL! Your mental struggles do not control you. There are things that you can do to ease the burden of the struggles placed upon your back. Being a part of a community of friends and family can help increase your power. Hearing Jasmine's words in Speechless got me thinking about speaking that way to my depression. She said, "Cause I'll breathe when (you) try to suffocate me. Don't you underestimate me, cause I know that I won't go speechless."
     When your mental illness seems to be suffocating you, tap into that incredible power which you possess to take action. If all you can do is speak up, then do it! There are people on every corner filled with compassion and a shoulder to lean on. There are people filled with love for you that you may be completely unaware of. You never know about these things until you speak up. Please join with me and #beheard because I know that I definitely won't go speechless.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Feeling Gratitude in Everything!

I hated my job today. There were three thoughts that kept running through my mind as I worked: My job stinks, people can be super entitled sometimes, and I want to feel gratitude in everything. Let me give you a little background so that those three things make a little more sense.

I'm currently a student at a university and live in off-campus housing. It's one of the nicer apartment complexes so it provides a garbage pick-up service. Many of the people who live at this complex are definitely not wanting for money and they have no problem spending, spending, spending. I am not one of those people. In fact, I am the trash lady who provides the garbage services. Twice a week, I go door to door and get a peek into the lives of others as they drop their life's waste into my bin. By doing this, the managers of the apartment reduce my rent. As you can probably tell by now, my job quite literally stinks.

Living in the same apartment complex for 2.5 years has ensured that there's a special place for it in my heart.  I love what I now consider home and have always felt the need to defend it when judgments arise. Many people around campus would criticize this complex and the people living here. Most complexes have a stereotype and mine was that of snobby, rich kids. Though plenty of the tenants are fairly wealthy, I never believed the stereotype due to the plethora of positive encounters I'd had with my peers. Pretty much everyone has been incredibly decent and more than humble and kind.

It wasn't until I was suddenly 'below' everybody else as the garbage lady that I realized how entitled people can really be. Picking up the trash hadn't been all bad at first. It was actually kind of fun being able to meet and talk to so many new people as I went along. As time passed, however, people started getting lazy. There are a few stipulations to the garbage pick-up and one of them is that it needs so be bagged, tied up, and ready to go. I was lax with this in the beginning because we were just getting started, but people started becoming increasingly indifferent and generated more work for me.

One girl picked up her trash can and set it down in front of me, expecting me to tie the putrid-smelling bag up for her. People will frequently put rotting food into open boxes and dump the loose trash straight into my bin. People repeatedly ask me to make exceptions for them 'just this once,' and wait while they get their crap together. People won't take out their own mess throughout the week, so by the time I come around, they have about 5-6 bags of trash.

Seeing all the waste and experiencing the rude attitudes of these people has helped me recognize how easy it is to feel entitled. No one is entitled to anything. Unfortunately, once something convenient becomes familiar and comfortable, it is very easy to except it and believe that it is completely deserved. This is a phenomenon that happens to everyone. I experience it regularly as I complain about slow service, busy traffic, my phone not loading fast enough, and when people don't treat me like the queen that I sometimes wish I was.

When I felt how other's feelings of entitlement made me feel small and below everyone else as a trash lady, I started to wonder if I ever act so entitled that I belittle someone or disregard the many blessings in my life. The answer: I do! I'm not proud of it so I'm implementing change. The cure to this contagious disease called entitlement is gratitude.

There are so many people, places, things, and experiences to be grateful for. Everyone has a purpose and that purpose can bless other people's lives. It doesn't matter if it's something as small as taking out the garbage. The servers who bring you your food. The mailman. The random person that held the door open for you. I believe that as we come to acknowledge all the good in the world around us; all the beauty, all the good deeds, and as we learn to truly feel gratitude in everything-we will live happier lives.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

How to Make and Keep Goals

     It's that time of year again when everyone is contemplating on the past and dreaming for the future. Making goals is a traditional part of the New Year and I think that's a wonderful thing! Unfortunately, many people don't believe that they can keep their New Year's Resolutions for more than a week or two. If you are one of those people, than this is for you! There are a few things that people do that make it extremely difficult to keep those initial goals. I've failed enough times to know what doesn't work. I've also seen enough successes in my life to feel confident in sharing with you four simple steps that can help any person reach their goals.

          If you don't write your goals down, how will you remember them? It's so nice having a physical and visual reminder of the things I'd like to do and become. At the end of December each year, I sit down and think about what I'd like the next year to look like. With a pencil and some paper stapled together, I write down my goals on the front page. (Keep reading to find out what happens with the other pages! ;))

          There are probably many things you would like to do, but having a goal to travel isn't going to do much. Travelling is a great dream, but without a specific goal that can be measured and planned, it will remain just a dream. Last year, I had a goal to drink more water. Staying hydrated is a great thing, but writing down drink more water on a piece of paper wasn't going to make much of a difference in my life. How much more water? For how long? What is the threshold for which I can stop drinking more water? Leaving that goal as it was, there was no way of knowing if I had reached it. It was too broad and too difficult to measure.
          Now if I had kept that same broad idea in mind but tweaked it a bit, my new goal could have been to drink three bottles of water per day.  That is specific to staying hydrated and can easily be kept track of.

          One of my favorite quotes says, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." I've found this to be true through personal experience! Another goal that I had last year was to read the Book of Mormon in Spanish. This was a great undertaking seeing as how I'm nowhere near fluent in the language. I had started it previously thinking that I would just read it whenever, but I ended up quitting after a day or two. It took many months for me to pick it back up again. This time I had selected a specific date that I wanted to have it done by. I then figured out how many pages I would need to read daily in order to make it happen. I wrote all this information down and then I made it happen!
          Those other pages in my stapled paper packet are for plans. Each goal is rewritten with enough space below to record the HOW to reach each goal. That record of plans made helps immensely in keeping track of where I am and where I want to be.

          Many people go into the New Year with an attitude that their resolutions won't last very long. I would have to agree with those people. You can't expect to succeed at something when you set yourself up for failure. And starting with an 'I can't' attitude is definitely a set up for failure. Believing you can do something is the first step. Being diligent in your goals is super difficult, but you CAN do it! As Rex from Toy Story once said, "You just need to believe in yourself!"
           Always always always start again! This is one of the biggest things that stops people from reaching their goals. Sure, you might fail at your goal on day three, but by starting again on day four you get a fresh beginning! If we were all perfect at our goals, they wouldn't be goals; they'd be habits.  Mistakes happen and consistency isn't always quite as consistent as desired, but that is exactly why we always need to start again!

     I hope this New Year's you have the confidence and gusto to make some goals that you plan to keep. Even more than that, I hope you keep them! I believe in you and hope in all sincerity that these steps will be beneficial to you in your endeavors. Let me know what goals you're making this year down in the comment section.

Happy New Year's and have a blessed week y'all!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Missed Opportunities

     You miss EVERY opportunity that you don't take! Failure is scary and even the thought of failure is scary. One of the biggest things that I've noticed in my life is that the fear of failure is the number one thing that stops me from chasing my dreams and growing into the person that I can one day become. I'm sure this is true for many of you as well. There are many things wrong with this! Fear is unproductive. Fear of failure is rarely legitimate. And fear HOLDS US BACK!

     In high school, I was in a competitive choir that performed dozens of times during the holiday season. We were well known in the community and I was constantly surrounded by numerous people with immense amounts of musical talent. One particular Christmas season, my choir teacher wanted us to sing the song Let it Go from the movie 'Frozen'. The beginning of the song was a solo and she asked all those interested in auditioning to step forward. The girl standing next to me said, "I probably won't get it so I'm not going to embarrass myself in front of the choir." She was scared of trying her best and not being good enough. This fear stopped her from even auditioning.

     As she stood right where she was, about a dozen other girls stepped forward to audition. We sang it as a group and then each sang the solo individually. It all sounded lovely and there was not a single person who auditioned that wouldn't have made an amazing soloist. Despite all the talent, the choir director informed us that everyone who auditioned would be singing it as a featured group. The girl who had decided not to audition ended up throwing a bit of a fit. She claimed that if she had known it would be a group thing, she would have auditioned. She then went on to ask if she could sing in the group anyway. The teacher got the room quiet and said, "You miss every opportunity you don't take."

     This resonated with me because it is so true! This girl's fear was unproductive because she just sat in the back while others put themselves out there. It was not legitimate because she was really a very talented singer. There's an acronym for fear that goes like this:


She truly believed that she wouldn't be good enough to get the solo. This was completely false because she was already good enough to be in the choir. Not only that, but she was a section leader! Even though her fears were not legitimate, she felt that they were real, and that held her back.

     Fear of failure can hold us back in so many ways. This is truly unfortunate because there are a plethora of opportunities in our lives every single day. Opportunities in work, at school, at church. Opportunities to be a better person or to make a change in your home or community. Opportunities to become the person that you have the potential to become. The list is never-ending and I've found that the more opportunities I've taken, the more opportunities seem to pop up right in front of me.

     Fear of failure is hard to get over, but you miss every opportunity you don't take. And my friends, you've never failed until you've stopped trying.

I love you all and have a blessed week! <3

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Taking a Break From Despair

     Is it just me or is hope hard? Hope is defined as 'a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.' Despair is the loss of all hope. We may often feel despair in our lives as trials push us around and it is often difficult to even imagine having hope again. When this happens, I invite us all to simply take a break from despair.

     As mentioned in a previous post, I have depression. Without any kind of medication or counselling, my low serotonin levels got the better of me. For about a week, I could do nothing but cry. Sleep was a struggle. Getting up was a struggle. Life in general was a struggle. I still went to class but I never got ready and I barely kept myself from bawling during that time. Not a single homework assignment was started (let alone finished) during that week. Whenever I spoke to anyone (regardless of who it was) my eyes brimmed with tears and my chin did that awful crying-twitchy thing.

     It felt like everything was a sign of my failure as a friend, student, daughter, and overall human being. I lost all hope in ever becoming a teacher or even graduating college. I lost all hope that I could be a good friend/person. I lost all hope that anyone would ever love me. I lost all hope that I could do anything right. I simply lost all hope. 
     Throughout the course of this depressed state, many mini miracles occurred. I was blessed with a wonderful roommate who sat with me through it all. I was blessed with a group of fantastic freshmen who never cease to amaze me. There was even an instance when I was sitting in a random part of the apartment complex (because I felt I had nowhere else to go) and I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to just send a friend. A couple minutes later, this random guy sat down with me and asked, "Do you want to talk about it?" I didn't so we ended up talking about a bunch of random stuff instead. His roommate joined us and I made two new friends that night.

     Despite these wonderful things, I still felt despair. I'd acknowledge the blessings, follow it up with 'but....,' and then proceed to wallow in self-misery. I wanted to have hope. I wanted to appreciate those blessings more! My mom- being the splendacious human that she is-continually sent me quotes about hope throughout the whole ordeal. I was grateful for them but they didn't seem to help me. (Thanks anyway Mom, you're the best!) I'm not sure at what point it was, but I finally realized that I was too depressed to have hope in that moment.

     Don't get me wrong, I believe in Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement. I believe that God is real and He loves me. I believe these things and have a testimony of them, but that does not mean that I could suddenly have all the hope in the world with the snap of a finger. I decided that first, I needed to take a break from despair. Despair had come to overwhelm me and I needed a break!

     I'm not quite ready to have hope in my academic and social life because I'm still scared that it'll be false. I'm not sure I'm ready to dream about my future classroom again or have confidence that one day I will be in a healthy relationship. I'm not ready for that, BUT THAT'S OKAY! I may not be ready to have hope again, but I am certainly ready to stop dwelling on worst case scenarios. I'm ready to stop being negative. I'm ready to take a break from despair. This doesn't mean to forget about our struggles. It means acknowledging them but not embracing the depression. Rather, embracing life. Another blogger that I follow has come up with a motto that says, "Let life hug you!" I feel like this nicely sums up what I'm trying to say.

     Embrace the good moments. Try not to let those negative experiences and emotions control every second of your life (even though that sometimes feels impossible!). Try-even if it is just for a minute or two or however long-try taking a break from despair. I'm learning every day that it is the first step towards once again having hope.

What do you do to have hope?