Sunday, June 23, 2013

chapter a-closing

I woke up super early this morning with a lot on my mind. (The early wakeup was unfortunate since my cute four-month-old chose to sleep a record 10ish hours, but hey, we're all doing what we can here.)
This is long but it's my blog and I do what I want so stick with me here, if you would.
(1) There's a guy in the Book of Mormon and his name is the Brother of Jared. Yeah, I don't know why either. The story goes that because God told him to, he built these enclosed ships that his people needed to hop into in order to travel for a long time. So he says to God, look, we need to figure out how to (a) breathe and (b) see; what do I do here? God says, essentially, breathe by putting holes in the top and bottom with a little stop. Uncork it when you need some air and re-cork it when water comes in. And about the seeing, well, "What will ye that I should do?" Yes, in this story, Brother of Jared presents God with two problems, and God responds with specific instructions on one and a basic "Welp, what do YOU want me to do?" on the other. The Brother of Jared ends up finding a bunch of stones and asking God to touch them to light them up so they can use them as little lamps, and God does, and voila.

For years, I have always pictured the Brother of Jared kind of sheepish in that moment of saying, "Um, how about these rocks?" [Cringe.] Think that would work? Sorry if that's lame. This is all I got." And sure, there are a million things that he could have done, and that would have been better, but he thought of stones, and he had stuff to make the stones, so he threw the idea out there and hey, this works.
I feel like that a lot, like I'm supposed to do something but don't know exactly how, so I come up with something and then feel dumb about it but offer it up anyway because, well, it's the best I've got.

(2) In another part of the Book of Mormon, this kid named Ammon is flipping out with joy over how well all these people he taught are doing. He ends up saying that there is no one in the world who should be more grateful than he is. And I totally get that. "Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away..." Later on he uses the word "mindful" a million times, saying God is mindful of him, and mindful of his friends, and mindful of every people. No wonder he's thrilled.

(3) I woke up thinking about a talk Henry B. Eyring gave recently about how we all have LIMITS and that is okay. He even highlighted the importance of "balancing a desire to do all you can to help others with the wisdom to be prudent in meeting your own needs to retain your power to serve." WHAT? Re-read that for a second and just marvel with me at how wise that is. "Whenever you have cared for someone for even a short time, you have felt love for the person you served. As the time to provide needed care grew longer, the feelings of love increased. Since we are mortal, that increase in love may be interrupted by feelings of frustration and fatigue." And then later he says, "You will be strengthened and yet inspired to know the limits and extent of your ability to serve. The Spirit will comfort you when you may wonder, 'Did I do enough?'"
I feel like his whole talk was saying, hey, it's okay to be tired, and frustrated, and also strengthened, and if you need a breather, take a breather; there's nobility in napping once in a while, people!
(4) On a nostalgic whim, I got the New Testament batch of Scripture Scouts (yep, circa 1987, ring a bell?) a few weeks ago and on it there is this abnormally catchy little tune about the story of the loaves and fishes, and the chorus says, "Whatever you have is enough, says Jesus. Whatever you have is enough." Kind of lame? Maybe. Kind of awesome? YES. Whatever we have IS enough.
Today marked the end of four years in Young Women for me, three and a half of them as president, and my emotions are all over the map. I imagine there is a long and guttural German word for how I'm feeling that smooshes gratitude in with grief and relief and pride and sadness and nostalgia and accomplishment and delight and exhaustion. 

I feel a lot like the Brother of Jared, a little sheepish about how random and dumpy my best was sometimes, and grateful that God just kind of said, "Welp, that'll work." I feel a lot like Ammon, because there is NO ONE, and I mean no one, who has ever had more reason to  be grateful than I have, for my life and my fam and my calling and my friends and my opportunities and...I could go on a while so get comfy. I have felt how MINDFUL God is of me and of all of us, and guess what? It's a lot. 

I also feel like the weary caregiver in Eyring's talk, because I want to go-go-go but also need to admit that, surprise surprise, my own well is pretty darn dry and with all that is going on with my life and my fam, I gotta kick back and meet my own needs to, as he says, retain my power to serve. And just like the cheesetastic Scripture Scouts say, whatever we have is enough. There are things I would do differently given the chance, and I ache wishing I weren't so grouchy, or self-centered, or frazzled, or anti-froof, and I wish I'd had more time and energy to give at various times, and I wish I had been more sensitive and aware with different girls and their adult-sized challenges through the years, but I also firmly believe that whatever we have is enough. It feels pretty good to know that I gave what I had and God knows m'heart and guess what? Whatever I have is enough, and I've given it, and for now, my turn at this is over.

I have a hundred funny stories to share about our little gang of YW, and several dozen heartbreaking ones, and a bunch more in between, but for privacy's sake I'll save those for somewhere and sometime that's not the world wide web. I will say, though, that I expect to feel a little funny, a little in-betweensies, a little off my game, for a while since being in charge of the YW has been such a part of my identity here in Iowa, and that even though I'm kind of relieved, I am also a little devastated, and this change is a big loss for me, one for which I will allow myself space to grieve. 

Buuuuuut, I might also take myself out to dinner on Wednesday, just because I'm free. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

whoooooop!

The next time I want to throw a My Little Pony party for a couple dozen 5-year-olds the same weekend as I end up in charge of the ward talent show/dessert auction camp fundraiser and going to a 5k in the next town over for work and we have a board meeting and I'm teaching the Sunday lesson in YW, and a buddy is driving across the country and decides to pop in overnight with her husband, and I have a two-month-old, I need you to talk me down. Got it? Because last weekend ran me over like a truck!  Whew!

  • "CHAOS IS HEALTHY!" is my new mantra, which I say at least thrice a day to kind-hearted strangers who tell me "Oh, sweetheart, you've got your hands full!" Truly, "chaos is healthy" is the name of the game lately and it may end up tattooed on my rump if this continues.
  • I had a kid in February and he is a dream. Oddly enough, all three of our kids were due on a Thursday and born on the following Tuesday. Weird, right? This little cutie has two big sisters a couple inches from his face most of the day and it is unbearably sweet. So far he has been our most mellow baby by a mile (or are we just less uptight?). Regardless, I love him.
  • Some of my very favorite friends are moving in the next few weeks and it's giving me the bummers. I realize that when you live in a college town with a big fat university hospital, chances are that most people our age-ish and stage-ish are just passing through, and I also realize that I'm 30 years old and need to suck it up, but, WAAAAA! 
  • I should have guarded my maternity leave more closely; I ended up doing more work earlier than I should have; that whole real, regular life thing is SNEAKY and creeps up so fast when you're trying to soak up the newborn magic. Learn from me, internet, and guard your baby time!
  • I read Lean In and wish everyone would get off Sheryl Sandberg's back. It seems like no one who is ragging on her HAS ACTUALLY READ HER BOOK.
  • Can't believe I have a FIVE-YEAR-OLD! Wasn't she born just last week?? Alas, she has all these friends and opinions and is pumped for kindergarten. I can't wait to see who this chick turns into because she is so sharp and thoughtful and determined. Speaking of determined, my wise friend Jennifer reminded me to go easy on our three-year-old because "you just created a middle child!" and oh how I'm trying to. Will she stop peeing her pants soon though? Because SHEESH.
  • I am working on simplifying the heck out of my current scene since I am wound up all the time lately with my mind a-racing and it turns out perma-mega-high-alert is a crappy way to function! And I know, you're probably thinking, seriously, you're simplifying but you couldn't put someone else in charge of the talent show?? Welp, believe me, I tried. My delegation efforts were sabotaged when the woman who was supposed to be in charge ended up going to "dental prom" instead (yes, that's a thing). Know what else was sabotaged? Dinner. My go-to recipe book that never lets me down is apparently not quiiiite as foolproof as I'd hoped since my pizza crust yesterday came out looking like giant garlicky discs of giraffe dandruff.

 That's what's new around here! You holding up okay?

Monday, September 17, 2012

still rocking and still rolling

Aloha, internets! Know what I like about us?  That we can all just act natural when I blog like twice a year.  Hope things are going great!  A sampling of the latest around here:
  • Ich bin swamped.  I've bitten off a tad more than I can chew in terms of my current time commitments and now I'm just riding the wave. BAHAHA.  I have a pretty cool full-time gig, and the last month or so has been the very busiest time of year, as in, my head almost exploded several times, and for reasons I still don't understand myself, I agreed to teach an additional class a couple evenings a week for the next month or so, which I enjoy but may have been a poor choice considering my good husband just went back to school and our busy little girls are a blast but like I said, busy, and oh yeah, I have a full-time job.  Come on, gurrbonzo, you gotta start taking stuff OFF the plate rather than piling it on, sister.  Working on it.  
  •  It's always helpful/interesting/surprising to realize whoooooops, I'm overbooked, and the current pace?  It's not sustainable.  Sooooo, just in the midst of trying to anticipate and prevent a meltdown before it arises.  So that's where I am, life strategic planning.  Visualize success in the anticipate and prevent meltdown stage!
  • Additionally, remember how I'm YW president (aka the chick over the teen girls at church)?  The other leaders and I took turns being out of town for giant chunks of the summer, so imagine my delight when everyone got back into town and we had a marathon meeting where we figured out all of our fall plans and delegated tasks accordingly and as a little group got all of our church-ducks in a church-row.  This was right in time for my busy work season so I figured, YESSSSSSS!, assignments are made, bases are covered, expectations are clear, all systems go.  Then imagine my laughter when I got word that they'd "identified new callings" for ALL the other women working with me and I'd need to suggest an entirely new line-up (except me) in about 48 hours.  Bahaha.  The old line-up was awesome and the new line-up will also be awesome.  Just laugh with me for a moment about how our giant meeting that brought me much relief became immediately obsolete.   
  • We had a big stake RS meeting the other day and I didn't realize it was coming up quite so soon and that I was supposed to speak at it.  Bahaha.  I'm running on empty/stretched a little thin/whatever other phrase can imply that I'm about at capacity, so I had to laugh when I realized this was coming up but figured hey, I can go with the flow.  Welp turns out some folks from the press were there and recorded the whole thing as part of a special about Mormons in our great state.  BAHAHAHA.  There were a bunch of other speakers too so I'm sure it was no big deal; it just FELT like a big deal because....I NEED A NAP!
  • Which is why I fell asleep at 7:30 PM on Saturday.  Totally recommend that.
  • Did I mention I saw President Obama speak a week or two ago?  Because I did!  If you're wondering if it's worth standing 5-6 hours outside in the rain to see the current President of the United States, the answer is yes.
  • Also, did you know we're expecting a little boy?  Because yes, yes we are, and we're thrilled, but I'm also terrified of how we'll function with three children.  "But gurrbonzo," you say, "We have 4/5/6 children, and it's a breeze!"  Well, dear reader, I salute you, but I'm not you, and I'm so, so, excited, but periodically I also realize that I don't know what on earth we'll do with more kids than adults!  What about when they gang up on me?  What if I need to pick everyone up?  That's it, no more outings.  Also, growing a baby makes me sleepy.  Also, THREE kids is a lot of kids!!!  I am the youngest of two so this is rather unfamiliar territory.  We alternate between giddy excitement (about 80% of the time) and freak-freak-freaking out (10% of the time) and a calm zone out (10%).  But, overall, hurray!  
That's the latest around here!  You good?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unsolicited YW advice: Part 1

Sooooo, I have a lot of unsolicited advice to give about YW (meaning teen girls at church), and if there's one things blogs are for, it's spouting unsolicited advice!  Am I right or am I right?
I've been in YW non-stop since we moved to the great Midwest and while our crowd may be different from yours (we have less than a dozen YW and don't split up by age group or have advisors), I have a sneaky feeling YW everywhere have a lot in common.  And it always bums me out when I hear from friends who aren't having great experiences serving in YW...it is such an awesome opportunity to work with such a great age group, and I love the crap out of our little crowd so much that I really want other people to love it like I do.  This topic has popped up a lot lately with my real-life friends and e-friends and such, and surprise, surprise, I have a bunch to say.

So, let me climb aboard my e-soapbox and share a few grouchy tidbits...

Gurrbonzo's Grouchy Bits of Advice for YW Leaders: Part 1

(1) It's not about you!  My own experience in YW was really, really lame.  We moved to a new ward when I was 9th gradeish and there were like forty girls my age, I felt like I had nothing in common with any of them, I felt grouchy and misunderstood, square peg in a round hole, whatever you want to say about it.  Guess what?  My YW now aren't me.  They aren't a 2012 version of me, either.  And my favorite rants or topics or teen baggage AREN'T THEIR PROBLEM.  So resist the urge to teach and preach what your former self would have needed/wanted and instead, look around and see if you can figure out what these actual girls are interested in or in need of.  They aren't us; they're them.

(2)  On a related note, be the grown up.  We aren't their peers.  That's a weird feeling because when you chat with teens, it comes back fast.  I remember so vividly so much about being that age.  Once a few years ago, an 8th grade YW was chatting with me at an activity and out of nowhere snapped my bra.  Seriously.  I almost died.  I was tempted to laugh but then I realized that can't happen.  So I just said, "Sweetie, I'm a grown up.  Totally inappropriate. Never do that again."  And then we started talking about something else.  She was a little startled but it hasn't happened again and now we have a great relationship.

It's a tough balance, and I don't mean they should salute you and curtsy or that you need to be super distant, but you're the adult and they are teens. Even if you're not that much older than they are, keep in mind you aren't peers.

(3) Stop talking about clothes.  Just stop.  I don't want to hear any more from either side of the modesty debate.  I am totally over that conversation and for teen girls to get the message that looks aren't everything, we've gotta talk about stuff that's more interesting and important.  If, say, what the kid is wearing at an activity is TOTALLY out of control, take her aside and privately say something like, "Throw a shirt on that covers up a little more.  I'll run you home and you can get one, then let's grab a slurpee and we'll be back in time for the closing prayer."  Don't make it any more than it is.  

(4) Get off their cases.  Peers, parents, media, church, everyone has so much to say about what teen girls should or shouldn't wear, what they should or shouldn't do, what they should or shouldn't say.  What they need more than anything is our love and our trust and our examples.  My job isn't to nag; they have the whole planet for that.  My job is to show them what a happy, healthy woman is like and to high five and hug as needed.  They are aching for our love and for our examples.  Show them how it's done.

(5) Go to their stuff.  I know this is hard depending on schedules, etc., but it's my favorite.  For example, a few of our YW are in jazz band and we go to their awesome performances all the time.  My kids love it, and I know the YW and their friends, and they are (most of the time) excited to see me, and it's good and fun and normal.

I got a mean farmer tan from the last JV soccer game I went to, but it was totally worth it. My kids played on the playground and my dear YW was thrilled to see us.  I didn't bombard her or even talk to her after because she was booked, but I waved and my four-year-old shouted, "Go Lucy!" and I think that's enough.  If anyone in YW had given a teensy shit about what I was up to at that age, I think it would have meant a lot to me.  (Wait, it's not about me...d'oh...still, most of the time they love it.)

(6) Let them do stuff.  For example, we had a whole lesson on how to give a lesson (I'll post it if you want to check it out), and then we've started having YW teach once a month.  This won't work for every group but for ours, it has ROCKED.  They can count it for Personal Progress and it is honestly beautiful to see.  The first few months were a little rocky (e.g., we had a few ten minute lessons...bahahaha) but the last year or so, everyone's really gotten into it. The YW make especially great comments when one of them is leading the discussion, and it seems to provide decent experience so they are braver the next time they have to do something, and they're more supportive when an adult is teaching bc they know what's it like to be on that end.

Last year, we were talking as a ward about what talks from General Conference we should use for lessons, and everyone was excited about Elder Cook's "LDS Women Are Incredible!" talk.  Now, say what you will about the talk, but I had to chime in:  if LDS women are incredible, how about...wait for it...a talk by an LDS woman?  Annnnd we used Sylvia Allred's RS talk for the lesson.  If something's important, stop talking about how important it is and just let the importance shine.  See what I'm saying? We've gotta stop telling them they're awesome and start giving them opportunities to be awesome, whether through teaching or service or whatever.

(7) Let them botch it once in a while.  That's the logical extension of letting them do stuff.  They need the chance to fail.  That's scary for adults like me that like to do everything themselves, but it's like teaching your kid to make her bed. Yeah, it's easier for us to just make the bed, but getting the bed made isn't the point; teaching them to make the bed is the point.

Last year, I asked a girl to do a musical number for our Night of Excellence.  She said yes, we reminded her a few times, and that day she laughed about how she hadn't prepared anything.  I was tempted to take her off the program but then I caught myself and realized you know, she committed to do it, let's see what happens.  She traipsed through a painful version of a song and it was awful and awkward and I'd bet a lot of money she won't be unprepared again. (Won't work for everyone but for her personality it was a great lesson.)  Let them fail.   Otherwise, they grow up thinking someone else will fix everything, and I've got some bad news: someone else won't.  Bahahahaha.

(8) Don't go to every activity.  You'll lose your mind and it's not fair to your family.  Let your counselors or whoever go to stuff (or if you're an advisor or counselor, let the YW president know when you want to swap dates).  It took me a year or two to figure it out, but everyone doesn't have to go to everything.  We make sure two adults are at a Wednesday activity and then call it good, and split it up so that one person doesn't have to go too many times in a row.  I spent all of Sunday on YW stuff (morning meeting, evening fireside) so you know what that means?  I'm not going on Wednesday, and I feel great about it.

Annnnd that's it for now.  What do you think?  Agree? Disagree?  Anything to add?  Part 2 coming soon.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

is there a less dated version of booyah I should be saying?

Alooooha!  No need for concern.  I know occasionally people think I die when I don't blog for, oh, months and months, but I recently realized something...I think the more cool stuff I have going on, the less I blog.  Truly.  So, instead  of wondering if I'm okay when I don't blog, you should be alarmed if I start blogging five times a week or something.  Deal?  I'm slammed in all the best ways!  In many ways, I think it's still March, because things have been in mega-high gear around here since then.  A little whirlwind is pretty healthy... 

Anyway, hope you're doing awesome, internets! Remember when I said change was afoot because I felt like I was in my groove?  Welp, I called it.  A dream job fell out of the sky (and while I shan't reveal the details to the world-wide web, if you care that much you probably already know :)). 

In my hip and fabulous single and dating days (as opposed to my hip and fabulous married and dating days...bahaha), I often complained that the glorious trifecta of hot boy seemed to be missing.  All I want, I'd pine adorably, is a fellow who likes three things:

(1) Me
(2) Fun
(3) Churchy church.

I could find dudes who liked me and church but were bllllaaaand as could be; I could find dudes who liked me and fun but not church, and I could find dudes who liked church and fun but not me.  (Spoiler alert: I eventually hit the jackpot, though some of those items have shifted in importance...just go with it.)

Anyway.

Similarly, I feel like with jobs, I've been wanting something that would:

(1) use my talents/brain
(2) pay reasonably well
(3) be abnormally flexible

And it seemed like there were jobs that were interesting and paid well but had zero flexibility, would be flexible and pay reasonably well but my brain would turn to mush, and that were interesting and flexible but didn't pay well.  See what I mean?  So, another paying job wasn't on the top of my to-do list (you may recall I've had a pretty sweet part-time gig for a while now that's been great) as I chased our cute kiddos around.  Annnnnd then my husband thought about going back for round 2 of grad school, and at precisely the moment I began realizing going from 1.5 incomes to .5 incomes would be tricky, BAM, a cool job with all three criteria fell out of the sky and into my lap, so we can, you know, LIVE as my hub hits the books again for another few years.

Whew!  So I've been busy navigating this new world of kids and a flexible full-time job and a half, and I dig it, and I marvel at God's generosity. 

Remember this kid?  She's four, now, and it turns out four is a blast (and we had a kickass Wordgirl party...honestly, whoever thought up Wordgirl deserves a giant smooch.  Lady Redundant Woman?  Sigh.). Remember this, when our other sweet daughter was born?  She's almost two and a half and she is such a clever sneak.  Two and four are such great, cuddly ages and they are each other's dearest friends.  Just had to mention that.

In kind of other news, and on a similar to my last post note, which was four months ago so you don't remember anyway, I had a heart-to-heart with a buddy recently about whether you feel like you're half-assing everything if you do too many things (and that's a real danger), and I am proud of myself as I slowly start to realize that as I enter a busier-than-normal season of life, I can full-ass things in smaller doses.  Make sense?  Like, I honestly do my darndest to be a good YW president.  I feel so much love and concern for our little gang and feel like I do a decent job most of the time, but guess what?  I'm not at everything.  I can't be, and that's a fact.  But when I go, I try to be all in.  Similarly, I need more help with childcare now than I used to, and that's a fact.  But when I'm with my kiddos (which is still the vast majority of the time), I try to be all in.  And at work I am learning to delegate.  This is a pain for those of us who like to be in charge of stuff because we think we'd do it better ourselves, but sometimes, delegating stuff is the biggest present to ourselves.  Am I right or am I right?  Annnnd it's only taken me almost thirty years to figure out!  Bahahaha!  Life lesson: you can avoid a lot of big fat headaches by anticipating them, sharing the responsibility, and not being a martyr.  YEAH!

Annnnnnd that's what's on my mind today.  What's new with you?