Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What Are You Doing That Brings You Joy: Part 2 -

What are you doing today that brings you joy?

Can you live in the moment, being grateful for the here and now? In Nephi 2:27 we read, “Adam fell that man night be, and men are, that they might have joy.” And darn it, this also alludes to opposition in all things. So, in order to recognize the joy, we have to have bad days – messy diapers and snotty noses, stiff muscles from gardening and working out, cranky kids and co-workers, flat tires and flat hair, lost shoes and lost loves. But – real life most often happens during the in-between times – when we are not at Disneyland, but on our way to. Discouragement is unnecessary pain and a denial of divine power. It hinders spiritual growth, so while we may have a discouraging moment, it does not need to affect our entire road trip. M. Scott Peck, begins his book, “The Road Less Traveled,” with, “Life is Difficult.” And once that is accepted, then the fact no longer matters, and we can move forward. Or – as my grandmother often said, “Stop fretting and move forward, enjoy the journey.”

Live, not exist, the journey – not the destination. How we choose to celebrate or embrace them is up to us. Simply acknowledging a night’s sleep, a clean toilet, a kind word, an extra lap around the track, are ways to note that good exists in our lives – a beautiful sunrise, fresh snow on the mountain, a good book, scriptures read, are reasons to celebrate. If we take the time to slow down, allow ourselves time to look around, allow our hearts and minds to take in the wonders of the every day – we can then have joy in our journey. Far too often we let these simple moments pass us by. Don’t! A quote, attributed to George Clooney, is this, “Stop creating moments. Live the moments.” In the day of instant and social media, are we putting down the camera/phone and sinking our teeth into the here and now, rather than freezing and posting, for tomorrow? And what is the cost of doing this?

Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we move from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching comes the changes. I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase, “Nothing is as constant as change.” But why buck the change? Accept it as part of your journey.
Throughout our lives we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome, others not so much. There are sudden changes – job, loss, illness. But most of our changes take place subtly and slowly. And so some days are just ho-hum days – but celebrate these days – they are a part of what makes our days treasured. Life will never be totally pain-free. But it can be a lot less painful if we accept what is.

Have you ever looked back – and seen that the bad things that happened in your life put you directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to you?” *I know I certainly have – from a lost business, to a lost marriage, to cancer. But I refuse to see this as lost time, lost years. 

I remember telling a friend, “I want to live cancer to the ultimate, I want to make sure that I learn everything there is to learn, while I’m in this state.” And my friend told me, “Ronda, you’ll be learning from this experience for years to come.” Well, nearly three years past treatment, I am still learning, and good continues to come from the journey, the trial. The journey still continues as I help those who are going through terrible difficult illnesses.

Too many of us spend our time worrying over past regrets or grievances, or dreaming or worrying about the future. We need to ask ourselves, “If I am living in the past or future, who is living my life right now?” Pres. Monson said, “Learn from the past, prepare for the future, live for today.”

Author Jack Kerouac said, “Be in love with your life, every minute of it.” Don’t be so busy existing that living is not an option. Pres. Thomas S. Monson, in his 2008 talk, “Joy in the Journey,” said, “I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey – now. Find happiness in the middle as well as the beginnings and endings.

One thing I’ve learned is this, I must stay patient and trust my journey.

I beg you to not spend your life looking forward, “what if’ing” life’s scenarios. I also ask that you not spend your time looking back, “if only’ing” your life. Author Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” This comes from not living in the moment, not enjoying the journey. Do we ever realize life while we are living it – moments that should be cherished?

We can certainly learn huge lessons from children. And I have learned from my husband, when I ask him, “What are you doing tomorrow,” and he replies, “It’s not tomorrow yet.”

Author Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote, “Both abundance and lack of abundance exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present – love, health, family, friends, work, nature, personal pursuits – the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”

Roman philosopher Horace, admonished, “Whatever hour God has blessed you with take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.”

Changes will come – the road will have bumps, quick turns, stop signs, become rocky, dirty, and icy. Yet, we can fill our days (most days, I’m not saying every day), with the things that matter the most.

Song of a People
We watch the past create the now –
And wish to plant before we plow –
We hear goodbye in each hello –
And wish to stay when we must go –
We try to catch the closing door –
And seek for peace in time of war –
As day makes night a fugitive –
The living dream.
The dreaming live. (Merle Good 1969)

It is interesting for me to look back on the various chapters of my life – and I wonder if I had trusted the journey, trusted myself, would I have the clarity, that I have now, to see the reason behind my trials and my triumphs, to see the pieces that needed to come together, so I could go where I needed to go. Author Max Lucado said, we should “stop on our life’s journey to look for the joy instead of dwelling on the negatives, joy that is possible because we are loved by God.” The more we look for joy, the more joy we will find. We will quit existing, wishing time away, and live.

My sincere hope is that we may adapt to the changes in our lives, that we may realize what is important, that we may express our gratitude always, and in doing so, find joy in the journey. Live my friends, dream and live.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Joy in the Journey part 1 -

I was asked to speak at Jenna's Relief Society a couple of weeks ago. Below is part 1 of my talk: 

Joy in the Journey, or Celebrating the In-between Times

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” Henri-Frederic Amiel (182101881) Philosopher, Poet, Critic

I’ve always been a person who embraced the idea that life is a journey. But I’m also a Type A personality, reared by Type A parents, with the belief that if you have time to sit, you have time to work. So, it’s not the journey, but it’s the getting to Pont B that’s important. Hurry to get this finished, so I can move on to the next project. Make something, clean up, put away, move on.

So smelling the roses was really foreign to me. Until – until I was a young mother, and I read this saying, “Sometimes we’re so busy existing that we forget to live.” And I decided this would be my motto. Life is worth living, not just getting through.
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said, “Be cheerful in all that you do. Live joyfully. Live happily. Live enthusiastically, knowing that God does not dwell in gloom and melancholy, but in light and love.

And I did this just fine, for a while, until I got caught up in the haves and have-nots, and pretty soon I was back working from point A to point B, not enjoying the moment, not enjoying the journey, but pushing through the middle on to the end. How many of us spend time worrying rather than moving forward? “Am I prepared,” “Do I have the right tools,” “What if it rains?”

One day, while living in Alabama, a man asked me, “What is your five year plan?” That was twenty-four years ago, and I remember where I was, what I was doing, and I thought, “I’m here, right where I want to be. I want to enjoy every minute, why would I want more? No more. No more five year plans. I’ve spent my life working toward goals, mission statements, plans, and I’m missing out.”

I think of leaving Alabama, when I didn’t want to leave, when I’d created a life that I loved, and I didn’t want to return to Utah, and I thought my world had collapsed, and I went back to counting the number of days until . . . Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” This is how I felt when leaving a place I loved and moving to the place I’d always wanted to leave! As I’ve mulled these feelings around –throughout the years, and thought on Thoreau’s statement, I can’t help but think of the Atonement, and how we don’t have to live miserable troubled lives. If we do, then we are not allowing the Atonement into our lives. Life is to be happy, to have joy, not to limit ourselves. In John 16:33, we learn, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

Have you ever, or your children, said, “I cannot wait until . . .” “How much longer?” “How much further?” “How many more days until . . .?” Of course! But how about we look at the journey as being just as important as the destination? Margaret Lee Runbeck said, “Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” Between birth and death, triumph and sorrow, beginnings and endings, we enjoy innumerable experiences that often happen – without our notice.

On Monday Scott and I met with our banker, single, female, cute, smart. And she was talking about how she couldn’t wait until she was married and could have a family. But, “maybe I should travel a little ‘while I can.’” And then as we talked about traveling she said, “I just need to travel and ‘get it over with.” And I replied, “Maybe you need to start, rather than get over.”

In our goal driven, 12-step focused, promotion preparing, dollar strengthened, daylight extended, with the end in mind society, it’s tough to focus on the journey. Yet, the middle, the middle part is the most important – living in the moment, having joy in the journey.

What are you doing today that brings you joy? 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Professing My Beliefs - Hallelujah!

Happy Good Friday - the day many Christians celebrate; for good reason. In Mormon belief, Jesus Christ took on the sins of the world (mine) when he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and contemplate his place and role in this world, and his crucifixion sealed this. While he wrestled with his role as son of God and Redeemer of the world, his disciples slept. It is said that Christ bled from every pore while in the Garden, because the burdens he took on were so heavy.

And finally, he said, "May your will be done," to his father. Resignation? Supplication? Understanding? Regardless, it was at this time that he took on my burdens. And I'm not talking strictly sins, but aches, fears, sorrows, loss, and my physical pains that go deeper than my bones. Through his suffering in the Garden and on the cross, in Mormon belief, he "atoned" (atonement) for my sins. Christ took on the sins of the world, so that we/I wouldn't have to carry this alone into the dark abyss of everlasting sin and sorrow.

And then Christ was hung on a cross and killed, murdered by unbelievers. Was Christ who he professed to be? Could he do what he professed he could do? I don't know what the unbelievers, or those who think differently, were feeling, but today's world is filled with people who believe differently, and that is good, not something to be murdered or tormented for.

Life is good, and life is bad. And I want to share the good and hide the bad, carry it around by myself, not burdening anyone else. But isn't that what family, friends, intimate relationships are for? Sharing? The good and the bad? And if Christ is my friend, then in this temporal world where morals and beliefs are questioned and judged, if I choose to share with him, that is my choice. And today I celebrate that life is fluid, I make mistakes, feel pain, lay that down. I am repentant, remorseful, and relieved as I move forward, not carrying a cat-of-nine-tails flogging myself because of my past. If my beliefs are different than yours, and you can't, don't want, don't see the need to understand mine, I'm so good with that. But let's celebrate the beauty of not having to carry our burdens alone. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Practicing Mindfulness -

This year, 2016, has been crazy. And yeah, duh, that's my life. And yes ma'am, I am finally learning how to handle my world without letting it handle me. One of the tools I've been implementing this year is Mindfulness, that is, staying in the moment, dealing with what I can see and what I know, not letting my mind take me too far out in the future, and staying happy. And this is working.

Take Easter, for example. Easter is this Sunday, and for the entire month I've known that we will have company for Easter dinner. That means several adults and children, in my tiny house. This could be enough to make me go crazy and worry about the logistics. But honestly, there's not much I can do, so why worry? I need to firm up a dinner plan, games or some Easter treat, but again, until the Friday before Easter (this Friday), I have no time to put into assembling these aspects of Easter. So, why worry?

I have a simple menu in mind, I have a couple of games and crafts, I have a layout plan for tables, but I've chosen to let those plans now rest until I can give my focused attention to the event itself. When I start to think about Easter, I step back, place this time on Friday in my mind's calendar, and continue on with what is at hand - or the day as it unfolds.

I'm a firm believer in "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear," but I also believe that worrying, as a part of preparation, brings more fear to the event itself, fear and anxiety and stress. None of which I need. And this has been my year to this point. Working 20 hours at UVRMC, teaching 3 classes at UVU, all I can do is what I can do, and there is absolutely no time for worrying.

I'm also a firm believer in AA's Step 3; Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. To me this means totally letting go of the worries of tomorrow, so that I can focus on today's events, or that which I do have some control over. And what I have control over is simply my attitude and my actions - and if they are in synch, then I can move forward, being honest with myself and placing my trust in tomorrow - when it arrives. 

I hope I'm making sense. The idea is simply this - don't worry or stress about what cannot be done in the here and now. Make a plan, step away from it, with comfort in knowing the plan is in place, and deal with the here and now, today. Most importantly, know that the only control we have for tomorrow is today. This gives me great perspective. 

It's working for me, and I am in such a better place because of this. Try it - trying bringing your mind from anxiety and stressors, typically the past or the future, and live in today, the moment. Lots of tips in doing this; my most favorite being taking three deep breaths, in, out, and returning my mind and body to the present. I try to do this at least three times a day, whether I'm feeling anxious or stressed, or whether I'm feeling like I just need a deep cleansing breath. 

Amen - 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 21 - Project Accomplished!

Day 21 -
So today is the last day of the Happiness Project, and I am very pleased with what I did and what I learned. Interestingly, the biggest lesson has been that of putting myself "out there," not being afraid to reach out to strangers, a huge exercise for this introvert.

Gratitude -
Great day at work; great faculty meeting at UVU; good dinner with Scott and friend, Trent.

Journal -
My life, although so very very busy, is filled with wonderful things. I am incredibly blessed. And looking for my blessings, instead of my own faults, has brought me an immense amount of peace. It's almost as if in seeing the good in others I can find the good in myself. And I am my harshest critic. And backing off on me has been very beneficial. I hope to continue this course.

Exercise -
Being sick has curtailed this, but I'm not worried, and I did tighten up on my eating, since I haven't been exercising, that and needing to remove processed foods from my diet.

Meditate -
This has been the hardest for me. Finding time/making time, to be still, is going to be my trial. I will continue to make this a goal. I don't have difficulty practicing mindfulness, but taking it to the deeper step of meditation has been tough.

Random Act -
Gave hugs to a woman who has cancer, is sick, and couldn't have her chemo treatment today. Gave a teddy bear to a little Spanish-speaking girl in the waiting room, who was running her daddy wild. The bear gave the little girl besos, and the little one thought this was a fun game.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Day 19, 20 - And When Breath Becomes Air -

Day 19

Gratitude - 
Planted seeds today! Breath - my chest has been so tight and congested, and I am grateful my lungs have not been so. I can breathe, without pain. Snot - not really, but boy oh boy, I'm blowing and coughing snot like crazy! 

Journal - 
In my next life I'll be married to Scott, we'll have a two-story farmhouse with high ceilings, a picture holding 12" down from which to hang lovely pieces of art, a huge tub overlooking our 5 acres. And Scott will have land to farm, crops to grow, animals to care for, and dirt to turn. He will be happy in this garden of Eden. Why? Scott should have been a gentleman farmer - he is his happiest when he's outside working in our yard. And watching him work on our little slice of heaven is heavenly. I love this man. 

Exercise - 
Still - coughing and blowing. Although we did walk around the mall! 

Meditate - 
Today while planting the garden I spent time thanking my Higher Power for good soil, for the ability to grow our own vegetables, for a tiny plot of land that creates beauty and abundance, and all we have to do is nurture the gift we have. Joy in being present in the yard, tilling and planting, in preparation of sowing. 

Random Act - 
Watching a movie Scott wants to watch tonight - and not whining. That's an act of kindness! 

Day 20 - 

Gratitude - 
Why does my heart with gladness sing? Only because it's spring!!!

Journal - 
I've finished reading the short book, When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalinithi. A must read for anyone thinking about life's journey and the unexpected routes it can take us, just when we think we're in control. Again and again he reaffirms my cancer journey, and he jolts me into awareness as I care for my clients. So many poignant passages - including, "Had I been more religious in my youth, I might have become a pastor, for it was the pastoral role I'd sought." (88) Quoting Samuel Beckett, "I can't go on. I'll go on." (149) It's good, short, thought-provoking, and poignant. Read - 

Exercise - 
Walked around the block this afternoon. That's a big deal after being down for a week. 

Meditate - 
Sat on the willow chair on the front porch, people watched, soaked in some sun, and thought - particularly about spring!

Random Act - 
I typically prep and cook the week's meals on Sunday. Today was no difference. Why Random Act? Well, I also cook at least 2 meals for my folks while fixing our meals. And lately our guest, Trent, has been eating with us as well. Neither are part of the "contract," but just what we do. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Days 17 & 18 - Recovery -

Days 17 & 18

Gratitude - 
Health; Clients who make me want to come to work; Colleagues who make me want to come to work; Did I mention Wall-greens cough syrup? Julie - great visit with her this evening - always a joy; Ava - little squirt had an asthma attack (didn't know she had asthma), hospitalized for breathing treatments, home the next day. 

Journal - 

Had some time to think this week. Seems like my sick time is also my reflection time. Am I where I want to be? What do I need to be learning right now? What do I have going on that is too much? How can I simplify? And that's my bottom-line question, always. Not, how do I complicate things, but how do I simplify my life. I look at what's on my plate, and more often than not, I find things on my plate that really are not necessary - not even wanted. Being down has always helped me know what being up looks like, and I have the ability to change that picture. And that's a great blessing. 

Exercise - 

Coughing and blowing. I figure that's about a week's worth of core exercises! 

Meditate - 

Spent time in the Mindfulness mode. A great place to be when the future looms heavily - as in "Yikes, Easter's next week?! Crap, dinner here, Easter goodies for grand-kids, and a week filled to the brim with commitments. . . . Today I need to visit a patient . . . "

Random Act - 

Betty made soup, I returned a clean container filled with flax seed (I hope she likes using flax!). Visited with a woman who wanted to get on the elevator, but has anxiety. Calmed her down, got on the elevator with her, visited down to the lobby. And - I've seen this woman before and had some pre-conceived notions about her. Without telling her this, and I was happily proven wrong, all under the guise of helping her.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Days 14, 15, 16 - Bronchitis -

I have had one terrible cold since Saturday evening. I showered on Sunday morning, finally did so again last night. I changed the sheets on the bed yesterday afternoon, thinking I had enough energy and that doing something would help me feel better - wrong. 

I have coughed from my toenails up, although this doesn't seem to be lung associated, rather bronchial. I'm drinking cough syrup like it's Diet Pepsi, and I've coughed and sneezed through a box of tissue and a roll of toilet paper since Sunday. 


My Happiness tracking is off. However, even in this yuck I've had plenty to be thankful for: 

Understanding co-workers, full well knowing my being at work is not healthy, in any way. 
Scott - oh he's been good, patient, kind. 
Home - I have no needs, except to get well. It's been nice to concentrate on not concentrating. I've been able to focus on healing, and that has taken all of my energy. 
Life is good - and tomorrow I'll go back to work - glad I'm missing it! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 12 and 13 -

Day 12 - 

Gratitude - 

Liam - what a sweet little boy. Spending the day with him yesterday was a treat. Arctic Circle - our go-to place to dine with grandchildren; they think it's such a treat to eat here. Evening - again a treat to end the day with a tired grateful heart. 

Journal - 

Adult children = grandchildren, at least in my case. I thoroughly enjoy watching them build their lives. Tyler and Jenna are different in each other in so many ways, but when they're together, they are my children, and I get to have just a short glimpse into the past when they were children living at home. Beauty. 

Exercise - 

Chasing with grandchildren while nursing a cold. 

Meditate - 

Not a moment yesterday. 
Random Act - 

Scott and I (well, I did, then I told Scott) volunteered to help with Tyler and Meili's 5 on Saturday. A 7:30am gymnastics meet north of SLC and a noon gymnastics meet in Springville, meant for lots of logistic issues. We had Liam; child #4, we don't get much of him alone. He is a cutie - lighter skin, the most amazing hazel eyes, a tender personality with a touch of his father's wit. He's a gentle soul, calm, wanders, but is also fine stuck next to Scott or me. Fun day, and a great way to serve. 

Day 13 - 

Gratitude - 
Cough syrup and tissue and a recliner. 

Journal - 

I went to bed last night with a crazy cough (well, I've had it for a few days, but it is much worse) and congestion. By midnight I was wired from taking cough syrup with a decongestant and hacking a lung. So I semi-slept on one of our recliners in the office. Pre-cancer I just took being sick in stride. Post-cancer, I get a little scared - will I ever get better, will I recover and be healthy, what if I don't, are just a few of my thoughts. And I don't like being down - I think I've had enough sickness to last a lifetime, so why would a little sinus/lung crap get me down? But it does, and I worry. 

Exercise - 

Kegals and stomach! All day yesterday, all day today! 

Meditate - 

Yeah, as a matter of fact. In the wee morning hours, when coughing wakes me, I lay and think, and try not to think, and I meditate on the here and now, and try not to wander.
Random Act - 

I have tried really hard today to not whine and not request. Kind of an odd random act - but being sick puts me in a needy whiny mode, and I've tried not to go there today. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Day 10 - 11 and Movies -

Day 11 - 
Gratitude - 
Starting a morning by working out with Cody is always a treat. She kicks my butt, and I enter exhausted and exit exhausted, but I keep coming back for me. I organized my photos on the computer. Grateful for a free hour to do so. Grateful for fresh and tasty avocados this week. I've eaten them for lunch three times - and they were all yummy. 

Journal - 
Scott loves movies. He's a visual learner as much as he is a reader. Our first and second dates were to movies: "Cheaper by the Dozen," and "Cold Mountain." I've probably seen more movies with Scott than I had in all my years prior to him. My kids still think it's kinda funny when I tell them we're watching/going to a movie; because it is so not who I was/am. But, for this man, I'll set aside my bias (I'd rather be reading), and sit next to him with a bowl of popcorn. Tonight we saw "Eddie the Eagle." Pretty cute. I remember him from the 1988 Olympics. Scott, however, didn't, but then his life in 1988 was dramatically different than his life now. For once, once, I knew something about athletics that he didn't! Cute movie. 

Exercise - 
50 minutes with Cody. 

Meditate - 
Time in the shower this afternoon was my meditation time. I love standing with the hot water raining onto my neck, shoulders, back. Soothing, comforting, cleansing. I typically leave the shower more relaxed than when I enter. Showers are great times to practice mindfulness - to let my worries down the drain and invite fresh thoughts to enter my day. 

Random Act - 
I gave a panhandler on the corner a dollar. I'm not a fan of doing this, but Scott is, and so we do. He says it's what Jesus would want us to do. I suggested handing them cans of tuna, but Scott said they wouldn't have any way of opening them. I'm not sure about that. I suggested handing out can openers; Scott didn't take too kindly to that. 

Day 10

Gratitude - 
Very grateful for the opportunity to talk at Jenna's Relief Society evening. I spoke, Jenna sang - perfect voice; I miss having her sound around. Mom came. So good to have the three generations at one table sharing this message (which I'll post tomorrow). 

Journal - 

I've spent quite a bit of time this week in my heart, really really trying to know what my higher power wants me to say and do - with clients, co-workers, and Jenna's ward. Interesting that when I let go of control, I gain control. If I live in the moment, being as prepared as I can without being stressed, good things happen. I'm learning that when I'm in this state I am better at whatever I'm doing! How can this be? I have no idea, but it's working, and I'm staying in this lane as long as possible (until ego jumps in and wants a ride). 

Exercise - 
My exercise today was meditation. 

Meditate - 

Plenty of time to think and reflect and relax when waiting for appointments to arrive. Good time to reflect on what's important. And then this afternoon, for about 15 minutes, I sat on the front porch, in the sun, and closed my eyes and felt the spring heat, heard the birds and kids coming home from school, smelled the end-of-season mustiness, and there is a bite of spring in the air. 

Random Act -

I spoke with patients that weren't appointments, spoke with a friend, and sent an email to a colleague. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 8 and 9 - Growing

Day 9 - 
Gratitude - Two of my clients canceled their appointments yesterday, which meant I got to leave earlier than usual. Went grocery shopping with Scott. And nails polished and a haircut! 

Journal - I got a really good haircut yesterday, which means my hair is short. I have a hard time finding someone who can cut short hair - well. I think when I walk into a salon with short hair, beauticians see me as someone they can experiment on, and they do. And I'm often lopsided, too short, too heavy, and this bothers me. The last beautician I had, 1.5 years, had a baby and isn't working. Before that, the girl moved. In between I've had bad cuts, and they are expensive! Hopefully this cut, this lady, who just had a baby, will stick around for bit! 

Exercise - 60 minutes with Cody, and a 10 minute walk. 

Meditate - I haven't quite figured out how to do this in my day. I have no alone time. 

Random Act - I'm more aware of moment to give compliments. And each day I do a little more. Being aware of this takes me out of myself, which is where I've been the past 3 years. Giving compliments is difficult for this introvert, but I'm doing it. 

Day 8 -
Gratitude - I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to acquire a higher education. It took me 13 years to go from no credits to a Masters Degree, and I would do it again, for sure. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to teach at UVU. I began teaching one year before I graduated with my Masters, and I've been teaching ever since (minus the year off for cancer). I am grateful for UVU. I learned how to write, listen, learn, think critically, and how to teach. I owe a lot to UVU. 

Journal - I taught the chaplain interns' class at 7:30 this morning. I am comfortable teaching - for an introvert, teaching is the perfect profession. It's all about the subject, not about me. Although, by the time I'm finished with a day of teaching, I am exhausted. I've been performing - I have to know the topic as well as know how to make it interesting, as well as watch how my students are receiving the material. It is a 3-ring circus, with me in all 3 rings. But then classes are over, I'm home, dumping my bags, and looking forward to doing it all over again in 2 days. Until April, and then I really need the summer off! 

Exercise - Too early to walk this morning, and too late to walk tonight. Does it count that I walked to the cafeteria, had a decent cooked healthy meal, and then walked back to class? 

Meditate - Today I spent my meditation time teaching others how to deep breath and release. I was able to use this myself. So very beneficial.  

Random Act - Laughing with colleagues today was my random act. Spontaneous belly laughs, the best kind. At no one's expense. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Day 6 and 7 - Mindfulness, Creating, Sharing -

Day 7 -
Gratitude - I love my chaplaining job. I am using the very best of me and my journey every single day. I'm constantly reminded, and I'm very very good with that. So yeah, I'm grateful for my adventures. And I'm grateful that I'm patient, because I need patience. 

Journal - I know I'm supposed to be working at the hospital. I'm grateful for the opportunity that I have to be working 20 hours a week. I'm grateful for those who also know this is my mission. And for the most part 20 hours is good, but I'm tired of working a second job, and occasionally a third job to make ends meet. It would be nice to no longer have that worry. And I have faith that more hours and benefits will come, but as I mentioned above, I need to be patient. Yikes - but for how much longer? 

Exercise - 45 minutes walking. 

Meditate - This is going to sound odd, but today Scott and I had to go to the bank. And as we were waiting for the personal banker to get us info, I kinda zoned out. Scott was on his phone, relaxed, and I waited, totally relaxed. Mindfulness. Living in the moment, happily. In fact, the banker noticed, and wanted to know what our secret was, how long we'd been together, because, "You just look so happy and comfortable there." And I was, and we were. 

Random Act - Today I said "thank you," over and over. It felt good to be living in the gratitude. That and I made Stephanie and Kelleen, colleagues at work, felt succulents, because they killed theirs. Fun. 

Day 6 -

Gratitude - First of all; big feat - I went to all 3 hours of church today, for which Scott was grateful! That counts. Grateful for bread that I made that turned out yummy (I'm not much of a bread maker, so this is always a nice surprise). Grateful for an afternoon of rest. 

Journal - I've been thinking about my folks today. Dad is sick, and Mom is tired. Even though they're my next-door-neighbors, I seldom see them during the week, with work and work and work. I pray for them, Scott peaks in on them, and I know they know they can all when they need us. This afternoon I made dinner, and Scott and I took it over and ate with Mom, while Dad stayed in his easy chair. They're aging, and although the realist in me knows this, I am reminded that Scott and I are likewise aging. But - Dad and Mom have lived good rich lives; they have a cozy home that people gravitate to, they have amazing children, grandchildren, greats - who adore their parents/grands, and who could really ask for more? They are not alone, they are not cold, hungry, destitute, forgotten. What a blessing. 

Exercise - Didn't.

Meditate - did today during our worship service. 

Random Act - I received a call last night asking if I would play the piano for Primary today - 2 hours of it. And I said "yes," which is now getting as rare as my saying "no," used to be. I enjoyed it; it's nice to be occasionally reminded that those 7+ years of piano lessons paid off. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Happiness Project 3, 4, 5 -

Day 5: 
Gratitude - Sisters and Jenna and Mom. Great day crafting, again. Thai food - the Walker sisters love spices, and Evergreen Thai is a good place for a good meal and conversation. Scott - he took the family room apart yesterday for my Folklore class movie night (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), and put it back together tonight after our 2nd movie night (Gran Torino).

Journal - I'm tired! Weekends should be for not getting dressed (or at least no makeup) and for playing outside, reading inside, and full-on relaxing. I get irritated at Sunday church meetings, especially when my Fridays and Saturdays are swamped. Monday comes too soon, and I'm not ready for the week to begin, again. Tomorrow, come noon-fifteen, clothes will be off, and I may be back in bed.

Exercise - Didn't.

Meditate - as soon as this is written and I'm ready for bed, I'll meditate. I promise.

Random Act - Dropping my rest time for sister time. Not so random? I'm still an introvert, and spending time at a chaotic house with a table full of colors and fibers intimidates me and wears me out. The fact that I was tempted to leave numerous times, and didn't, is my random act of kindness.

Day 4:
Gratitude - My awesome Palliative Care Team. We enjoy being together! What a treat to work with a group of people who like each other! Crafting (not art, just crafts) with Jenna, Maria, and Vicki. We rarely get together, so this was a treat. Scott - he pruned Jenna's trees, came home, set up the basement for movie night, and then cleaned up as well. Aww, he's a gem.

Journal - Politics. We don't look good when we knock others down. I just don't get how politicians can be so evil, self-centered, egotistical, more worried about making their words heard rather than listening. Honestly, that is so foreign to me. Gawd -

Exercise - 45 minutes doing full-body workout with Cody this morning. Whew!

Meditate - I need to remember that in the furry of my life there IS TIME to meditate!

Random Act - as I was walking out of the hospital this morning, I saw a young (college age) volunteer, in the waiting room, on the floor, playing and coloring with a child. I was so pleased with her ability to do that - kindness in action. I walked past her, then turned around, walked over to her and thanked her for what she was doing. Yeah - politicians, take note.

Day 3:
Gratitude - My sister Vicki, who is here from Montana for a few days. I love her dearly. Jenna, my daughter/friend, who just makes me darn happy. My Folklore students - they love to learn and have been so teachable this semester (and who are coming to my house on Friday and Saturday evenings for movie nights).

Journal - Grateful for friends. Grateful for persistence. Grateful for love, hope, faith, surrender, peace. Grateful for lessons learned through other's experiences so I don't have to experience. Grateful for second chances.

Exercise - Walking with Holly today at the mall. Warm, great conversation.

Meditate - I had a few minutes to pause at work today. That's it, but it will have to do.

Random Act - Thank you note to Cami for a job well-done.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Nicole Harris -

Nicole Harris' body was found yesterday (Wednesday), not too far from home, after having been missing since Oct. 26, 2015.

One of my bestest friends, Cody, was a great friend to Nikki over the past 20+ years. Cody was responsible for assembling a search team within moments of Nikki being reported as missing. Cody was diligent - the kind of friend every woman needs. Cody put her needs aside for 4 months, and relentlessly assembled, hiked, scoured, hunted, reported,coordinated, and beautifully represented Nikki as family and friends went searching and gathering in hopes of finding Nikki safe and sound - somewhere.

Tonight I ache for Cody. She invested so much time hoping and believing that Nikki was safe; she was optimistic and realistic. We talked about updates on Wednesday, 2 days ago. And Cody expressed frustration at the lack of buy-in several folks had in finding Nikki. And then just a few hours later Cody received the call that Nikki's dental records matched those of the body found.

Cody - a "got your back" kind of friend everyone needs. In fact, Cody helped me through and beyond my cancer journey, sticking by my side, regardless.

Nikki - Cody loves you, aches for your hurt, aches for your family. Be safe Nikki, and please comfort Cody - let her know that her efforts were not in vain.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Day 2 - Happiness Is -

Gratitude - Lunch at India Palace with a friend; Coke at Utah Valley Hospital with a friend; Bulletin Board created and in place at church.

Journal - I am constantly amazed at how my prayers are answered. I'm mostly amazed that I am important enough to have prayers answered. Just when I "need," He delivers. And it all boils down to being willing to turn my will over to my Higher Power (AA 3rd Step +). I've made things so hard for so many years, that in May, when I kinda had a little surrender (aka breakdown) moment, I realized it was time to turn my will over. And as I reflected on this while talking with my Coke friend today, I realized just how free I have been these past 9 months. I'm not carrying - turning my will over means taking off the backpack filled with expectations, putting it down, and continuing on my walk, knowing I still have what I need, and if I don't, it will be provided. Remind me to share my Enoch story some day.

Exercise - 60 minutes with our lovely lovely kick-ass trainer, Cody. Then a 20 minute walk.

Meditate - Drove the car with the radio off, spending that time breathing, enjoying the sun, and staying in the moment.

Random Act of Kindness - since Christmas I have created a monthly bulletin for my church. Simple, not terribly artistic, but it is my platform for expressing Christian ideals that are important to me. (Not an email, but relatively random - few people in the congregation know I'm behind this).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Day 1 -

I"m not going to write about this challenge every day - but I did begin the Happiness challenge.

Gratitude - patients who trust me; a husband who drives me to and from work and school so I don't have to fight for parking; nice fingernails with polish that lasts for more than a week.

Journal - Today I had 3 clients I counseled. The first appointment was a husband and wife. He has cancer. They have marital issues, and did prior to cancer. How do they develop a relationship where she isn't the caregiver and he isn't the patient, but where the dynamics are so changed that they can't "go back"? That is a dilemma that any married couple with chronic illness faces. What is the new now? Starting over is extraordinarily difficult, and yet, it is so vital to moving forward, having a healthy marriage even when one of the partners isn't optimally healthy. The second appointment was very similar to the earlier one. Although this time it was the man, without his wife, who doesn't "get it," and doesn't "care," and all the negative about her and their marriage, wanting sympathy, wanting attention, but not really looking at himself as a contributor.

Exercise - Walked for 40 minutes today, with Scott. Legs are sore from yesterday's workout.

Meditate - Tough to find time today, running from one job to the next, but I did step into the Wellness Center at UVU and spend 30 minutes in a massage chair. That means I spent 3 minutes breathing!

Random Act of Kindness - had a conversation with a student, outside of class. It was awesome. I also ran into 2 former students, carried on short conversations with both, even though I would have preferred to eat my apple in silence.

8:36pm. Over and Out -