Life’s a Journey, Not a Destination

Life’s a Journey, Not a Destination

My life can best be described as me rushing to get to a finish line that doesn’t exist. You know what I mean? You have a goal in mind, whatever it might be, and you think to yourself, once I reach that goal….then…..then I’ll be finished. Then my life will make sense. Then I will be happy. Right? Is that just me or does anyone else do that? So what always happens is I get to that goal and then I think YES! I’ve made it! I finally arrived! I can relax cause I’m done right? WRONG! Because life is a journey and it’s ever changing and there is no destination. The only destination that exists is the fake one you created in your head. So what I have been trying to do this year is enjoy the journey. Which is hard for me, because there is a deadline right? I have to get some where after all! It must be working with attorney’s for 19 years and working under deadlines that has probably hardwired that thought into my brain. Although, that work never ends either. There is always another case, another file, another client to work with right? It’s never ending. Kind of like life. It’s never ending. Well, until it finally ends and we die, but then that isn’t the end either is it?

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What this awesome year of 2017 has taught me is that life is so much more than just going to work, earning money, and paying bills. It’s about enjoying the journey we are all on. It’s about making time for your family and making new friends and throwing conventions out the window and just enjoying what’s in front of you. The reality is this life sucks sometimes, and it isn’t fair most of the time. We get let down, we get hurt, we get frustrated and angry at our situations but those situations are temporary.  This life is temporary and beyond this life is so much more that we can’t even really comprehend at the moment. This life is about learning to love ourselves. Learning to love each other. Learning that even if we get knocked down we can get up again and move on. That we don’t have to carry all of that weight with us. There are so many things that I can look at in my own life and just think….this isn’t fair. Why did I have to go through that or why did someone I love have to go through that? Why did my brother have to be in such pain that he took his own life? Why did his daughter, my niece, get ripped from our family by her mother? Why did those things happen? They are truly heartbreaking things. But you know what I’ve learned is that there is a plan, and we don’t know the entire plan. We don’t know what God knows. Will I ever see my brother’s daughter again in this life? I don’t know. But…..after this life we are promised that if we endure to the end and keep the Lord’s covenants that it will all work out after this life! What?! Seriously!  I mean, yeah, it sucks right now….and we wish to be with loved ones now but this life is very temporary and very short in the grand scheme of things.

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Basically, everyone has different trials they are faced with in this life and no two people have the exact same trial and even if it is similar, no two people have the same reaction or solution to that trial. Sometimes the answer is to just be patient. Sometimes the answer is that a particular blessing isn’t meant for you in this lifetime. Sometimes the trial is accepting the fact that you didn’t get what you wanted when you wanted it. But it doesn’t mean you go without forever. I’ve spent a lot of years feeling sorry for myself for one reason or another because no matter how hard I tried, things just didn’t connect like I wanted them to. The problem was that it was what I wanted, and I didn’t stop to think that maybe it wasn’t what God wanted at the time. Maybe, I just needed to be humbled enough to where I could actually see the Journey and not focus on the destination. I needed to take a certain path that really was quite hard to take before I could see the beauty in the journey.  When I was shown that path, when I was humbled enough to look outside myself, in the blink of an eye, I saw the light. I saw the journey, I saw the miracles and the blessings. We spend so much time worrying about what we don’t have, we don’t stop to look at what we do have.

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If we look to God in all things, and rely on His wisdom and spirit to guide us, we will find that while the journey might be long, and hard and unfair sometimes, He promises that He will make it worth it if we endure to the end. There are so many things that distract us from the journey. When we are worrying about those things we are thinking about the destination and not thinking about living the journey. However, focusing on the journey of life, on the gospel, and enduring to the end, will bring you everlasting peace and happiness for eternity! Eternity, so I hear, is a very long time….much longer than this temporary state we are in. So, Are we there yet?

2017, The Year of Me, Just Let it Be

2017, The Year of Me, Just Let it Be

I started this blog at the beginning of the year. I wasn’t sure why I was starting it. I was searching for something, just something to get myself out of the funk that I was in, I guess. The previous year had been a difficult year and I was just mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained.  I was a shell of my former self.  So I started this blog, I think, hoping it would just create some sort of outlet for me to express myself, or hoping it would somehow fill that void. I was empty inside in every sense of the word. There just wasn’t anything left.  I know I haven’t written anything in about 6 weeks or so. I had tried to start writing something a couple of times but couldn’t finish them. I was trying to figure out why writing was so easy before and now it was just not there. I think the answer is that these last 4 months have been AMAZING! So much has happened and it’s happened so fast and there was almost too much to write about and of course some of it was just way to personal to blog about.

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As you may recall, if you’ve read the previous blogs, that I’ve taken a spiritual journey over the last 4 months. It’s been quite a ride. It started with a song and there is no end. The song was the catalyst that got the ball rolling and once the ball was rolling there was no stopping it. It just kept gaining momentum.  It’s hit a few bumps here and there, maybe got stuck in a couple of narrow passage ways, but it always broke free and kept rolling.

This year will go down in the history of my life as one of the best years ever. For one, a new President took office in January, one that this country really needed. A President who didn’t just talk the talk but walked the walk. He had a plan and started executing it on day 1. Hallelujah! Then of course there was the song that I performed with my dear friend Griffin, who is a genius with music, by the way. I started going back to my ward at church regularly, met with the Bishop, and now I have a calling in Primary. I seriously didn’t expect all of this when I agreed to sing the song. I had no idea that it would transform my life, like it did. I started reading the Book of Mormon daily and trying to pray daily (which is a bit of a challenge for me). Just doing these little things has made all the difference in my life. Fear has been replaced by Faith. While sometimes I do still worry and let fear take over, I find that I’m able to brush it aside much more quickly than I used to be able to. I don’t dwell on it too long anymore. That is the difference of faith over fear. You learn to just say that it will all work out somehow. If I do the things I know I’m supposed to and if I have done everything in my power to fix whatever the situation is, then at that point I’ve done all I can do and I can just let it go. Let it be so to speak.

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What I’ve learned is that the Lord never leaves me. Sometimes he doesn’t give you the answer you want or the answer you expected to get but he is always there and he always answers. Even if the answer is just no, and sometimes the answer is “let it be”.  I’ve learned that the power of the priesthood is absolutely a real thing. I’ve had more than one experience with the blessings received by the power of the priesthood. Who knew right?! I didn’t know, because the priesthood had pretty much always been absent from my home both as a child and as a grown up. So I didn’t really understand its true power until just this year. I’m so grateful for worthy priesthood holders who are willing to share their priesthood blessings with me when needed. It’s just been miraculous to see and to witness and to experience.

I realize that there is so much more to this gospel of Jesus Christ that I never really realized before. I’ve been a member my entire life and there are things that I didn’t understand until just this year. It’s like a light bulb came on and there it was. I have a testimony of the power of a Ward family who fellowships one another and who looks out for one another and who never turn down an opportunity to serve. Service is a huge thing that I think I was missing. I still don’t feel I have the opportunity to serve much yet, but I’m hoping to be able to serve more as time goes on. Accepting the primary calling is a start.

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I’ve learned that the Lord sometimes puts us in other people’s lives for a reason so that we can help that other person with something they are struggling with. It’s very divine and very orchestrated and once you stop and look back at it, there are no coincidences. Someone may be put in your life to help you or teach you something and you may be put in someone else’s life to do the same thing. It’s actually pretty inspiring to think about how God’s hand is in everything. I can definitely see how my life has been blessed this year. That’s not to say I haven’t had some very dark times or feelings this year, I have, but because people were put in my life this year to help me navigate that and to help me to not give up, I came through those brief dark times and gained strength and gained a testimony of the truth of the Gospel. I also gained a testimony of the power of the priesthood, the blessings of serving others, and probably most importantly that I am a divine daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and who never gives up on me and who wants me to be happy and healthy and return to him one day. I gained a testimony of the power of the temple and the blessings afforded by the temple. I currently don’t have a valid recommend now, but I’m hoping to have one, hopefully this year. But regardless it will be in His timing, not mine.

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This year has been a year of self discovery for me. I’ve discovered things about myself that I didn’t even know. I always thought I knew myself pretty well, but there were things that were pushed down so deep that I didn’t even know they were there. So this year has also been me purging all of that. Just letting it go and getting rid of it. All the negativity, all the junk, all of the self-deprecating thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, just purged. Does that mean I’ll never feel those things again? Probably not, it just won’t hurt as much, if at all. I’ll still remember them, cause unfortunately the atonement doesn’t erase minds or memories, but I don’t have to feel bad about them anymore, it’s like remembering someone’s memories that aren’t your own. You sort of see it from an outside perspective after that. You know it was your memory but you don’t feel the pain that goes with the memory, it’s just that, a memory. Almost like it wasn’t you, and that is very powerful. Because it frees you, you don’t feel the weight of it anymore.  In fact, you didn’t even realize how heavy it was until you let it go.

I can’t change my past. But I don’t have to live in my past anymore. Because this year is all about me! And when the Spirit tells you to let it be…..trust me, just let it be……

Finding Strength in Unholy Places

Finding Strength in Unholy Places

I started this blog around 5 weeks ago. As stated in my first blog, I wasn’t sure why I started it. I am still not sure. I think it was a need to get my thoughts out instead of holding them in to fester. For some reason, typing them out was easier than just talking to someone in person. I think because if I suddenly spewed all of these thoughts out on a person they’d be overwhelmed or at the very least, avoid talking to me again. I’ve probably over shared in some of my posts, inadvertently. You see, my posts are very much just an idea that my stream of consciousness runs away with.  I’ve learned recently that I should at the very least, not publish all of my thoughts. Live and learn right?

So back to my current thought, finding strength in unholy places, I’m sure that title seems strange. It is, in the sense that unholy is subjective, but the strength is real. So what do I mean by that? Well, I mean that my life is very much unorthodox when it comes to most LDS, married women’s lives. I’m sure I’m not the only one with my circumstances, but I’m the only one I know of.  I haven’t always found strength, in fact until recently I would just buckle. I suppose that was easier, or at least I thought it was. Quite frankly, it only seemed easier at the time.

 

As I sit in my living room, the night before fast Sunday, fasting for the first time in years, my thoughts are on strength. I’m looking at the pictures on my walls, which is a Hodge-podge of pictures such as: a gorgeous picture of Christ with a child on his lap with the quote from Matthew 28:20 “For Lo, I am with you Always” inscribed on it, family photos, a picture of the Manti Temple and the Las Vegas Temple, posters from the suicide prevention website, “To Write Love on Her Arms”, my brother’s eulogy, the Proclamation to the Family, Football memorabilia, Motorcycle paraphernalia,and a large painting of a motorcycle club that my husband belongs to, among other things. I realize the things that are important to me. My family, first and foremost, Christ, my deceased brother’s memory,  music and the biker lifestyle. Pretty eclectic right? I have always felt comfortable (at least after I got older anyway)  in most situations. I am adaptable to most things. I can be comfortable sitting in church on Sunday by myself and also comfortable  hanging at the bar later on. I am comfortable listening to (and I love) rock and roll, #aerosmithisthegreatestrockbandever, country, punk, alternative, underground bands, etc. You name it, I am probably comfortable hearing it. I don’t flinch at curse words the way some people do. I am comfortable letting strangers sleep on my couch (well, strangers to me, my husband usually knows them or knows someone who knows them) but still strangers none the less. So when I say, strength in unholy places, I mean places where the spirit generally doesn’t dwell. My house for example. The spirit dwells there temporarily, but never permanently, by virtue of external factors that may come into my house.  I love the life I have. I think maybe a few months ago I might not have said that. The lifestyle catches up to you at some point. But, having reevaluated how I deal with the situations, I find that I do love my life. I love the bikes, and the noise, and the friends/family, the smell of cigarette smoke and whiskey. I love the loud music and the lyrics and the feeling. I love the company that stays at my house at a moments notice. I love riding on the back of my husband’s Harley in a pack of other Harley riders, heading down the road with the wind in my face and tunes blasting in my earphones.

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What I have found, is that I can stand alone in these places, in these situations, and I can still be me. That I don’t have to buckle under them to make things easier. I used to think I did. But now I know I don’t. So I find strength every time I go to a bar and I stand alone. I find strength every time I find the joy, the pleasure, and the fun in the situation that others may find cringe worthy. That yes, I can even laugh, dance, and make jokes, and that I don’t have to buckle. The strength comes from within me, regardless of the holiness or UN-holiness of the situation. What I lacked before was the faith in myself that I could stand alone. I always stated that I didn’t lose my faith in God. I really didn’t, it was faith in myself that I lost.

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I get that it isn’t a lifestyle for everyone, and not everyone could exist in it. But this is my life, this is where my journey took me and it’s chaotic at times, and it’s loud, and it’s atypical, but it’s perfect. Yet, I also find strength in the scriptures, in the church hymns, and the talks and lessons in church. I find strength at the temple, just walking around the temple grounds. I find strength in friendship and in music. I find a lot of strength in music I think. It grounds me, regardless of if it is rock and roll or if it is a beautiful piano solo of a well-known hymn. I think that everyone should find what brings them strength and figure out how that fits in your life regardless of how typical or atypical it is. I truly believe that the Lord understands each of us individually and understands that different things strengthen different people. I don’t feel like there is a one size fits all recipe to finding strength in the gospel. So whether you find it at church in a pew, or on the back of a motorcycle, or in playing music or singing music, or however your strength is revealed, remember that you can find strength in any situation because the strength is within you because the light of Christ is in all of us and we all have the ability to feel that strength. We just have to reach inside ourselves and find what triggers that strength in us. You can always stand in holy places, even if you stand alone and even if the external environment is unholy because the holiness and the strength lies within you.

The Calm

The Calm

People are probably getting a headache or a stomach ache reading my blog. It’s one big roller coaster ride isn’t it? Okay maybe that’s just how I feel about it. So last Monday I posted about the darkness I was in and by Friday I was telling the world to bring it on. I know, make up my mind right? Well, something happened yesterday that was just so profound, and so eloquent. It literally brought the roller coaster to a screeching halt. Where I was able to step off the roller coaster and stop the spinning, and the turning, and the up and down and swerving. It was just calm.

Yesterday was Sunday and I had been out really late with my husband and his friends. I think I got home at about a quarter to three in the morning. I got to sleep about 3:15 am and then got up at 8 am to get ready for church.  I was so tired. But I had resolved myself to make it to church anyway.  Now before I get to the awesome part of my church story, I have to say that I had abstained from drinking any alcohol the night before while out with our friends.  This was huge for me. Not because I am a big drinker anyway, I’m not and I really don’t drink much anyway, but the fact that I was out so late with a bunch of other people drinking and I didn’t drink anything was just a big win for me. It’s hard to explain, I guess you had to be there. Anyway, so fast forward to Sunday morning. I get up feeling like death cause I’m so tired (another great win that I wasn’t also hung over) and I drag myself to the shower and get ready.  I get to church just in time.

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The first speaker was a youth speaker and he spoke about depression, about this girl he had heard speak at a conference who talked about her depression and how serving others is how she coped with it.  It brought me to tears. If you personally know some one that you care about immensely that has a depression, you’ll understand. Just how he had described this girls life, how she lived every day in that state of depression was heart breaking to me because I do know people very close to me that have that issue. It touched my heart.  Of course, the first speaker and I’m already in tears.  The next two speakers were very good as well and I wish I had the presence of mind to write something down about their talks because I remember a couple of things hitting home to me as well. But regardless it was an uplifting and spiritually inviting meeting. After the first meeting was Sunday school. The lesson was on the Holy Ghost.

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Now, admittedly, I have a hard time with hearing the Holy Ghost and having personal revelation from it. I just do. For whatever reason,it’s hard for me to discern my thoughts from the spirit’s thoughts. So this lesson was great because it talked about how you feel the spirit, how you hear the spirit, what the spirit does. But also I shared in the class how those things are hard for me. After the lesson we went to relief society where we are reading the teachings of President Hinckley, love that man. Anyway it was about having an attitude of happiness. Which is so great because I think we all get bogged down in the world and forgetting that we are in control of our own destiny, our own happiness, etc.

After relief society, I went to go to my car to leave. I heard and felt a distinct thought that said “go back inside”. I stopped dead in my tracks because it was so clear. I stood there for a minute, and then I started walking to my car again. When I opened my car door, I heard it again, “go back inside”. I was like this is too bizarre. So I closed my car door and started walking back inside the church.  I didn’t know why I was going back inside but I thought, what the heck, it doesn’t hurt to walk back in. So I go inside, I start walking around the halls hoping something would jump out at me as to why I was there. Nothing did, so I went to the lobby and just sat down, thinking maybe it will come to me. So I sat there, and sat there, and sat there. People were leaving saying Hi’s and goodbye’s, but nothing was jumping out at me. Shortly after just sitting there a friend texted me and I told my friend that I was still at the church not knowing why. My friend suggested I pray. So I prayed and I got the thought that I was not supposed to go home yet. Okay, so again, I’m supposed to be in the church, and not go home yet. Alright, even I’m starting to think I’m nuts at this point. So a little before 1:00 another friend came out of the bishop’s office and it was the person who taught the lesson about the Holy Ghost. So she asked why I was still here, so I told her. We talked for a while about the prompting I’d gotten and a few other things. So I was like, okay, maybe that was it, maybe I was supposed to talk to her. So she left and then I got up and left and came home. No prompting to stay or not to go home at that point. When I got home, my husband was on a conference call but he stepped out and just said, I was worried about you, everything okay? I said, yes I just got hung up talking to a friend. He said okay, just wanted to make sure. But his demeanor was very soft, and very much different from what it had been the last week. He was very sweet.

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So what I gleaned from this situation is that the Holy Ghost was testing me in a way to see if I could hear him and if I would listen and also, I think by just following that simple instruction of go back inside and don’t go home yet, it was allowing me to see another side of my Husband, or Heavenly Father was performing a minor change in my husband’s attitude. Because normally, if I came home from church or anywhere else an hour late, he would have “jokingly” given me a hard time about it. But this time, he didn’t, he was just happy I was okay, and that was it. Sounds like a small thing, I know, but it really was kind of huge, because, I heard a prompting and I followed it which is like almost impossible for me. So that was, I think, the whole point.

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Anyway, after that I got home and just went to sleep for 4 hours because I was so tired from the night before. When I woke up, I felt this calm, this peace, this feeling that everything was going to be okay and everything was exactly as it should be right now. I wasn’t worried about my next 100 steps, or my next thought, or really anything. I was just able to be in the moment of this calm peacefulness. I can’t describe accurately how good that calm felt after the roller coaster. It was so amazing! “When the moment arrives, that you know, you’ll be alright!” (Aerosmith, Amazing). That is what that moment felt like. It felt like, everything’s going to be alright and it’s all good. The calm is great because it’s not riding a high. Because when you are riding a high, you know you are going to come down at some point. That’s true whether you are talking about drugs, alcohol, or just an emotional high where you feel so good and you are all jacked up on adrenaline, or even a spiritual high. When you are high you know you will always come down eventually. That’s the bad part about any high. So what was nice about yesterday, was it was not a spiritual high, it was a calm. Just peace.  Just comfort. That was it. Even in my perplexed state of not knowing what I was doing back at the church just sitting there, I was confused but calm.

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So now, my focus is keeping the calm. I think initially I was chasing a high, but now I’m just trying to cultivate the calm. So now I am starting to read the Book of Mormon from start to finish, which I intend to get by with a little help from my friends. Because reading doesn’t come easy to me. But I have a support system and I feel like I can do it this time. Bottom line is this is my life, it’s time I started living it my way. Keep calm and keep the calm.

 

Change

Change

People always say change is a good thing? Is it? I mean I suppose it can be. Depends on the change. But I think people say change is a good thing because if nothing changes, then nothing changes. Meaning everything just stays the same all the time. Day in and day out, no changes, just the same old same old. That would be kind of boring right? But change is also hard. Because we get comfortable in our complacency. We are comfortable in our surroundings and our lives and changing something means we would have to be uncomfortable for a time until we got comfortable again.

You might say we have a love/hate relationship with change. Because, while change is good, it leads to personal growth and maybe new possibilities, we also don’t like the growing pains we feel while the change is happening.  Think about it, we get stuck at a job we hate because it would be too much effort or too scary to go out and find another job that we might love. We stay in failed relationships or marriages because leaving would mean we would have to find a new place to live, figure out how we are going to pay for things, and also means you have to put yourself out there again after you’ve grieved that relationship. All scary stuff. We don’t like things that we can’t predict. If we can’t predict what we are going to do tomorrow or what the plan is tomorrow, don’t we freak out a bit?

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Now, not every change has to be life altering. You can make little changes to yourself as a person that doesn’t involve something big like moving, or finding a new job, or getting out of a relationship. Self reflection can bring about much-needed change in your life that maybe just helps you to focus, or to feel better about yourself or to strive for something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that is just for you.

I was reading in another article today about overcoming challenges. Sometimes we don’t try to overcome them because the tasks seem so daunting. It seems like you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because the task seems so hard. But what if you broke that task down into small steps. Small accomplishments that are easy and attainable but all of those tasks were working toward an ultimate goal? The analogy in the story used was going on a long hike and at first you were fine but then as the hike got harder, it seemed like you couldn’t make it to the finish line because you were tired and thirsty and wanted to rest. Well by all means, rest then, but don’t get so comfortable resting that you stop progressing. Because you certainly won’t finish that hike if you stop where you are indefinitely. So the idea was to count 100 steps and along the way while you are counting you notice the beauty around you, you find things to look at and admire that are fun. Maybe you even sing a song. Before you know it you’ve reached 100 steps. Then you start again, okay let’s do another 100 steps. So if you break the goal down into attainable smaller goals eventually you reach the ultimate goal.

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I think we decide to stay stagnant and complacent because we are afraid that the goal is too big. That we can’t see the finish line so we give up. So, maybe instead of picturing the finish line, you just picture the next 100 steps. Believe me 100 steps isn’t that many, I have a fit bit and it counts your steps, 100 is pretty small. You don’t realize how many steps you actually take in a day.

Now why am I bringing this up? Because like most of you, I get scared, I get comfortable and complacent and I get afraid to make even small changes that will most definitely make my life better, but I fail to do them because the finish line seems so unattainable. So maybe I will stop thinking of the end result and just start focusing on the next 100 steps. I can do that. I’m reminded of a saying, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey we take to get there, and the journey is beautiful. The journey is life. We go through ups and downs and hills and valleys and storms and all sorts of obstacles, but if we stop the journey, if we just sit down and wait because we are scared, are we living? Can we really call that life? If we don’t take the journey, we never experience all that we could have. If we stop taking the journey, we die.

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So change really is a good thing. We should invite the change, we should embrace the change, and yes, as Gandhi put it, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  But remember, you must change from within first and it starts with just the first 100 steps.