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First and Second Impressions: Learning to Recognize and Take Action

Going to see a therapist used to be taboo. That is no longer the case and I am forever grateful for that. Well, maybe it might still be, but it doesn’t play a role in my decision making like it may have in the past. I’ve learned to honour that we don’t have to figure things out on our own. Part of my wellness journey has been embracing different forms of therapy. I’ve done talk therapy, tapping, energy and spiritual work. I’ve also been going to see Daryn, a doctor of natural medicine. Each form of therapy has been so beneficial. Therapy has changed over the years and I think we can all find a good fit with all the options available! (You don’t want to/can’t leave your house? You don’t have to. All of these forms of therapy are flexible! And you don’t even need to put on pants.)

I have felt unburdened and empowered as a result of therapy. Have I felt uncomfortable and extremely vulnerable? Did I sometimes want to quit? Yes, yes and yes, but the journey to self love and self improvement has been worth it. The journey is ongoing, and will never end, but I feel freer than I can remember. I feel like I am not only peeling my layers, but I am shedding them, too. The toxic thoughts, limiting beliefs, the hurt, the unhealthy. I have shed many cleansing and releasing tears. (And I have also released a lot of mucous. This photo was taken after one tapping session. I let so much go!)

Please email me if you want any contact information for the people who have been instrumental in helping me on my journey to wellness.

Kleenex Mountain

I could write about many enlightening experiences from my different therapies, but I want to focus on one experience, in particular. It was during a session with Daryn that I learned something that has changed my life. I’m not saying this flippantly, either. Daryn shared something he learned while visiting a ward (church congregation) in Calgary. The gist of it was that the good thoughts that pop into your head, ones that urge you to follow through and take action, are called “first impressions”. Maybe you have an initial thought to reach out to someone you don’t know super well. Or maybe right before you’re leaving the house to run a quick errand with your kids, you have a thought to take water bottles and snacks with you. Often following a good thought, you may get another thought; one that discourages or discounts the first thought. It causes you to doubt yourself. That is what you would call a “second impression”. So, that thought to reach out to someone you don’t know super well has you questioning yourself and has you assuming the person would think you’re a weirdo. And the thought to take water bottles and snacks? You want to push that thought away, rationalizing that you’ll only be gone for 20 minutes.

I had never really heard of these conflicting thoughts as being called a first or second impression, but it makes complete sense. Don’t you just love being given the words that can perfectly sum things up? Giving them words helps create a deeper meaning, yet helps simplify, too. First and second impressions can be seen as a good thought being potentially thwarted by our self-doubt and insecurities. Or you can think of it as a prompting from God, through the Holy Ghost, being potentially thwarted by Satan’s desire to stop the goodness from happening. Either way, I am seeing through a different lens. That person who you thought to reach out to? You questioned the doubt and followed through. The card you mailed made her feel remembered. She felt seen. She felt loved. In fact, she had said a specific prayer to feel Heavenly Father’s love. Your simple act helped remind her that He is mindful of her. That nudge you felt to grab water bottles and snacks? You decided to grab them, even though you were anxious to get going. You were delighted you brought them because your preparation allowed for a spontaneous playdate at the park! (Both of these examples really happened to me.)

I am a believer that good things come from God. God is good! So good! And first impressions come from Him, no matter how big or small. Satan is the opposite. He thrives in our self-doubt, our guilt and in our insecurities. I have tried to become more astute at recognizing that second impressions come from Satan’s influence. He doesn’t want us to connect with one another. He doesn’t want us to be instruments in the Lord’s hands. He doesn’t want us to have joy. He wants us to be miserable like him. And Satan is sneaky. He tries to bring us down by the littlest actions. I am trying harder than ever to recognize those attempts. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. It just takes practice and patience with yourself.

‘Practice makes perfect’, has been replaced somewhere along the line with ‘practice makes progress’. I like that much better. I know I am not perfect, but I am making progress with recognizing when I am prompted by the Holy Ghost. The more I listen, the easier it becomes. But make no mistake; I still listen to the ‘second impression’. Case in point. I am a creature of habit. For example, I almost always put our laundry baskets by our bed. Notice I said almost always? One day, I put our laundry basket in a different location; against the wall between our bedroom door and our bathroom door. I had a thought to move that basket to the usual place, but I ignored that thought. I was woken up early the next morning to a loud noise followed by “OUCH!” and maybe a substitute swear or two. Keegan was getting ready to go to work. It was dark out. He wasn’t expecting the laundry basket to be where it was and he walked right into it. Did I mention that we have wire laundry baskets? He stubbed his toes so hard! What a way to wake up. If I would’ve followed that first impression, I could’ve toe-tally prevented that from happening.

The culprit.

On a previous blog post, I shared my chicken pot pie story. If you don’t want to read it, I’ll sum it up. After my mom died, I had a craving for chicken pot pie. I wasn’t up to making food, so I knew my craving would not be satisfied. Within a day of each other, two friends brought by chicken pot pies. What a beautiful reminder that I was loved. That God was mindful of me, even when I was so angry at him. These two women followed through with the impression to bring me a chicken pot pie. God used them as instruments in His hands. I will forever cherish this memory.

I have something else to share that I will forever cherish. My friend, who we shall call Jess, texted and reached out to me about two years after my mom passed away. This beautiful friend told me that the day after my mom died, she had the strongest feeling to bring me a chicken pot pie. She told me she second guessed herself, though, thinking that the prompting must’ve been wrong. She questioned her cooking abilities. Jess knew that I had plenty of people bringing tasty food, and thought I wouldn’t actually want a meal from her. So, she didn’t bring the chicken pot pie over. Months after my mom died, I wrote and shared my chicken pot pie story and she read it. Even though Jess regretted not following through with the prompting, she embraced this as a learning experience. She told me she is now able to better recognize and follow through with those ‘first impressions.’ Jess’ text meant so much to me because it was another reminder that Heavenly Father is mindful of me. He sent a chicken pot pie prompting to three people! He will send you those angels, or He will send you a message, one way or another.

One message I was sent didn’t make sense. The kids had been sleeping soundly for a few hours and I was laying in bed about to fall asleep. I had an impression to go check on the kids. I didn’t want to because Keegan had just checked on them a while before. And I was so cozy in my comfy bed. The air purifier was drowning out noise and lulling me to sleep. I was tired and my knees hurt. But, I decided to listen to the prompting anyway. On my way up the stairs, I heard a beeping sound. I couldn’t hear it from my room because of the white noise from the purifier. Upon investigating, the beeping was coming from the deep freeze in the basement. The freezer door wasn’t shut all the way and the temperatures were rising. I think Heavenly Father knew that there was a chance I’d ignore a prompting about the freezer, but I would not ignore a prompting about my kids. He cared enough about the repercussions that a freezer full of thawed Costco groceries would bring. It’s so humbling that God is so intricately woven into our lives.

I have another story to share. This one is extremely hard to talk about, but I’ll be brave.

I was packing up our rental house so we could move boxes into our new home. I was in a rush to get my kids out the door so my mom could watch them while I worked. Earlier that day, I had moved all of my household cleaners to my pantry so I could pack them together. I had a thought to move my cleaners to a higher shelf, but I dismissed I because I was going to pack them up after my kids were gone. I felt that it was just one extra and unnecessary step for me.

I gathered the kids so we could go to my mom’s, and had just finished putting Lachlan in his carseat when I heard the most alarming sound come from Bennett. I can’t even describe it. It was a shocked, scared and painful cry that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Bennett had grabbed the oven cleaner and sprayed it on himself. I think he wanted to squeeze the handle, as all kids love to do, but he had pointed the nozzle at his face. The oven cleaner got in his mouth and all over his face. I have never been so scared in my life. I rushed him across the street to the hospital. The staff were so efficient and amazing.

I was dealing with some huge emotions. Mine, not Bennett’s. He was a champ through it all. He just snuggled with me and let the nurses and doctor do their thing. He even managed to smile and be his sweet, darling self. Meanwhile, I was spiralling. I had no idea how much cleaner he ingested. I had no idea if he was going to be okay. I had no idea what damage the toxic cleaner caused to my sweet two-year old’s body. All I did know was that I didn’t heed the thought to move the cleaner. All I know is that I could’ve prevented this from happening. I have never felt that kind of guilt before.

My amazing and resilient little boy. This photo is still so hard for me to look at.

Fast forward almost 4 years. I am happy to say that Bennett is now six years old and thriving. There seems to be no lasting effects on Bennett, either physically or emotionally. I am forever grateful for the hospital staff. They helped Bennett and were so good to him. They helped me, too. I was spiralling and felt that I was the worst mom in the world. I had a sweet nurse share her own ‘worst mom’ story. She didn’t need to do that, but she did. And I really needed to hear it. Angels come in many forms. My family’s angel was wearing scrubs that day.

Another angel in my family’s life comes in the form of a professional baker. Through the years, we have formed a relationship with the owners of Grandma’s Oven. They are truly heaven sent. If you know them, you know exactly what I’m talking about. After my mom died, we found out Evie was allergic to eggs and was lactose intolerant. That was really hard on her, as so many things have eggs in them. That also meant she couldn’t have any amazing baked goods from Grandma’s Oven. One day, out of nowhere, we got a knock on the door. There, holding two pans of egg-free cinnamon buns, was the Grandma of all grandmas. She fiddled around with egg-free cinnamon bun recipes and made Evie her own batch. She told me, “I needed to do this for Evie because her grandma would’ve done it if she were here.”

Never has a pan of cinnamon buns tasted so delicious. This was another chicken pot pie moment for my family.

You could taste the love in those cinnamon buns.

I am so grateful to have learned more about what kind of impressions we receive. I am also grateful for all the times I can recall where I have been a recipient of people’s first impressions. I want to be the kind of person who recognizes and follows through. We really never know the impact that our words or deeds might have! I want to remember that recognizing the promptings takes practice, and to give myself grace when I forget to listen to the still small voice. Practice makes progress, not perfect.

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I Wrote Stuff About Stuff During A Global Pandemic

I’ve had lots of thoughts and emotions over the past four months. I have made progress in some ways, become stagnant in others. I’ve experienced inspiration and also discouragement. I’ve had faith but I’ve also experienced fear. I’ve thought and felt so many things! I have definitely felt the extremes. We are living history as I type. Isn’t that a bit weird to think about?


At the very beginning of this global pandemic, I had the impression that I should start a family gratitude journal. Writing words down is a powerful thing. I have been keeping a gratitude journal for myself and it has changed me. And our family practices nightly gratitude sharing before the kids go to bed (I was inspired by Brene Brown.). That practice has changed our family. We used to just share our gratitude aloud, but since the impression to keep a family gratitude journal, we started one! I love that we will have this journal to refer to in the future. We will be able to remember that life was good, even through the craziness of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our gratitude journals. Nothing fancy, I just happened to have these in my stash. Thank you Dollarama!


I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge other things, too. These past four months have been a lot to process. I have made some social media posts throughout and thought I should compile and document them here, and add some extra thoughts, too!


POST #1: Words matter to me. They’re my predominant love language. (What is yours? I’m so curious! Also, I’ve never read the actual book. I really should. )
Words matter and I have felt of their influence. And I have influenced others with my words. They can be a beautiful gift! But, also not.


Case in point:
While student teaching in Edmonton, a 6 year old asked me why my arms were so hairy. I had never once thought of my arms as being overly hairy. I really internalized that and allowed myself to become insecure about it. So insecure, that I had a friend wax my arms! I still remember the girl’s name. Lily.


I have a gummy smile. It’s always been an insecurity of mine. In high school, one of my good friends and I were cruising and he smiled really big. I laughed and said something like, “We could never have kids. They wouldn’t stand a chance. They’d be all gums.” My words influenced him. I was the little 6 year old girl. He was me. Instead of waxing, he had dental surgery. I am a total b-hole.


I’m making strides to not let negative words have power over me. That’s a hard habit to break. I care what people think. (Recovering people-pleaser, right here!) I’m trying to edit what I let in. I’m trying to edit what comes out of my mouth, too. Words matter, yes. But we have the power over what we let in and let out.
In the movie Labyrinth, Sarah yelled to Jareth the Goblin King, “You have no power over me!!!!!” This is a good reminder. I don’t know if you need this reminder, but I felt like I should share it.


P.S. I still find Jareth the Goblin King attractive.
P.P.S. I always have movie quotes/SNL quotes/lyrics swimming in my head. I’ll never edit that out!

Anyone else attracted to Jareth the Goblin King?

POST #2: (My family thrives with routine! Not just my kids, but me too!)


Anyone else have an astronomical food bill!!? And found some extra insulation around your midsection? Hahah! Our new hobby has become snacking. I’m pretty sure the Spirit prompted me to come to the following conclusion and I feel I need to share it.

Before the new day starts, the kids and I will pack our snacks in our lunch kits. I set a guideline of what to pack and they choose what goes in. Once the contents of the lunch kit are done, no more snacks! This doesn’t include meals, just snacks. We need some boundaries. Hahah!


So, we packed up our lunch kits tonight, but fridge foods stay in the fridge until the morning. Then we will add ice packs. The kids were so excited to do this, especially Lachlan. Also, I found some hand sanitizer attached to the straps, so I’m excited about that. (Hand sanitizer and yeast are the new toilet paper.)
Tomorrow is our first day with this new routine. I think it will help us.

POST #3: A friend sent me this pancake meme and I died. The truth of the matter is that I’m guilty of being an a hole, too. I can also be a friggin’ delight, and so can my kids. We have more good days than bad, BUT COME ON!!!!


Let me share a few examples (there are many more, believe me):


•I’m happy and feel that it is such a blessing to be with my kids all day. But at times, I am DONE and feel a little trapped and burdened.
•I feel like we are in goodish hands when it comes to our government. But at times, I question it all and think, “Trust no one. Not even Bill Gates.”
•I’m happy to see everyone’s success and productivity that is shared on social media. (I’m talking about you Go Clean inspiration, sourdough starters and Zoom exercise classes.) •But at times, I feel very inadequate and kind of resent all the success that I’m not experiencing.
•I love myself and feel like I’ve got this. But also at times, I feel like a fatty fatty two by four and am barely holding it together.
•I feel I’m pretty good at having conversations with people and connecting with them. But at times, I’m so awko taco that I feel like I don’t know how to even act in public anymore. (When asking a worker about the biggest package they offer, I started giggling. “Biggest package! Sorry, I have the sense of humour of a 12 year old boy!” And then I giggled some more. What in tarnation, Jacquie? Seriously. I mean…seriously. )


Nothing about this situation is normal. We’ve got nothing to compare it to, either. Brené Brown has a podcast about FFT’s, (Friggin’ First Times). As usual, she helped me see things differently. If you need a little somethin’ somethin’ to help you, here you go. She drops the real F Bomb, by the way. My substitute swearing is just priming the pump for you.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far. If you haven’t, then maybe go eat one of those pancakes.

POST #4: (I have read a LOT of books over the past 4 months.)


I love history. I love learning. I love to read. I love hearing people’s stories. And I love love. So, it makes sense that I love me a good historical Christian romance novel. I get to read a good wholesome book with a happy ending, and I get to learn along the way. It’s perfect.


Speaking of perfect? The use of old timey language in these type of books. I think it’s time to reintroduce the language into our vocabulary. I’ve been keeping notes of the words or phrases that stand out to me. (Nerd Alert!)


Since I’ve resorted to substitute swearing and such these past three months (I blame you Corona for the “such”), it’s only appropriate for me to share “blazes” with you. Blazes is a euphemism for hell, usually in phrases. Blue is added to intensify.

For example:
How the blazes…?
It’s hot as blue blazes!
What in blue blazes…?
It’s all gone to blazes!
I’m working this into my daily vocabulary. Haha!

POST #5: Do you remember that time I was concerned that I might have contracted Covid-19 because my throat was so sore? And then upon reflection, I realized my throat was sore because I yelled so dang loud at my kids?


In May, Bennett lovingly gave me this picture. A picture he drew of me. I was equal parts humoured and horrified. Hahaha! He really nailed the split ends and my big emotions. (There’s nothing normal about what we are experiencing, and there may have been wailing and gnashing of teeth at times.)


During the past threeish months, I’ve said and done things I’m not proud of. (I recall telling one of my kids to “get a life”. What’s next? Am I going to respond with “I know you are but what am I?”) I’m so grateful my kids forgive me.
I am grateful that life won’t always be like this. We are making the best of it, but life seems so heavy sometimes.

Speaking of heavy, do you remember the movie The Crow? (I watched it in the 90’s and loved it. Looking back, it’s a super dark movie and I can’t believe I watched it so many times when I was a teenybopper. ) There’s a phrase that has stayed with me for almost 26 years. “It can’t rain all the time.” That’s even the title of a song in the movie’s soundtrack. Things are literally and figuratively raining down on us right now. I needed this reminder, and maybe so do you.
(At the time of this post on social media, it was raining nonstop.)

It can’t rain all the time.

POST #6: You know when house flies get into that annoyingly sluggish stage? It’s the same stage when they also get extra clingy and are always lurking near your head. (Why do you keep landing on my nose, and buzzing in my ear, little fly? I don’t want your poop encrusted legs touching me, thanks. And why do you insist on repeatedly flying into the mirrors or windows? I know you can see outside, but there’s a barrier stopping you. Like, get a clue, fly.)
A little while ago, I was chatting with a friend in my front entryway. The type of fly I described above made an appearance. It was trapped inside, but wanted outside. It kept flying right into the window pane in our door. Repeatedly. The effort and outcome were the same each time. The dang fly just kept buzzing and bumping. To get a different result, one must make a change, but the fly never figured that out. (I’m pretty sure that fly was on my window ledge, belly up, the next day. I guess it did change something. It moved to the neighbouring window. Hahah!)
As I watched the stubborn fly, I had an epiphany. SOMETIMES I AM LIKE THAT FLY!!! I know what I want, I try to get there, but I can’t quite make it happen. I don’t get the end result I want, but I don’t make any changes. I keep thinking and doing the same things. I keep hitting the same proverbial window, but I keep expecting different results. Talk about frustrating!
A belief that has been widely embraced by people from far and wide is that changing your behaviour changes your results. I used to think this was true. Another belief that has been floating around the universe is all about mindset shifts. The belief that changing your thoughts is what actually changes your results. It’s all about changing your mindset, shifting that paradigm. I’ve dabbled a bit in this. In December of 2019, I started to embrace all things Bob Proctor and mindset shifts! I was soaking it all up! And then…COVID. That’s when I became more like the fly.
I’m so grateful for the fly epiphany, because I needed another kickstart. I really needed to be reminded just how powerful our minds are!!!
Here’s a little taste of Bob Proctor (@proctorgallagher on Instagram):


1. Thinking creates an image.

2. The image stirs emotions.

3. Emotions cause action.

4. Action sets up a reaction.


When you’re thinking about what you want, rather than your current results, the reaction (see Step 4) creates new and improved results.

Then, you can start the process all over again by looking at the new result, adapting to the changes that have occurred, and thinking about what you want next.

That way, your life just keeps getting better and better! “


Bob gets it.

I got a little off track for a bit. I have been surviving. I want to make a few adjustments to get back on track. I want to start thriving! Who doesn’t want their life to keep getting better and better?
PIC OF FLY AND BOB QUOTE

I have been all over the place. I’ve found the good, the bad, the funny, the sad, the encouraging and the discouraging through all of this. And that’s okay. We are learning how to navigate something there is no manual for. We are all in this together, even though we may feel far apart. I’m learning that fear is the root of the negative things I have been feeling; the anger, doubt, the comparisons and the anxiety. I’m learning to lean more to the Lord. I’m learning more about His gift of grace. I am learning that I am not alone in this.

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The Journey: A Lesson Learned About Enjoying the Process

I want to talk about the word journey, and I’m not talking about the rock band. I’m talking about taking a trip “without regard to the amount of time it takes.” (Miriam-Webster Dictionary)

Years ago, a young man spoke at church. He was getting ready to serve a two-year mission. Let’s call him Elder Cook. Elder Cook was an amazing athlete. He was very passionate about the importance of working hard to achieve goals and also being part of a team. He displayed a team ring he had, with the initials ETP on it. He explained that the initials stood for Enjoy The Process. Elder Cook’s coach believed strongly in this motto and helped the whole team see the value of it, too. His coach emphasized the importance of being present through the whole journey, and not just at the end goal, such as winning a championship game. This future missionary went on to make some gospel connections of our eternal journey and how we should enjoy the process! I loved his message. Too often I rush through things to just get them done, instead of embracing ETP! (I’m not discounting being a “finisher”. There’s great value in finishing and accomplishing goals. I’m just saying that there can be more to it than that. I want to be an “embracer and finisher”.)

I feel like sometimes I am so focused on my starting point and final destination/end goal that I pay less attention to the journey along the way. Or sometimes I am comparing myself or my situation to other people and to their successes. I then tend to place unrealistic expectations on myself. Or sometimes I’m just on autopilot mode, doing things because I should, out of habit, not because I’m taking the time to find joy in it.

How many times have I made a goal but sabotaged myself with my unrealistic expectations? Or how often do I get caught up in the comparison game? More often than I care to admit. (I wrote a blog post about expectations here if you want to take a gander.)


I had a pretty simple but powerful experience that illustrated what can happen when I’m on autopilot mode. When I’m only focused on the end goal and not on the journey. I had twin toothbrushes in the shower: one for brushing my teeth and one for scrubbing/cleaning the shower. They were on different shelves, so the distinction was pretty clear. (But still. Rookie mistake, Jacquie.) Maybe you can guess what happened? I wasn’t thinking and grabbed the scrubber toothbrush and brushed my teeth with it. It was a low point for me. It was disgusting on so many levels. If you’re wondering what Comet Cleaner with Bleach tastes like, take it straight from the horses mouth; it should leave your bathroom looking squeaky clean, not your teeth. (Gagging sounds were heard in abundance.)

I still cringe when I think of it.

It seems that I need continual reminders that we all have to begin at our OWN starting point. And our journey doesn’t look like other people’s journey. Our final destination doesn’t have to be the same, either. The comparison game is not fun and no one wins. So why do I keep playing the game? It’s not so I can pass GO and collect $200. I never come away victorious. It’s because I’m a slow learner. More on this later.


At church, pre-Covid, my bishop made mention of something that has stayed with me. He said that if you really wanted to climb to the top of Mount Everest, you couldn’t bypass the climb and have a helicopter just drop you off on the top. Your body couldn’t handle it for a multitude of reasons.

You must start at the bottom and make your ascent, acclimating as you go. And there are camps along the way for you to regroup, rest and reevaluate. (I’m simplifying what is actually needed to climb Mount Everest, of course, but you get my gist.)

Isn’t this life? It’s so applicable to many things. This is like our testimonies, our self-love journey, our relationships, our knowledge/experience and so on. We have to start somewhere!

Lately, it seems I’ve been comparing myself more than usual. I’ve made such progress on this front, but it’s like I just went backwards. Talk about frustrating! Sometimes I pay too much attention to the people farther ahead of me on Testimony Mountain, Relationship Mountain, Knowledge Mountain, Homemaking Mountain, Family Adventure Mountain etc. That leaves me feeling so discouraged. Sometimes I’m impatient with myself. Sometimes I’m even jealous and resentful of others who are farther up the mountain than I am. And sometimes? Sometimes I wish I could just get dropped off at the top of the mountain and skip the whole climb.

Badly photoshopped photos still bring me joy.

But, like a young Miley Cyrus once said:
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb.

Now that both the song and Miley’s throaty voice are stuck in my head, I’m thinking about how much I learn between my starting point and end destination. I’m thinking about the little gains I make and the beauty I see as I’m hiking along. I’m thinking about the relationship I’m building with myself and others along the way.

I have recently implemented quiet/alone time into our family’s daily schedule. My kids initially felt like it was a time out. I explained to them that this time alone wasn’t a punishment, it was an opportunity! We discussed how important it is to be comfortable with ourselves and be our own best friend. I told them that when I was in university, I didn’t like to do things on my own. So, I challenged myself to go shopping alone. Then, I went to a movie by myself. Little by little I did more on my own. I eventually ate at a restaurant by myself. That was more than a little awkward, but I did it! I look forward to time by myself now. It really is a gift! It didn’t start out that way, but because I worked at it little by little, and I enjoyed the process, I achieved my goal!

Just today I was talking to my kids about the best part of LEGO for them. It isn’t the finished product; it’s using their imaginations and creating together. It’s the climb, Baby! Not to say there’s not a sense of accomplishment at the end, because there is! Accomplishing a goal you made can do wonderful things to your confidence, sense of accomplishment and self-love.

I know we can’t expect results when we are not putting in the effort. You gotta pay your dues! (Like when I see a friend and her husband on a spontaneous date because their oldest kid is now old enough to babysit the younger kids. Finding babysitters is a tricky thing right now, so a small part of me gets jealous. Okay, a big part gets jealous. However, I haven’t paid my dues, yet. Evie is 9 and we will get there! Eventually.)

Another thing I need constant reminders of? The gift of grace. Sometimes I’m going to take two steps forward and two steps back (please tell me you get that musical reference) and feel like I’m not getting anywhere. And that’s okay. I can’t be on all the time. I’m not a dang light switch at 7-11. Rest is important. It’s okay to just be. One of my friends said that we are human beings, not human doings. I loved that!!! And I needed to hear it again.

Short story long, I just needed to get some thoughts out. I needed to remind myself about lessons I’ve learned and need to keep relearning. I love learning, but sometimes I feel that I’m such a slow learner. And I can be too hard on myself. This is when I need reminding about grace. What a beautiful gift it is. It’s a gift we receive even if we don’t deserve it!

So, here’s to being any kind of learner, fast or slow. Here’s to setting goals, enjoying the process and giving ourselves grace along the way!

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Flushed Away: Becoming Aware of Noise and Distraction

When Keegan and I were freshly married, we were asked to teach primary-aged kids in our ward. (We belong to this church, if you want to read more about wards.) There was one boy who was a little unpredictable and he took off, running out of the room. I stayed with the rest of the class while Keegan went to search for the boy. Let’s call him Donald, shall we?

After Keegan’s search within the church hallways was fruitless, he thought to check in the washroom. Sure enough, Donald was there. He was perched on top of the toilet, taking a break from everything. When Keegan attempted to talk to Donald, Donald would flush the toilet, drowning out Keegan’s voice. Keegan’s attempt in communicating resulted in continual flushing. Eventually, Donald came down from his perch and joined the class once more.  (This was a stressful situation, but it ended up becoming a favourite memory. I thought I was so clever to download a toilet flushing app on my phone. When Keegan would say things I didn’t want to hear, I’d open the app and flush the toilet. Hahaha! Looking back, I realize how bizarre it was that I could find a toilet flushing app. But really. Why was that app even developed?)

When I recently recalled this experience, it had me laughing, but also got me thinking. This experience has helped me make some real life connections, and I feel I need to share those connections with you.

Why did Donald keep flushing the toilet? The noise of the flushing water drowned out Keegan’s voice. The noise muted the message Keegan was trying to convey. I have realized that I flush the toilet, so to speak, when I don’t want to hear the message.  Or maybe I’d be open to the message, but the noise of the toilet is too successful at  keeping me too distracted to hear it. Be it an intentional choice of mine or not, that noise drowns out things I should be hearing.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of noise is, “a sound or sounds, especially when it is unwanted, unpleasant, or loud.” And the definition of distraction is, “something that prevents someone from giving their attention to something else.” I feel that these two things work together to hinder me.

When I invite in too many distractions, I unintentionally mute the Holy Ghost. I can’t hear Him through the noise. Simplifying my life through decluttering and de-owning has helped decrease the physical noise in my life. I’ve tried to become unbusy and prioritize my schedule. (I know, I know. I’m using buzz words. And I’m okay with that for now. However, looking back a year from now, I may annoy myself.) The COVID-19 Quarantine has definitely quieted my schedule. That has been a perk of this new normal.

Something else I’ve been working on is being a better editor of what I let in to my home/mind. I wouldn’t let a squatter trespass and move in with me. So, why would I let limiting beliefs or negativity or toxicity take up space in my mind? I am a recovering negative self-talker and this has been hard for me. I’d literally have zero friends left if I talked to them the way I have talked to myself. Talk about noise. That kind of negativity definitely flushed the toilet, stopping me from hearing the truth. I’m of infinite worth, regardless of my short-comings. I want to shout from the rooftops that YOU ARE, TOO!!!!

Sometimes too much of a good thing could be making noise, like binge-listening to podcasts. I’m speaking from personal experience. Podcasts can be so informational and inspiring. However, if in order to binge-listen to a whole bunch of episodes, you need to ignore all the things, (I’m talking to you, kids…please forgive me) then maybe it’s too much. There’s a well known talk given by Dallin H. Oaks called Good, Better, Best found here. The concept is simple, but so powerful. Not everything can be the most important thing. There are so many good things, but we probably should prioritize them. Dallin H Oaks said, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best.”

I have too much of a good thing in my life and my family will tell you what it is. They would tell you that my biggest distraction is my phone. My phone isn’t the problem, though. There are lots of good, better, best things that can come as a result of my phone. I’m the problem. I would deny it when Keegan would say anything about my phone usage. Or I’d have excuses when my kids would ask why I’m “on my phone again.” And I would get defensive. Actually, I still do make excuses and get defensive. Sure, I have tried to be more purposeful with my time. I’ve tried setting boundaries. In some ways I’m much improved, but it’s still a problem.

When Evie was in kindergarten, she sketched me. And I felt like Rose from Titanic. She captured the scene perfectly. I had my robe on, and I was snuggling Bennett and baby Lachlan. And that’s not a remote in my hand. It’s my dang phone.

It was a real eye-opening experience when I tracked one of my mornings a few months ago. (Kendra Hennessy is my new favourite and she challenged me to do this. She’s huge on routine, mindset and cleaning.) I wrote down everything that I did for a few hours. I was absolutely shocked with the results. Seeing tangible evidence written down showed me that my biggest distraction that morning was my phone. My morning was filled with many start and stops. I’d have a strong start to my morning, like tidying the house after breakfast. I’d tidy but also take breaks to change the music I was listening to. Or check texts. Or google how long it takes to hard boil eggs in the instant pot (for some reason I never remember the time). Or to check the weather app.

I continued to do some other things, too, like study the scriptures. There are amazing online resources out there to up the ante on my scripture study, so I chose to go on my phone for this. But after a while, I’d get a notification for something and I’d go down the rabbit hole. I’d get distracted and check Facebook. Then I’d text someone. Then I’d check IMDb to see how tall Sigourney Weaver is. Eventually, I’d go back to my scripture study, but I was not efficient and I surely wasn’t effective.

There are so many uses for my phone. One of the uses is to read ebooks or listen to audiobooks. Thank goodness for the free apps I have access to, especially since the library is closed. Thank you Libby and Hoopla! (Fun fact: if Lachlan was a girl, I wanted to name him Libby. I wanted D as a middle name, after my amazing Grandma Dora.) I love to read. Sometimes I sacrifice my sleep in order to read. Sometimes I sacrifice quality time with my kids in order to read. Sure, I’m hanging out by them when I read, but I’m not very present. Reading is better than lots of things. Reading is essential in my life, but I allow it to take over. I’m sometimes an all or nothing kind of girl.

Because our laptop broke, I’ve been using my phone for everything. Regardless, I can’t keep denying the obvious. I am still on my phone more often than I need to be. And that’s a fact. Confession: Facebook isn’t my kryptonite anymore, sending and watching Marco Polo videos is. Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing is evil about using Facebook or Marco Polo. Both apps are instrumental in helping us stay connected with each other. During this isolating time we are living, it’s even more important to connect.

Although I’m working on setting boundaries and being more intentional with my phone usage, the message I’m sending to my family is clear. My phone is a priority. (If I get a notification, one of kids automatically delivers it to me. “Mom, your phone got a text!”) What if I talked to my phone the way I sometimes talked to my kids? What if I told my phone “In a minute”or “I’m just in the middle of something and then I can give you my attention” or “No, not right now” or “Maybe later” or “Can’t you see I’m busy?” when I got a notification? This really has me thinking.

Here is Evie in grade one. For Dress Like Your Future Self Day, she wanted to dress up as a mom. Once again, there’s that dang phone. She noticed that my phone was my constant accessory.

By now, you might be thinking, “Okay, Jacquie. We get it. You have a phone addiction.” Please stay with me, though.

My phone has become way too accessible for me.  And I’m way too accessible for my phone.  Somewhere along the line, I’ve become no different than Pavlov’s dog. Instead of salivating when the bell rings, I drop everything to check my phone when it rings or dings. I’m drowning out the good noise around me. How am I supposed to feel the Spirit amidst those distractions?

The fascinating thing to me is that this blog post took on a life of its own. I was only going to briefly touch on my phone. I had so much more to say. I’m thinking I was guided to make a written confession of sorts. I’ve said these things out loud before, but seeing the words in written form has had an impact on me. I have a problem. I know the solution isn’t to throw my phone away. That just isn’t feasible. The solution isn’t to set screen time limits. It’s a great option, but I can easily dismiss those notifications. I think the solution for right now is to leave my phone in a different area than where I physically am. And I need to put it on airplane mode. (Why haven’t I thought about that before? So simple!) When the time is appropriate, I will access my phone. I need to figure out what is appropriate, but this is a start.

Well, I wrote down something I couldn’t ignore. (Quote by Adam J. Kurtz with Design Sponge)

With all this talk of noise and distraction, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Satan some credit. I remember hearing the quote, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” He wants us so busy and so distracted that we drown out that still small voice. He doesn’t want us to feel connected to God through the Spirit. I’m so glad I’ve been working on hearing the Spirit more, because He guided me to write this blog post and to truly reflect on it. Uninviting the Spirit opens up an unofficial invitation to Satan. But I don’t want him to be a squatter in my home. Like the shirt says that I’ve seen around, “Not today Satan”. Not today.

I’m dying to know. How are you flushing the toilet? Are you drowning out any good messages? What is the biggest noise in your life? What is your biggest distraction? How are you combatting these tendencies? We have a pretty unique opportunity right now during our isolation. We have time to identify our biggest distractions and then take action!

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Great Expectations

I hope this badly photoshopped photo doesn’t detract from the message I’m sharing. 😂

The other night I indulged on some Tostitos and nacho cheese from a can. I couldn’t help but reminisce. In junior high and high school, I played basketball and volleyball. On our way home from tournaments or away games, we’d always stop and go to 7-11 for snacks. I usually didn’t have money to buy those coveted snacks. Paper bag lunches or bust for me. Sometimes my teammates would come back with tortilla chips drenched in nacho cheese. You know the kind? The kind where the chips would gets soggy from the warm cheese sauce. I remember getting to sample those deliciously saturated chips and wishing I could have a container to call my own. I eventually did. And they didn’t disappoint.

Well, fast forward 20 years. I took my son to a PJ Masks live performance. We each picked out some things at the concession. The first thing I was drawn to was the tortilla chips with nacho cheese. I was taken back to my sports playing days. To the days of belonging to a team and feeling part of something. Something as simple as nachos and cheese could make me feel so many happy things. I was looking forward to digging in. I was anticipating the juxtaposition of crunchy outer chips to the inner soft, saturated cheesy chips. I had built up my expectations only to be disappointed. The chips were stale. The cheese was cold. (It makes me think of Encino Man’s “the cheese is old and moldy”.) The sauce to chip ratio was super chintzy. In other words, NO SOGGY CHIPS.

Expectations. I’ve struggled with this for most of my life without even recognizing it as such. I have placed expectations on many things, only to be disappointed in some way. I have placed high and unrealistic expectations on myself. I have also put those high expectations onto other people and things/situations.

I have a few more stories to illustrate high and unrealistic expectations I’ve placed on others. Picture this. Keegan and I didn’t have children for the first four and a half years of our marriage. However, each and every Mother’s Day of our childless years, I’d end up so disappointed that Keegan did NOT celebrate me on Mother’s Day. My mom always celebrated me and my sisters on Mother’s Day. I thought this was to be expected that Keegan should too. I felt so ripped off because I WOULD be the mother to his children one day and he obviously SHOULD celebrate for this reason. How insensitive he was.

I have so many more stories like this. I’d end up hurt and disappointed and Keegan would end up frustrated and left feeling undervalued. It wasn’t the best situation. We couldn’t thrive as a couple with the looming cloud of unattainable ideals hanging over our heads. Sure, I have calmed down, matured and grown as a person in general. But I still have had a tendency towards high expectations. I’ve only started to acknowledge my unrealistic expectations within the past few years. This Alcoholics Anonymous quote is pretty hard hitting: “Expectations are premeditated resentments”. I have never considered this before, but it’s absolutely true. Now that I’m becoming more aware, I realize I really don’t like feeling resentment. It’s a poison that spreads to many other areas in my life.

Sometimes, okay, often times, I just expect people to be and think like me. “…but I have a newsflash for you, Walter Cronkite… you aren’t.” We are not all the same. This is a hard thing for me to learn. These expectations can leave me hurt, disappointed and feeling insecure. It leaves me doubting myself big time.

I am going to add one more story to further illustrate my expectations. I grew up with my mom serving people in our community. She’d serve with her time, her skills and her love. It was kind of routine to watch her take dinner to families who needed some extra love. I couldn’t help but continue this service. It was part of me. And it makes me so happy. I know I can’t help in the big ways, but I sure can pray and take food over to someone who needs it. Am I a great cook? I get by. (You’ll notice that this is not a food blog.) Does my family enjoy what I make? Yes. Am I insecure about taking dinner over to others? Absolutely.

Now, that doesn’t sound like having expectations, right? Just keep reading and you’ll see. I’m a thanker. In fact, I’m an over-thanker. (I’m often an over-apologizer, too, and that’s for another day.) Because of this, I have kind of expected others to be that same way. When you do things for others, you shouldn’t have expectations at all. You did what you felt you needed/wanted to do and that should be thanks enough. For me, it wasn’t. If I wasn’t thanked after the meal had been eaten, I was left thinking dinner was disgusting. Or bisgusting, as my three year old used to say. I’ve learned now that l shouldn’t rely on others to make me feel validated. No one can fill that void, except God and myself.

I’m trying harder than ever to be more mindful. To reflect and have more self-awareness. I’m trying to let go of these tendencies and look for the good. Having gratitude changes everything. It’s the antidote for almost anything negative. Oh, and counselling helped, too. I needed a neutral person who would help me see unhealthy patterns. Sometimes it hurt, but I needed that proverbial kick in the pants. I learned that I have been projecting myself and my issues onto others. I would feel like no matter what I’d do, it’d never be good enough. I have unrealistic expectations on myself, so I project that onto other people and situations/things. Perfect segue to expectations I place on myself. I feel like this needs to be another blog post, though. (I’ll link it once it’s written.)

So here’s to mindfulness! Here’s to keeping our expectations in check! Like one of my favourite bloggers out there says, “We are action-taking, problem-solving women!” (Allie Casazza has been instrumental in my journey, in so many ways. Stay tuned for my minimalism post.) We can figure this out and make changes. We can! Here’s to being content and recognizing that we are all enough. Here’s to dealing with our issues! It’s our time to thrive.

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Read the Room! Becoming More Self-Aware

One evening, we had people over for dinner. I had set up all the food buffet-style on the island, but we hadn’t yet asked for everyone to gather to say a blessing on the food. No one was sitting down at the table or at the island. We were all visiting on the couches. Yet, one of my kids started going to town and chowing down on the food. I was annoyed and frustrated. I blurted out a little loudly, “Read the room!!!!”

My kids didn’t know what it meant, so I had to explain it. “Read the room means to look all around you. You can figure things out based on that. Are other people sitting down at the table and island? Are other people eating? NOPE!” This is just one example of teaching my kids how to pick up on social cues.

Read the room is now one of my favourite things to say. It’s applicable to many situations. So, I am going to ask you this: do you read the room regularly? Are you self-aware? I’m aware of the need to be self-aware. Haha! I’m trying. I fail sometimes. Recently, during church, I sat near a friend and we visited off and on during sacrament meeting. By visiting, I also mean laughing. My husband kept giving me side-eye, trying to get me to see that a reverent sacrament meeting wasn’t the most appropriate venue for a gab session. I did not read the room. (And I am not good at whispering. My whisper is other people’s inside voice. 🙈) But I do succeed sometimes, like when I can tell I’m talking too much so I stop and give space for the other people to also add to the conversation.

It’s fascinating to watch people at buffets or pot lucks. Some people are not self-aware. They aren’t aware of the many people behind them who haven’t dished up yet, and they go to town, piling their plates up. To that, I want to yell, “READ THE ROOM, BUDDY!”

I remember talking to my therapist about the struggles I had with an individual. He asked me if I knew what a shadow personality was. I didn’t. He went on to explain that often the things that irritate us the most in other people are a reflection of some quality we dislike in ourselves. Boom.

My mom loved people and genuinely loved getting to know them. She also genuinely loved talking. We called my mom a walking encyclopedia because she knew a lot of information. It was a blessing and a curse. She wasn’t always able to read the room. She’d still be talking as people would be side stepping to get to their vehicle, or moving closer to the door to make their escape. My momma loved to talk. (What I wouldn’t give to hear her tell me random information. What I wouldn’t give to hear her go off on long winded tangents about all the celebrity gossip. My mom had a vested interest in certain celebrity relationships. I remember she left my sister a message on the phone, saying how devastating the news was that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were breaking up. Man, I miss that mother of mine. It is funny how the quirks that sometimes annoy you are the ones you miss the most.) This tendency of my mom’s would irritate me sometimes. But now, I’m trying to look deeper in my irritation, to be more aware of this shadow personality business. Looking back, maybe I’m irritated by this tendency in ME!

Self-reflection is a good thing, but I do think we can take things too far and question everything. I’m not saying to do that. Moderation in all things!

So friends, I’m writing this all to give me accountability. I’m also wanting to share these epiphanies I had. Maybe it’s something you needed to hear. ❤️ It’s nice to know we are not alone. So to everyone, including myself, I say…RTR. Read the room!

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What Matters More?: Whose Opinions Truly Count

I remember when my kids were 6, 2 and 1. Getting in the van to go anywhere was a struggle and a stressful time. Kids who hate being buckled up is something that will send parents to the brink of insanity. By parents, I mean specifically Jacquie Fleming.

I remember losing it and yelling at my children, while buckling my toddler up with a little more force than necessary. Because of my frustrations with their lack of cooperation, I became a bit of a mom-ster. (Side bar: When I taught kindergarten, we were learning the letter M. The kids needed to draw a picture of something that started with the letter we learned. I saw one picture and asked my student if he drew a monster. He said that he was drawing his mom. Gulp. I learned to ask questions instead of guessing. For the record, she was a bit of a monster to deal with. I came up with the word mom-ster from that encounter. I thought I was so clever. Turns out, other people are just as clever, but I digress.)

All of a sudden it hit me that if my neighbours were outside, they’d be able to see me spazzing on my kids. And they’d judge me or change their opinion of me. I felt so embarrassed. I feared what they might think of me.

After the intensity of that situation passed, I had the realization that some people DID hear me. Heavenly Father and Jesus heard me. My kids heard me. I felt an overwhelming sense of sorrow at that moment. I realized I was more worried about what my neighbours thought about me than what those who matter most to me thought.

I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics to a special primary song, If The Savior Stood Beside Me. Sometimes the simplicity of children’s songs are the most powerful.

1. If the Savior stood beside me,

would I do the things I do?

Would I think of His commandments,

and try harder to be true?

Would I follow His example?

Would I live more righteously

if I could see the Savior standing nigh,

watching over me?

2. If the Savior stood beside me,

would I say the things I say?

Would my words be true and kind

if He was never far away?

Would I try to share the gospel?

Would I speak more rev’rently

if I could see the Savior standing nigh,

watching over me?

3. He is always near me,

though I do not see Him there,

And because He loves me dearly,

I am in His watchful care.

So I’ll be the kind of person

that I know I’d like to be

if I could see the Savior standing nigh,

watching over me.

(Words and music by Sally DeFord)

Well, I was able to quickly answer the questions posed within the song. I wouldn’t dream of speaking and acting in that way if He was standing near me. This experience has taught me so much. I should care way more about what my sweet family thinks and what Heavenly Father and Jesus think over what the “public” thinks. It was a powerful moment for me. It’s the fear of man versus the fear of God conflict. Sometimes it’s so hard to keep my perspective in check.

I’m so grateful that I can recall primary songs to help remind me of sweet and simple truths.
When I sing primary songs with my children, my own testimony is strengthened. These songs also help me learn alongside my kids in a way that is so meaningful. I love music, in general, but there’s something so special about gospel songs written for kids. My kids are so special. I am working hard at remembering that, even in the midst of my frustrations.

I’m trying to consistently take “holy pauses” before I react, and I have to tell you. I’m way less of a spaz. I’m trying to be intentional with what I invite in our home. That includes feelings. When I yell or overreact, I invite less-than-good feelings. I’m working on it. I’m getting better at it. Having this photo in our living room is an amazing reminder.

I’m so grateful for this beautiful lesson taught to me about what matters more.

(Love Is Spoken Here is another primary song that I love. Here’s a link to the full collection of primary songs if you wanted to have a look-see.)

Update: I just recently had another experience that reminded me about what matters more. This was my Instagram post from December 27th:

Image from Pixabay

I took the kids to see Frozen 2 today. What a delightful experience to share with my kids and my niece!

While sitting in the darkened theatre with my popcorn. (With a combo of butter, dill pickle AND white cheddar seasoning. Magical.) I had a “Read the Room” moment.

The second I sat down with my popcorn, I SHOVELLED the popcorn in my mouth. There were no manners. No regard for how I looked or sounded as I repeated to hoover the popcorn. Lachlan was sitting on my lap and I kept dropping popcorn on him. He didn’t care because he was so happy gorging on his popcorn, too. I looked around and this uncivilized way of eating popcorn was everywhere. It wasn’t just me and my family. This was happening all over the theatre. I’d never eat like this with the light on. But in the dark? You betcha. You feel unnoticed. Anonymous almost. Anything goes.

I pondered this phenomenon a bit more. When we don’t think people see us, how do we act? (I saw a guy pick at his butt today, when he thought no one was watching.) How do we speak? (I’ve been swearing under my breath lately at the kids. They don’t hear it.)

This got me thinking on a more spiritual level. Someone always sees us, no matter the lighting. We are not anonymous. We don’t go unnoticed. What we do and say DO matter.

Anyway, just some thoughts from moi. The things that make you go hmmm. 🍿

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Old Yeller

Now, I’m not talking about the beautiful and tragic story of a boy and his dog. I’m talking about me and my struggle with yelling. Somewhere along my parenthood journey, I became a yeller. Not a screamer, but a voice-raiser that escalates to a yeller. It’s not something I set out to become, but yet, here I am.

(I LOVED this movie growing up. And I LOVE badly photoshopped photos. I think I’m 37 going on 13. Haha!)

I have always considered myself a happy and loving person. I certainly never identified myself as an angry person. When I became a mother for the first time, I felt like a different person. The joy and responsibility that came with motherhood definitely changed me in good ways. My heart was capable of such love. I was a nurturer by nature, and my desire to be a good mom was there. There were moments when I’d look at Evie, our first child, and I’d feel so overwhelmed with love. How did we even live life before the incredible blessing of being her parents? How did we know true happiness and love before then?

Evie was my sidekick and came with me everywhere. Going back to work and leaving her was extremely difficult. When I came home from work, I was still able to give Evie my best. We made our time together count.

When Evie was three and a half, we had our second child, Bennett. It was an adjustment in so many ways, but we were so happy. However, it was after having two kids that I started to yell. Things escalated when I had Lachlan, our third child. Where did all this anger come from? Like for real? Irritation and annoyance? Yes, that was definitely in me. But the anger? I didn’t know I had it in me.

It was hard for my husband to hear me react out of anger. He’s a pretty calm person and rarely has raised his voice at our children. We were talking about my tendency and we came up with me being an Old Yeller. We took things to the next level and came up with new yelling names. We were able to turn a concern into something fun. Just call me Sarah Michelle Yell•er, Boris Yell•tsin, Yell•anie Griffith, Yell•y Clarkson, or Ang•Yell•a Lansbury. (I even made a Facebook post about this and my friends added to the list. I have some funny friends. Please feel free to add to the list! Pure entertainment!)

This has been one of the biggest things I’ve tried to work on. My anger, not my clever yelling name list. I’ve taken parenting classes, talked openly with family and friends, prayed, watched videos, and read articles. I’d do well for a bit and then default to yelling. I was so disappointed in myself. I felt like I could never change. One day, I saw something in my newsfeed about angry parents (Facebook listens to my conversations, I’m convinced. Let me just readjust my tinfoil hat.). I prefer to borrow books from the library now, since my big purge of belongings. So, I was on my library’s app and searched for the author. I didn’t find her, but I randomly found this, and it spoke to me:
Triggers
Exchanging parents’ angry reactions for gentle biblical responses
Written by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake

Read this description and maybe you’ll be touched like I was.
“Do you believe your struggle with anger stems from the wrong behavior you see displayed in your children? The knee-jerk reactions and blow-ups you’re facing are often a result of a bigger set of “triggers.” Some of these are external, like a child’s disobedience, backtalk, or selective hearing, while others are internal, like an overflowing schedule, sleep-deprivation, or perhaps your own painful experiences from childhood.

Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses examines common parenting issues that cause us to explode inappropriately at our children. Moving beyond simple parenting tips on how to change your child’s behavior, authors Amber Lia and Wendy Speake offer biblical insight and practical tools to equip and encourage you on the journey away from anger-filled reactions toward gentle, biblical responses.”

Guys. This was my answer. Why hadn’t I thought to include God even more in this particular struggle? I know it wasn’t a coincidence that I found this book. I NEEDED it in my life. I borrowed it from the library as an audiobook first. I was so touched by the content that I bought the physical book. I also bought the accompanying study guide. I was able to dig deep and I was able to make changes.

I still sometimes default to anger and yelling, but I now have tools to correct myself. I’m pretty good at apologizing to my kids now. I am able to give myself grace more than ever. And I definitely rely on the Lord more.

I have a lot to say on this blog, but I felt pulled towards writing about this. Maybe because I’ve felt my anger bubbling up recently. I noticed I’ve been defaulting to “loud talking”. Maybe I need this refresher more than any of you do. My husband and I have felt so strongly to have peace and unity in our home. One of our biggest desires is for our home to truly be a haven. This reminder is going to help me be the catalyst in our home towards achieving our goal of peace and unity. As we all know, if momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. As women, we truly have power to set the tone of our home. I’ve been a little off-key lately, but I will work on my pitch.

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Missing My Babies

I’m already crying. What I’m about to say is very near and dear to me, but I feel strongly I need to share.

I had miscarriages for my first and third pregnancies. Nothing could have prepared me for the devastation that would ensue. I felt like I did something wrong. I remember thinking that I shouldn’t have lifted that heavy box or gone to Zumba class. I blamed myself for losing my babies. Feeling that responsibility was crippling. I felt like something was wrong with my body. I felt betrayed. I felt like I let Keegan down. I’ve mourned the loss of my two babies who I never got to meet, hold, smell, or sing lullabies to. I’ve mourned the life we had planned with them in it. I’ve mourned not being able to watch them grow up. There are two ‘future families’ I didn’t get to know and love and be a grandma to. My heart has been shattered with the loss of it all.

Anger also became real to me. I teetered on the edge of bitterness. I was angry at Heavenly Father. I was angry at all the happy families with young kids. I was angry at pregnant women. I was especially angry seeing posts on Facebook with pregnancy or birth announcements. I knew deep down that I shouldn’t be angry at all of these people, but I felt it nonetheless. I remember having a break down after reading someone’s post on Facebook complaining about being pregnant. What I wouldn’t give to have morning sickness, discomfort and lack of sleep all for the purpose of having a baby!!!

Each month after both miscarriages, I’d have such hope to be pregnant again. I remember reliving all the loss, pain and disappointment of my miscarriages when I would have my period. Having children is a righteous desire. Why was it so hard??? And why were there so many unwanted pregnancies and/or sucky parents in this world? Sometimes I’d get swallowed up in emotions and the what if’s. When I finally was pregnant again, I was SO paranoid. Every time I had any kind of dischargey feeling, my heart would drop to my stomach. Was it a sign of miscarriage? I had anxiety every time I went to the bathroom. I was riddled with fear before I’d wipe. I was so afraid of seeing blood.

I remember hearing the phrases, “You’ll have others” or “Something was wrong with the baby, so it’s a blessing it didn’t survive”. People would try to comfort me by telling me 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Those people were right, but they were also wrong. I just needed hugs, love, empathy and probably food. Food is always a helpful thing. Everyone grieves differently. Some want solitude and some want to be surrounded by people. The universal thing everyone needs/wants is food. (I had so many people bring food after my mom died. It was amazing. Some friends even brought me a basket filled with paper plates, cutlery, fruits and munchies. That was genius.)

I know people often times don’t know what to say when tragedy strikes. I’m sure I’ve said the wrong thing. If you don’t know what to say? Be honest and tell the person that you don’t know what to say. Mourn with them. Listen to them if they are ready to talk. Share your story of loss, if they’re ready to listen.

(After my mom died, I loathed hearing “I’m sorry for your loss” and “She’s in a better place”. One of my friends who suffered a great loss said he hated hearing, “If there’s anything I can do…”. He had the best response. He asked someone if he could have their car because they did said “anything”. I’ve found that if you feel like you should do something, go for it. Just do it. Those in mourning probably won’t ever reach out to ask for help. They’re just trying to survive.)

I also became so sensitive when people would ask when Keegan and I would start a family. Or when we’d have our next baby. (What I really wanted to do was answer with Nunya. Nunya business. I would’ve added a damn in there too.) I know people are well-meaning. I’ve been that person, but I’ve learned now to generally not ask people that extremely personal question. Newsflash: it really isn’t anyone’s business! Miscarriages and infertility and timing affect this. And what if you don’t want to have children of your own? It’s really none of our business, regardless of how much we care about our family and friends. I remember going to church and one of my past school teachers asked me when I was due, because I had some signs showing. What that teacher didn’t know is that I had JUST miscarried. I sobbed while sitting on the pew. Keegan was so sweet and tried to comfort me. I think I eventually had to leave the building. That question was such a trigger.

One thing I failed to realize throughout this all was that my husband was also grieving. I was so caught up in my own grief because it happened to me. But, Keegan suffered a loss. It happened to him too. He lost those babies too. It was different for him than it was for me, but it was so hard on him just the same. It was also hard for him to feel helpless when my body was weak and when my heart was broken. It was especially hard for him when I was transported in an ambulance due to extreme blood loss.

When I opened up to family and friends, that’s when healing happened. And that healing was then accelerated once I worked things out with Heavenly Father. I was amazed at how many people have experienced miscarriage and infertility. I’m so thankful for people sharing their story with me. There’s strength in sharing. Healing takes place with sharing. Let’s be better at sharing our story.

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Chicken Pot Pie for the Soul

On New Year’s Eve, 2017, I had the thought that 2018 was going to be my year. I even said it out loud to anyone who would listen. That thought was soon obliterated. January 2nd, 2018 goes down as the worst day of my life.

I received news I had never considered I’d hear. My brother-in-law called me to tell me that we lost my mom. It didn’t register with me at all. I actually thought my mom was lost. I even giggled envisioning her walking around town, disoriented and in her muumuu and winter boots. But devastatingly enough, that wasn’t what he meant. It was an out-of-body experience once I absorbed what was said to me. I let out noises I didn’t know I was capable of making. I dropped to my knees and felt absolutely shattered. I felt so blindsided, so betrayed. We did not expect this at all. Yes, her health wasn’t the best it had been, but we thought we had years left with her. My mom would always tell me that she was a tough ol’ broad. That always gave me reassurance she’d be around for a long time. My mom was invincible to me.

My beautiful mother was only 61. I was only 35. My husband and I had a 6, 3 and 1 year old. This wasn’t right. This made no sense. How? Why? WHY? When my kids would cry for me or ask for me, I would cry and say that I understood. I just wanted my mom. Moms make everything better. We will always need our moms. It’s a fact, regardless of how old you are or how dysfunctional your family might be. To say I was absolutely devastated and broken was an understatement. I felt so robbed. I was too young to lose my mom. She was my cheerleader. She was my safe place. She was a source of love, support, strength and laughter. I felt that my children were so robbed. My kids were too young to lose a grandparent. My little one year old, Lachlan, will have no memories of his Grandma Margi. I felt sorrow, regret and guilt for not having more pictures of the kids with their grandma, especially Lachlan. I felt ripped off knowing I only had one video of her. ONE! (Guilt is a real part of grief, by the way.) I just always thought I’d have more time.

My beautiful momma!

It was all just too much. I felt so much. I even felt anger towards my Heavenly Father. I felt abandoned. I felt so very alone. Did I mention I felt anger? (Anger is also SUCH a real part of grief.)

For the first few days after my mom died, I would wake up in the middle of the night. I would wake up and then the realization would hit that my nightmare was actually my reality. I couldn’t fall back asleep. One particular morning, I woke up at 3 and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I looked on my phone, hoping to distract myself from my new reality. A cooking video came on my Facebook newsfeed. As soon as I saw butter melting in a pot, I was committed to view the finished product. It was comfort food in all its glory: chicken pot pie. I thought to myself how amazing it would be to eat some chicken pot pie. I certainly was in no position to make any food for my family other than pouring milk into a bowl full of cereal. Eating chicken pot pie was not in my future, or so I thought.

Within one day of each other, two friends brought me chicken pot pies. Not one, but two! Soup, lasagna, casseroles, pizzas and the like are typically the comfort food people will bring over when there is a celebration or tragedy. Chicken pot pie certainly hasn’t been on the list. This wasn’t a coincidence. It was a divine influence. I broke down and cried. I was incredibly touched. And it reaffirmed to me that God was mindful of me and loved me. It showed me that He cared about me in all ways, even my insignificant desire for chicken pot pie. I needed this reminder so much. I was also reminded that He didn’t withhold love from me because I was angry with Him. I didn’t feel abandoned. I felt completely loved.

I’m forever grateful for those two friends who recognized and followed a prompting to bring me a chicken pot pie. They ministered to me in ways they couldn’t imagine. They helped me feel my Heavenly Father’s unconditional love when I needed to feel it the most. Their actions helped strengthen my own testimony of God’s love.

Remember that song by Alabama called Angels Among Us? That song is so powerful and beautiful. The chorus gets me every time.

“Oh I believe there are, angels among us
Sent down to us, from somewhere up above
They come to you and me, in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love.”

I know firsthand that there are angels among us, both heavenly and earthly. This is one example, of many, where I’ve felt Heavenly Father’s love through other people. I’ve been blessed with that healing power of love. Because of this, I am trying harder than ever to pass that love along.

I’m trying to not shrug off those seemingly random thoughts. They are not random. They are promptings from the Holy Ghost. I am trying to recognize and follow through with those promptings. They might be the answer that someone struggling needs. I’m trying to not let my own insecurities or doubt get in the way of ministering. I’m certainly glad my earthly angels followed through.

Whether you have a feeling to take a chicken pot pie over, write a heartfelt card, or go grocery shopping for someone who doesn’t want to leave their house and face the world, PLEASE follow through with that feeling. I’m a recipient of all three, and more. I’m here to tell you that it has made a huge difference in my healing and grieving process. We shouldn’t downplay the difference we can make. We should be more like the Nike slogan and Just Do It.