Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why I Hate Christmas

Yes, the title is real and straight to the point. My explanation isn't meant to gain sympathy, just understanding. I have spent years trying to understand it myself and only now are things coming to light...

Santa never came to my house as a child. I really never believed in him anyway. My mother tried a few times and like a dutiful child, I humored her attempts. Instead of cheer, there was anger and yelling. Instead of feelings of love and joy, there were painful things said and done. I remember not having a real Christmas tree. Instead, we had a "tree" made of Christmas cards from previous years (my mother was creative at least).

By the time I was 12 years old Christmas seemed moot despite the fact we could now afford one. By then it was about the biggest and the best, not about the thought of the gift in the slightest. And Jesus?! Forget it! Oh we had a Nativity but without the Gospel it meant very little to me and I suppose even less to my family.

From age 17 on I was in and out of my house, but mainly living on my own, only coming together for appearances to make it look like we were a "real" family. I was most certainly gone for the holidays. Either because I wanted it that way or because I had been thrown out of the house by the time Christmas came along.

I have been alone on Christmas more times than not. I have been evicted and fired on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the day after a total of 5 times. Eventually, I gave up. The last time I was evicted I decided to live in my car for six months rather than be thrown out again. (*Note* I must let you know I was never the greatest of tenants and most likely deserved to be evicted. It just all added to my sour attitude).

Even when I finally found the Gospel and how it fit into my life, Christmas was lonely, awkward really. Sometimes I would be invited to other families festivities, but I felt so strange standing around watching these people love and care for one another genuinely and openly. It took three years for me to start feeling comfortable around one particular family, but then I got married and had to start all over with a new family.

Having lived in this truly magical place for the last year has opened my heart to many possibilities...including Christmas. I was feeling the Christmas spirit and happily singing along to the songs when I heard some family traditions shared by a friend. I knew of the hardships and sadness experienced by my friend with regards to their family but their stories of Christmas were happy and joyous, and I felt...ANGRY! I couldn't understand why! I sat and prayed for days trying to understand my feelings when it finally hit me: JEALOUSY!

 I was SO jealous to hear of hardships and sadness just to be erased and forgotten for at least one GLORIOUS day: Christmas. I heard stories of groups and individuals secretly or openly giving gifts and trees. Of Christmases that were sure to be doomed by poverty just to be rescued by kind, loving souls. I hadn't had the luxury. No one saved Christmas for us. No one showed us kindness or blessings. The most I remember our family receiving was the annual meat and cheese tray, which later turned to See's candy boxes from an aunt and uncle. These were savored for as long as possible.

I know I could have been more charitable through the years with my attitude toward Christmas and her patrons, but I had too much pain and darkness within me (not having to do with Christmas but more to do with traumatic events in my childhood) to look past the anger and jealousy.

I know and understand Christmas to be more about the Greatest Gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than it is about the retail side of things, but I hadn't been in a place (physically or mentally) to rejoice and celebrate the holiday freely with that in my heart. And to try and blend both the Spiritual side and the temporal side of Christmas has been nearly impossible. For me, at least. I don't think you can blend something you absolutely hate with something that gives you a reason for living, and get something good out of it.

So this year I understand myself better. This year I am truly feeling the Christmas spirit more. Not because someone saved Christmas with presents and food, we were able to do that for ourselves this year thanks to blessings given by our Father in Heaven. Blessings that are too numerous to name. My heart if finally filling with the joy and love the Gospel brings and pushing out all the hate and hurt from years gone by.

This year and all the years to follow, I hope to carry the true spirit of Christmas with me, ALWAYS. I hope it grows and strengthens. I hope to pass this feeling along to everyone I come in contact with. I hope my son never feels the way I did. I hope he understands and knows all the joy, magic, and love this season can bring into so many. I hope to help even just one person erase all the bad in life even for just one magical day.

So, I hope you'll forgive me and my Grinchy ways. I hope you understand just a little bit more of why I was that way. I hope you will love me in spite of my hurt and hate, and know I am trying. It's a lot to hope for, but I think I'm up to the task!

Monday, December 22, 2014

My New Year's Theme 2015

You ever see those people who wear ankle weights to strengthen their legs? It's kinda weird until you try it and then you find that it works! Well, this is how my life is and will be for the next year apparently. Ever since I finally escaped the dark abyss I lived in for the last five years I have felt like I'm trying to run through mud.

Just to make sure, I had to pray to make sure I wasn't going in the wrong direction. He said that, no I wasn't, but that to make me stronger, SPIRITUALLY stronger, I have to walk through the mud to get me to a better ME.

So this year's theme is:

Even when the mud is particularly sticky, Keep Moving Forward. When I'm not sure I can take another step: Keep Moving Forward. When everything is harder than anticipated: Keep Moving Forward!

This is particularly good for me to know, hear, practice because I like to give up when the going gets tough. So this is my year to stick it out!

please pray for me...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Letter


This Christmas letter may seem lame because you are not receiving it in your mailbox. And, hey, I LOVE nice mail in my box just like anyone else. That said, I'm hoping you will let me slide (for this year at least) as I let you ride on the Passanando Rollercoaster!

Let's see...

I'm going to start in the last part of the year since nothing terribly interesting happened until then anyway. 
Christopher started attending kindergarten this last August and he LOVES it! His schedule has him going every Wednesday and Friday, and every other Monday...sort of. This can be a little confusing but seeing as we only have the one kid and our lives revolve around entertaining him (for the most part this is true), we've got the hang of it pretty well I think. Christopher misses school when he's not there and FINALLY learned the days of the week so he can anticipate his next school day.

Another first, I started working...again...after nearly an eight-year absence. This was something I felt was necessary. Not so much for financial reasons but something more spiritual in a way. It's difficult to explain, but suffice it to say, my puny little, minimum wage, pizza and sub making job helped me immensely! Weird, I know, but it helped to kick start me out of a five year slump so no complaints here. I have since quit this job, but more on that later.

Ben, of course, is the big story of the year. The day Christopher went into school and a week before I started work, Ben had what was supposed to be a relatively simply surgery to correct some damage done from the necrotizing fasciitis. What really happened was a two hour-hour-surgery-turned-six-hour-surgery, and extensive reconstructive surgery, and hernia repairs. He was anticipated to fully recover from the original surgery roughly two weeks, but because the damage was so great and his body not functioning for years, recovery took two MONTHS. BUT we have AMAZING medical staff including a wonderful doctor who worked on Ben like he was doing surgery on his mother. He took great care in getting Ben to a state that was most optimized but never thought of as a reality until now!

Ben is now better than he was five years ago and many things are looking up for him. We are also anticipating another try at the therapy grad program for Ben at Idaho State University (ISU). Nothing will be known for certain until the middle of next year, so please pray, cross your fingers, or think good thoughts for Ben please?

I also plan on school this coming year. I will be attending the same ISU this Spring part-time for the pre-PTA (Physical Therapy Assistant) program. I will be applying for the full program later in the year in hopes of getting in for the Fall 2015 semester. I have a few things in my favor: I already have an AAS (Associates Degree), I've studied and practiced massage therapy for 10 years +, and believe it or not, being a non-traditional student (older than 25 years old) is REALLY in my favor! I have a mentor helping through the process and plenty of support from friends in the area. I'm also up for another part-time job on campus. I'm hoping to earn a little cash while learning how to manage my time better in time for a full-time school schedule.

Remember when I said the pizza shop helped me in a strange way? Like I mentioned, I've been in a five-year slump, depression really, where I couldn't think of a reason to smile despite obvious reasons all around me. I felt the job would benefit me in some way, but only financially because I couldn't see it any other way. But something inside of me changed. I felt a mental and almost physical "click" inside of me and my whole outlook on life changed! I feel like ME again...but BETTER! I smile and laugh, I'm happy and enjoying life again! The only difficult thing really has been trying to figure life out post crisis-mode. It's been slow-going, like trying to run through thick mud, but I know I can do it and that it will get easier. 

Troubles and trials are not gone, but the dark way in which I saw them has. We are all starting to become the family we were meant to be!

Merry Christmas!
From the Passanandos

Monday, October 13, 2014

Keeping it to Myself...sort of...

I've discovered something very frustrating that I must change how I feel about it...

I have mentioned several times in my life about how frustrating and lonely I am because I must do many things without any help or companion to be with me.

Well, I must amend that statement in two ways.

The first amendment is, that it is not in some or even many ways I must do things alone but in ALL ways. EVERY single aspect in my life must be gotten through without any help of a worldly nature whatsoever. No people or persons must I or can I rely on in any way, shape or form.

My second amendment is, while I may not have the assistance of my peers I DO have all and ANY help from my Heavenly Family and Friends.

The weakness I must overcome in this circumstance is realizing the assistance offered and given is FAR BETTER than that of any worldly being. I need to be grateful beyond measure that I don't have to rely on the faults of Man to help me with my mortal journey. I have the unfailing assistance from Above, from those who know all and can and will bestow that knowledge to me what needed and asked for.

My human nature is to be upset because this falls under the "health" umbrella for me as well. With Man's ideas and techniques, if I fail I can blame them for knowing enough about me and my body to make it work. BUT when I have Heaven on my side, the only one to blame for failure is myself.

So, here I go, starting on a seemingly slow path to health (again). But this time there is no group therapy, no blog followers (I see the irony here), or Facebook friends, not even my husband. Although, ever so often I have the gentle reminder of my Heavenly Human example of my five-year-old son, to show me how to eat and play to get and stay healthy.

So this time, don't wish me luck, please pray for me...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Trial By Fire...Again!

Trial by fire. This seems to be the only way to teach me. I nearly always learn "the Hard Way".

So much the same, just with different actors playing the same parts--only better. Except me. I'm still playing the same part with little variation.
What am I doing wrong?  What do I have to learn that I didn't before/

I sit here, I lay there...with a man that is my husband, but not. He can't talk like we usually do, not yet. I can't hear his compliments on my new hairstyle or how good I've been doing at my newest venture. No simple chatting about our day or commenting on our favorite TV show.
I just sit here, lay there watching him breathe, counting the breaths, shaking him when it's been too long between them.
He's awake long enough to tell me he hurts, he's nauseous, and that he loves me...and he's sorry. Then he sleeps again.

All of this mingled with train sets and cartoons, pizza and sandwiches, crying and praying.

But what am I supposed to learn?
All pieces to a puzzle. I'm not sure what it's supposed to look like yet. I was never very good at puzzles. I could never see the big picture and how all those pieces were to come together to create the picture on the box.

I feel lost, confused...

I recognize and acknowledge the blessings now that were not then, but I miss him. I miss us.

So please Pray for Ben on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 7pm YOUR time. However you pray or commune with a higher power, please do so for this synchronized session of prayer. We're praying for a miracle! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To Be Found Peculiar Among the Peculiar People: Blessings of Being a Convert

**The views and opinions on this post are my own. You may or may not have experienced any or all of the things mentioned here. They are also not limited to those of any particular faith. These are my personal experiences once I became more acquainted with the love of my Father in Heaven.**

I have been blessed in many ways. One of which is to have walking therapy sessions with my very good friend. As we walk up and down the local hills of our neighborhood, we talk about our lives and the things concerning those around us. At times we get real deep in our conversations and it's at these times I start to understand my life more and events within it...

I believe it was two weeks ago when my friend asked me how, as a convert to the Church, I was able to distinguish the promptings of the Holy Ghost and if it felt any different than before I was a member.

I had to think because for me there are distinctions between every day feelings and in the moments when I really needed to out of danger or make the right decision.

It is said that the Spirit talks to us through a burning in our heart and a still small voice. For me, the experience is physical and powerful--it affects my whole body. It literally rocks my soul! Before learning that this feeling came from the Holy Ghost, it would scare me. No one I knew understand what was happening to me when I would try to explain it.

This is one of the blessings of being converted. Once I learned and understood what this was and how to interpret it, my life changed forever! Being a convert has the blessing of knowing what it feels like to be without the Spirit and then have him to be our constant companion.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Man Travels the World Over...

We recently took a trip across 4 states. Not a whole lot maybe in comparison to some, maybe but a whole lot to a recovering recluse.

I'm originally from California and like a true Californian, I would make fun of anyone that was from anywhere else! So when we left the busy, beautiful, judgmental (don't be offended; you know it's true) California for Small Town, Idaho I had a bit of a culture shock. I'll spare you the details (for now) but visiting the place that I know so intimately was not exactly how I thought it would be...

Before moving to Idaho I would have considered myself a good, normal driver. After moving here, however, I found that I am an aggressive, and overbearing driver! This became even more apparent when visiting California after only a 9 month absence.

This is how I felt about my time in California:
I DEFINITELY felt like Buddy the Elf coming from a happy-go-lucky, smile-loving village visiting a run-you-over, demolition derby, give-you-the-bird, angry-because-it's-over-100-degrees-outside city!

We drove through Nevada to get there, but driving through Nevada means going as fast as you can without getting caught because it's hot and boring and you don't want to fall asleep at the wheel and taking a nap at a rest stop is out of the question. To make the trip home more interesting, we drove through the bottom part of Oregon. I remember Oregon being beautiful and full of friendly memories. And whenever we travel anywhere I always imagine what it would be like to live there...to see how it feels and if I could do it. Ordinarily I would have given an emphatic YES to living in Oregon but this jaunt through the South East part was less inviting, to say the least. Don't get me wrong! Oregon is a great place, just not the place for me.

Coming across that Idaho state border was definitely a welcomed sight!

Could my judgement be skewed because I don't like leaving home and would rather do a Stay-cation rather than go out of my Small Town, USA? Maybe. But I have a cute artsy craft thing I painted long ago that states, "A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it." (George A. Moore) Well, I found "it": Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

No Pictures, No Frills, Just Struggles and a Cry for Help

Don't ya just HATE it when you're trying to lose weight and get healthy, so you look up online on ways how to do just that; and people are complaining and saying the EXACT same stuff you do, then you click on the link only to read how upset people are at being SO overweight when their version of "overweight" is somewhere around 35 pounds?!?!

Don't get me wrong; I am totally with ya on the weight loss bandwagon and I completely understand the frustration you have when trying to lose ANY weight no matter what your size. BUT when I'm looking for similar gripe stories/solutions to MY weight-loss problem, it all pales in comparison...especially when you need to lose about 100 to 110 pounds to be on the level.

 Thankfully I have several kind and caring friends who are involved in various health programs. The problem lies in the monetary aspect and long-term effects for me. The money is the first STOP sign I get when searching what is right for me on my personal weight-loss journey but the real clincher are the long-term effects. Problem here is that my body is so completely different than anybody elses (truly, I have been told this time and time again by SEVERAL health professionals, trainers, consultants, you name it) that "long-term" just doesn't apply.

What I'm looking for is something that isn't going to make me buy in before I try the theory. I am literally tapped out from trying everything from group therapies (i.e. Weight Watchers) to one-on-one (i.e personal trainers), to meal replacements (ah, just insert any and nearly all of the ones you have ever heard of and a sprinkle of the ones you haven't).

The other, and really the MAIN issue is, I need something that WORKS for someone so utterly messed up hormonally, physically, and mentally as I am! Seriously folks! I have been actually tested by real Doctors that say I have SO MUCH cortisol (the "stress" hormone) in my body that they believe there is NO WAY I will ever successfully lose weight!


And yet, I still try! How can I not?! Especially when my body hurts, oh HECK my soul hurts from carrying all this weight?!

It has been suggested that I find a motivator that will jump-start my desire. I HAVE desire but I have NO motivator! And believe me I have heard it all. From death to life in agony, from exceeding joy to eternal happiness, yet nothing works in my messed up little head.

Now, I am just tired. Tired of all the work, pain, suffering, ups and downs. I'm tired of trying and failing...every...single...time. ALL of me is tired.

But I still try. Why? Because I'm hoping I will find the answer, the thing that clicks for me and my weird round body. But I'm losing motivation much quicker this time...and I guess...I need help. But I don't know where to get it.

If you offer assistance, please don't be offended if I tell you that yes, indeed I have tried your absolutely-will-not-fail-method-that-works-for-every-body-especially-mine. And in turn I will do my best to simply accept with a genuine heart.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Feelings Are My Own

To read my blogs and to hear me speak, you might think I keep nothing to myself (except those sacred-not-secret things) but you would be mistaken. Most of what I keep close to my heart are my feelings, my emotions. Those are mine and I only share those with two people: my husband and my son.

Does this sound contradictory? I'm not sure. I hope you would not think me rude or standoffish but I have had to learn to protect myself in many ways and if I am to bare all, sort to speak, on the web I need to put some boundaries up.

As far as the to-share-or-not-to-share, sharing when appropriate and in appropriate ways was something that was advised to me by a church leader long ago. He informed me that the usual stance is not to share too much so as not to seem as boasting, but that I had a story (or several stories) to share and he felt it necessary to open up when the Spirit felt right.

So, here I am on my little blog sharing anything and everything from family to survival, from birth to rebirth. I hope you get something out of my stories because I know I sure got something out of living them!

Monday, February 17, 2014

To Be Found Peculiar Among the Peculiar People: A convert's story continues...

The Search Continues...

As I begin to think about this post, I remember my near lifelong quest to find religion. I am struck by two main thoughts: One is how young I was when I felt the need to go on my personal religious quest, and Two, how I never once thought there could be no religion, no God. When I was about 15 years old, I talked to my best friend about my search. She blankly and truthfully brought up something I never considered. What if, when we die, there's nothing...just dirt and worms and nothing...
I thought about this concept for a while until I understood what I was thinking and feeling. I felt that this idea was wrong. It didn't make sense to my soul. I just knew something had to be out there, someone waiting for me, to return and report.

My search had several stops and starts. I would either hit a wall or land in a comfortable place before I was mature enough to keep looking. By "mature" I mean, to not give up just because things became difficult or I became lax.

After being told once again I did not belong in yet another faith, I grew distraught. I gave up on Christianity because I thought the reason I was pushed out was because I was in the wrong main faith altogether! I studied Islam where rituals were comforting and familiar. I studied Buddhism of many sorts and found it beautiful and fulfilling. I stayed within the more Eastern religions for a few years. During that time I found myself, somewhat. I found some self-made limitations and learn to conquer most of them. I learned how to be and stay calm. In many ways I found forgiveness that went deeper than I had learned in the past. But I still had the yearning to find exactly where I belonged or a place where everything made sense.

I was at a forum where I heard a great Buddhist leader speaking. It was a chance of a lifetime! One of his main focuses is to bring people of ALL faiths together and show us how we are alike. To bring a sense of community for all mankind. In his opening remarks he acknowledged several faiths by validating each of their religious leaders. One of the last ones he mentioned caught me by surprise. He stated that he knew that Jesus was the Christ.

I heard nothing else. I got up and had to leave (discretely). My whole existence was thrown off! And now I had to start at square one...again!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

To Be Found Peculiar Among the Peculiar People: A convert's story continues...

The Search

I have been asked the who, what, how, and why with regards to my joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now I will tell you in written form...

As I look back now, it seems strange to realize that I had been searching for a place that felt right, a place where I belonged since I was about 9 years old. I came to the conclusion that the only place I would belong would be in a church or specific faith or religion. My family never made it a priority to truly attend or subscribe to a specific faith, just to have any place to go when we felt the need was all that was required. As a family we visited and attended Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic... Each time, we stayed for a while until we moved or my mother wasn't interested any longer for whatever reason. My father seemed content wherever he went or even if he went at all. He wasn't against church or religion, he was a hard working man that wanted his days off to be void of any hassle (and if you attend ANY church, it's a hassle -- kids, spouse, car, time....)

When I was a teenager my mother was ready for a philosophy change and we went in search of new church. We landed in a local church for a while until she had conflicts within and I attended on my own. I made friends, I had good times, good memories with the people of this church. But like any family there were disagreements and harsh words. I started to come less and less frequently until the last time I came, the pastor took me aside and suggested that this particular church wasn't for me and asked me to leave.


I was hurt but it wasn't the first time this had happened to me. As a kid, I was asked not to come back to a church-run school. I asked too many questions... In the another church I was told I was "Satan's temptress" and told to leave... I was also told that if holy water ever touched me it would burn me.

I will freely admit I was not a good person. Maybe I was on the inside, maybe my spirit was good, but my actions were not. When I was 18 years old I went wild like a Disney child star. I did things I am not proud of and regret. But after a while the yearning to belong in a spiritual way pulled at my soul. Only, I didn't know how to begin. I searched with my mother in the past, but I had been away from home some time now and my mother stopped searching long ago. So I looked to the only people I knew that could help me with such a huge life-changing decision: celebrities!

I thought that Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley were smart and spiritual people that looked to have their lives in order, so why not try out their faith. I went to a local library and met with some very nice people who wanted to tell me more. I listened and was intrigued. I had only been by there a couple of times when I started to feel this might not be for me. Not anything remotely wrong with anything it just didn't feel right. This feeling is difficult to explain unless you have had first-hand experience but it's like trying to explain Love. It just is, you just are...I don't know...

A couple of weeks later I sat in my car going over my life choices with a good friend and well... this happened. But there were a few weeks of self-discovery and spiritual awakening. Maybe another post...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

To Be Found Peculiar Among the Peculiar People: A convert's story part 5

Before the age of 22, I could tell you the amount of times I cried on one hand. After 22: too numerous to count! It seems that ever since I have been baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I can cry at just about anything. To sound all cool and churchy I could say it's because of the gift of the Holy Ghost and that my heart is now broken and being put together and pricked in the way Heavenly Father needs it to be.

This is also where I would tell you I know I'm a nothing, a nobody, but again the Spirit corrects me and tells me I am of royalty. No, I'm not Cleopatra reincarnated, but that I am a daughter of God! And by being a daughter of God He has given me special gifts. We are all this cool because He gives all of us gifts. And like the scripture on the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) I must share them to increase those talents or gifts. When I share any talent I often feel very exposed. I feel as if I make one false note or step or do any part of it wrong, I am being judged harshly. I was treated thus by some people throughout the years and it always makes me second guess myself and my talents.

Often I feel overwhelmed by the Spirit because these gifts are so sacred to me (again with my sacred, not secret stuff). One sure-fire way to get me all choked up is to have me sing. It almost doesn't matter what song it is, if it has meaning or messages I cry. I also cry when talking about my hardships and trials because believe it or not, those are also sacred to me.

Today in church I sang "The Olive Tree" with a couple of awesome friends. When singing in a group I don't choke as often but when it comes to a solo...all bets are off. If any of you have ever heard me "sing" in church before you can guess what happened this time. Luckily it was at the very end and just a tiny part, but I just could not hold back those darn tears!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

To Be Found Peculiar Among the Peculiar People: A convert's story part 4

I guess the polite way to describe my baptism is that it was "intimate". Another word would be "sacred" (yet another one of those sacred not secret events but again, feel free to ask in person). I was unsure of how it was supposed to go but it was my first step into the knowledge that my Father in Heaven knew me as an individual...as His own.

I had been baptized a few times by other churches on my path to discover where it was I truly belonged and which faith in fact had all the answers I was looking for. I had never intended to join the LDS faith, in fact, I had every intention to say no when asked to investigate further.

I never knew what a "Mormon" was until I was about 18 years old. I had a friend in high school who was Mormon but never knew what my friends meant when they said they don't hang out with her because she was one. It wasn't until I had moved in with family that I finally understood more about these Peculiar people. I would never fully understand until I fully committed myself to the faith.

When my friend Becca and I were talking about my life and the next steps I should take, one night in my car, she boldly asked if I would talk with the Missionaries. Like I said, I had every intention of saying, "no thank you," but what came out of my mouth surprised the both of us. I simply said, "yes," and three weeks later I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So many things happened during those three weeks, but that's another story....

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

To Be Found Peculiar Among the Peculiar People: A convert's story part 3

Being Peculiar inside a peculiar world, I have had my share of Ups and Downs...

--Not exactly being welcomed into The Fold

--Finding not only acceptance but Love where it was least expected (I was warned or at least cautioned in a similar fashion for both the Single's ward and Idaho)

--Discovering my kind of Peculiar was not appreciated in every ward

--Becoming a better and stronger person on my own and in the Gospel despite it all

Saturday, February 1, 2014

To Be Found Peculiar Among the Peculiar People: A convert's story part 2

Many people on both sides of the Wall anticipated my departure from the LDS church long ago.

Despite (or maybe because) I was considered Golden by the Missionaries, I wasn't one thought to have staying power. I had friends from my past and people in the Church that gave me three months and then I'd be out of there!

...it took me four...

Having very little support from anywhere in my early beginnings of the Church made it more than difficult at times to stay Strong. It wasn't until I was at a wild and crazy (a la Hollywood style) New Year's Eve party that I felt the Strength and power to boldly stand firm in the Gospel. (This is one of the few things I don't publicly speak on BUT if you ask in person I will tell you. It's not secret, it's sacred.)
think ^this but bigger, louder, and INSANE

My life in or out of the Gospel did not become easier from that point on, it got harder. In fact, it took me four more years for me to have the Strength to stand upright, Tall and Strong having finally fought personal Demons and a very large monkey (dare I say Gorilla) off my back.

Only five years young in the Church and I still used others testimonies as a crutch for my own. It would be so for nearly another year until one Magical summer changed it all. (*cue flashback music*)

The Summer of Christine. No, my name is not Christine but a good friend of mine--Christine--was learning how to stand on her own two feet and by example, so was I. I think only those closely involved during that summer's events can properly convey and understand the feelings, thoughts, EVERYTHING...or maybe it was just me. Either way, it was another one of those Sacred not Secret events for me that shaped me for the better.

I had finally learned to love myself.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

To Be Found Peculiar Among the Peculiar People: A convert's story part 1

To have the Weirdos thing you're weird, now that's sayin' something!

I think there are just a few in the Church that don't quite fit in anywhere, outside or in. And I'm one of them. I have found there are several factors that make up an Outsider on the Inside. Being a convert is one sure way, but not the only way.

I am one of these Converts. That's right! I'm a Mormon. I was an Outsider the moment I stepped through those doors. Not only did I have tattoos and body piercings, I had a Past...and some of those people knew it. Others just assumed I was bad because I had "that look". And they were right! All of it was true. I wore my Past on the Outside. You may not know exactly what "it" was, but "it" was there and you could just feel it.
Okay, not THIS bad, but you get the picture

By just looking at me, I had the kind of Past that you grab your children and hold them tight while bearing your teeth. That was until I opened my mouth. I would talk and let people in let them know just about anything they wanted to know about me. I never kept my Past hidden BUT you had to be brave enough to ask me and not just judge and assume.

here are a few crazy Singles
Many well-established members did take up the challenge. It wasn't until I learned about and experienced the Single's Ward that I truly started to bloom and feel accepted. A church building filled with 18-30 year olds who were confused, sure of themselves, brave, and scared all at the same time were my kind of people. These Church members asked questions of me and of my life like a child--wide-eyed, anticipatory, and surprisingly accepting despite what the world may think of this group. And once I was able to have some sharp points smoothed, learned the lingo, and understood more of the Gospel, I was more capable of communicating my Past properly.

Communicating my Past wasn't simply telling all the gory and lurid details, it was more of how I learned from it, how it shaped me, how I am a better person because of it all.
Leah (blonde) and Me (not blonde) lol

Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 Resolution (or Theme) Update

Since the announcement of this year's theme I've been anxious to get on with it. (Maybe next year should be about Patience) I knew I would have to forgive and possibly forget: forget hurt feelings, forget hurtful words and actions. It may (or may not) surprise you to know that Forgiveness does not come easily to me. I tend to remember everything and I have worked hard over the years not to be so black and white in my thoughts and actions.

So with all that weighing on my mind I wasn't sure if I was ready to Let Go, but Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself...thankfully. But His methods always seem to catch me by surprise. I know He seems to start small and gradually get more involved, I just don't catch on until the big stuff really gets going. But this is different. Last night while meditating (you should try it, it's so wonderful) I received my first item to Let Go. Like always, I was caught off guard because I had anticipated Letting Go of the big things. I thought I had already done away with the smaller thoughts and feelings that got overthrown when the bigger events started taking precedence.

I thought, release and Let Go lots of things...
Instead I was asked to start with one...
One little thought, but it was the very first thought at the very beginning of EVERYTHING. It was so small and so First Thought that I never even mentioned it. I never even mentioned to Ben! But that Thought was what I was asked to Let Go.

It makes me think of the Sound of Music:
      ♪♪ Let's start at the very beginning,
            A very good place to start ♪♪

Alma 37:6 ...but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Purpose of Denial

**WARNING** This post is going to be filled with platitudes but please don't shy away. This post is really about growing from the experiences of pain and sorrow and moving towards acceptance and peace.

The other day I was reading some training material for volunteers working in hospice. Something that caught my eye was The Purpose of Denial. The purpose? To "give ourselves time to adjust to a new reality."

WOW! Profound! So profound to me that it made me stop and think. I thought about our move, my theme for this year, my fury friend's passing,  pretty much EVERYTHING that has gone on in the past five years...

And I thought about the way I handle it all, the way I push things and thoughts out of my mind in hopes of moving past the situation. But it never works for me! Now I understand why...
I never did this^ I would push past the pain, past the grief so I could hurry on to peace.

I know you must be thinking "but you said you liked moving!" I did! But there was a lot of grief with the move as well. I left my home, my family, my friends. There was stuff (literal stuff) that we had to leave behind because it wouldn't fit in our truck and we only had time and resources for one trip. Leaving behind that stuff was just made worse because of all the other stuff I had to leave. The move was good but it was hard, too!

You may think "well, it's been almost five years. shouldn't you be over all the things that almost happened?" My response to that: NOPE! For some the grieving process is short, for me it's longer. And although there was no actual death, there was certainly deaths of other sorts.

Then there's the cat. "But Blythe, it was just a cat!" If you know me at all you know I have a huge soft spot for animals (and if you don't know me, well then, just hush! :-P ) You may know that I don't deal with Death very well.

Putting all that aside, the heart of the matter has been I never had to adjust to a New Reality before! My life and my situations seemed to stay the same. Nothing ever really changed. Sure, I had lots of things happen to me but the situations and outcomes seemed to always be the same...and then we moved.

The problem with pausing for thought and giving myself Time is that it opens my mind and thoughts to all the other times I didn't do this for myself. Thus the long post...

BUT I'm finally ready for the acceptance stage!

I'm ready to finally turn the page on my life and see what comes next.


And finally, Peace.