Thursday, February 23, 2017

Retrain the Brain: Step One

Hey all. Are you ready to grow with me? I want to share some thoughts on how to RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN if you suffer from negative thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, or general unhappiness. I love learning about the brain, and I'm amazed at how malleable it is. Mental health is a daily process, and just like physical health, it takes awareness and diligence. I hope that sharing my journey to better mental health will help you find your way as well. 

Step One: Positive Thinking

Your thoughts are everything. What you think will become. If you think life is miserable, it will be. If you think you are a failure, you will thwart your success. Notice I didn't say you will BE a failure, because no one ever is a failure. EVER. God didn't put you on earth to fail.

I've spent the last few years teaching myself to think positively. I got to the point where I'd lost faith in myself. Being in a state of hopelessness is a horrible, bleak place to be. If you are in this state, get help. Medication might be required to help you produce more serotonin, since no amount of positive thinking can pull you out of true depression. But you will also need to retrain your brain. Even if you don't suffer from depression (you lucky dog you!), you can still benefit from immersing yourself in positive thoughts. 

Positive thinking enlarges your brain, lets you see new opportunities, and enables you to build the skills and resources that will help you succeed in life. 

When something didn't go according to plan, my old self would say, "This is a failure. I failed. I'm a failure." This kind of negative thinking completely crippled me. I can now look at failures unsuccessful ventures as learning experiences. Instead of asking myself, What did I do wrong? or Why can't I do this as well as so and so? I ask: What did I learn? How has this helped me? Am I a better person now than I was before this trial? What can I do differently next time?

Rather than beating myself up and tearing myself down, I am growing and improving. You cannot move forward if you feel like a failure. Just like the stepping stones in the above picture, we have to trust ourselves enough to take that next step. We aren't going to have that personal trust if Negative Nancy lives in your head. 

The following quote has been on my mind a lot. Sometimes I spend a lot of time working on a project only to have it not turn out like I wanted. But thankfully I'm old enough to be able to look back on these experiences and see that it wasn't just wasted time: I was learning skills to do something else, or maybe I was helping someone else learn, and they are able to use those skills to bless others. And if I  have a day where I don't feel like I accomplished much, it helps to know all those little things I do add up and eventually become something worthwhile.

And finally, if your life isn't what you want it to be, or if you aren't WHO you want to be, don't give up. Take it one step at a time. Things always get better. Have hope. You aren't on this journey alone.<3

Print today's picture quotes for your Journaler by clicking here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Get the Write Stuff

It's finished!   

I don't know why it takes me 10 billion times longer than I expect to finish a project (maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have a family to care for. And work responsibilities. And more work responsibilities. And ... oh you get the idea), but with just 19 days past the new year, I finally have an awesome organizational tool to help you have an even more awesome 2017.

I've enjoyed making it, and I've enjoyed using it even more. I hope you will find it useful too. 

Take a second (or two ) to see what it's all about!

You can purchase your Journaler digital files on Etsy. You will be sent a link to download the files from Dropbox. It's a simple process and won't take you much time at all. 

I will periodically post inspirational memes for you to download for free, as well as share insights and breakthroughs that I'm having as I trip along through life. 

Will you come on this new Journaler journey with me? I promise you it will be worth it. (Sorry, no money back guarantee. But if you don't think it's worth it you can come punch me in the face. ...Or maybe my shoulder. Yeah. Shoulder. Deal?)

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Struggles of Muggles

Truth be told: I struggle.

Even truthier truth be told: EVERYONE struggles. No one has a magic wand that makes life perfect.

Life isn't easy, but it wasn't meant to be.

But we are meant to have JOY, and we are meant to be happy despite our struggles.

I've been working hard to find a better balance in my life: more joy, more happiness, more laughter, more loving--even when life is less than perfect.

I'm reworking the blog to document my discoveries as a way to help myself retain what I learn (teaching someone else is always the best way to learn). I also hope that you might find something of value that will help with your muggle struggles.

I'll have free downloads for you every week (ish) (we all know I'm not always consistent) (I'm consistent with my inconsistency).

My way to cope/manage/balance is through journaling. I searched for the perfect system or notebook for my journaling, but my search was futile. (I'm such a special case that the mass market doesn't understand the inner-workings of my brain.) So what's a girl to do when she can't buy what she needs? She makes it!

I'm going to be rolling out the Journal +  Planner system I've created next week, with the hope that it will be just what you need too. I'll tell you all about it next week.

But to get you started, here are some downloads you will need for December (since it will be gone before you can blink!) to help you get organized with your shopping and such.

 Great for any holiday or large event!

They are sized for an A5 binder or planner system (two pages per one standard size paper.)

And they are yours, FREE for the downloading.

Here's one final freebie, the perfect reminder of the one source of our most profound JOY.

Art by Simon Dewey. Verse from 2 Nephi 2:27.

Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Light the World

I'm excited to help my family shift the focus from "stuff" to "service" this Christmas season.

I came up with a list of service items that work for my family--most cost little to nothing, and many don't involve a huge chunk of time. There are enough ideas for one act of service for every day this month. (Some ideas were taken from the calendar on

I printed my ideas on clear labels and I am sticking them in my planner on days that fit with that particular project. I wanted to share my simple way to remember to complete an act of service every day with y'all.

You can download the list from Dropbox and print them on Avery labels. The page is spaced for Avery template 5160.

We can change the world, one act of kindness at a time.

Help Light The World.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Gift of Music

Happy Holidays!

Are you guys enjoying the season thus far?

I feel more Christmassy than ever, and I attribute it to our awesome new tradition: THE NUTCRACKER.

This is Bean's second year participating in it, and I have fallen in love with the magical story, the beauty of ballet, and the MUSIC.

The music from the Nutcracker is among the most easily identifiable Christmas music, but I'd never heard it in its entirety. It is lovely and I could listen to it over and over again. It makes me happy.

Which brings me to this thought:

Nothing changes my mood more completely, or quickly, than MUSIC.

I know I have mentioned it before, like here, but I feel like music is one of the greatest gifts from God. I also believe that the music you listen to can determine your destiny.

Have you ever thought about that?

The lyrics and rhythm in the music you select influence your thoughts, and thoughts then turn to action.

If you are listening to lyrics which are riddled with profanities and promote one night stands, binge drinking, drugs and violence, guess what thoughts will be in your head?

That makes you want to check your teenager's iTunes library, doesn't it?

 I don't propose that you only let your kids listen to MoTab, but make sure they are introduced to good music at a young age. Teach them to understand how different types music make them feel, and as they grow they will be able to choose uplifting music for themselves. I also think it's important to embrace they music they listen to, as it gives you something to talk about and bond over. I love nothing more than when one of the kids say, "Mom, listen to this new song!" Music can unite your family.

With the hectic pace of the holiday season, as well the overabundance of materialism, if you want your home and your heart to be filled with peace, might I suggest cranking up the Christmas music? There's fun and fluffy Christmas music, but there is also beautiful, inspired Christmas music that makes your spine tingle--that is the stuff that should be blaring from your speakers.

I'm sure I've shared it before, but I'll share it again, just because it is THE AWESOMEST OF AWESOME. This song will get rid of Grinchyness quick!

And I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but will you try watching The Nutcracker? Here is a link to an absolutely amazing performance in Russia. I know it's long, but turn it on while you are baking cookies or wrapping gifts and get a glympse of it every once in awhile. The first part--the Party Scene--isn't as fun and as "dancy" as the rest, so if you want to start it at 40:00, you'll see the best stuff from then on. We've been watching/listening to it almost daily ever since finishing out local Nutcracker. Yes: even my boys will watch it. Which, BTW, my 2nd oldest participated as an extra in our Nutcracker and loved every second of it.

I heard something once about how just listening to music can inspire and invoke creative thoughts, but the effect is quadrupled when one PARTICIPATES in music. How can you participate if you are unmusical--like me? You can sing along, even if it's not on key! I've always admired people who have the guts to belt it out, no matter what their voice sounds like. You can also participate by dancing. This is something I don't do nearly enough (although my family might think that me dancing once a year is PLENTY). Brene Brown says, "I can measure the spiritual health of my family by how much dancing is happening in our kitchen." That sounds like a fun, happy family, and that's something we all long for. Give it a try!

Since I'm always on the lookout for something new to listen to: can you share with us your favorite Christmas music?  Do you also want to tell us about how music has influenced your life? Or anything else musical you want to share? And will you accept my challenge to watch the Nutcracker? (Your heads should be bobbing yes right now. That's also the start of your dance party. Keep nodding. Now add your shoulders. Now your feet should be tapping too ...)

Friday, November 20, 2015

I Wish ...

Most of you probably know that my baby girl (who isn't such a little girl anymore, even though I keep telling her to stop growing up. Kids never listen!) has Type 1 Diabetes. Since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you what I wish everyone, including many medical professionals, knew about diabetes. Since I'm not comfortable with putting my children's full names on the internet, we shall refer to my daughter as Bean, even though she hates that nickname. :)

I wish everyone knew, and then remembered, the different types of diabetes.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. There is nothing that can be done to prevent Type 1, meaning that it WAS NOT caused by poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. In Type 1, the pancreas no longer produces insulin, therefore a diabetic must always inject insulin, even if they were on a low carb diet. Someone with Type 1 can eat everything that is a part of a normal healthy diet, including fruit and sweets. We don't restrict what Bean eats; we want her to feel like every other child out there. However, certain sugary things like soda pop and candy leave her system before the insulin does, which can lead to low blood sugars, so we do avoid those as much as possible, but so should everyone!

Bean WILL NOT grow out of Type 1. Until there is a cure, Type 1 is with you for LIFE. Type 1 can also develop in adulthood, as my sister-in-law found out this past year. This is called Adult Onsest (technically LADA) and the progression is slower than when Type 1 develops in children, which means patients will not need to inject as much insulin. Some people are calling LADA Type 1.5, and it is often misdiagnosed as Type 2. If the recently-diagnosed adult is within a healthy weight and lives a healthy lifestyle, it is most likely LADA.

While Bean wears an insulin pump so she doesn't have to do several injections per day, she does still have to poke her fingers to check her blood sugar about 8 times per day. The insulin pump has a small cannula that goes under her skin, but not into a vein, and this needs changed every 3 days, which means yet another poke. Poor Bean is a pincushion. (But don't feel sorry for her; she hates being fussed over!)

She wears her insulin pump in a SpiBelt, which works perfectly for us. She puts it around her waist and it stays hidden under her clothes. I'm working with her to feel more comfortable showing her pump, but she's not ready to be as bold as Miss Idaho, who started the social media campaign #showmeyourpump   

Sierra Sanderson bravely wore her pump attached to her bikini bottom during the Miss Idaho swimuit competition, stating that "We all have something that doesn't 'measure up' to the beauty standards set by the media--and that is okay! It does not make you any less beautiful."

Other lucky Type 1ers have Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems (CGM), which gives you a constant reading of your blood sugar, giving you better control of your diabetes. It will warn you of low blood sugars, which can prevent you from passing out, but our insurance says that a CGM is not a medical necessity. Whatevs. The drawback is that it requires another weekly poke, as well as a transmitter that sticks to your skin. It's not a perfect solution, but it's something.

Nick Jonas showing his CGM. Just so you know that he's not posing like this to show off his 6 pack: CGMs and Insulin Pumps are most commonly inserted on the stomach or upper buttocks. Be grateful he put it on his stomach for this photoshoot. Ha.

Next up:

Type 2 is most the most common kind of diabetes, and it is mostly found in adults. Their bodies still produce insulin, but the insulin is no longer effect due to years of overuse (making your body produce ample amounts of insulin to cover the carbs your body is eating, and then not burning off through exercise.) Type 2 CAN be managed through diet and exercise, but if oral medications and a lifestyle change don't work, insulin injections will be needed. Someone with Type 2 will not eat high carb foods, including many fruits. It is because of Type 2 that we have "jokes" like "I just opened a can of diabetes."

People with Type 2 do not need your judgement. They do not need your criticism. They do not need "I told you so." They need compassion. They need understanding.

Don't we all do things that we know aren't good for us? 

You don't know what physical limitations, injuries, mental illness, or other challenges they may have. 

What they need is your support and friendship. Instead of saying, "Oh yeah, you can't eat this" and then eating cheesecake in front of them, you should follow their lead and restrict some of your indulgences too. Start an exercise program with them and help them stick to it. Buy them a dog so they have to take the dog for daily walks. (Maybe ask for permission first.)

It is good to know that, with your help and their motivation, Type 2 doesn't have to mean poor quality of life and severe medical complications. It doesn't have to be an epidemic.

I'm not going to go into Gestational Diabetes since this post is already PLENTY long. But wait! I'm not done! There's more!

I wish you knew what the symptoms of diabetes are so that you can be an advocate for your loved ones when you feel that something isn't right. Medical professionals can miss the signs and not diagnosis it quick enough, as we saw in a tragic case out of Utah this past year. Our doctor, too, did not diagnosis it, and instead thought that Bean had something wrong with her kidneys. I knew he was wrong and went out and bought a meter and checked her blood sugar myself. It's so simple to check blood sugars; why isn't it done more frequently? You should check blood sugar if you/ your loved one has:
  •  "Fruity" smelling breath
  • Frequent urination
  • Unquenchable thirst
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
I personally think every family should have a meter to check blood sugars occasionally. They are cheap (test strips aren't cheap, however, but you don't need many) and it doesn't hurt to know your blood sugar range. (It doesn't hurt figuratively; literally, it does hurt, but just a little.) You should run somewhere between about 70-130, depending on how recently you have eaten.

I wish you knew that people with Type 1 can do anything, accomplish anything, and be anything. Movie stars, ballerinas, skiers, basketball players: you name it! Type 1 is not a death sentence: you can live a normal, long, healthy life!

I wish you knew how lucky we are to have found THE BEST medical support staff that can be found anywhere, even though we live in a small community. Finding medical professionals who specialize in diabetes, not just endocrinology, makes all the difference in the world.

I wish you knew how brave and tough Bean is. She never complains. She never lets it stop her. She never makes a fuss when she's weak and shaky from a low blood sugar. She just quietly eats her snack and then goes back to being an active, healthy kid. She doesn't let her diabetes define her.

I wish you knew what a difference it makes seeing other people courageously live with diabetes. When Bean was diagnosed (just before her 4th birthday), I was not scared and worried because I had seen my sister calmly, successfully, and diligently learn how to care for her son, who was diagnosed with diabetes when he was just 18 months old. A positive attitude makes a huge difference!

I wish you knew that even though I would never wish an illness on anyone, Bean's diabetes gives us time to connect, grow together, and learn compassion for others who struggle with challenges. You can find beauty in every trial if you only look.

I wish you knew that remarkable advances toward The Cure are made every year. We are excited about the future. You can help by donating to the JDRF. Click here to find out more. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Gift of Mediocrity

I had a different post halfway written, but this subject kept nagging me. I hesitate to write about it because I don't feel that I have yet overcome this particular obstacle in my life, but then I realized that maybe that's why I need to write about it--the best way to fully understand something is through explaining it to others.

So join me as I learn about ... MEDIOCRITY! 

I have ofttimes felt like I'm cursed to live a life of mediocrity. I have always had a desire to rise up and achieve greatness--in some form or another--but everything I do seems to just be so so.

So so book sales, so so hits on my blog, so so athletic abilities, so so conversation skills, so so grades in school, and so on and so on on the so so.

It also pains me to see my children suffer from so so ness. "Why doesn't the coach play me more?" "Why didn't I get a bigger role?" "Why didn't I get the best grade?"

Being mediocre is better than feeling like a failure (I've been there too. Ugh), but it's still not what we aspire to, right?

Since we aspire to do more--to BE more--it's understandable that not meeting your own expectations can bring on frustration.

What I'm about to say is going to be revolutionary ...

It's time to lower your expectations.

No one ever says that! In fact, you are told to always do your best. I agree, do YOUR best. But let go of the expectation to do someone else's best.

So what if you aren't the star player on the middle school basketball team? Did you try hard? Did you show up at every practice and give it your all? Did you contribute to your team in some way? That's all that really matters.

And doesn't the feeling of mediocrity come from COMPARISON?

One of my all time favorite quotes is this:

(You can copy and download for free, from me!)

I will do an entire post on comparison someday, but for now just remember one thing. Just


(The wise words of Dieter Uchtdorf.)

You can't be mediocre if you're only comparing your efforts to your own prior efforts.

Ask yourself if you are improving. Have you spent time and effort working on that particular skill? Did you give it your all? Then that is AWESOME, not mediocre.

This goes right along with what I have learned from Brene Brown (have you read her? She is life-changing. I'm forever in your debt, Ms. Robyn, for pointing me in her direction!) about perfectionism. As Brene says, be an aspiring good-enoughist. Focus on yourself and your desire to do your best. Know that EVERYONE struggles--we all feel inadequate from time to time. It is part of the shared human experience.

I realized recently that being mediocre can be a gift. On the kids' report cards, there is a section that is based on habits and traits where grades of E for Excellent and S for Satisfactory are given. For example, cooperation and courtesy are evaluated. The very first semester, we've noticed that the kids don't get all E's or S+'s; versus the end of the year, where the teachers seem to be more generous in giving out those high marks. Why is this? Because they want to give each kid (no matter how excellent they are) room to improve. They want them to strive--to really earn those marks. If the student feels like they are already awesome with their work habits, they might decide it's OK to let things slide every once in awhile. They won't have any goal worth achieving.

You always need a goal, and you always need to find ways to improve--but improve for your own satisfaction and not the adoration of others.

Also, think of those who have achieved great success very early in life or on their first try. What happens after the initial huge success is that nothing else they do can measure up. (At least in the eyes of the public.) Think of Stephanie Meyer and how nothing she writes can ever beat Twilight. That would make it impossible for her to ever even have the desire to write, knowing that she would be judged so harshly. Or think of Justin Beiber ... ... um never mind. But looking at success this way makes you appreciate having to work so hard and really struggle, doesn't it?

Give yourself permission to be mediocre. Put all your best effort into the things that really matter--family, faith and friends. Give others the permission to be mediocre, knowing that unrealistic expectations of them can lead to burnout and anxiety. Be more accepting of things AS THEY ARE, not as you want them to be. Most of all, remember that: 

Your personal success can only be measured with a yard stick; not a tape measure that stretches between yourself and others.

Do you have experiences with learning to be more accepting of yourself and your shortcomings? Do you have any thoughts about embracing mediocrity that you'd like to share?

Thank you for letting me talk my way through this topic: it has helped my change my perspective!

And, I've been dying to read a beautiful work of fiction. Something that is delicious and captivating and inspiring. Have you read anything good lately? Do share!