Posted on Leave a comment

People

This past couple of weeks has been a whirlwind. We have had a lot of good family stuff going on, the beginning of summer, camps, open gyms, hiking, clubs…. But it’s been great. Along with summer though, comes a lot of my art business. I participate in a number of summer events selling art. So, the last several weeks have been somewhat devoted to getting art and products ordered and getting some of it delivered to the local shops that sell it for me. The remainder I keep for the Farmer’s Markets and other art exhibits I do in the summer. Today I received a shipment of a number of art prints. I love getting mail, especially if it’s art! But along with this large shipment of art comes the work. I had to frame a bunch of the art and package the rest. I will be making note cards and packaging them soon, and getting the other forms of art ready to sell. My loft now looks like a war zone.

I have a love/hate relationship with bazaars and markets. There is a lot of time and energy devoted to getting ready, packing everything up, setting everything up, hours on end standing around, tearing everything down, loading it back in the car, and then coming home and unloading it again. I have been to a number of bazaars where I paid good money to be there, only to sell $10 worth of merchandise. This can be extremely frustrating. I have learned to be picky about where I set up. Location really is the key. But, even with all the hassle, I still keep going back. Why, you may ask? The people.

I am very comfortable being by myself, and I like having the option to be around people or not. But my favorite part of the markets and shows is all the people I get to meet. I also enjoy watching people, so these markets are a great place to do that, especially when people are avoiding eye contact because they don’t want to be drawn into your booth! Before I started to sell my art I would take my kids to markets and I would purposefully not take any money. I can’t fault anyone for doing that. It really does save money when you don’t have any to spend. But, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and loved looking at people’s creations, but I always felt bad when I didn’t buy anything. I know vendors are there to sell things, but for me that is not the only reason.

Now, I can’t speak for other vendor’s, but for me personally, I love it when people engage in conversation. I don’t mind if they don’t even come into my booth. A simple “hi, how are you,” will brighten my day. Especially if I have been standing there for hours, whether I’ve sold a lot or not much, just that simple conversation will help pass the time. Obviously I don’t mind when people come in and look, but I don’t expect everyone to like my art, because everyone has their own style they like. But when people come in and look and talk about how I create, and share how they create, that is awesome! And when someone I know stops by, just to visit for a while, no pressure to buy, just to visit, that makes a huge difference in how my day goes. I also love to smile at people, whether they were coming to my booth or not, and say hi. It is amazing to watch some people, when they know someone has noticed them, they stand a little taller, their eyes brighten a little bit, and they smile. I love it when people smile.

I love the energy that is created by people selling a piece of themselves, something that is unique to them, even if they have patterned it after someone else’s work, they infuse a piece of themselves into it. So, whether you’re buying or not, or maybe just looking for good ideas to try on your own, go to your local markets. I would encourage you to talk to the vendors, whether you buy something or not, say hi. If they are doing something you have always wanted to learn about, or you find intriguing in any way, ask about it. It’s not always about making the sale, but for me anyway, it’s about making a connection with another human being. And this summer especially, isn’t that something we all need?

Posted on Leave a comment

Chapters

Image result for the only thing constant is change

Throughout my life I have noticed that there are different blocks of time that are similar, and then things change and there is a new block of time that is similar. I have learned that there are different chapters in life. I have noticed several distinct chapters in my life through the years, and we are now transitioning into a new one at our home. I will relate several of these chapters and then talk about the one we are currently in.

I guess, prior to getting married I didn’t look at life in chapters. So, growing up is just one big chapter that I won’t cover here. The first one happened when my husband and I got married. My husband and I started dating when I was 17 and a senior in high school. I was 18 years old, had been out of high school for almost one year when we got married, and I had only taken a couple of college classes because I really didn’t know where I wanted to go with my life. I am from Southern Utah, and he is from Alaska, so his plan was always to live in Alaska. He had already purchased property from his parents original homestead, so not long after we got married we headed for Alaska. When we first got married I was smart enough to know I wasn’t ready to have kids. That changed about two years into our marriage, but we weren’t blessed with kids until we had been married almost six years. Those first six years were chapter one. They were awesome years, and a great base to build our lives on. My husband started his Contracting business and I went to work with him almost every day. Those years helped us build a solid relationship and foundation for our future family. They were great years, and the memories are sweet.

Almost six years after we got married we had our first child. That was almost an instantaneous chapter change. Some are like that, while others are a lot slower. Even though I had been pregnant for nine months, I still worked and it wasn’t until I had my first child that I realized how much life would change. She got the ball started, and we ended the next five year chunk of time with four kids total, two girls and two boys, five years old and under. I always wanted my kids to be close in age, and they definitely were. This was the second chapter of our lives, but my husband will say that this chapter didn’t end until the diapers did! This was an exhausting chapter, full of sleepless nights and lots of hands on experiences. The days seemed to crawl by, but looking back, the years flew by. I don’t want to go back, but sometimes I wish I could have stepped back once in a while and realized how fast the time was flying. I loved this time in our lives though, just like the first chapter, this one is also full of sweet memories and lots of love.

The third chapter started just after my fourth child was born. That fall my oldest went to kindergarten. This was a transitional time, rather than a sudden end to a chapter like the beginning of the second chapter. Because my kids are so close together, the first two went to school one year after the other. Then there was a two year gap, and then the last two went to school one year after the other. These were great years as well, full of lots of activities in school, lots of field trips and concerts, art projects and volunteering. I loved the independence my kids gained being “on their own” a little bit in school. Theses years also flew by, much faster than I would have liked, but that seems to be the way life goes the older we get. I am so grateful for the wonderful elementary school my kids went to, and the awesome adults there who helped to shape my kids into the great people they are today. I am also grateful for how some of them helped to shape me.

The fourth chapter I would say began when my oldest went into high school. I homeschooled my kids through middle school, so there didn’t seem to be any huge changes as we were still always helping the younger kids in our free time at the elementary school. But high school was one of those chapters that hit over night. There was the anticipation from my oldest through the summer, but it became real that first morning that I dropped her off. I thought I was busy in each of these previous chapters, but I learned that wasn’t the case when high school came along. My oldest two kids went to a technical high school that was much further away than the normal high school, so every day we drove at least once to or from school. My oldest also played basketball. But the technical school didn’t have sports, so she played basketball at the high school she would have attended. That required a lot of driving as well. Instead of a 6 1/2 hour school day, she ended up being gone for 12-15 hours a day during the basketball season between early morning seminary and two hour practices after school, and all the driving time in between. This chapter of our lives isn’t over. My last child is starting high school this coming school year. While this chapter has required a lot of time and dedication from not only our children, but our cars and the chauffeur (me), I am grateful for the opportunity that the long drives have given me to stay connected to my kids, and for their willingness to talk while in the car. It’s a great safe place where they know what they say will go no further.

While we are still in the fourth chapter, I have felt the transition to the fifth chapter of our lives beginning, almost a year ago, but still kind of in the process. My oldest left for college last fall, and will be leaving in a week to go on an 18 month mission for our Church to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today at our family Sunday dinner we were discussing that it might be the last dinner we have all together as a family for the next eight years if each of my children serve missions, or as they leave to attend college. So tonight, I feel a little nostalgic, but also very excited for my kids as they step out into the world. I worry and pray for their safety, but I want them to spread out their wings and fly. I am excited to see where they go, and hopefully, someday to have a few grandkids running around my house once in a while. This chapter will continue to transition into something new, I am sure. But I am grateful for the perspective that I have gained, and I am grateful for the wonderful family I have to travel along with on the road of life.

I am grateful for this perspective that I was given so many years ago about viewing my life in chapters, seeing that there is a time and a season for all things. Throughout these chapters my husband has grown his business, and taught my kids the value of work. I have started my business and am excited to see where it will go. Looking back, each chapter had it’s challenges, but each chapter had more sweet memories and growing love than anything else. Nothing ever stays the same, change is the only guarantee in life, and I am grateful for the opportunity I have to embrace that change. What are some of the chapters in your life? What sweet memories do you have from those chapters?

Posted on Leave a comment

Training

I was thinking today about all the things that I have accomplished, and all the things I would like to do, some of which I will accomplish, and others seem to just be nice dreams and inspiration. This past week I talked to several people about my book, and someone asked if I had a college degree in literature or writing of some sort. Actually no. I went to one semester of college when I was 18 years old. That is the extent of my college type of education. I have no training in writing beyond what I learned in high school, and the little bit of training I have had helping my kids as I homeschooled them through middle school. Another group of friends and I were discussing websites. We also discussed selling what we created and getting it out there for others to see. I have found as I talk to people that there are so many people afraid of taking the first step, they don’t feel like they know enough or they aren’t trained in a particular area. I saw this quote somewhere on social media, and I think it pretty much sums up where I come from.

Image result for never be afraid to try something new

We all have goals and dreams that are way out of our comfort zone. Never in my wildest dreams growing up (or even as a young adult) did I ever think I would be an artist, or write a book, or anything close to that. So today I hope you realize that you are capable of doing whatever you want, regardless of your “education.” There is more than one way to get an education, and it doesn’t always involve a building called a college or university. Some things do, I wouldn’t want a doctor who had gotten an online degree operating on me, but there is so much in life that we can learn, and so many different ways to learn. I didn’t just start building a website one day and finish it the next. I went through all the tutorials associated with WordPress, I read from all the frequently asked questions, there was a ton of trial and error, lots of frustrated evenings, and many days I felt like a failure because I couldn’t figure things out. But I didn’t quit. You shouldn’t either.

When I started writing my book I found a publishing site for those wanting to self publish. The price was reasonable, and when I researched different companies that do self-publishing this one was highly recommended. I didn’t start out with any preconceived ideas, mostly because I don’t really know any better anyway. I just went in, like the website, read everything I could, and then jumped in with both feet. It wasn’t until I was done and on some of the community social media sites for self-publishing that I realized my experience was really easy and awesome. Sometimes there’s a lot of hiccups for people along the way. I did find that following the prescribed methods listed on their tutorials made the process super simple and smooth. Sometimes I think it’s about having the right amount of information, not too much, and a healthy ability to plow ahead and keep trying.

Everyone has unique talents and abilities, everyone has a place they can contribute. Don’t be afraid to plow ahead if it’s something you really want. Don’t worry about the training, that will come, whether it’s through a college, or online learning, or just the process of making mistakes and adjusting course, you will learn what works and what doesn’t. I don’t have it all figured out. There are so many things I would like to do and haven’t yet figured it out, or made a plan. But there is a time and a season for everything and I will just keep plugging away at my list until either the list changes with my changing interests or until I have accomplished the things that are most important on my list. You can do and be what you want. You have the power within you, just get started. What do you want to accomplish today?

Posted on 1 Comment

Men

Today is Father’s day and I have been thinking a lot about the men that are important in my life and the lives of my family and children. My dad is a kind, hard working man. He has always been respectful and kind to my mom. He is soft spoken, but encouraging in all of our endeavors. He is kind to everyone he comes in contact with and he loves life and all the good it has to offer. My husband is also very kind. Rarely does he raise his voice. My kids say it’s scarier when he gets quiet anyway! He strive to teach our kids how to work and take care of themselves, and to take responsibility for their lives. He encourages them in whatever they choose to pursue and tries to help along the way when they need some counsel or advice. I am grateful for them as well as all the great father figures I see around me.

I also had the opportunity to look into some statistics about dads and the crisis happening in America because of the lack of a father figures in children’s lives. Here are some of the statistics that I found most interesting. You can read all of the stats from the article here.

  • Children who live in a fatherless home are 279% more likely to deal drugs or carry firearms for offensive purposes compared to children who live with their fathers. (Allen and Lo)
  • Even when poverty levels are equal, children who come from a two-parent home outperform children who come from a one-parent home. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • 63% of youth suicides involve a child who was living in a fatherless home when they made their final decision. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • 90% of the youth in the United States who decide to run away from home, or become homeless for any reason, originally come from a fatherless home. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • 85% of all children which exhibit some type of a behavioral disorder come from a fatherless home. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • Living in a fatherless home is a contributing factor to substance abuse, with children from such homes accounting for 75% of adolescent patients being treated in substance abuse centers. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  •  Children who live in a single-parent home are more than 2 times more likely to commit suicide than children in a two-parent home. (The Lancet)
  • Girls who live in a fatherless home have a 100% higher risk of suffering from obesity than girls who have their father present. Teen girls from fatherless homes are also 4 times more likely to become mothers before the age of 20. (National Public Radio)
  • Children from fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out from school before graduating than children who have a father in their lives. (National Public Radio)
  • 85% of youth who are currently in prison grew up in a fatherless home. (Texas Department of Corrections)
  • 7 out of every 10 youth that are housed in state-operated correctional facilities, including detention and residential treatment, come from a fatherless home. (U.S. Department of Justice)

We live in a country where men are consistently being sidelined and trivialized. It seems that we have worked so hard making sure girls can do and be whatever they want, and don’t need help from anyone, that we have left boys behind. Through this reeducating of our kids, we have lost a lot of the basic roles that were meant for men and women. I am not saying that a single parent family cannot be successful, I’ve seen many examples where it has been. I am also not trying to suggest that mom’s aren’t important, but today I am talking about the importance of good men. What I am saying, is that there are ideals in family life that we can strive for. So much of the divorce that happens today is simply because parents don’t want to work on their relationships. We live in a throwaway society. Objects are made cheaply so that instead of fixing them, we just go buy a new one. Marriages have become the same way. I believe it is because too much of our time is focused outside of our home, through relationships with coworkers and friends, the hype that I need to work on myself first, but that become the only focus, to spending too much time in the same room as your family without ever engaging because of social media, smart phones, games, etc. Instead our focus should be inward on each other and what’s best for our kids and how to strengthen our marriage on a daily basis.

I also found this article very interesting, and the statistics are a stark contrast to the ones above. Not really statistics I guess, but scientifically proven, good reasons why dad’s are important. You can read the full article here, it’s pretty short.

  • Father’s and their daughters – Young girls depend on their fathers for security and emotional support. A father shows his daughter what a good relationship with a man is like. If a father is loving and gentle, his daughter will look for those qualities in men when she’s old enough to begin dating. If a father is strong and valiant, she will relate closely to men of the same character.
  • Father’s and their sons – Unlike girls, who model their relationships with others based on their father’s character, boys model themselves after their father’s character. Boys will seek approval from their fathers from a very young age. As human beings, we grow up by imitating the behavior of those around us; that’s how we learn to function in the world. If a father is caring and treats people with respect, the young boy will grow up much the same. When a father is absent, young boys look to other male figures to set the “rules” for how to behave and survive in the world.
  • Emotional Development – Fathers, like mothers, are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being. Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and supportive, it greatly affects a child’s cognitive and social development. It also instills an overall sense of well-being and self confidence.

My Church has this great proclamation that was written in 1995 that I feel like lays the best foundation for families, and the roles of men in the lives of those families. It also talks about the roles of mothers and children. You can read the full proclamation here, as I will just touch mainly on the role of father’s here.

  • By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.
  • Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.
  • Husbands and wives – mothers and fathers – will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

So, back to the beginning. Men, and their roles and responsibilities in our day and age are often shifted to the side in light of women’s desires to prove they can do everything, and can do it better. We were not placed on this earth to be the same. Men have a unique role in this world, and especially in the live of a family. I don’t think the question should ever be, “Are men and women capable of doing the same thing?” Instead the question should be, “How do we work together, using our unique strengths to bless each other, our families, and make this world a better place?” I am grateful for the strong men in my life, that have helped me feel safe, helped me feel strong, and helped me become better than I could have ever become on my own. Who are the great men in your life?

Posted on Leave a comment

Quotes

In my book I wrote about some of the things that keep me going when I want to give up. One of the things I love is inspirational quotes. When my goals seem hard or I’m tired, it’s nice to have these quotes where I can see them, or even to think about them to keep me going. So today I want to share some of these quotes with you and why they inspire me. I hope they will inspire you as well!

Image result for it doesn't get easier, you get better

I love this quote. I have found this to be true in my exercising. I have found that the more work I put into my muscles, the easier it is to lift, consequently, I bump up my weights to where it gets harder and then, in time, that becomes easy. It’s a great way to measure progress, and I love it. I have also found it to be true when I run. The more I do it, the easier it gets, and the farther I can go. But it doesn’t just apply to exercise. When I am struggling with anything in my life, I have found that often the right decision is the hard one. But when we make those hard decisions because we know they are the right ones, and we see the results, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, it makes the next hard decision a little easier. And when we can continue to do the hard things, to make the best choices, that’s when real progress happens.

Image result for don't stop when you're tired

I shared this one on my Instagram page earlier this week. This one I started off thinking about with exercise a while ago, but I think it applies to so many areas of our lives. It seems like in our day and age that people in general are becoming less resilient. When things get hard they just give up instead of persevering. I have found in exercise as well as other areas of my life that not controlling my thoughts can sabotage my goals. When I start thinking things like “I can’t,” or “it’s too hard,” “is it really worth it?” Those are negative and destructive thoughts. We can’t give our mind the option. Just don’t stop, don’t play mind games, stay focused on the end goal and how to get there.

Image result for I am the storm

I love this quote. The devil only has the power over us that we give him. This quote reminds me of who I am, a daughter of God, and that I am meant for greater things than to fall prey to the devils influences. This world is a crazy place, and there are so many influences out there that seem to be swaying us every which way. But when we really look at it, there are only two influences in this world, Jesus Christ and Satan. I have the choice in every situation who I will listen to and who I will follow. I choose to follow Jesus Christ.

Image result for Inspirational quotes

I love Albert Einstein quotes, and this is one of my favorites. There is rarely a point at which quitting is a good idea, and if you never quit, you never fail. In my book I also talk about the data that we collect from our trials and errors. Never is anything we do a failure unless you quit. It’s just data that needs to be viewed, reviewed, and then applied to help us see the next step or adjustment better. Don’t quit.

Image result for Inspirational quotes

So often we have these awesome ideas and we start pursuing great things because of them. Then all of a sudden, either people around us start questioning us, or we start questioning ourselves, and we begin to doubt whether we will be able to succeed. How many times in our lives have we either started on something and quit because we doubted our ability to actually succeed, or we didn’t even start because we had so many doubts. Remember that those things we like to call failures are just data. Weed through the data and figure out how to keep going, but don’t doubt yourself or your abilities to succeed at whatever you put your mind to.

Image result for you've survived 100% of your worst days

I love this one as well. I love a lot of quotes. But how many bad days have we each had in our lives, and yet we are still here. Sometimes in the middle of things, when nothing seems to be going right, we can’t seem to do anything right, usually those days our hair doesn’t work right. Traffic, even though it might be the same traffic every day, seems to be especially frustrating. Kids, friends, family, spouses just seem to grate on our nerves. Whatever starts it, sometimes it seems like a snowball effect all the rest of the day. We all have days like that, but those days pass. We can’t truly enjoy the fun, easy days if we never have the hard days, because there would be no way for us to compare and see the difference. And, I have also found that when those days do come, sometimes just a good laugh at something really ridiculous is the best therapy, it usually turns my day around, or at least makes it more tolerable and the next day is usually much better.

Image result for Mother Teresa Quotes Any Way

And last of all, the quote that changed my life. I don’t know as that’s totally true, but this quote for me brought me peace, way down deep inside when I heard it. I read it almost daily, it’s stuck to my fridge, the last line is printed on a 3×5 card in the window above my sink. This quote has helped me to have compassion on other people, as well as to press forward no matter what. I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s opinion of me, I only worry about my Heavenly Father’s opinion. It is amazingly freeing it is when you develop a relationship with God and you rely on Him, knowing that to Him your are worth everything to Him. You are loved, you are wanted, you are enough.

These definitely are not all my favorite quotes. I could probably write a dozen or more blog posts about quotes and still wouldn’t have shared all my favorites. But these are some of the ones that help me day to day to stay on track, and to move forward with thoughtful commitment, rather than be tossed about by the world and every wave that comes along. What are some of your favorite quotes?