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Donations

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Today is the last day of October, Halloween, and for some, tomorrow marks the first day of the holiday season. With the holidays fast approaching, most people find this time of year exciting. There is joy, family, friends, celebrations, and a lot of busyness that goes along with the holiday season. But for some it’s not quite so joyful because there isn’t enough to eat, not enough resources for presents, maybe no family close by or friends to hang out with. The holidays can be discouraging and depressing for some. But, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. The holidays are also a great opportunity to reach out and help, and there are so many ways to do so, not just at the holidays, but all year long.

I was reminded today when I walked into my Church building and saw stacks of canned corn and green beans, of our combined efforts during the Thanksgiving season, with many other religious denominations throughout the valley we live in, to donate to what we call “The Thanksgiving Blessing.” My Church group, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is responsible for all the cans of corn and beans for the blessing. We gather thousands of cans, through individual wards, as well as through youth competitions, our Seminary group is participating with the other Seminary groups in a challenge to have the most donated by the youth in our class, I think the reward is a pizza party. They enjoy competing, and the cans get collected. Not only does this bless the people receiving the food, so they have a Thanksgiving meal, but we get to work with so many people from all over our valley who we might never have gotten to know otherwise. It’s a great win/win for everyone, and you don’t have to be a member of any of the religious congregations to donate or receive a dinner. I love the opportunity to collaborate, as well as to help those in the most need during the holidays.

Every year in my little community, the Lion’s club organizes a gift giving program for families who can’t provide presents for their kids. Several of the businesses around town put up little Christmas trees with stars, one star for each child. There are no names, just ages and sizes of the child. Some are young children, some are teenagers. My kids have enjoyed over the years taking a star and going out shopping for someone else. It’s fun for them to have the opportunity to do something nice for someone who will never be able to say thank you, because it’s really not about the thank you, but the opportunity to help someone else. I know of many communities who do the same thing, as well as the toys for tots programs, and the military and many police stations also have programs. So, this year, if you can, look around for one of those gift giving trees, or boxes for toys for kids in need (We have them at many businesses as well). They are a great opportunity to inject a little more holiday spirit into yours, and someone else’s Christmas this year.

Light the World is a great opportunity to share with someone else. This is a program set up by my Church worldwide where you can get ideas about helping your neighbor right next door (there’s a calendar that I will hopefully remember to link to when it comes out), to helping bring supplies, water, food, etc. to someone halfway across the world. All the money and donations given go directly to what it says it does, and none of it goes to pay the people who make it happen. If you want to make a donation that you know will count this is a great way to do so.

You don’t necessarily have to give money or things this season to give a little cheer to others though. There are opportunities to give of your time as well (the Light the World Calendar has a lot of ideas). Our youth groups over the years have gone caroling to senior housing places, hospitals, and just around locally to elderly people who maybe need a little lift. One year my kids and I went and helped wrap the Lion’s Club presents for all the kids that had donated items. It was impressive how many presents there were, but more impressive how fast those presents got wrapped. What an awesome opportunity to be on the back side of that wonderful organization’s efforts to help the community.

So, whether you’re donating money, items, or just giving of your time, the holiday season is a great time to start giving. But, it shouldn’t end there, we can donate and share ourselves and our time all year long if we look around and see a need. What are some things you donate to during the holidays, in time, money, or items? I would love to hear your ideas.

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Funk

Do you ever find yourself in a funk? That’s where I found myself today. It really started a couple days ago. Monday I was talking to my daughter on her mission, and I was trying to exercise. Problem was, I didn’t want to do what I was doing to exercise, so I talked to my daughter instead. Tuesday, early morning, my husband and I drove 2 of our kids in to the airport so they could go spend a week with grandparents and family. We left our house at 5am and arrived back in Wasilla in time to drop our youngest off at school, and then came home, arriving about 8:30am. Both of us were tired so we went back to bed until 10am. That was my mistake yesterday. When I got up I decided I didn’t have time to exercise and study my scriptures, so I studied, showered, and then I had to be out the door to start our afternoon/evening of afterschool activities, grocery shopping, etc.

This morning when I got home from Seminary I was somewhat sleepy, but not tired. But I had no desire to do anything productive. I had a bunch of things that needed to get done, for myself, my business, and for others, and some of them had time deadlines today. But I just didn’t want to do any of them, and it all hinged on not wanting to exercise. I love to exercise, it boosts my energy, and brightens my outlook on life, so this was frustrating mentally, to know I needed to, to know I had set goals, and that I wanted to complete them, but to really just not want to do them.

I don’t drink coffee, but you get the idea!

What do you do when you find yourself in a funk? I have a friend who once told me, “put on your big girl pants and get to work!” That’s what I decided to do. First, I started to think about why I didn’t want to exercise, and I finally realized what the problem was this whole week. I was bored with the program. I had done this program, and it’s companion program, and had started over. I was 1 week in and I just didn’t want to do it anymore. That was great information. When we have a funk, it’s good to figure out why. I think often we get in a funk about a goal we set, or about something we want to accomplish, and we get into it and then just quit because we aren’t having fun, aren’t seeing the results of our hard work, or maybe the results we wanted or thought we would see. But, I was reminded today, we need to figure out what the real reason we are not wanting to go on is, and then adjust, but don’t give up!

Today’s problems was easy to fix. I just picked a different program and started it. This is another mental block that people often have. It’s Wednesday today. Who starts a new program in the middle of the week? That’s crazy, I know! But goals don’t have to start on Monday, workout programs don’t have to be done in the timeframe allotted. I remember doing a workout called 80 day obsession. It’s 13 weeks of 6 day a week workouts that last around 1 hour each. The first time I did it, I had set a goal to do it in the 13 weeks. I ended up not finishing it because I took my daughter to Utah to go to college. But, I finished it in 14 1/2 weeks. What did I do during the 10 days I was gone? I didn’t just stop, I didn’t stop because I wasn’t going to hit my mark, I kept going with a different workout I could do without equipment, and then jumped back in where I left off when I got home. Just because it’s a 21 day workout program, or a 4 week program doesn’t mean it has to be completed exactly in that timeframe. I will eventually return to the one I was doing before this week, but it might be a while since I’ve moved on to a new program that I will enjoy for a while, regardless of the day started or ended on. Don’t let your goals be derailed by waiting to start on them on a Monday. Don’t let the funk last so long that you can’t pull yourself out of it.

Another thing I have learned, that helps me keep going, is a phrase from the scriptures: Endure to the end. Life is full of doing a lot of mundane things, for a really long time. But, all those mundane things have to be done to get through life. I remember being discouraged as a young mom as I washed load after load of laundry, washed sink full after sink full of dishes, only to walk away and come back 5 minutes later to another sock that somehow got missed, another dirty dish in the sink. But, life isn’t just about the mundane tasks that need to be completed everyday. We have the capacity to learn, to grow, to become better. There is opportunity and joy all around us in life. We don’t have to begrudgingly endure, we can endure well. I want to be able to run around with my grandkids, even when I’m old, but that requires a lot of mundane work along the way. But the rewards are priceless. We have to look to the future, what we really truly want, to motivate us in the now. Enduring well is a happy way to endure.

I am usually a pretty self-motivated person. I like to get things done. But, I think everyone finds themselves in a funk once in a while. The goal is not to stay there very long. I hope these ideas helped you to figure out ways to get out of a funk if you find yourself in one, and I would love to hear your ideas of how you have gotten yourself out of a funk in the past.

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Work

Yesterday we spent the day working with our kids. We had to finish getting the last of our woodshed filled before winter. We have been cutting down the dead spruce trees on the driveway to our house and to my mother-in-laws house. We have had several fires in recent years near our home, and the dead spruce creates hot, fast burning fires, that are hard to stop. So we cut it down and use it for firewood. We have also been trying to get the trees along the road that have the most potential of falling across the road in the winter.

All of our kids who are home on the day of wood cutting get to help. It’s help or your don’t stay warm in the winter. It’s not a matter of want to, or not want to. It’s a matter of – it needs to be done. Our only heat source is wood, so do it or freeze is where we are at. We cut the wood into 4 foot lengths, and the trees are usually no more than 12 inches in diameter, usually around 6-8 inches for the majority of the length of the tree. We don’t need to split it because it’s been dead long enough that it’s completely dry, and 4 foot lengths fit perfectly into our boiler, but they are also kind of heavy. As I watched the kids get to work, there was only a bit of grumbling when they were getting ready to walk out the door. My husband’s goal was 2 loads to finish off the year, and each load takes about 2 1/2 hours to complete.

Once they get to work, they don’t complain, and they usually finish feeling like they have accomplished something. It’s amazing how watching the woodshed fill up to the top makes you realize the benefit of a job well done. They don’t need anyone telling them it’s a job well done either, they can see it as they stack it up. But, as I was watching them yesterday I wondered how many of the other teens their ages were working that day. It was Saturday after all, and many of them don’t have jobs to go to. How do they spend their time? Would they last through 5 hours of heavy manual labor? Now, we don’t do that every day, and we are definitely not perfect in getting every job done when it should be done, or making sure our kids are always working. But they have learned throughout their lives how to persevere and do a good job, no matter how long the job takes.

There are so many help wanted signs posted everywhere now. So many businesses that are begging for employee’s. Some maybe don’t pay super good, some of the jobs aren’t very fun, but most of the jobs aren’t that difficult. And yet, we see people begging for money and handouts, teens that spend hours on end with a device in their hands, or playing video games, completely detached from society as a whole. None of them contributing to society in any real, productive way. I have thought a lot about this rising generation. Many of them have not been taught to work, not been taught to see a job through to the end, and not been taught perseverance in completing a job that is not fun to do, but still needs to be done.

Knowing how to work is a learned behavior. But some people seem to have more of a personal drive to get things done than other people. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be learned if we put our minds to it. I remember when I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter. We had been living in a travel trailer for 7 years, and we were moving that out of our shop so we could set up the shop as more of a house while we finished our real house. I had been working at it for weeks, and was not finished when I gave birth to baby number 2. I was so tired when my Mom came and I was so grateful to have her there to help me. She went right to work getting everything moved out and cleaned up. It was such a relief to have the help. I asked my mom what kept her going. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but what I remember and learned from the conversation, was to not look at the whole job all at once. Just start working, just start taking chunks and completing them. Pretty soon, the job is done. Sometimes we have to stop and make sure we’re going in the right direction, but do everything you can right then, and then move on to the next thing you can do, and so on until the job gets done. I have remembered that ever since, and when I feel like a job is going to be too big, I just start with whatever I can complete right then, and move to the next, and the next. Pretty soon, just like the woodshed being full, the job is done.

I am grateful my parents taught me how to work, and that we live in such a way that our kids have had the opportunity to work as well. So much of life is just about jumping in and moving forward. So many things in life don’t get accomplished because people aren’t willing to jump in. What do you do to teach your kids to work hard? How do you break up large projects into manageable pieces?

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Saturday

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I love my family. Sometimes it’s a bit crazy, sometimes people are angry, but mostly we are happy, and no matter what we’re doing, my kids can find fun it almost all of it. This past Saturday I decided I wanted to go to Anchorage to go to my Church’s temple. I asked my kids Friday night who would like to go with me. Saturday and Sunday are the only days to sleep in, and this would mean getting up around 7:00 rather than 9:00, so I didn’t expect a great response, but to my surprise, all 3 of my children still at home wanted to go. They all had different things they wanted to do, but we had the day to do it in, so I said we could fit it all in.

My boys wanted to go rock climbing at the Anchorage Rock Gym, so I dropped them off there on my way to the temple, and my daughter decided she would like to sleep in the car and catch up on what she missed getting up so early to leave. I went to the temple, she slept, and the boys climbed. Everyone was pleased with the time they got to spend doing what they wanted to do, including myself. After the temple, I woke up my daughter, we went to the gym and picked up the boys, and then we went to Golden Corral for lunch, a great place to eat when you have teenage boys who are so hungry they could all day long and never get full. It was a nice lunch, and great conversation.

We then proceeded to Barnes and Noble. My daughter has returned from her summer job and decided she needed more books. I guess of all things she could spend money on, I’ll take books. We walked into Barnes and Noble and there was loud music inside. We couldn’t figure out what it was, but it was good music. We followed the sound and found a local high school band playing for a good sized audience in the magazine section. I love school bands, and this one was very good, so it was fun to listen as we wandered around Barnes and Noble. The songs were “older” songs, but even the kids in the store seemed to like it. I told the cashier that it was a pleasant surprise.

Our next stop was REI. My boys were in need of more chalk for their hands for climbing, and wanted to look at some of the other climbing gear while they were there. I enjoy wandering around in REI, and my daughter had never been there before, so she enjoyed wandering a little bit as well. She found some Chapstick that she liked, so even she got something there when she didn’t think there would be anything for her. There was a craft fair down the hallway of the mall, so, of course I had to go down and look at all the cool stuff.

Our last stop was Costco. This is always the last stop on our Anchorage trips. Mainly so we don’t fill the car up at the beginning, but this is also one of our favorite places to go. We don’t go really often, so there’s always a list, and a heavy cart to push around, but the boys are now big enough, that even when it’s really heavy they push it around better than I do. However, because they’re teenagers, there’s often the fight of – but I have been pushing forever, it’s your turn! Fortunately that didn’t happen very often, they must be growing up. Costco had actual samples out, which was a pleasant surprise, as that’s one of my kids favorite parts about wandering around there. The lines were long, as they always are, but we don’t mind standing around when we have each other to talk to.

On our way home though, my boys convinced me we needed some ice cream. There is this cute little frozen yogurt shop in Wasilla called Berry Cool Yogurt. I worked at a frozen yogurt shop when I was a teenager, so I try to stop by sometimes, to support a local business, and because I love frozen yogurt. I got the Lavender Lemon, or maybe it was Lemon Lavender, either way it was really good. I don’t know what they got, but they said it was really good. We made it home around 5:00 that evening, having had a great day together. I love going places with my kids. They talk about all sorts of things, often helping each other hash out worries or concern, it’s fun to listen to them give each other advice, and gems of wisdom, that only they could share with each other. For the most part they get along really well. Especially the older they get. It was a productive day as far as getting things checked off our to do lists, but it was even better because I got to spend it with my kids. I love my family. What do you enjoy doing with your family?

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Tired

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Do you ever feel tired? I feel tired a lot. I don’t know if it’s lack of sleep, or if it’s more of a mental tired. It seems the more time we have on our hands from convenience, the more tired we become. I was thinking about this this week, and I thought about the different things that I do to overcome feeling tired. I really do think, at least for me, that it is more a mental tired than a physical tired, because I get pretty close to 8 hours of sleep every night, and I exercise everyday, which I notice gives me more energy during the day.

I notice this tiredness also in teenagers. If they have time, excessive amounts of time in particular, they are more tired, more sluggish, less likely to want to get up and move, less helpful, and more grumpy. That’s actually kind of how I feel when I get tired as well, grumpy, less motivated to move, etc. I have fought a number of battles with my kids getting them out the door to an event or activity, because I know that while they are there, they will love it, or it will be good for them to experience.

So, I thought I would share a few things that I do to get past the tired, and move on with my day. The first, and best thing for me to do is to move. I remember when my kids were in Elementary school and they would have a certain number of minutes they had to read. When they were little it was me reading to them, as they got older we would share the reading, and then as they got even older, they would read to me. I did great reading to them, because my mind was busy. I did OK when we read together, but when I had to listen to them read, it all went downhill. They would wake me up and ask me what a word was, or wake me up to tell me we were done. But, being up and moving activates my mind and my body, and if I can’t be moving, at least having problems to work through in my mind helps me not feel so tired.

Apples. I get tired in the afternoon, around 3 or 4 o’clock. And I know that’s when a lot of people snack on sweets, or high carb snacks. A lot of people grab the energy drink, or the high caffeine drink to give a boost as well. But apples are a great pick me up. Apples are a great snack because they are very portable. They have carbs, that will give you a boost of energy, but it’s not all simple carbs, there’s vitamins and minerals that release slowly after the first sugar punch, that can keep you feeling more awake, longer than the caffeine or sugar rush you get from packaged snacks and sugary drinks.

Fresh air. When I get sleepy, there’s nothing better than getting outside. Whether it’s for a hike, a short walk, or just to get up, walk outside, breathe in the clean air, and then come back inside. Part of it is the moving, but there is no substitute for fresh air. I find that often, when I am inside and working on things, not only do I not get outside, but I don’t even look out the windows. So this little break, whether it’s just to walk from our house to our shop to talk to my husband, or to walk further and get in a longer stretch of fresh air and nature, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the next task at hand. I feel energized and have a more positive outlook on life. It also gives me peace and calm, so when I am really frustrated with a project, or perhaps my kids, the fresh air and beautiful nature help me to calm down, reevaluate my frustrations, and rethink my approach. I can then go back into the situation in a much better mental place than when I am tired and frustrated.

The last thing I would add, and this isn’t something that for me has been an issue, but for my kids, particularly teens this is where some of the struggle comes in. Showing up. I know that every teenager is different, and each one of mine is unique, but showing up is hard sometimes. Even my teens that love people, that love gatherings and activities, have often found it easier to sit on the couch doing nothing, rather than get up and show up. And the excuse? I’m tired. Now, there is tired, that a lot of teens experience, because they burn both ends of the candle too much. But the things they choose to be “tired” for usually don’t involve as many friends, and have something to do with working more than they would like at that moment in time. So, if I know they are just being slugs, I rarely let them get out of an activity with the excuse, “I’m tired!” I heard someone once say something to the effect of, “never make the decision to do something from the comfort of your bed. Get up, show up, and then decide.”

So, I would like to encourage you to do as the quote at the beginning says, “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.” Tired is just an excuse to not live your life for the most part. Don’t let it me an excuse any more. What are some things you do to get past feeling tired?