Friday, November 29, 2013

Tis the Season to be Jolly!

For the last couple days, our 4 yr old Allison has been walking around singing these words.  Her very clear pronunciation in that little sing-song voice has got me is a great season to be jolly!

I'm pretty sure I've been letting a few stresses get the best of me for a month or so and I love that the same old Thanksgiving season came rolling around for me and knocked some happiness and gratitude into my heart.

I don't think I have ever been one to listen to Christmas music starting in October or decorate the house and tree in early November.  This was my year!  I decided to take a season of gratitude and throw it into the Season of Christ's birth and smother out the stress with pure Joy!  Thank you Alli for helping me realize what I've been doing.

I am so grateful for a fun and happy family!

I'm so grateful for a healthy body and mind!

This man...oh just fabulous and at the top of my gratitude list for sure!

I love her spunk and the way she sings about everything...

and she has some very special, quiet moments that I treasure.

Love this boy

and this girl that just simply make me smile every day!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sabbath Six at Six

As parents we were wanting our children to spend their time on Sundays really keeping it "Holy."  That means to us, placing other things aside they would normally do during the week and do things that would bring them closer to their family, closer to their Savior, build upon their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I had heard a friend talking about a "Six at Six" she did with her family and tweaked a few things to make it work for us.  I came up with this chart that I hang up on our fridge.  

Notice all the choices of things they can do on the bottom.  Things like:  read scriptures, write in their journal, read a good book, visit a relative, serve, write a letter, etc.  

Our children are supposed to do 6 of these items during their Sunday and can mark each off with their little "stick figure person."  I just put velcro on the back of each figure.  At six o'clock if they have done them all then they can have a family dessert with us.

Maybe it'll inspire for your Sabbath Days!  Happy Sabbath Days to all!!!

Good Rewards Home Runs

This is hanging on the side of our fridge...and has been for years!  I shared it a while back but I still have so much success and so many compliments about it that I thought I would share again.

My three kids each have a magnet and if we catch them doing something wonderful like helping each other, talking soft, doing a job without being asked, etc then we tell them to go move forward a base.  Once they hit a home-run they get to pick something out of the basket.

Our basket has a lot of little dollar store items in it, coloring books, gum, cars, but most of it is coupons that say things like:

bike ride with Dad
donut with Mom
pick the family movie
use of Mom's art supplies
ipad time
computer time
pick the family game

This started because we feel strong that children will model the things they are praised for much much more than the naughty things that they get in trouble for.

It's very motivating to the child that is watch the other sibling making a home run and they want one too.  The best part though is that it's not a set time that Justin and I have to follow through with all the time.  The kids are not allowed to ask us about it.  We just have to notice!  So, super easy for us and  makes them on their toes doing lots of good things if they have something particular in that basket that they are after.

hint: have your kids pick out what they want in the basket :)

Our Family Schedule (Really for the kids :)

I realized while I was sitting at the table eating breakfast with the kids this morning that this one little project right here has brought us so much peace around here!

I get compliments on it all the time too.

Notice the activities we are not doing today are just stuck on the flip side...out of sight!

-I started by listing all the things we do during our weekdays, weekends, special occasions, etc.  

-Printed them off the computer and made sure each one had a picture that our then 3 year old could understand.

-It was the perfect thing to use my laminator sticky fingers!

-I got the metal sheet from Hobby Lobby but I know I've seen them at Michaels and even Home Depot before.

-I had my husband just use his regular drill to drill holes in the top two corners.

-grabbed a ribbon from my stash and strung it through with two quick knots.

-I put magnets on the back of each strip and then done!

Usually Justin and I are very aware what each day, week, or even month will bring but we are often interrupted to find our children need to be caught up...and very quickly!  Usually it's our dear Sarah (that has Prader-Willi Syndrome) that does not transition from thing to thing or place to place very well.

This schedule was our solution.  We hang it right next to our kitchen table for us all to see though the day.  We switch around the slips each night during dinner according to what will happen the next day.  Our kids have no question what our plans are and it significantly decreases the anxiety of all but especially our Sarah!

It also allows my children to keep flowing through the day with jobs, practicing the piano and such without their mother right there to remind them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Are You Thinking About?

I've had many people ask me what helped me the most the last couple years as I went through therapy and tried to heal.  I would like to go ahead a share one thing at a time on this blog.

Today I'll share where I started in my therapy.  It was my journal.  This time it was a different type of journal but none the less, simple as that--journal!

I took a notebook around with me for a couple of days and literally wrote down every single thought that crossed my mind.  It helped that I committed to my therapist that I would do this (answering to someone else always helps, doesn't it?).

When I found myself sitting in the doctors office being told that I was having severe panic attacks, I honestly had no idea where it came from.  I kept thinking and saying over and over "I have no idea where this is coming from."  I truly thought that all was well and could not figure out why my body was showing this reaction to such a smooth life!

Well, those that have been reading and those that know me are probably chuckling about that! So many could or can see exactly why I exploded under all that stress and pressure in my life, but at that time, I really couldn't figure it out.  I was going to do anything to find out what was causing all this.

Lucky for me, I had this new little project with my notebook hooked at the hip.  I was to write every feeling and every thought.  I wasn't to hold anything back.  Things like "gross, I wish Spencer would pick up those dirty socks," or "I've got to walk up those stairs again," maybe "my hair is so crazy." How about "Justin will be home in a second; I can't wait!"

I wrote it all, knowing I was going to be the only one that saw it.  I could show it to my husband and therapist if I wanted to when it was done but it was only for my eyes.

Then, after a couple days when I had really put my best foot forward and felt like I had pages of really great feelings and thoughts, I took a red pen and wrote a few symbols next to my thoughts/feelings:

WPT= What People Think
AA= Anticipatory Anxiety
ND= Negative Driver

I could see where this was going and thought I should add one of my own:

:)= Positive Thought, My Father in Heaven would love this!

I must tell you all that I was shocked!  I did not realize that the things on my mind were there.  I didn't realize that I was feeding myself unpleasant thoughts that if I were to say out loud to my husband or my own mom or especially to my maker, Heavenly Father, they would all be so sad.

I was also shocked to see that I was making sooo many assumptions about things that weren't actually true.  I was having thoughts that never even ended up happening.  I was blowing things waaaay out of proportion.  I was not being the laid back, happy person I desired to be. I was holding in desires or opinions that I had that probably needed to be shared.  I was stuffing things down inside me that didn't need to be stuffed.  How's that for good English?

Lets just say that I didn't have as many smiley faces on those journal pages that I would have liked.  I was learning what my self talk sounded like and taking a step back to evaluate what was there. I was starting to see why my physical body was shutting down on me.

So, here's a challenge...grab some paper and whether you have some crazy health problem going on or not, start writing down all your thoughts/feelings.  I'm pretty sure you'll be surprised at what you find up there in your head.  You might like it or you might want to change it.  Just a thought...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Love Me a Saturday

I was so happy to wake up to this picture from Justin this morning.  It's proof he loves his job when he never tires of a beautiful sunrise and sends it to me to enjoy as well (of course he knows I'm still in my bed).

Another reason I love Saturdays...pj's as long as we want...a four year old little girl dancing to Christmas Music with her cape (her choice of dress-up for the moment).

A happy and clean dog!  He followed me to the garbage can this morning and came right back that!

A boy that feels free to do whatever he not hurrying him along.

A daughter that happily can change her clothes fifty times and comb and comb her hair to her little hearts desire.  Doesn't she look marvelous!

Best of all...I can tinker around and do things like empty the sink of dishes.  Love my Saturdays when no body is in a hurry and I can walk around and just smile at each of my family members just being themselves!!! Soaking in today for sure!!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Choose Light or Dark

This painting hangs in President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's office.  The painting shows a dark room with an open door.  Light shines in that door; the light doesn't light the whole room but just that space directly in front of the door.

I sat reading the talk that President Uchtdorf spoke of this painting in, just the other night, and was so touched.  Mostly because he said:

"To me, the darkness and light in this painting are a metaphor for life.  It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. We might....have received a troubling medical diagnosis....we might be burdened by doubts or fears; or we might feel alone or unloved."

He reminded me that even though I feel these things, God promises me hope.  Like Pres. Uchtdorf said, "He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness."

If you've read my previous posts than you know this, but I know I was led and was starting to have the way for me illuminated.  That does not mean that I wasn't aware that there was darkness in my trial.  There already had been many dark days for me and would still be.  What I want to share here is that I had a CHOICE!  I had a choice to either dwell in the dark or a choice to dwell in the light.

Starting to take medication that completely altered my mood, made me feel super forgetful, extra hungry, unnatural and just plan out foggy was so hard!  I however, was choosing to have hope in the light I was being spirit was feeling that illumination and my body was just waiting to catch up.  I knew it would be anywhere form 4-6 weeks before the medication really started to help.

I had to really grasp onto that answer to my prayers that I had felt.  I couldn't forget it.  I had to remember!!!

It makes me think about when Christ asked the apostles "do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many loaves you took up?"(Matthew 16:9)

I had been shown a miracle as I studied out my diagnosis.  I may not have watched five loaves feed five thousand but I had felt an undeniable witness that I had Bipolar and Anxiety and I was to go forward with medication and therapy to be made whole again.

Pres. Uchtdorf mentioned that "spiritual light rarely comes to those who merely sit in darkness waiting for someone to flip a switch."  He said it "takes an act of faith!"  You hear that?  It takes an "act!"  I couldn't just sit there and hope that the medication would take it's course or that my friends and husband would pull me out of this.  It took my "acting," my "choosing"; it took me moving my feet!  So "act" is what I did.

I mentioned that I found a therapist.  It was definitely a Divine Signature or a tender mercy that I met a specific therapist I don't particularly ever want to see again but she pulled a card out of her desk that said TERRAP on it.  I had never heard of that before and went home to my good old friend "google."That program was just what I needed!  Once again a path was being lit for me.

I called the number that led me to a woman named Maria.  She was also a CHOICE.  I literally had to have Justin talk to her because at that point in my sickness I could listen to an audio recording but really could not have human contact.  I knew she was good for me when she told Justin to just put me on the phone and that I didn't need to say a word.  With just my ear pressed against the receiver she told me exactly where her office was, exactly where I could park so I didn't have to go in a parking garage, she went on to describe pretty much each step I would take inside, she made sure I knew there wasn't a sign on her door to say what kind of business she was running, she made sure I knew the receptionist had no clue why I was there and described exactly how our first meeting would go.

How did she know?  How did she know I couldn't go near a parking garage, let alone get in a car?  How did she know I was struggling going to places familiar to me but it made me suffocate to even think about going somewhere new? How did she know I was really really suffering from thoughts I had about "what other people think?"

There was one answer ringing in my head as I handed that phone back to my husband.  This was the light shining in my doorway.  I was being led by my Heavenly Father.  I knew I needed to make this appointment and to just move.  It was like walking through thick goo and it was very thick and very slow moving but it just took my effort.  It took my choice to keep on moving!

I went week after week to see this Maria and she led me through page after page of this TERRAP program.  It helped me step into my own mind and first find what thoughts I had there and then change them.  It not only helped me retrain my thoughts but helped me gain my life back.  Months later I was answering the door, talking on the phone, getting on airplanes, being a happy mom, a supportive wife etc.  I started to find the Megan that I am.

I don't see Maria anymore.  I have a binder and journals to refer to as often as I want.  More important I know more than ever that God is my Heavenly Father and I am is daughter.  I know that he wants me to be happy and feel joy.  I know that He wants to bless me and He takes joy in doing so.  I know that with this knowledge that I can withstand any diagnosis, any darkness, any anxiety that comes my way.  I have come out of these last couple years stronger than I ever was before!!!  I can actually say I'm grateful for that dark room that I once sat in.  The light has never seemed so bright and so radiant to me!

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