Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Hand That Rules the World

Some years ago, this Deseret News article, "Mother's Influence Felt in Decisions of  LDS Executives" was brought to my attention, and has been lurking in the back of my mind ever since. The article is an excerpt from a book called, "The Mormon Way of Doing Business". While the book sounds intriguing enough, I admit I have not yet read it. On the other hand, I have frequently reflected on this article and the proactive approach Kim Clark's mother took in raising a boy with strong values, and how it paid off-  he is a former dean of Harvard Business School:
"...Clark's mother had three sayings she used to repeat to him every day as a child:
1. 'Be a leader.'
2. 'If it's not worth doing well, it's not worth doing.'
3. 'Remember who you are.'
"On most school days, Mrs. Clark would grab Kim by the lapels of his coat before he left the house and say: 'Don't you let those other kids pull you around by the nose. You be a leader. You stick to your guns. You do the right thing.'"

What a woman! She is my hero. (In fact, when my son turned 5, I tried her pep talk out on my son before school. I soon realized that I had to define that being a leader doesn't mean you're always in charge. Oops.) At any rate, I want to raise up a strong man, and I often consider how to accomplish this thing. It is certainly not something that our culture is promoting. The humbling thing, is realizing that it also takes self-introspection as to the kind of person we are, and what our examples alone are teaching.
We hear and remind ourselves time and time again that our roles as mothers are important, but the fruits of our effort are so painfully slow to ripen, it is easy to forget that our job has an impact beyond feeding, diapering, bathing, or reminding them to change their underwear. This article is a solid reminder of what we as mothers are building one day at a time- The Future.
And should we find ourselves pining for other venues, Sue Clark wisely reminds us, "There are seasons in life. Once childbearing years are over there are many years to pursue education and other things. But there are seasons, and it's essential to protect and guard these childbearing years because they are shorter than life expectancy. There is a narrow window for childbearing and child rearing."

Monday, January 23, 2012

"I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not choose to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours."
"...You will allow, that in both, man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both, it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each; and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty, each to endeavor to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own imaginations from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours, or fancying that they should have been better off with anyone else. You will allow this?"

- Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Are What You Eat

If that's true, then I taste delicious.
(above picture is only a small representation of actual cookies consumed).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

President Uchtdorf and (Im)Perfection

Over the past years I have enjoyed listening to talks by Elder Uchtdorf. Interestingly, it seems to me that a recurrent theme of his talks is perfection. Two of the three talks have been directed solely to women in the General Relief Society Conference. Perhaps these talks stand out to me because I am in need of their wisdom, but I suspect that the expectation of perfection (and resulting frustration from falling short) must be a pervasive problem amongst the women of the church, for it to receive such attention. In the mouth of three witnesses...: 

October 2008 "Happiness, Your Heritage"
"To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they really are."

October 2011 "Forget Me Not"
"I want to tell you something that I hope you will take in the right way: God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect.
"Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.
"And yet we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.
"Everyone has strengths and weaknesses."

2011 Christmas Address
“We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be—the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events. … [But] sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs … and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us.”  (Hmmm... I wonder if he reads my blog)

Monday, January 9, 2012

The 100 Day Challenge

In general, I have never been one to get caught up in New Year's resolutions. Partly, because I figure improvement shouldn't be saved for a certain time of year, partly because "New Year's Resolution" smells of exercise equipment and deprivation, and partly because writing goals down is akin to peeling off my toe nails. At any rate, a long while ago I jumped off the band wagon and decided to avoid the whole charade altogether.
Well, the other day I was perusing a friend's blog and found their "100 Day Challenge". After their son came home from kindergarten on his 100th day of school with a list of all that he had accomplished in that time frame, they were inspired to use that time period as a motivational tool for their own goals- and invited others to do the same. I have been highly inspired by this idea, and have been pondering it quite a bit the past week (rather, pondering whether I want to actually commit to a goal or not). This challenge appeals to me for two reasons: 1.) it is shorter than 365 days, and 2.) I love acquiring new skills with the attitude that some progress is great.
It is coincidental that I stumbled upon this challenge around the New Year, but timely, because I have been in need of a boost. Lately, I realized my creative growth has plateaued... something I have dubbed a "Creative Crisis." A little melodramatic, yes, but true nonetheless. For roughly the past year, as I've adjusted myself, my family, and my baby to a new routine, creative endeavors mostly fell by the wayside. But, routines have been formed, adjustments mostly made, and I now recognize windows of time that I can use for persuing creative projects again. And most importantly, I recognize that I should persue those efforts for my happiness.
Almost a year ago, I received a tablet and software for photo editing. It even came with tutorials for the software. At that time, my days did not allow the time I desired to sit down and learn the equipment. But now, it does. So...here's the part I hate... for the next 100 days (starting tomorrow), I plan to do something each day to further my proficiency with my tablet and software. My plan is to start by watching/rewatching all of the tutorials until I've mastered the concepts. We'll see where it goes from there. I'm not sure how much time each day will lend to this pursuit, but I feel confident that I can spend some time improving my skill each day. But let's be clear on one thing: This is NOT a New Year's Resolution.

Have you ever wondered what you can do in 100 days?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why Do We Discipline?

Recently, my mom shared with me a point recently made in a Relief Society lesson. The teacher shared a personal experience from when she was a young mother in a Relief Society class:

The class was being taught be a woman somewhat intimidating to this sister. The teacher asked the class "Why do we discipline children?" When no one offered an answer, she raised her hand and answered, "So they'll be good." The teacher responded, "No. You're wrong. It is to teach them to repent." While the answer was somewhat abrasive, it was a lesson she was grateful to learn as a young mother.The point was made, that the error in approaching discipline with an attitude of teaching children to "be good", is that it can ruin their relationship with God. While in Primary, it is easy for children to feel loved as a child of God. But, by the time they reach Young Men or Young Women they have already labeled themselves as "good" or "bad" and might not believe that they are worthy of being loved by God.  Alternatively, if they are disciplined with the intent to teach them to repent, they can grow with the understanding that they are a child of God- who loves them always- and that they need to repent when they do something bad. Their behavior does not become confused with their identity.

I found this story very enlightening, and have been reviewing my own approach in disciplining my children and whether I am teaching them the right message. Bonnie D. Parkin said, "As you encircle your children with your love, they will catch glimpses of [the Savior's] love." It is humbling to think that the relationship we have with our children is a foundation for the relationship they have with Christ.

p.s. I was reminded me of a Ensign article I saved from 2006 entitled, "Let's Try Again!". That phrase is a great way to end a discussion with a child.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sharpie Magic

Last week, my son took a Sharpie to a white undershirt in order to make it a "real" football jersey. He had my complete permission, so when I realized that that the marker had bled through onto my wood dining table, I could only be mad at myself. I quickly did an online search and tried the first tip I found to clean Sharpie ink from wood. The solution seemed so ridiculous, I wouldn't have tried it had I not been desperate.
I am here to testify that ordinary toothpaste rubbed onto the marker stain with a damp cloth does indeed magically erase the marks from your dining room table. It was so miraculous, I had to pass it on.

Even so, I have relearned the need to respect the power of the Sharpie.