Thursday, November 15, 2012

Time for a Break

I'm going to take a little break from the online world for an undecided amount of time.  There's just a lot going on around here and blogging, status updating, tweeting and posting have become obligatory chores that I'm finding myself avoiding, so I'm just going to grant myself some sanctuary for the time being.

I wish my American buddies a Happy Thanksgiving next week, and all of you a pleasant finishing-up of the year, whether that includes celebrating Christmas or not.  :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

The War On Happiness

I went to the temple with Michael last night.  I normally look forward to sitting in the Celestial Room so I can pour out my heart's anguishes and griefs and find comfort and inspiration on how to deal with my problems, but when I sat down in the Celestial Room last night I couldn't think of anything that was troubling me.  I searched my mind fervently for something that was wrong in my life and came up completely empty.  My life is balanced and we are doing good.  This is the first time ever that I've sat in the Celestial Room with nothing to complain about.  I felt peace, but it was the same peace that I carried into the temple.  What?  When did that happen?  When did I become this person?

This morning I kneeled to pray and poured out my gratitude:  Our home, our awesome children, school's going well, Michael's job, our car, our loving neighbors, the beauty of colors, the opportunity to perform music, that the Atonement makes all the bad good in the end, all the people that love me...my list went on and on.  My heart was so full.

I exited my bedroom as if on a cloud--a fluffy, pink cloud spun of love, friendship and unicorn hair.  Peace was my buzz.

And then, almost as if someone was running alongside me and whispering in my ear, the bad thoughts started happening.  How hard it was to get one of my kids take a shower, how hard it was to get the youngest kids dressed, how loud they were while they ate breakfast, how the dog got under my feet, how the cat would not shut up, how dark my corner of the school room was, how cold it was to sit next to the window in the school room, how loud the markers clacked against each other when the kids searched for a new color to draw with, how no one will visit us for holidays, how I promised myself as a child that I wouldn't live far away from my family and here I am all isolated and far away and I so rarely get to see them and everything sucks.  What's the point of being happy when everything is so obviously crappy and sucktastic?!?!

Out of obligation, I corralled all the kids into the school room for devotional.  I started reading today's scripture, Alma 12, which reminded me of last night's temple session, which brought to remembrance how wonderful my life had seemed, not only in the Celestial Room, but just two short hours ago.  My anger started to melt away...until one of my kids did something and I was re-admitted to my World of Frustration with How Nothing Ever Went Right.  I scratched and clawed at my memory to re-capture the peace I had felt ten seconds before, and I found myself remembering something my bishop had said in the blessing he gave me a couple weeks ago:  "Focus on what you have left."

So I tried to focus.  I tried to focus on my blessings--my children, the snow falling peacefully outside my window, the upcoming holidays, the FOOD, yarn, what it's like to go on dates with Michael and not be spazzed out about if he likes me or not because I just know that he does, how I'm not in the dark place so much anymore, that we have clean clothes folded and put away in our dressers--but the moment that I relaxed a little from my Blessing Focusing, the mean voice would remind me of everything I don't have and my heart would just swirl in anger and longing.

NO.  I am happy.  Life is good.  I don't want to be angry right now.

I decided to go pray.  I closed the door to my bedroom and started pouring out my frustration to my Heavenly Father...for about twelve seconds.  Monkeyboy, never content to have me out of his sight, toddled into the room, climbed up on the bed and situated himself so that we were eye-to-eye with his legs around my chest and my folded, reverent, prayer hands were up against his chest. 
"AUUUUUGHHHH!  I CAN'T EVEN PRAY WITHOUT SOMEONE INTERRUPTING ME!!!"

Monkeyboy wanted something, and I tried to figure out what that boy wanted so I could get back to my praying, but he was impossible to satisfy.  He didn't want a cup of milk, he didn't want a snack, all it seemed he wanted to do was hang on me and cry and whine and say, "No" to all of my suggestions.  After about ten minutes of the whining, I just collapsed into my school chair and said, "That's it.  You have got to tell me what you want because I just cannot figure it out and I'm tired of trying when all you're going to say is 'No' to all of my suggestions."

He grabbed his blankie from the floor, ran over to me, climbed into my lap and snuggled up against me.  For about twenty seconds.  After which, he jumped down from my lap and trotted away, trailing his blankie behind him.  "Really?!?!" I thought, "All you needed was a hug?"

*lightbulb moment*

I texted my best friend with "I need a pep talk, I haz a sad" and my phone rang a minute later.  I told her how happy I had been and how frustratingly intent my heart was set upon being angry.  "Whoa, whoa, whoa," she said, "it's not your heart, you know that, right?  This isn't you being angry, it's someone else.  Can you guess who might want you to be miserable despite how well everything is going in your life right now?"

Oh.  Yeah.

It was a 12 minute phone call, I cried a little, and it ended with "Let's go kick Satan's butt!"

Satan is real and he hates me.  He hates you, too, and the only thing he wants is for us to be unhappy.  He doesn't care what brings about the unhappiness; his only objective is that we are unhappy.  I was bold in my declarations of gratitude and he launched a full-out assault.  He will always launch his army on someone who is happy, peaceful, or feeling anything remotely positive.  He has to--he is obsessed with our misery.

It makes a person hesitate to be happy, to declare glad tidings, or to do good things because Satan will always execute some sort of counter-attack, but happiness wins.  Love wins.  Good will triumph in the end because The Plan of Happiness was set up before this world existed.  That conversation with my friend obliterated the negativity because it shed truth on what was happening and allowed me to focus on what was really going on instead of chasing shadows and wallowing in the murkiness of half-truths.

"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior."
--Boyd K. Packer

I'm going to go be happy.  If Satan tries to attack me again, I'll tell him to get lost because I'm onto him.

Life is good.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fun at the Voting Polls

It's official:
The Brooketopians have cast their vote
in the 2012 Elections.


I think it's important to make the entire process accessible to our youth, so I load up our kids with us almost every year and we make a family event out of voting.  This year we decided to try voting in the morning, as opposed to our usual afternoon voting.  We arrived to a very long line, so Bluebird and I stayed in line while Michael and the other three Brookelets left to buy some breakfast for the family.

As luck would have it, our bishop and his wife showed up right behind us and we were able to spend the 1.5 hour wait chatting with them.  Michael arrived with breakfast; and, since we were standing in an elementary school cafeteria, our family noshed on breakfast at a cafeteria table while I continued to stand in line and gab away.
Bluebird showing our bishop how to color on the Kindle.
Face after familiar face showed up in the room and we waved and smiled at each other, walking over to each other to comment on the length of the line or commiserate about our voting location being changed at the last minute.  The girls explored the unfamiliar halls of an educational institution that most of them have only heard stories about, and at one point a little girl stopped Penguin and asked, "Do you go to school here?" to which Penguin replied, "I don't go to school!"  I wasn't on-hand to witness the conversation, but Michael tells me that the little girl's flabbergasted facial expression at such a statement was absolutely priceless.


In the end, we cast our ballots, waved at our neighbors, took a detour to jump in a leaf pile for a few minutes, and then drove on home.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled school day...

...with repeated checking-in with the news channels to see what's going on throughout the country.

Happy Election Day!
(Now get on out there and do some voting!)  :)