Friday, December 21, 2018

Life Lessons from my Judgmental AF Cat

Some of you may be aware of the fact that I am a raging introvert.
Yes, I can socialize and I am pretty outgoing. 
But you folks exhaust me!

I bring that up because it is a great example of the cycle of explantation/justification I have been in this year.

Person: You are such a social butterfly! You know everyone and everyone knows you!
Me: I guess it seems that way, but we live in a small town, and really, I am more introverted than you may think. I've just known everyone here for over a decade.
Person:No, you are definitely not an introvert.
Me: I really and truly am. It isn't about being outgoing, it is about where I get my energy.
Person: Seriously, I don't see me. 
Me: (Pulls research and data from every source I can compile on a cell phone whilst walking down the street) LISTEN HERE, I will explain it to you...

I feel like I am on a constant merry-go-round of people telling me who I am and my telling them they have got it wrong. While this is annoying on it's own, I have found that it gets more complicated. I start to get into my head (which is pretty typical of me all the time) and start making fairly educated guesses (aka. assumptions) about what people must be thinking of me too. Then, I spend way too much time trying to justify myself to all the imaginary critics watching me in my personal arena. 


A few events brought this cycle to the forefront of my attention recently. First off, the whole ulcer situation. Nothing like pain to make you reevaluate how you are handling you life. Then, I listened to some Rachel Hollis (just band that wagon  you guys, okay?) podcasts, and one in particular really resonated with me. By resonated, I mean her words were the equivalent of a baseball bat whacking my skull a few times. What finally brought all of it together was this little photo essay that occured one Sunday last month.

It all started with my judgey ass cat, Cecily. She is a great cat and an excellent mouser most days. But, she gets really bent out of shape when I don't get her food at the moment she has requested it. 
She will be all noisy and do all the cat things that cats do to let you know they have needs you aren't fulfilling. 
On this particular day, I had just gotten home from playing piano for Praise Team, and I was sitting in my car worrying about a million problems I felt like I had right then. I look up from my phone (all the problems live on my phone, something to think about), and the cat is staring me down with her judgey cat face. 

I responded in kind.

Cecily was undeterred by my response.

Clearly I got on the defensive.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

I was unimpressed. How dare my cat judge me?

She dared. My cat totally dared.

And I realized something. 

Everyone. Judges. ME.

Even my cat judges me. 

However, my cat does not have the ability to get inside my car and do anything about her judgement. So, she has to sit in front of me and be a total tool, getting her dirty cat paws all over my car, and staring at me like I've gone and eaten a baby or something. (I don't eat babies for the record.)

She makes a mess on the outside of my car.
She disturbs me.
But she can't get in unless I let her in.
If I move the car, she has to jump off or be hurt.
And all I have to do is go to the car wash and it was like she was never there.

This forced me to think about how I have responded to other folks judgements of me, both real and anticipated (aka quite possibly imagined). 

Why in the hell do I let people get in?
If they haven't said something directly to me that is negative, then I am just making an assumption anyhow. Why let it in when I don't eve know it's true?
If they have said something mean to me, then I can move them out of the "friend" file and into the "jerk face that we treat decently because Jesus said so" file. Easy.
They can't get in if I don't allow them in. 
Their words are not forever branded on me. Particularly if I put down the emotional tattoo gun and just let their vitriol wash away.

One of the most beautiful lessons of 2018 for me has been to truly see that I am not the sum of other folks opinions.
They have them and I can't control that.
They may be right and they may be wrong.
But those opinions don't belong to me.
It's like dealing with my judgmental cat. If I put the car in drive, they won't be able to keep up anyhow.
And there is a car wash just down the street from me. 

So, 2018, thank you.
Thank you for teaching me a lesson I will probably need to continue to learn for the rest of my life. I am grateful. I am stronger. I will use this to make myself a better person. 
Thank you. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Rigby Trunk or Treat on Main Street 2018

This tradition started about 5 years ago with a little bookstore (that isn't around anymore) spearheading it. 
It has really grown and become quite the event. 
Looking at the crowd at the cop shop while we make our way around the trick or treat.

Xander was Micheal Myers, Belle was herself, Henry was Mario, Oz was the Grim Reaper (for the 2nd year in a row which isn't worrisome at all), Buddy was a teenager who refused to leave the house....

Sam was Chief Tower, and I was a detective!

We all were rolling in the candy, which made it a pretty great day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Back from Hiatus

Okay, not really.
But, really.

I feel like I need to return to my writing place, and that seems to be a blog that anyone from anywhere can read.

That isn't creepy at all.

But, for whatever reason, I feel like it is time to come back to this place to share my thoughts and feelings with whoever wants to read them. (I don't want to be rude, but you may need a hobby.)

I'll update on the family at a later date, but I figured I would start with me.

How am I?

I've been better.

But, I'm pretty sure I've been worse too.

Let's hit the bad first (Highlight reel only, or we will be here all day):

1. I used my voice to protect others from injustice. That backfired pretty spectacularly, and I learned that not all who wear a white hat and claim to stand for right are telling the truth. With the exception of that guy I married and a select handful of others, most of those who I saw as knights in shining armor have fallen off the pedestal I put them on. Not sure if that is my fault for putting them there, or their fault for the choices they make that fall so very short of what justice demands, but, here we are anyhow.

2. I attempted to have an honest conversation with a person who was a parent figure to me. That person proceeded to tell me everything they thought was wrong with me. Turns out, there is a lot. That will be a moment I'll relive for a long time.

3. I learned if you answer a question honestly, it won't always be carried to others in the same spirit. In connection to that lesson, I also learned that one opportunistic person can destroy multiple friendships in a snap. I've lost my faith in the goodness of those I am surrounded by because of that lesson.

4. I learned that everyone has something mean to say about another person if you hit the right button. I am disappointed to include myself in that everyone. That has given me a great deal to think about and change about myself.

Okay, enough of that. Let's go to the good (Also, highlight reel because the good is pretty extensive too):

1. When I was emotionally lower than I have been in over a decade, I learned that while most people walk away from the hot mess that is you... a few people will stand by you. They will sit next to you when you are scared, and they will be on your team. They will walk with you in your darkness. Those people are your true friends. Hold on tight. Also, be that friend.

2. I learned that what other people say about me is ultimately none of my business. I have to tell myself that often, but, it is true every time.

3. I learned I would rather be known as one who says what she thinks than be anyone else in the world. I'd rather be honest than popular, even though it hurts sometimes.

4. I found out that I am capable of so much more than I thought I was. I spend nearly every day navigating some very stressful circumstances. I am also finishing college at a full time student pace, and I have a role in creating a new project that is going to change my corner of the world for the better. All of this is overwhelming to me every day. But, I'm doing it.

If I had to put a few quotes together to describe 2018, it would go like this:

"When you let go, you're creating space for something better."

"At some point you will realize that you have done too much for someone, that the only next possible step to do is to stop. Leave them alone. Walk away. It's not like you're giving up, and it's not like you shouldn't try. It's just that you have to draw the line of determination from desperation. What is truly yours will eventually be yours, and what is not, no matter how hard you try, will never be."

"Stay away from people who make you feel like you are hard to love."

"Be afraid and do it anyway."

"Don't ever be afraid to shine. Remember the sun doesn't give a (grown up word) if it blinds you."

"Recover and shine on."

"New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings."

"May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong."

"People reveal themselves through their actions."

"Let go of anything that is toxic to your progression."

"It's time to move on."

"And so the adventure begins."

And here I am, on another adventure. This one feels like the grandest one yet. I've packed my snacks, and I'm wearing comfy shoes. I'm inviting you to walk with me, but please know that it won't always be sunshine and roses. There will be rain (to remind us of how lovely it is to stand in the sun) and thorns (to protect the beauty we see on the way). Do me a favor, and bow out if you aren't willing to walk in both. Otherwise, here we go!

Me. Today. Wearing a shirt my Elphaba sent me during one of my darkest moments this year. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Towerland Christmas Card 2017 (Virtual Stylez)

There's a new sheriff in town... okay, actually a chief, but, that doesn't really fit the old saying, however, when it comes to jurisdiction, you really need to understand it is chief, anyhow... forget it. I forgot where I was even going with this. Anyhow...
Happy Friggin' Holidays and Whatnot from Towerland.

Osbourne (7), Edward (12), Kimber (573), Alexander (10), Sam (787), Isabelle (15), Henry (4)

What can I say?
It has been a year. 

Let's give a semi-brief rundown of how things are shaking here in Towerland.

Henry: The kid is 4, or, as I recently heard, and strongly related to, he's a FOURnado. Yup. This kid is the sunshine baby around here. He sleeps in his own bed (this means mom and dad don't have a single extra human in bed for the first time in 15 years), he puts his own pants on, and he brushes his own teeth. Henry loves preschool, and he has a lot of fun with his babysitter and friends while mom and dad are at work. He is quite a singer too, and we get to enjoy concerts by Henry quite often. His favorite days are the ones we all get to stay home on, and we all agree with him. They are the best days. 

Osbourne: Ozzy turned 7 this year. He is losing his teeth, but he gained glasses, so that is exciting. Ozzy is learning to read and is still in the Spanish immersion program at school. He is our sensitive kid who is always thinking things through to the point where we need to remind him that he is only 7 years old, and worrying about how a body decomposes in a grave is probably not something he needs to be super concerned with yet. Also, it is gross to think about. But, that's Oz. This year he was the Grim Reaper for Halloween, and pretty much all his dreams came true. He was really happy about taking souls. 

Alexander: This kid is barely 10. He had his first ever birthday party. We all went to a rock climbing place and climbed like crazy for a few hours. It was awesome. Xander has been doing really great at school. He is a really thoughtful boy who takes responsibility over caring for others very seriously. He is reading the Harry Potter books, and a Micheal Crichton book right now. He has gotten really good at shoveling sidewalk, and less good at showering every day, so we are working on that. 

Edward: Oh boy, we are in the middle school years now. Buddy has been learning to play guitar at school, and occasionally practices piano when he wants something from me. He wants to grow his hair out, but we aren't so sure we are going to let him. Buddy has been taking jujitsu, and he is getting pretty good at it. He turned 12 this year, and this means he is one year away from officially being a teenager. He's doing a great job practicing this year, so he is ready to take on the role of teen immediately on his birthday. 

Isabelle: Sis is a freshman in high school. She is in a few clubs that focus on helping others. She has been working on her singing skills, and she can play a few hymns on the piano... when she actually practices. She will most likely be taking on driving and braces in the near future, so that is exciting for everyone. 

Kimber: It was a busy year at work. Between coordinating our developing child advocacy center, and developing my forensic interviewing skills, I have also been cramming in college classes. I didn't realize it, but I have been doing a full time student load while working full time. Since it has been working so far, I'm going to keep rolling with that for a bit longer. I'm still the secretary in Young Women's at church, which is a continuous shock to me, since I'm pretty much myself there, and we all know that can be a bit of a dumpster fire. When I'm not working, momming, schooling, church jobbing, or sleeping, I am trying to be a decent police wife too. I also had my first ever major surgery this year. I had a hysterectomy along with a bunch of pelvic floor prolapse repairs. To the shock of everyone (including me), a rough surgery, that didn't quite go right ended up taking me about 3 weeks to recover from before I was cleared to start running again. I was back at work the week after surgery, and I feel better than I have in years. I recommend that surgery to everyone, even dudes. It has been great. 

Sam: The first year of being a police chief is over. Whew. Sam has done really well (and that isn't just wife pride, he really cares about helping his community, and it shows). He kept things running smooth through the big Eclipse, which was no small feat. He also hired a pile of new officers, along with an amazing admin assistant, and that has really changed the tone of the department in some awesome ways. It also means he has a pile of baby cops to show the ropes to, which is always exciting. While it was a good year, it was also a rough year, and Sam was pretty run down for a bit there, however, he was able to tweak some health stuff, and we found a cool new food allergy (good bye eggs), and he is feeling really good. Sam started jujitsu, and has been loving it. He has been simplifying life (kind of our thing right now), and with that in mind, he is not practicing herbalism professionally anymore. It just isn't the season for it. He is working on a book, however...

As a family we were awesome at:

Eating all the food
Going to Lagoon (we got season passes and loved it)
Watching movies (at home, and Sam and I have moviepass, so we go to movies in the theater quite a bit now)
Growing our pet herd (2 dogs and 3 cats at the moment)
Slowing down and just being together

As a family we weren't so awesome at:

Learning how to slow down
Keeping the house clean (it is a painful process)
Riding the Cannibal at Lagoon (we never even got in the line... next year)
Making it to church (Fun Fact: 9am church is even harder when you have big kids and parents who work full time as opposed to tiny babies who wake up at o'dark thirty)
Caring that we missed church (I know, I know, we will do better this year with 11am church)
Remembering to give parents the notes for all the days we needed treats at school

There you have it. Towerland in a little more than a nutshell. 

2018 is looking to be exciting. We plan to keep working hard at our jobs and our educations, spend more time at Lagoon, and less time worrying about things that don't matter. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and an incredible new year. 

Sammy, Kimbo, Belly, Bud, Xan, Oz, Henny, and the critters (Bryson, Watson, Lorelei, Millie, Cecily)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

My Talk in Church July 31, 2016

**Since I just gave a talk a few months ago, I was rather surprised to find out I would be giving a talk again this year. I was just called into the Young Women's presidency, so, I guess that is how this all went down. Either way, this should cover me for a decade.**

I was nominated to give a brief introduction for all of us. Leg wrestling may or may not have occurred. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a Polly Pocket over here, so I lost that battle before it began. Anyhow, We’re the new YW presidency. We have Lynne, and the Lindsays (Lindsis), and me, Kimber. I’m the secretary. We were volentold to speak today on the YW values. My focus will be Individual Worth and a sprinkling of Good Works thrown in there. These are my favorite values, so I’m going to get right to it.

I will be the first to tell you that the Young Women’s Program deeply affected me as a teen.

Unfortunately, my experience was… character building, if we are being politically correct. I was a rather awkward girl who watched Star Wars and Star Trek, worked on the newspaper staff, and sang in musicals as opposed to many of the other girls in my ward who all had many other activities and interests in common.  I had some hard things going on in my life that made it difficult to relate to my peers, and, unfortunately, the leaders struggled to relate to me too. Sundays and Tuesdays were often spent in a bathroom stall at the church, trying to fight back tears, or, in sullen silence, counting the minutes until I could leave.

Then, Barbra arrived.

Barbra was my Laurels Advisor. She was a tiny little thing who talked in hilarious voices. She brought a grabber toy in the shape of a shark that she named “Sheila the Shark” that she would let the Young Women in her class use to grab candy when we actually participated in class. She never made a big deal out of my hard days, but she always went out of her way to let me know how happy she was when she saw me having a good moment. She didn’t ever judge me or my habit of leaving church during Sunday School to get food from Wendy’s… as long as I remembered to bring her back French fries too. Barbra loved me with all her heart, and I knew I was very special to her.

Barbra taught me to love myself just the way I am, as quirky as I was, and still am. Because of her, I remember Young Women’s with some fondness, and I will always be grateful to her for that.

Now, it would be lovely to say the story ends there, but, it doesn’t. You see, as I became a young adult, I learned more about Barbra that really taught me how to live like a true daughter of God.

Barbra had a rough home life as a child. It didn’t get any easier for her as an adult. She married a man who left her when she was pregnant with her first, and only biological child. For the first 5 years of Chris (her son’s) life, she was a working, single mother. She met and married Manny Sanchez, and they were so happy together. They wanted more children, but, she had great health difficulties, and was eventually diagnosed with lupus. As a little girl, I remember seeing her come to church and barely being able to walk, with an i.v. attached to her. At that time, I didn’t comprehend how difficult that had to be for her.

In the spring of my Senior year of high school, when I was still in her Laurel’s class, Barbra’s son Chris came to church and passed the sacrament, dropped a note off at home, left, and committed suicide. I still remember the days after. The morning after Chris passed away, the neighbors tracked me down because she was asking for me to come to her house. She asked me to sing at Chris’ funeral. I spent most of my week assisting her in any way I could. I learned how to help someone in their worst moments that week as I helped before, during, and after the funeral. Around then, Barbra and I became family.

As I grew up and became a mother myself, I would visit Barbra and take my little baby girl to see her. Isabelle called her Grandma Barbra and I loved it. Barbra truly was the mother of my heart. 9 years after her son died, in the the fall of 2006, I received a phone call informing me that Barbra had suddenly passed away that day, and one of her requests was for me to again sing the song from Chris’ funeral, this time at her funeral. Barbra had told me of this wish several times in the years after Chris died. It was an honor I would give anything to not have experienced yet.

Barbra’s short life was full of pain and sorrow, and yet, she is the single person I can point to who taught me what Christ like love truly is. She taught me to understand what my worth was, because, she saw it when I couldn’t. In spite of her many moments of disappointment and great sorrow, she was a force for good in the world. At her funeral, many of her Young Women attended and had submitted memories of how Barbra had loved them and had changed their lives for the better. There were so many stories, they could only share a few of them during her service.

Barbra Sanchez didn’t just recite the Young Woman Values with us every week, she lived them. My testimony of those values stand on the foundation of her legacy. She was, and is, my first real hero.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that we are of value, particularly when our lives aren’t going as we had hoped they would. We wonder if God is listening, if we are being seen at all. It’s hard when the people who are supposed to love us the most don’t appear to value us and see our worth. I’m here to tell you that we are all very, very different… and that is a wonderful thing, because this world needs us to bring our different abilities and strengths and weaknesses to the table. That thing we think makes us unlovable may just be the thing that someone else adores the most about us. We may falsely believe we are too broken to do anything good in the world. It is my experience that the most broken among us are the ones who bring about the greatest blessings in other peoples’ lives. Our Savior himself was viewed as odd, an outcast. He made many people in his day uncomfortable, angry even. He spent his time with the least of these, the sick, the widows, the poor, the strange and unwanted. He had a life of sorrow. He was misunderstood and hated. And yet, we know who he is and what he has done for us. We understand his worth to each of us. Don’t you think he knows exactly who we are and what we are capable of? I promise you, he knows each one of our names.

If our Savior knows each of our names, how can we not see how important we are in our own very distinct ways. The value of Individual Worth is so important because, as women (and even men, this can go for you too of course), we think we have to fit a very specific mold in order to be a part of God’s Kingdom. This isn’t true. We need to be ourselves. Each one of us was created differently because we have special roles to play in this life, and they won’t be the same. We go through different trials, we have different talents. Much like the spring, summer, fall, and winter we all have different purposes and reasons that we are important. (And yes, I know in Idaho we really only have winter and August as our seasons… try and pretend with me for a minute). The key to finding our worth is remembering it is an individual thing.

As we become more comfortable with who we are in our own skin, we are able to more fully understand and live the value of Good Works. Let me read from Colossians 3:12-17:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. 14 And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I hear this scripture and live this to the letter. I’m human, and some of these adjectives don’t really describe me, such as gentle. I’m less gentle and more feisty. But, I do know that every day I strive to act as God’s instrument in the work I do. When we are working for the good of others, God needs us to take on our individual roles to help others. I love the song from “Meet the Mormons” called “It’s Glorious”:

It's like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it's glorious

[Verse 2:]
And you will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are
Others around you will start to wake up
To the sounds that are in their hearts
It's so amazing, what we're all creating

As we discover who we are, we are able to see how we can best be a part of changing the world for the better. It won’t look the same for everyone, nor should it. I know that there were many great YW leaders when I was a teenager, but, the one I needed was different from the others. She walked to her own beat, and she taught me to do the same. The world needs more people who are unafraid to do good in their own personal way.

Now, I would like to take a moment to speak directly to the Young Women in our ward. I’ve known nearly all of you since you were my primary girls and I was your crazy music leader. I’ve seen you have good days, and I’ve seen you have less good days. The good days are fun, and the less good days help us grow. I’ve seen that in all of you. I’m not going to tell you that you are a bunch of sweet spirits or anything like that right now. I’m going to tell you that you are awesome weirdos who God needs in order to do great good in this world. I know this because I’m an awesome weirdo too. If I could give you one piece of advice right now (and I can because I have the microphone) I would tell you take this time of your life to be kinder to yourself. Teach your inner voice to treat yourself better, because, speaking from experience, that voice can be very unkind at times. You are exactly who this world needs you to be, and we are all better off because we know you. This is the moment to discover who you are and what your purpose is.

I’d like to close with a poem Barbra gave me years ago. For me, it is a daily reminder to be mindful every moment of what I am standing for and what I am doing to make this world a better place.

I have only just a minute,

Only sixty seconds in it.

Forced upon me, can’t refuse it.

Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.

But it’s up to me

to use it.

I must suffer if I lose it.

Give account if I abuse it.

Just a tiny little minute,

but eternity is in it.

By Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

Friday, July 8, 2016

Get Through Me

I remember the first time Sam told me that someone had threatened to kill him.

Now, mind you, this isn't the first time someone actually had threatened his life, this was just the first time Sam told me about it.

He had been in and out all day, but, he had called me very abruptly at one point and barked at me to lock all the doors and windows and to just hang and watch movies all day.

I thought he was being super rude, but, I did it anyhow.

When he came home that night, he barely spoke to any of us, and was really unpleasant through bedtime. If you know me, you know that didn't really sit well with my delicate lady sensibilities. The second all the kids were sleeping, I was right up in his face, demanding to know why he was being such a grouch and ordering me around.

It was like pulling teeth, but, he finally let it out. Someone he had arrested had threatened to kill him. But, not only that, he had said he would be sending people to find his family to kill them too.

Now, we had been dealing with a rash of random people showing up at our house wanting to talk to "the cop who lives there", so, this threat felt more probable than it normally would have. That was one of the first times I realized Sam worried about the safety of his family because there was an ACTUAL REASON TO WORRY.

Things changed after that.

We talked more. We talked about one of the times some drunk tried to take Sam's gun from him. We talked about other people who had threatened him. We started changing what we did in public, where we went. We stopped trusting our neighbors to be our friends, because Sam had arrested some of their relatives, and we really didn't know how that made them feel. We made safety plans for ourselves and for the kids, because we had realized they could be targets too for someone who had an ax to grind with a cop.

The world got colder.

Then, the killing started to ramp up. I remember the 4 Lakewood officers being murdered. It seemed like it opened a floodgate. So many to remember. Deputy Goforth being murdered while he was pumping gas was one that really hit me. People were just hunting the police down. Last night, 11 cops in Dallas were shot. 5 are dead as of this writing.

Somewhere in these past few years, I finally learned to shoot a gun.

I never told Sam, or anyone else why I had finally decided to learn before today, but, I think it is important to know right now.

I learned to shoot because I'm afraid one day someone is going to try to kill my husband because of the color of his uniform, and I want to know, if I'm there, if I have the chance, I can shoot them back. I don't have faith in bystanders to protect my husband, so I need to be ready.

That is the world I live in today.

I live in a world where we all protest what lives matter. There are social movements, I get it. I respect it. I understand most of it. But, when the bullets fly, all I see are scared men and women in BLUE who are trying to go home to their loved ones at the end of their shift.

I see a public who handed these men and women badges, handcuffs and guns, told them to protect everyone, make the best decisions under extreme stress, and never make a mistake, and then started standing in front and BEHIND and all around them to shout at them, throw things, and threaten them.

Or, maybe threaten their family.

I get it.

We're mad that cops are jerks sometimes. That they make bad calls in moments of panic. That some of them are murderers.

I said it. Some cops are murderers.

It's true.

The same is true of bankers, teachers, actors, basketball players... everyone. People can be jerks.

So, have your protest. Have your cause. Picket. Do whatever you want. I'm going to respect it, and that LEO of mine is going to stand up for your right to free speech and all that good stuff.

But, know that there is a tiny, terrified redhead who will tear through a thousand of you to keep her law enforcement officer safe. If you want to get to him, you'll need to get through me.

So, threaten him. Threaten us. Because, if you do actually attempt to make good on those threats, my husband won't be the one you should be afraid of. Promise.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Being a Better Friend to Myself

I'm going to take a moment here and share a really delicate side of me.

But, before I do, I'm going to put a big old fence around my heart. The fence is electric and super sparky, and it has razor wire across the top and bottom. Oh, and a few mean dogs are guarding it.


Not today.

Okay, now that we have a nice wall protecting me, let me share.

When I was in middle school, I really wanted to have friends. I tried. I wanted people to love me. The girls I went to church with ran with a popular crowd, and I wanted to badly to be part of the gang. After awhile, I even felt like I was one of the gang, tagging along in the back. Then, one day I was under some stairs in a hallway, walking around to meet those friends of mine in front, and, I heard it.

What they thought of me.

It wasn't awesome. They didn't like me. It was so much mean, and they had no idea I heard it.

But, I did. And I remembered. I still feel the pain of that moment, the humiliation, the hurt.

Fast forward to being an adult.

I was the president of the PTO. We had some cash flow issues, and, I had to make the wildly unpopular decision to put a freeze on spending until we could do some math and figure out what our financial situation really was. At our meeting, I invited everyone over to my house so we could talk it out. I baked food as a peace offering since I knew I had made a call that didn't sit well with everyone, as necessary as it was.

No one ate my food.

Instead, these adult women took turns going around the room, citing everything they didn't like about me. I still remember what one woman said. "I don't know why, but, I look at you and I just can't stand you."

My husband and kids were in the next room and they heard every word.

It was one of the low points of being an adult.

The worst part was that a person who I thought was one of my dearest friends was in that room. She didn't join in with the others, but, she didn't say anything to defend me either. She just sat there and listened while it all went down. We don't really talk anymore. I'm okay with that.

Very recently, I had a moment where someone told me all the reasons they, and others didn't like me. I spent the following days categorizing all the ways I had been trying to be friends with these people and how spectacularly I had failed.

I've been a blubbering mess.

Now, I'm not telling you all of this so you try to comfort me for having a rough time. I'll get past it, I always do. I'm telling you because we've all been here. Something like this has happened to all of us, and, even though we feel so very alone when it happens, we aren't alone.

Or, at least we shouldn't be.

Let me tell you one more story.

When I was in elementary, some kids were making fun of me. I dressed like Helena Bonham Carter, even then, and school kids don't appreciate that bag lady look. I remember those kids making fun of me until I cried. Those kids laughed and laughed and I felt like no one would ever care about me.

Then, something happened.

This girl named Cassy said something. She was the most popular girl in our grade. Everyone wanted to be connected to her in some way. She was just incredibly awesome.

And, she stood up, in that room and said, "stop making fun of Kimber. She's my friend."

Just like that, they stopped. I had a friend. And, you know what? She was always my friend, particularly when I needed a friend through the years. I never forgot that. Cassy has always been the friend I want to be.

When no one would stand by me, she did. And not just that day, but for years and years.

Her simple act of loyalty changed me for the better.

So, I tell you this story to remind myself to be the friend I was lucky enough to have as a child.

I tell you this to remind you that none of us are liked all the time, and it hurts everyone when others are unkind.

I tell you this because I've realized I haven't been a very good friend to myself lately. That needs to change.

I need to remember that when I was a frumpy little girl, someone liked me enough to stick up for me, and if she liked me that much, I should do the same for myself.

Oh, and that wall I put up? It is staying up for a bit. All part of the self care I haven't been doing for myself. I can love myself enough to have an open heart... with a big effing fence protecting it.

I am different. I'm quirky. I won't always be liked by everyone. But, a little girl named Cassy was my friend once when I needed a friend so badly, and I can be a better friend to myself.

This may seem like a pointless story, and it probably is. But, I wanted to tell it anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Letter to Future Me

Dear Kimber,

Hey girl.
So, things are rough right now, huh? That's why Future You is here reading this.
Dude, I'm sorry about that. It is lame. Super lame. People/things/the situation/Tom Hanks suck.
If I could, I'd punch someone for you, but, I'm Past You, so, that won't work.

So, I'm going to tell you a story instead. Something to remind you that you are going to make it through this.

Last week your grandpa died and you found out through a text. Remember how you cried about that? Ooh, you are crying right now all over again, aren't you? Past you is crying again right now, so, knock it off.
 Professionally, you are getting your behind handed to you. Being the new interviewer on the block is rough. No one is accepting you, but they are all eager to criticize your work, your skill, your ability. Most of them haven't even worked with you, so it is really confusing and discouraging. Everyone wants you to be someone you aren't. You are giving it your all, but, you are still so new to this and you just need a little time and support and you think you could be amazing. If only people would give you a hand so you could show them what you can do.
You are about to lose your favorite hobby. You've been crying over that too. But, you need to step away from the toxic people before it overtakes you. They say one thing, then act in the opposite way. Those people always do a little damage to your heart, and you really can't keep trying to put a band-aid over that hurt. But, in order to protect yourself, you are going to lose something very special to you, and it sucks.
There is more. So much more going on. Past You is hating that lump in your throat that won't go away. This is a really painful, embarrassing, disappointing time for you.
But, here is the deal.
You've got this.
You are going to hurt for a minute or two. Maybe ten.
But, then you are going to pick yourself up and find that toughness that keeps you moving, and you are going to handle this. You are going to accept that things hurt right now and you will have to work through all those feelings you have. You are going to have to accept that people are not kind, even when they are supposed to be the ones who care the most. You can do that.
You are going to put one foot in front of the other and remind yourself that people are cruel when they are hurting the most. You are going to forgive them and protect your tender heart at the same time. You are going to learn from this. You'll learn to be stronger and you will learn to be kinder.
You are going to get better.
You have been through worse and you came out in one piece.
So, whatever is going on with Future You right now, I promise, you are going to be okay.
I'm here for you.

Past You

I put these pictures here to remind you of how beautiful it was the day of grandpa's funeral. Remember this run? Remember how you sang at the funeral and you did great? Remember how you handled everything like a boss and you didn't cry until you finished your song and you told the people you needed to say it to that you loved them? It was a really hard day and you did great and it was beautiful. Focus on the beauty in the pain.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Kimber Wrote an Easter Talk for Church. Only a Few Bunnies Were Harmed in the Making of This Talk.

Okay, so, Sambo and I were asked to speak in church today.
I have written and rewritten this thing and I still don't know how I feel.
But, it's done and I have church in an hour so I have to walk away from it.

I'm posting it here early in case I get up to the pulpit and speak farsi or something. You can come here and see that I actually wrote a LONG FRIGGIN' TALK.

I plan to cut as needed, but now I am super prepared.

Here we go... please tell me what you think. If you hate it, I will accept that too.

Kimber's talk for Easter at church:

I am highly amused over the fact that I am standing here today. In fact, this opportunity to speak is quite a reminder to me that God has a sense of humor. Let me explain.

When we first joined this ward, we were asked to speak at church. Well, the bishopric asked Sam if we would speak at church. Sam graciously accepted… however, he forgot to tell me until 17 minutes before Sacrament meeting the day we had to speak. That was an exciting day. I’ve blacked out shortly after the panic set in, but, I hear I didn’t swear on the stand, so, I feel like it was a success.

That was about 5 years ago.

Now, about 4 weeks ago, Sam and I were listening to the speakers in church and we started chuckling to ourselves about that exciting time we had to speak, and how we will probably never have to speak again, unless we move. Right after sacrament meeting, Brother Stephenson approached both of us, and asked us to speak today, making sure I knew about it in advance this time. As Brother Stephenson was asking us, I kid you not, in the back of my head, I heard that still small voice giggling. God truly has a sense of humor… and impeccable timing.

Now, you would think with a month’s notice that I would have written this talk weeks ago.

Well, I tried. I have truly tried to write this talk nearly every day since then. But, the words just would not come. The topics we were asked to speak on were the Atonement and the Resurrection. I truly thought it would be easy to whip something out. I’m a bit of a writer, I can throw words together pretty easily. But, again, God has a sense of humor. He also doesn’t like it when I try to take the easy road.

With that in mind, this is a very personal talk. I’m not an expert on these topics, and I certainly don’t have these concepts mastered. All I can really do is speak to my own experience and my limited understanding, and hope something I say will resonate within you. So, here goes.

Most of us understand the atonement as it pertains to repentance, to making wrongs as right as we can. It is something we learn as little children (if we are raised in a family culture that attends church regularly), and that understanding carries us through our lives. For a very long time, it was the only part of the atonement I understood. I understood when I made a mistake and I felt bad, that Christ has suffered those pains from my mistakes too so I could repent and move forward. But, what about the moments when I didn’t make a mistake, I didn’t cause whatever what happening to me, but I was still the one face down on the ground reeling from the sorrow I felt?

Christ is still there.

Let me read this quote from Sister Chieko Okazaki regarding the universality of the atonement and Christ’s understanding of our pain:

“Well, my dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20) He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.  (from her book, Lighten Up

This idea of the atonement was a game changer for me.

Now, I want to circle back to the scripture mentioned in that quote. Matthew 28:20: Lo, I am with you always. Even unto the end of the world.

Let’s translate that to a sentence I can understand a little better.

I’m on your team. I will be here until the end of the line and I’ll be on your side every single step of the way.

Let’s take that scripture from Matthew, and let’s also look at John 14:18

I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you.

Now, this is where I’m going to lean heavily on my own personal experience. I read these scriptures and

I think of an advocate.

I have a little experience with advocacy.

I get excited when I talk about being an advocate. I believe it is something we are all called to do in one capacity or another… we just need to listen for the call and then follow.

But, even with my experience and my professional role as an advocate, I have had a limited understand to what being an advocate really meant in the scriptures and how that meaning applies to our lives.

In order for me to understand the deeper meaning of Advocate, I needed to do some research. I found the word ParaKlete in scriptures. It is greek… I think. There is a decent chance I’m mispronouncing it.

It means “one called along-side of another for comfort”.

As I read further into it, I noticed what it didn’t mean. It didn’t mean one is called along-side to redirect, or to correct. It didn’t mean called along-side to carry or push through. It is simply being called to comfort and be with someone.

It is simply walking with someone as they travel whatever road they are on. Sitting with them in the despair. Being a comfort in those moments.

I personally have felt that comfort before in moments when I was suffering through a trial that was placed upon me by another person. But, I still didn’t grasp what it really is to be along-side.

My work has given me that understanding. I have a lot of experiences I could share, but, there is one in particular that really changed my understanding of the atonement. I was sitting with someone who had been through what everyone in this room would quickly agree is the worst thing that could happen to a person. During this conversation, I was not working in the capacity of an advocate, but as the impartial interviewer who documents the crime that has been committed in order to assist law enforcement with a case. This means I cannot comfort this person as they are telling me what has happened to them. As this person was speaking, the emotional pain they were in was palpable. My heart was breaking for this person, and as they spoke, I was praying for comfort to come to this person so they could get through the interview. There was a clear shift in the room, and I could feel the presence of a comforter as this conversation continued. When this person finished speaking with me and left the room, I could feel that the burden they had been carrying with them had been left in that room for someone else to bear. It was one of the more sacred experiences I have had in my work.

Something I have learned about being an advocate is that we aren’t in charge of the road a person takes when we walk with them. We are not there to show them a better way, to tell them how to change or how to fix their problem. We aren’t there to put it in perspective or minimize the pain they felt. It isn’t our role to tell them how they are responsible for what they are feeling, or to judge the situation or the person.

It is simply our job to walk with them. To love them where they are. To pray and plead on their behalf. To see their heart and to seek to have eyes that understand whatever road they are on. It is hard to be an advocate sometimes. I have a personality that likes to see a problem and fix the problem or the person in the problem and then move on. That isn’t the point. That isn’t what Christ does for us. He walks with us and loves us every step of the way. He supports us while we learn lessons. He sits with us while we hurt and he doesn’t tell us how it was our fault or how we could have avoided the pain we are in. He just sits with us and loves us.

We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in. (Ernest Hemingway)

There is a song that I love and listen to often. It is called, “If We’re honest”.

I just want to share a little bit of the lyrics:

"If We're Honest"
Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I'm a mess and so are you
We've built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest
If we're honest

Our brokenness is what gives us the ability to understand the pain of another. We were not in Gethsemane. We did not feel what our Savior felt there and frankly, I think most of us are okay with that. I mean, sometimes the hurt I feel for just me is almost too much to bear. I don’t know that I could handle the pain of every single person in this congregation, let alone the entire world.

But, we do have our own brokenness and it gives us a gift. Something beautiful. We understand another person when they suffer in a similar manner. That means, we can sit along-side that person in their moment of hurt and love them while they get through it.

There is a Japanese form of repairing pottery. It is called kintsugi. It is a way to repair broken pottery using gold or platinum. Instead of hiding the breaks, it highlights it.

As a philosophy kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese value marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.

Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated... The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identiļ¬cation with, [things] outside oneself.

Just take a moment and think of yourself as that piece of pottery. Our savior takes our broken pieces and fills it in with gold and it highlights the beauty where we were once shattered pieces. Truly, our brokenness is a gift.

I read a story a few years ago that changed the way I looked at people and their broken places.

(Brave Girls Club “We Must Look Past What It Seems” just go read it really quick)

We are all wearing signs. Sometimes we can read each other’s signs, other times, not so much. But, Christ has not only read all of our signs, he has worn them all for us, with us. We are never and will never be left alone. We will always have an advocate walking our roads with us. I pray that we can remember to embrace our broken places and to use them to bless others and help each other to see our Savior, even in the darkest of times.

A to the MEN! Yes? Well, I'm done.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Snotty Circle is Now Complete

Just so we are clear, Henry is the cutest 3 year old I know.

Having said that, the grossest thing happened today.

So, a week or so ago, Henry came running to me sniffling really hard and jabbering whilst pointing to his right nostril. As we all should remember, this isn't my first rodeo, so, I grabbed a flashlight and some tweezers and went on a fishing expedition. I looked around in there, but I wasn't seeing a lego or crazy or anything teeny that wasn't the color of nose, so, I figured he just had a cold.

Fast forward to this afternoon.

Henry wanted something from me and he has been surly lately. It seems like he has had a bit of a runny nose (which all the kids keep cycling through all sorts of sickies so, that isn't really odd around here). He was crying and complaining, so I was hugging him and trying to soothe him.

As he laid his head on my shoulder, he suddenly cried/coughed/sneezed/yelled really forcefully. His head popped up and he smiled. Then, his eyes got big and he pointed to my neck, where his face had been buried. I looked down and...

There was a teeny, tiny, SNOT COVERED BAND-AID on my neck! You know, those little ones that no one ever uses? That was gooey and gross on my neck!

I look at Henry and say, "where did that come from?"
He points to his right nostril. Then he smiles and says, "yes".

His right eye drained for a few hours after that, and now, for the first time in a few weeks, he is breathing through his nose while he sleeps.

I can't believe I missed it when I was looking, but, you guys, it is flesh colored! I probably saw it, but didn't know what I was seeing.

This is what having 5 children, 4 of which are boys looks like.

Friends, let this be your birth control.

As for us, now all of our boys have shoved something weird up their noses and the snotty circle is now complete.