Can you tell this has been a busy, busy summer? I haven't written a post since about the middle of May! Of course, that isn't unusual for my summers to be super busy. I always laugh when I think of the song which goes "Summertime and the living is easy!"  because it has forever been the opposite for me.. In fact, that is one of the reasons I am not fond of summer. I don't like the go, go, go, busy, busy, busy of summer. Yard care, garden produce to take care of, family and  holiday events non-stop all add up to hardly time to breathe-- much less relax!
   Truthfully, however, I have been forced to take time to relax in between everything this summer because my body won't cooperate if I try to go non-stop.  I have taken time to read several books and taken naps at all times of the day just so I can do the other things that summer demands. Of course, the fact that we have spent two days a week at our part-time missionary assignment has made it even more difficult to fit everything in. That year-long assignment was completed last Wednesday, July 23rd, and now we should have a bit more time to be busy with other things! :)
     The activities which most people look forward to in summer--swimming, laying out in the sun, picnics by the dozens, boating, vacations to exotic places--have never appealed to me, and I don't handle the heat very well either, so those are all reasons summer is not my favorite time of the year.
      However, even with all that , there are some very nice things about summer. I love the melons, and all the other fruit, and  fresh vegetables from the garden, corn on the cob from the stands, special family times such as getting together for the 4th and 24th of July and not having to bundle up in coats etc. to go outside, and in addition,  I have always loved the changing of the seasons which makes for so much variety in our activities, dress and even the foods we prepare.
   Now, I can look forward to my favorite season--AUTUMN--when everything seems more intensely beautiful. After the harvest is in and taken care of, the pace of life slows just a little so we can breathe easier for a quick respite before the holidays. Autumn -- I know it is coming, and that relaxes me just to think about it.  

Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers are still mothers!

    Yesterday was Mother's Day, and I had somewhat of a victory over myself, which might be worthwhile to chronicle. I found myself feeling left out of the loop with my family and that is an uncomfortable feeling, but there is good reason for it. Even though I am a grandmother of 31, and great-grandmother of 12 beautiful "greats", I am still a MOTHER, and I like to be recognized as such.
      Because four of our seven children are now grandparents themselves, they are in that stage of life when the demands on their time are even more than when they just had young children at home. Now, besides having children still at home, they have married children to keep in touch with and grandchildren to do things for and with, and five out of the seven daughters and daughter-in-laws also have jobs outside the home. Even though they are not full-time jobs, they are nonetheless challenging for a mother, and these mothers are also involved in their children's education and activities. Our sons, and sons-in-law all have demanding jobs which take a lot out of them and two of them have to travel and are away from home a lot which means more of the responsibility  falls on the wives.
     All this adds up to very little time or energy to spend with the "older generation" (that is US--their parents.) It isn't because they don't TRY. They really would like to spend more time with us, but the truth of the matter is that we are busy, too and with their schedules and ours, it is really, really difficult to find times when we can be together.
     Such was the case on Mother's Day. None of our daughters or daughter-in-laws was free to come to our home because their families were doing things for them, which is as it should be. However, three of our daughters invited us to their homes for dinner, but Jana and I decided it would be too long of a day for us to go clear to Layton and back after church , and Loree and I decided we had been to their home for the past two holidays, so it was Holly's TURN to have us to her house. Holly's house was also the closest, so that would work out well, but we weren't due there until 6:00 p.m.
    Since our church doesn't start until 1:00, and I woke up at 6:00 a.m. I had a long lonely morning to look forward to, and I was feeling very sad not to be with any of my family.  When I realized I had a choice, I could spend the morning feeling lonely and left out, OR I could think of someone else and do something creative to let them know I was thinking of them. I got the idea to write a letter and poem to the mothers of young children in my neighborhood and ward and in my family and let them know I thought they were doing a great job and that I noticed and empathized with them for the hard job they were doing.
    Then Gary prepared a lovely breakfast for me, and surprised me with a very thoughtful gift, which delighted me . I was really pleased with his gift because it was the perfect gift for me right now--an outdoor reclining chair that I can sit in comfortably outside and read or rest, or just be near Gary while he works in the garden or yard. His thoughtfulness lifted my spirits considerably, and then writing the Mother's Day letter and poem,  and giving it to some lovely young mothers before church, during church and after church really made the difference for me.I had a lovely day because of changing my focus.

 I also e-mailed the letter and poem to my daughters and granddaughters who have young children at home and got some sweet feedback from them, which showed me yet again that I am loved and looked up to, and I know they would spend time with me if they could. And I should mention that I heard from every one of my children during the day or the day before, and received some very nice gifts, as well!
     Nonetheless, this is, indeed, a difficult time in my life because I am so used to being an integral part of my children's lives, and yet it just isn't possible anymore,  and as I have mentioned in other blogs, this is a big transition for me. I am constantly needing to change my focus and learn how to find my happiness in other things that are possible right now.
    My next post will explore some of the ways I am trying to do that. But yesterday I did good!

Learning not to Coerce myself

     Today Darla (my sister) and I were discussing something she read and it really hit a chord with me. The quote went something like this "It is just as wrong to try to coerce yourself to do things you don't want to do as it is to coerce someone else." Coerce--means to make someone do something against their will or to force them. I have never thought that I might be coercing myself, but today I  was trying to force myself to do the SHOULDS, and I was certainly resisting. I had intended on mopping the kitchen and bathroom floors, shaking the rugs, and cleaning the bathrooms, but in order to get it done I would have had to force myself.
    After I talked to Darla I decided against forcing myself (coercing myself) because I am really needing some rest and recuperation because I  am so weary from doing all the SHOULD DO'S this week. Of course, looking back I can see why I might be feeling too tired to do chores today.  I fixed three healthy meals a day every day, went to my appointment on Monday and had Home Evening, had a full-day of chores on Tuesday and then went out with the full-time missionaries that night, planned menus and went grocery shopping Wednesday morning and went to our missionary assignment both Wednesday and Thursday which was very demanding,  and we also went to the temple on Friday afternoon! Almost all of those were difficult to make myself do because I have been feeling so washed out from my allergies, and yet duty-bound I pretty much made myself do them all.
    So right now I am doing something simply because I WANT to, and not because it is something I SHOULD do. I get satisfaction from writing and even though it isn't necessarily restful it IS rejuvenating to do something I enjoy. 
    The interesting thing is that no-one else cares whether the floors and bathrooms are cleaned. The fact of the matter is that no-one else will even know whether or not I did it, and no-one was expecting me to do those things--only me! Therefore, just because the floors and the bathrooms could use some cleaning doesn't mean I am duty-bound to do them unless that would please me more than doing something else. I DO like a clean house, but not at the expense of my own health and well-being. Sometimes taking a break from the have-to's or should-do's and resting my mind or the body is more important than having a clean house this minute or this day. There is always another day!
    So my challenge is to learn not to coerce myself to do things I really don't want to do when my mind or my body is telling me it is time for something else. That doesn't mean I will never make myself do things I don't want to do. All of us have to do that at times just to keep our lives running smoothly and to fulfill important obligations or carry out our priorities. BUT there has to be a balance. Therein lies the challenge.

Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

     Having a chronic illness is the most difficult part of my life. There is no ONE medical or CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) treatment or physician or health-care provider that will bring relief from the many symptoms I experience as part of my fibromyalgia, allergies, and arthritis chronic diseases. It has taken a great deal of my time and energy over the past ten or 15 years trying to find all the pieces to the puzzle of diagnosis, treatment and self-care. I have explored and experimented with many pieces of the puzzle: diet, exercise, supplements, chiropractic, massage therapy, stress reduction, EFT,  Healing Code etc. etc. and have therefore been able to keep my diseases under control to the point I have remained basically functional most of the time, albeit in pain a great deal of the time.
     However, as I grow older it becomes harder and harder to put all the puzzle pieces together, and I am experiencing more difficulty coping with my pain and other symptoms. I won't bore myself or anyone else with all the details, but my energy levels make it difficult to continue DOING all the things I know to do.
     Prayer and fasting help me know what piece of the puzzle I need to put in place next, and right now it seems that getting to the foot doctor and wearing orthodics is the thing I need to concentrate on. I'm grateful to have found this out. I somehow am led to the right things at the right time, and I know that is not accidental. What an amazing resource is prayer. 
An incredible weekend watching and listening to April General Conference. When I have more time I want to do an outline of some of the most impressive things I saw and heard, but tonight I just want to express my gratitude for belonging to a church run by revelation. Revelation was so evident in the talks we heard and is so evident in all the amazing things our church is involved in. I am always awed by the way the church leadership is on top of all the needs of the members and addresses them in such remarkable ways. Of course, I know why. They (the church leadership) are tutored constantly by Jesus Christ, whose church this is, and he knows us all, and knows all things.
   I am also grateful for the spirit I felt so strongly I almost couldn't breathe! and for how the spirit brought to my attention the things I need to change or add to my life. Now, I need to pray for the spirit to help me to do the things I know I need to do and be.

Bedtime comes too soon

    It is time for bed, but still so many things I wanted to do tonight! I really want to write this blog, I need to catch up my journal, I wanted to read an article or two, I have computer research I wanted to do about my arthritis and fibromyalgia because I found some cool new websites etc. etc.
    I find it humorous that even at my age when I should be footloose and carefree because my children are long gone, I am not working outside the home,(well I have to qualify that since we do have a missionary assignment two days a week at the Employment Center), but I have no great responsibilities, yet I still never have enough time for all the things I want to do!
    My husband tells me -tomorrow is another day! But in order for that to be a good day, I need to get my rest, so it's off to bed now!

Buck Up Little Buckaroo--a perfect title for my feelings tonight

Mary Ellen Edmunds has written a book that I have found so helpful the past few years named "Buck Up, Little Buckaroo" filled with strategies for dealing with loneliness, and ideas for helping others who might be lonely, as well as expressions of gratitude for blessing that help us learn from our "alone times."
    Tonight is one of those times which just seem to be part of life, when even though I have a rich, fulfilling life with a wonderful husband and family, and plenty to do to keep me busy with meaningful pursuits, I am experiencing lonely feelings.
    Mary Ellen made the statement that being lonely isn't necessarily bad for you, but STAYING lonely is. With that in mind, I am writing this to explore my lonely feelings. It is really one of the strategies the book suggests of recording my thoughts, writing down how I feel, exploring the whys and describing what is going on in my life.
   Gary and I are really in a new time of our life when each of our children is so involved in their own families they truly do not have time or energy to include us in their lives. I remember that time so well in my own life when I had grown children and grandchildren, and still had children at home.
     When I visited my mother (who was a widow by this time) she would remark how she wished I could come more often and stay longer. I vividly remember thinking, "Oh, Mom, if only  you knew how hard it is for me to come as often as I do." 
   So I understand the whys. I really do. And it is entirely possible that life is busier now for my grown children who have grandchildren than it was for me because the pace of life for everyone seems to constantly speed up.  However, that doesn't make it any easier for  us to be on the outside looking in at their lives instead of being involved with them like we have been for so many years. We probably did not even think about involving my mother in our day to day affairs or events, except in the major celebrations of our life. I wish I had known then what I know now! How I wish I had made the time to involve her more.  
   There is also the factor of our family not including us because they know we don't have the energy to do the things we have always done--and that is a big transition for us and for them-- which takes some getting used to,  and adjustments in our thinking and expectations of ourselves and others. Getting old is no fun for anyone, but we don't have to let our lack of energy keep us from enjoying the things we CAN do.
   Right now I am going to look at my loneliness as a positive signal that it is time for me to reach outside myself for new friends and new challenges that will fill the void I am feeling . Finding someone to teach me the Family Tree Genealogy program, for instance. Maybe taking a friend to lunch, and/or finding more ways to reach out to my family in ways that won't be intrusive.
 I know there will come a day when all our loneliness, our longings, our sorrows will be turned to understanding and to joy. Till then, Buck Up Little Buckaroo, little child of God, remember He loves you dearly and is watching over you always.

 Here is a picture of my dear mother who I mentioned earlier. She was a lovely, industrious, righteous woman, whom I didn't appreciate enough when she was alive. Isn't that typical of humans? Her name is Fern Jensen Larsen. I'm sorry Mom that I didn't take the time I should have to make you feel important and needed in your later life.