Medical Marijuana and the LDS Church

Medical marjiuana.jpg

On Friday, February 5, 2016 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints opposed a bill in the Utah legislature brought forth by Senator Mark Madsen that would make Utah the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. citing unintended consequences that could come with use of the drug.

And I am angry.

I grew up being taught that the LDS church was politically neutral. Every election season a letter is read over the pulpit in every Ward in the United States written by the First Presidency emphatically stating that the church keeps out of politics.

However, this past legislative session in Utah has proven that the church’s long-claimed stance of political neutrality is false. Most people outside the state don’t understand how one religion, no matter how prominent, can have such an effect on state policies. But it does. Most of the state legislators identify as LDS and as any LDS person will tell you, when the prophet speaks, you listen, and you do as you are told. Obedience above conscious.

The reason for opposing medical marijuana?

Unintended consequences.

You mean like people suffering from chronic, debilitating, and painful diseases getting relief?

You mean like people who do suffer those painful diseases not becoming addicted to the opioids their doctors prescribe because that’s all doctors can do legally?

You mean like people being high all the time on THC? NEWFLASH – these same people are high all the time. On opioids.

And because they are having to ever increase their opioid use with no legal proven alternative available, it is leading to some patients becoming addicted. Utah has an insanely high opioid usage rate as well as heroin rate. The Utah Department of Health has noted that Utah has an experienced a more than 400% increase in prescription drug use injuries and death in the last decade. An average of 21 Utahns die a month due to prescription drug overdoses. Utah ranks 8th highest in prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Marijuana isn’t the drug you should be worried about, LDS church.

Heavy opioid use for chronic pain also leads to liver damage, digestive difficulties like not being able to keep food down and chronic, and bowel damaging, constipation.

I’m sure the LDS church leaders believe this is a moral issue, so I have to ask…

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

No one has ever overdosed on Marijuana.

I could see if this were legalizing recreational marijuana use why the LDS church would be opposed to that and taking a strong stance against it.

But this is about medicinal use in oil form. Mormons love their medicinal oils. I’m sure if doTerra was pushing this, all the prominent MLM owning Mormons would jump at having it legalized.

Luckily Senator Madsen is not kowtowing to the incredible and inappropriate overreach of the LDS church into state politics. He has proposed 8 amendments to the law that he hopes will alleviate concerns to the Bill.

Anecdotally, when my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer in August 2007. She opted for chemotherapy treatments to extend her life and it was awful. She threw up constantly. She couldn’t keep any food down, thereby becoming dehydrated. She was in constant pain. Her doctor prescribed for her Marinol to help increase her appetite and deal with the nausea chemotherapy caused. Marinol is one of the cannabinoids.

I wish I could sit down with the leaders of the LDS church and describe to them what it was like to watch my mom suffer an absolute nightmarish hell during her last 3 months on this earth. I wish I could tell them what it was like to sit with her in her hospital room watching her writhe in pain, wake up and look at me with panic-stricken eyes that reminded me of a wounded animal, and beg me, BEG ME, her second daughter, someone she called “girl baby” and nursed at her breast until I was 15 months old, BEG ME to go find someone to kill her. Please tell me how you would feel to have your mother, a light and sunshine to everyone she knew, be suffering so much she begged you to find someone to take her life.

You know that scene in Terms of Endearment when Debra Winger is in the hospital dying of cancer and her mother, Shirley MacClaine, goes and screams at the nurses and demands they relieve the suffering of her dying daughter? Yeah, that was me.

Please tell where the dignity is in letting dying people suffer when oil from a plant…A PLANT that God planted in the ground.. can alleviate suffering? Why are those who aren’t suffering constantly asking others to do it when they have no idea the pain that is involved?

On another anecdotal note, I’m old enough now to have several friends who suffer from various chronic, painful diseases:  Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Anxiety, Erytohmelalgia (or Mitchell’s syndrome), and numerous other autoimmune disorders. THC has been proven to alleviate the pain and other symptoms that these debilitating and painful diseases cause. Prescribing people who are suffering ever-increasing amounts of opioids is unconscionable, and I would argue, ammoral.

So I’m begging the leaders of the LDS church to do the right thing. I was always taught growing up in church to do the right thing and let the consequences follow. I was taught to be honest in my dealings. I was taught to put the pain and suffering of others above my own comfort. Please LDS church, practice what you preach. Again I ask,

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

Life Lessons I Learned from #AftonStrong

#AftonStrong

It’s so much more than a hashtag. #AftonStrong is a cause close to my heart.

Afton Wallace is my second cousin on my mom’s side. Her dad, Rob, and my mom are first cousins. My grandma and her grandpa are brother and sister. Afton and I share great-grandparents. I think that’s how second cousins work.

Afton Wallace is more than just my second cousin. In the last year Afton has taught me to live more fully and love more deeply. She has taught me about courage and fortitude. She has taught me what a real Superhero looks like. She’s half my age but has taught me about the kind of person I want to be: strong, brave, fearless, positive, inspiring, formidable, optimistic, loving, generous.

Afton is a senior in High School in Mississippi. Afton was her high school’s Homecoming Queen last Fall, she was named Miss Warren Central High School, she was voted Class Favorite, was the captain of her swimming team this year,  scored a 33 on the ACT (that’s the 99th percentile), earned a full-ride scholarship to BYU for this Fall, took AP classes her senior year, and is graduating with honors this month [1] . She is quite a smart, accomplished young woman. But the truly remarkable thing is she has done all of this while battling Stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma, a very rare childhood bone cancer that is very aggressive [2] [3].

Afton was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma on May 22, 2014 and was only given a few days to live. Afton had tumors on her pelvic bone, spine, liver, and kidneys. She immediately started chemotherapy and radiation and her progress far exceeded doctor’s expectations. In January of this year we thought things were starting to turn around when doctors declared her to be in remission. However, a short month later Afton relapsed with a significant tumor on her brain. In March scans showed that Afton has numerous tumors growing throughout her body. Since last May, Afton has spent over 120 days in the hospital, undergone 45 radiation treatments, and received 70 doses of chemotherapy. [2]

And through it all Afton has “just kept swimming,” her motto from the movie Finding Nemo. Swimming is something Afton knows well considering she has been competitively swimming since she was in grade school and was a star athlete on her swimming team. Afton’s positive attitude in the face of insurmountable odds has inspired thousands of people, including me, her older cousin. On her Facebook page, Afton Wallace #mymissionisremission, she and her parents post countless videos of Afton singing after chemo treatments and pictures of her bright, smiling face [4]. Afton acknowledges she has her hard moments as well. “You can have breakdown moments cause everyone has breakdown moments, and sometimes you have them every day,” says Afton. “But you have to keep a smile on your face to make it through. You really do.” [1]

As I have watched my sweet cousin face this impossible battle over the last year I am continually humbled by her optimism, good humor, and ability to give to others during, which should be some of her darkest moments. As part of her occupational therapy, Afton has been crocheting infinity scarves and donating them to a clinic for abused women in California. She also reaches out to other cancer patients and lifts their spirits. Anyone would be justified in being angry at their situation and not want to help others and maybe sometimes Afton does feel that way, but she does not show it publicly and instead her generous spirit shines through every time.

8-life-lessons-from-helen-keller-13-728

This quote by Helen Keller is one of my very favorites. If anyone had reason to give up and wallow in the unfairness of life, it was Helen Keller. Instead she overcame all her disabilities to be a social justice warrior and an iconic and inspirational American. This quote exemplifies Afton to me. Afton has opened a new doorway for the human spirit. Before her, I never knew that a young person could be so hopeful, optimistic, brave, wise and mature beyond her years, and heroic. She has reminded me just how precious and beautiful life is. She has taught me to never take a single day for granted. Her parents, Rob and Sheri, have taught me how precious our children are and how to be a rock of strength when everything inside you is crumbling to pieces. The Wallaces have taught me what true courage looks like. They have taught me more about unconditional love, sacrifice, and faith than I could ever learn from any book. And like I said at the beginning, Afton has taught me to live more fully and to love more deeply than I ever would have before her diagnosis.

Sadly, our hearts all broke last Friday, May 8th, when Sheri made the announcement that Afton’s latest CT and PET scans showed that her latest chemotherapy was not working and her tumors have tripled in size and dramatically increased in number. There are no more standard treatment options available to Afton and her body will not be able to recover enough to participate in a clinical trial. The doctors believe that Afton has less than 3 months to live. [5]

I read the news when I was checking Facebook on a break and I broke down in tears. I cried for Rob and Sheri and the devastation they must be going through. I cried for Afton’s siblings, Kaylynne, Abigail, Scott, and Katie. I cried for Afton and for the life and future she deserves. I cried for Afton’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, 58 first cousins, extended family, friends, and hometown of Vicksburg, MS.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair when this happens to those who want to live the most and have the most to live for.

I thought about Afton and what I could do to help, and there’s nothing I can do except contribute to her GoFundMe page [6]. I thought about how selfless and giving Afton has been through all of this. I remembered that she always felt better after having blood transfusions, and though I have never done it before, I made an appointment for the very next day with the Red Cross to donate my blood. I learned that my blood will help save the lives of three people. If I can’t save Afton’s life, I can at least help someone else. [7]

Despite the odds, Afton is not giving up and neither are the people who love her. We don’t give up. We just keep swimming and we petition the Lord constantly with prayers for continued miracles.

I can’t let myself think far enough ahead into a future that doesn’t include Afton. If and when she passes from this life, whether that’s 90 days or 90 years from now, Afton will leave a great legacy of love, courage, optimism, enthusiasm for life, endurance, strength, grace, and success.

emerson[8]

Afton your life has been a success because you made the lives of those who love you better by simply being you.

There are no words in the English language adequate enough to express my deep love and gratitude to Afton and her family. They are a miracle, and through the atonement of Jesus Christ, no matter what happens, we will all be together forever. There is no mutant cell that could ever take that away. Because of His grace, cancer will never win. It can destroy a physical body, but it cannot harm an eternal soul.

Don’t give up. Never quit. Just keep swimming. Just keep smiling. Just keep loving. Give more. Love more. Live more. Enjoy more. Seek out joy. Look for miracles. Never let go.

Those are the lessons I’ve learned from my dear, sweet, younger cousin.

“…unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

This article is posted with the gracious permission of the Wallace family.

The article was featured on The Huffington Post where Afton herself picked the beautiful pictures that were featured. RIP Beautiful girl.

Sources:

[1] MS NEWS NOW | WLBT, WDBD (http://www.msnewsnow.com/story/28949637/afton-wallace-her-fight-for-life)

[2] The Vicksburg Post (http://www.vicksburgpost.com/2015/05/03/just-keep-swimming/)

[3] WebMD (http://www.webmd.com/cancer/ewings-sarcoma)

[4] Afton Wallace #mymissionisremission (https://www.facebook.com/aftonwallacemymissionisremission?fref=ts)

[5] Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/aftonwallacemymissionisremission/posts/447679728744143)

[6] GoFundMe – Afton Wallace (http://www.gofundme.com/tf5qfc)

[7] American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/blood)

[8] Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

That Tuesday Morning

I wrote this in 2010. This being the 12th anniversary I thought I’d repost it  since I have some new readers.

 

That Tuesday Morning

Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

 

It has become my generation’s, “where were you when?”

 

Where was I? Sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I had the worst kidney infection that week than I’ve ever had before or since. Monday I started feeling the pain in my kidneys, but knew I had to work for the next two days. I thought I could just take some Ibuprofen and deal. That night I passed out in the shower and my husband called my boss at home (she was a close friend) and told her what had happened. Being my boss she forbade me to work and ordered me to go to the doctor that morning.

 

Tuesday morning. I should have gone to the emergency room the night before, but I didn’t. We waited until the urgent care clinic opened at 9:00 a.m. We didn’t turn on the TV. We didn’t turn on the radio. Our daughter was 3 months old. We walked into the clinic and saw everyone, literally all the patients, nurses, doctors, receptionists, gathered around the TV. I was annoyed. I didn’t know what was going on. I wanted the receptionist back behind the desk so I could check in and see a doctor as quickly as possible and seek some pain relief.

 

I was in so much pain, what happened next is pretty much dreamlike. From watching TV my husband could pretty much figure out what was going on. I was in too much pain to ascertain anything of reality around me. Pain can be transcendent like that. The doctor diagnosed me with the worst kidney infection he’d ever seen. I had a high, high fever and they gave me Cipro (and antibiotic given to those who’ve been exposed to anthrax). I wasn’t allowed to nurse my daughter while taking it. They said I could pump my milk and discard it. I could barley sit upright…you expect me to pump for 10 days?

 

I remember waking up on my couch at home. The TV was on…the disaster being played over and over again on every channel. I had taken Tylenol to break my fever. I woke up covered in sweat and milk. The Lortab eased my pain but made me nauseated. I couldn’t even hold my baby. Once most of the pain was gone I began to understand what was happening. The reality of the situation hit me in an instant.

 

I was scared.

 

My best friend had just moved to New York City exactly a year before.

 

My heart was racing. My best friend. I befriended her when she was the new kid in 6th grade. She knew all my secrets. She knew all my faults and loved me anyway. She hated all my boyfriends. We spent hours giggling together until our sides ached. We endured high school together at different high schools. We experienced college together on opposite sides of the country. She’s been there for me through it all. She was my maid of honor at my wedding. She was my baby’s Godmother.

 

I wouldn’t allow my mind to embrace the possibility that she could be dead. I knew she lived in Queens and worked in Manhattan. Where in Manhattan? It’s so big. Please don’t let it be in the Financial district. I couldn’t imagine my best friend running for her life while the towers crashed around her. I saw the people jump from the buildings. It was the most awful thing I’ve ever witnessed. Please, don’t let that be her.

 

In the afternoon her mother called. The minute she said, “Marisa, this is Jessica’s mother. She’s okay,” I burst into tears. She told me that Jessica worked in Midtown, several miles away. Her cell service was sketchy. The first phone call she made was to her mother. She appointed her mother as the caller to every one she knew letting them know she was okay. At the time she was living in Queens.

 

She had no idea what would await her when she got home. Her roommate had a job interview at the Windows on the World restaurant that morning. It was at the top of one of the towers at the World Trade Center. She rode the N train all the way home to Queens thinking her roommate was dead, praying that she somehow got out alive. Her roommate was home when she got there. Her alarm hadn’t gone off and she missed the interview. A few weeks later her roommate was in downtown Manhattan where she saw a Jewish lady screaming, “It smells like Auschwitz!” She had to move to LA she was so traumatized. She should have died. A broken alarm clock saved her life.

 

That whole week was a fog of pain pills, antibiotics, sweating, and watching the disaster unfold every single day. All the channels were running the story. There was nothing else to watch. It seemed vulgar to even think about watching a romantic comedy to escape the non-stop disaster-athon on the Television.

 

Major Giuliani said that we all became New Yorkers that Tuesday. I know I did.

 

 

Monday, March 17, 2003

 

I am standing at the gate overlooking Ground Zero. It is bigger than I can ever imagine. There are signs on the gate detailing the disaster. I read the signs and tears stream down my face. I remember what that Tuesday morning was like. I take pictures. I want to remember how I feel. It feels profane to do so. Grief hangs in the air. It is heavy. It is quiet like a graveyard. All of a sudden I hear singing. I look over my shoulder. There is a group of high school aged girls standing in a circle with their arms around each other. They are singing, “Amazing Grace.” They sound like a choir of angels. My tears come quicker and faster. I grab my best friend’s hand. We smile at each other as we look at the wreckage. We know how close we were to losing each other. There is a big hole in the ground where people used to live and work. Three thousand people died on this spot. How scary were their last moments? I saw them jump out of the buildings on TV. It was better than burning alive. Over the last 18 months I have heard story after story of people’s loved ones dying, or heroic acts of bravery. It is so real in this moment. It feels like we will never recover. Later, we take the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty. She is like a beacon of hope calling to me. We will survive. We always have.

 

Two days later we dropped bombs in Iraq.

 

 

Friday, July 2, 2010

 

Jessica and I just got off the Liberty Harbor cruise. It was a very romantic sojourn. Too bad our respective significant others couldn’t have shared it with us. We walk around Battery Park. There’s a piano just sitting there asking to be played. Literally, there’s a sign on the piano that says, “Please Play Me.” A couple stand at the piano. They turn around and ask us if either one of us can sight read Chopin. Jessica immediately outs me as the piano player. I try Chopin. He’s too hard. They have Bach. I can sight read Bach. I played “Ave Maria” at my mother’s funeral. Bach and I are peeps. Another couple comes and wants to show off their jazz playing abilities. We clap at their first song, but when it’s obvious they intend to put on a performance, we leave.

 

We walk out of Battery park. We walk along the edge of Manhattan. Jessica lives along the East River way uptown. She never comes this far downtown, she says. I take pictures of the cool buildings. We start walking toward the financial district. The architecture of the buildings takes my breath away. Everything is closed. People have gone home for the weekend. Not even a restaurant or a cafe is open. And I am hungry. Without even realizing it, we walk closer to Ground Zero.

 

I can feel it.

 

I can feel the panic.

 

I can feel the fear.

 

I can feel what the people who worked down here felt on that Tuesday morning. I imagine these almost vacant streets full of people running for their lives. Confused, scared, horrified. I feel it all. We round the corner and I see the church. The church that survived the imploding of the towers while all the other buildings surrounding the area were damaged. We can’t help it. We walk closer to Ground Zero.

 

There it is.

 

It’s massive still. Not much progress as been made since I was standing at this same spot 7 years earlier. We walk past the fire station and next to the World Trade Center museum. We round the corner and there is a memorial on the side of the fire station. A picture hangs there with all the faces of police officers and fire fighters who gave their lives that Tuesday morning. It is overwhelming. I tell Jessica it’s okay to cry. She’s not much of a crier. She’s working on it. We walk around the entire site before we find the entrance to the subway we want. The air is still thick with grief. But the grief is lighter. We will never forget but we are healing. I take Jessica’s hand. We’ve been here before.

 

Life has gone on, and we are healing.

 

 

Book Review: Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer

I absolutely loved Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer. I’ve been a Strohmeyer fan since 2001 and this book, published in 2011, did not disappoint. In fact, it’s my favorite non-Bubbles Strohmeyer book so far.

Kindred Spirits is about four friends, Lynne, Carol, Mary Kay, and Beth, who met during a school board meeting and formed the Ladies Society for the Conservation of Martinis. These four friends become each other’s family as they raise their children together and endure the hardships, as well as the joys, of life together. When Lynne dies suddenly, she leaves behind a huge secret and tasks her friends to fulfill a mission for her she could never accomplish in life.

Lynne’s secret is something that hits particularly close to home for me because of my profession. There were so many truths in this book regarding the secret Lynne’s keeps I can’t help but think that Strohmeyer really did her homework.

Every chapter is interspersed with martini recipes and it made this teetotaler almost wish she was a drinker. If you are a drinker and like martini’s I suggest trying out some of these recipes to see if they really are as good as they sound.

The friendships between these four very different women was so heartwarming. Especially how much they demonstrated their love and loyalty to each other, even in wrong choices, and in this case, Lynne’s death. I think every woman wishes she had a core group of girlfriends who are her soft place to fall and friends she can go to for marriage and parenting advice; friends who never judge you and love you unconditionally.

This book is well-written and heartwarming. I had a hard time putting it down and only did so when I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I found myself crying several times as I had grown quite attached to these characters. I liked it so much I think I’ll recommend it to my book club for a pick for next year.

A Month of Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving last year my bestie K and I went to a yoga class at the gym and our favorite yoga instructor read us this quote by Melody Beattie.  It was one of the best yoga sessions I have ever attended because our instructor set the entire intention toward gratitude.  She reminded us that during this crazy holiday season where stress is really high while we attend a million activities and parties while trying to decorate our houses and make holiday treats and buy a ton of presents for our kids, family, and friends, that it is good to slow down and really appreciate the blessings in our lives.

A lot of my friends have been posting on Facebook something they are grateful for every day until Thanksgiving.  Other friends have created a “gratitude tree” where they have a paper cut-out tree and every day they put a leaf on the tree with something they are grateful for until Thanksgiving (kind of like an Advent calendar) and I like this idea so much I think I will do it next year with my kids.  Last year I wrote an A,B,C post about things I am grateful for inspired by my friend Mitch.  All those things I’m grateful for still stand, but I wanted to re-iterate what I’m thankful for this year.

-I’m thankful for my family of origin.  God blessed me with two loving parents and two incredible siblings.  Even though my Mother is now in heaven and my Dad is far away, I still feel their love every day.  And my brother and sister are two of the greatest people I’ve ever known.  I’m grateful for their friendship, love, and support.  I love the people they are, the people they married who couldn’t be more perfect for them and add so much to our family, and the little people they created.  My nephews and niece are the cutest kids ever!  I’m glad that my nephews are such good friends with their cousins and that they love spending time together.  It’s true that some of your first best friends are your cousins.

-I’m thankful for the family the hubs and I created.  I married the best man I’ve ever known and not a single day has gone by where I didn’t think that marrying him was the best decision I ever made.   My sweet children add so much to my life and as usual they teach me more than I teach them.  It has been such a joy to watch them learn and grow.  I’m so grateful for the ease at which we have been able to add children to our family.  Working where I work, I can never take our fertility for granted.

-I’m thankful for the family I married into.  I’m so thankful for what a great family the hubs comes from because my mother and father-in-law are two of the nicest, kindest, most loving people I’ve ever known.  They accepted me as part of the family the day I met them.  They have helped the hubs and I out so much and they’ll never know how much I appreciate it, especially since they are the only grandparents my kids have who live nearby.  I love that my kids are so close to their grandparents and have such a bond with them.  Also, the hubs has some great siblings who also married some great people.  We have the cutest nephews and niece ever and I’m so glad my kids are close with their cousins.  The hubs’ sisters are some of my very best friends.

-I’m grateful for extended family and the love that has been given to me by uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, great-aunts, and uncles, etc.  My extended family might not all be close by, but they’re always there supporting me and my family.  I’m grateful for my grandparents.  I didn’t get to know my paternal grandfather very well since he lived back east and died when I was 8.  My paternal grandmother was a force to be reckoned with and I’m glad I come from such a strong woman.  My maternal grandparents moved back to Utah from Boston when I was 2 and I was always so glad that I grew up having them be a part of my every day life.  My maternal grandfather was one of the best, kindest, most gentle men I’ve ever known.  He was out-going, loved life, never met a stranger, treated everyone like his friend, and I can’t help but think I married a man just like him.  My grandmother, while quite different from my grandpa, loved me and I’m grateful I got to know her better as an adult when the hubs and I took care of her.

-I’m grateful for good friends.  My NYCbestie and bestie K have been steadfast and loyal friends who have gotten me through a lot of hard times.  They are both my every day, in the trenches, through good times and bad, gigglefest, best friends.  My friend, Shupee, and her husband flew all the way across the country so they could spend 20 minutes at my mother’s viewing.  It was one of the most kindest, selfless things anyone has ever done for me.  She supported me through my mother’s illness by sending me cards and presents, and I wonder if she knew at the time how much that saved my life.  I have truly been blessed to call some of the most incredible people in this world my friends.

-I’m grateful for a warm home, a roof over my head, electricity, running water, enough clothes to change my outfit every day, and plenty of food, and a variety of it, to eat.  I read an article last Christmas that said if you have any of those things, you are more fortunate than 90% of all the people who have ever lived on the earth.  I try to remember this whenever I get bogged down in my first world problems.

-I’m thankful that my NYCbestie was not seriously affected by Hurricane Sandy and she is safe.  Especially considering she doesn’t live that far from places that were disastrously affected like Hoboken, NJ and Staten Island.

-I’m grateful for the good employment of the hubs and myself.  We’ve both worked in some crappy jobs and it’s nice we both now are employed in jobs and careers we love.  I’m grateful for the people I work with and the clients we work for.  I can honestly say my life has been blessed the last 6 years because of the type of work I’m involved in.

-I’m grateful for Mountain Dew and cheetos.

-I’m grateful for the great neighborhood we live in and kind, friendly, and helpful neighbors.  We moved here 3 years ago this Thanksgiving and it remains one of the best decisions we ever made for our family.  The kids go to a great school, have made great friends, and we are surrounded by great families.

-I’m grateful for my memories.  I’m grateful for having a mother who loved me unconditionally.  I’m grateful that if she can’t be here right now, that God gave me a mother-in-law whom I love like she was my own mother.  Sometimes I forget she didn’t birth me herself.  I’m grateful that if my kids can only have one grandma right now, that God gave them the best one.

-I’m grateful for words and writing and having an outlet to express myself.  I’m grateful for books and for a mother who instilled in me a love of books.

-I’m grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the peace it brings me.  I’m grateful for the atonement and for the opportunity to repent of my mistakes.  I’m grateful for the love and grace of my Savior because I know that I’m so far from perfect I could never measure up.

I hope that I can continue to reflect on all my blessings, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.

Being the Helpee when you’re usually the Helper

Last month the hubs had orthoscopic hip surgery.  He’s had surgery before and I knew a little of what I was in for.  But this ended up being much worse than his prior surgery.

Right before his surgery I got a plate of cookies and a note from my new Visiting teachers.  I contacted one of them to thank her for the cookies and told her that the hubs was having surgery on a certain day.  Well, she was having a baby that day and I told her not to worry about it.

Somehow she must have because all of a sudden many people in my ward were coming up to me asking how they could help.  Since she was having a baby, I just decided to rely on family to help me and not worry about it. But the Relief Society President (bless her sweet, sweet heart) insisted that at least three meals be brought to my home.

I’m not good at asking for help.

There, I said it.

It was a huge deal just for me to mention to my new Visiting teacher in a Facebook message that the hubs was having surgery and I might need some help.  Huge.  I had to step so far out of my comfort zone.  I couldn’t even call her and tell her…I had to write it.

I think it comes from being raised to be very independent and self-sufficient.  I don’t need anybody, I can take care of  myself, right?  Okay, intellectually I know this is wrong, but I feel shame deep down inside for ever being vulnerable or asking for help.  Which is ridiculous because I never judge anyone else for needing help or being vulnerable.  Why do I expect more from myself than I do others?

It also stems from the fact I’m in a helping profession.  I’m the helper not the helpee.  I’m used to figuring out problems, coming up with plans, and helping others figure out theirs.

I’m used to taking care of others, I’m not used to being taken care of.  The only people I usually will accept from are the hubs, my mother-in-law, and my sister.

And then there came a time when I really needed help.  Really, really needed it.  I couldn’t do everything myself.  I couldn’t put on my star-spangled underoos and pretend that I’m Wonder Woman.  I was vulnerable.  This time, instead of being ashamed of it, I humbled myself.  I let others help me.  And they blessed my life.

My mother-in-law watched my children so I could worry about and be with the hubs in the hospital.  My sister took my older kids for the weekend so I could concentrate on taking care of the hubs instead of worrying about taking care of them.  My neighbors brought meals.  They offered prayers in my family’s behalf.  They offered babysitting.  They came over and checked on us.  They called to see how we were doing.  Some even brought meals when they hadn’t even been asked to do so by the Relief Society.

I hope they know the depth of gratitude I feel for all of them.  I’ve never felt so blessed in my whole life.  These people were my angels.  Their generosity and true kindness was like Heavenly Father reaching down and wrapping his arms around me.  I felt so loved, so cared about.

I will always be so incredibly grateful for my angels that helped my family during this experience.  You showed me the best of yourselves and the best of humanity during this time.  You might think that you didn’t really do anything that spectacular.  And maybe in the grand scheme of things, offering to watch my child so I could get an hour of peace, can’t be compared to nursing a colony of lepers for years on end.  But it was grand to me.  It meant so much to me that people actually cared enough about my family to show their concern.

You all know who you are and I love you.

Thank you.

“We cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great LOVE.” -Mother Theresa

How I was almost brought down by Salt Dough

The day I brought the hubs home from the hospital was a difficult day.  It was made easier by sweet friends and neighbors bringing me food and a wonderful MiL who was willing to watch the pre-schooler until I could get the hubs home and settled.

The hubs was in a lot of pain and didn’t have a lot of mobility.  He’s 9 inches taller than me and outweighs me by at least 80 lbs.  And yet I had to help him out of bed, onto his crutches, and into the bathroom.  Thankfully he was on powerful pain meds and he slept through most of those first couple of days home.

My stress and anxiety level was high.  I felt like I was juggling a million balls, and if someone even knocked me slightly or threw a wrench into the juggling mix, I would drop all those balls.  I had things running smoothly.  Both lunch and dinner had been brought.  The kids were home from school and playing nicely and quietly.  There were 10 loads of laundry waiting to be folded, but I ignored them hoping they would go away until I could mentally deal with them.  I was calm, cool, and collected, but teetering on the edge of a meltdown.  That’s what happens when the most important person in your life almost dies the day before.

Then my daughter threw a wrench.

“Mom, I have to make salt dough for school tomorrow,” she said.

I said, “Okay, where’s the note from your teacher?  Where’s the instructions on how to make it?  I don’t just know intuitively how to make salt dough.”

“She didn’t give me a note or instructions.  She told me today that if I didn’t bring it by tomorrow she would give me a 0 on this project,” she said and then she broke down into tears.

The anxiety was high in the house and I had already had one meltdown that morning on the kids when they wouldn’t stop fighting.  I hate the constant fighting.

And just a little background on this teacher (she’s not my daughter’s very capable and wonderful homeroom teacher…in her grade they do rotations with all the teachers).  She has threatened my daughter before.  Because of her ADHD, she does not do well with threats.  She’s needs structure and discipline, but most importantly she needs compassion.  She freaks out easily.

At this point I was really pissed that this teacher would require something without even giving me or my daughter any instruction on how to do it.  I was pissed she had threatened her again.  I was pissed that this was being asked of me on a day that I just couldn’t handle it.  I was pissed that this teacher made my daughter cry.  Again.

So, I took my frustrations to the Facebooks.  And I let loose.  I was so pissed at this teacher I wrote her an angry missive.  Thankfully I have really great friends and they immediately offered sympathy and salt dough recipes.  Some even offered to make extra for what they were making with their kids and send some to school for my daughter

And then I had an idea.  Why do I have to do everything?  My daughter is a tween-ager and very capable of measuring out some salt, water, and flour and stirring them together.  So I made her do it herself.  And she had fun.  I taught her how to turn on the oven.  I was a little surprised because my dad taught me how to cook at an early age and by the time I was her age I had a whole repertoire of homemade breakfasts I would make (i.e. pancakes, waffles, crepes, french toast…all from scratch).  By the time I was her age, I knew how to work an oven (although our oven is digital and mine was not growing up).

So yes, I was almost brought to my knees by salt dough.  After it was said and done, and I had calmed down, I ripped up the mean note to the teacher and took my Facebook rant down.

My daughter and I learned valuable lessons that night.  One, she learned how to use measuring cups, follow a recipe, and use an oven.  I learned that problems, no matter how tiny, in the right context will break you, and you can’t let them.