Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dreams of Agriculture, Joy in the Middle

I have been overdue for a photography date (with myself) lately as things have actually been really busy! But today is Jeff's last shift delivering for Donatos! I am so grateful he followed the inspiration to take that job, both between employment, and then on Saturdays after his OSU position started. He called himself Jeff - PhD: Pizza home delivery. I love his humble dedication to providing for us. But it was definitely hard to not have Saturdays for family time and family business. So, again following the Spirit, Jeff is quitting.

This morning, when the light was just stunning, I got to go by myself to take pictures of the field just south of us, across from the elementary school in our neighborhood (crazy to think Elena will likely attend there next year!!!)

In the summer these were soybeans. I've seen a lot of them around here. That and corn! #midwest

It's hard to explain the pull agriculture has on me. I didn't grew up on a farm or anything. Though my Dad grew up on acreage and with horses, so it is in me. My soul is irresistibly drawn to nature in general, and when I see it, I want to keep it. Sort of selfish I guess. Maybe that's why I like photography.

#morninglight #hearteyes
 I am lucky that Jeff and I have always shared this sort of far-fetched dream of owning land. There was a time when every time we went on a date or got in the car together we would talk about our future dreams.

We are now in this place in the middle. We are that much closer to our dream - Jeff finished his PhD, I survived the throws of new, young-motherhood. We upgraded from a sketchy apartment to a rental house. We escaped the desert and now live in a lovely, four-seasoned, green and moist area. We have literally and figuratively left the wilderness. :) And it feels great. We are so blessed to have divine guidance in our lives. It brings us so much peace knowing we are in the right place. This phase is proving to be great for Jeff's career path, and healing for me and for our family.

I am however looking forward to being settled somewhere. To have a real HOME. To be somewhere and know we will be there for 10 or more years. I actually like change, I thrive on it. But now that I am a mother and a homemaker, I can see the benefit of having a certain amount of stability, because things will always be changing anyway. I also love to really sink into a place so we can have strong relationships, grow, and ultimately, serve more.

That being said, I am also finding joy in the middle. If the fours year of grad-school in Arizona taught me anything, it is patience. We are learning so much through these lean years! I am so grateful we didn't start our marriage in wealth or convenience. These stretching experiences have helped us define our priorities. We aren't just preparing financially for the future, we are becoming who we want to BE in the future. (that could be a metaphor for life and heaven)

So while every time I step outside in the morning and see the light glint on the dew or shine through our neighbor's tree, my heart swells inside me with a longing for our own land, I rejoice at where we are now. Like Jody Moore says, "it is possible to love the home you are in, and at the same time want to move to a different home." In Arizona, that swelling in side of me was more like an ache. It hurt, thinking how far away that dream felt. Now it feels that much closer. And I know we can do it.

"I know in whom I have trusted." (2 Nephi 4:19)

So we have mice. We have bees.We have spiders. So our new car gets rear-ended and totaled just months after we made that providential purchase.

I know it will work out. We have gotten through this before!

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Isaiah 41:10

God got us through the wilderness, he will get us through the middle. I still hold on to my dreams of agriculture, but we are finding so much joy, beauty and growth now!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

When a Feeling is Biological

I want to share my experience this weekend in case it will help someone.

There is so much background I COULD give, I almost don't know where to start. I could explain how well I've been doing emotionally and spiritually lately. I could mention that I currently take Kuvan, a drug for my PKU to help me metabolize protein better, thus allowing me to eat more of it. I could add something about Jody Moore and Hunter Clarke-fields and all that I'm learning from listening to their podcasts (Bold New Mom and Mindful Mamma). I could touch on my years of thoughts about and questions on and passion for the complex relationship between mental health and spirituality.

But I'll just jump right in. This Saturday was the general women's meeting of general conference. I was excited. I went to the church and soaked it all in. I came with questions. I took notes. I knew these messages were profound, relevant, true and what I needed to hear.

But at some point during the meeting I noticed I felt sad. I felt emotional pain. I thought "man this is hard. It's hard to feel so far away from God." And, trying to internalize the messages, thought, "well the one who bridges that gap is Christ. So I must need to draw closer to Christ to
feel peace...But I'm already trying to draw close to him every day! I guess I just need to press forward going through the motions even though I don't feel the good feelings."

Not a fun feeling or thought process. It is hard to put it into words, it may sound silly the way I described it, but it was very deep and very real. This, to me is depression.

I wasn't super worried, because I knew I could press forward (I have increased in my capacity to do this over the years). I did so on Sunday and had a fine day, but still couldn't shake the dark, empty feeling. When depressing feelings come it is hard to remember when they weren't there or imagine them going away. It feels like it will always be this way. 

I felt really confused about this though, because I had very recently, just earlier that week, been doing really well. Like, facing adverse circumstances with presence of mind, optimism, gratitude and joy. (See recent instagram posts) Experiencing genuine peace. 

I have also been learning a lot about thoughts from Jody Moore. Thoughts cause feelings. But I didn't have a thought that made me sad, I was just sad. I didn't have anything going on my life that was sad, I just felt sad. 

I was explaining this to my husband, and he asked, "Did you take your kuvan this week?"

I gasped. There were two days, Tuesday and Friday, when I forgot to take it. I hadn't noticed anything until then, but at that moment it clicked. I was experiencing depression. But this time it wasn't from circumstances or thought processes, it was because, if I am correct, my higher protein diet without kuvan had cause a higher blood Phe level which messed with the neurotransmitters in my brain. I can't prove this because I didn't take a blood level. But I am convinced that is what it was. (BTW this is the whole reason I have a low-protein diet -- untreated PKU causes neurological damage)

I share this because 

1) I have so much sympathy for people who have clinical depression. It is such a horrible feeling. I think it is especially painful when you have the fullness of the gospel and understand God's plan of salvation. It is just so confusing to experience such mental pain when you strive to follow the Prince of Peace. To those of you with this struggle, you are incredibly strong and I pray for you.

2) To raise awareness about depression and to raise questions about the complex relationship  between mind, body and spirit. Little episodes of depression like this or longer have dotted my life. But I am also close to people who have more chronic mental health challenges. So I speak from a place years of experience dealing with this.

My experience this weekend was unique in that it was almost completely biological, but I personally believe there are many causes and therefore many solutions to mental health challenges. Figuring out which ones are right for you and putting them into practice can take years, but I believe there is a lot of hope and healing available. Again, I am not trying to oversimplify, but I have seen this happen. I should probably write a whole different post, or blog, or book about this.

Taking a broad rather than a narrow view of mental illness opens up so much potential for growth and improvement. I believe in a holistic approach. Specifically, I support sleep, exercise, therapy, medication, personal spiritual devotional practices, introspection, thought work, self-care, self-compassion, meditation, yoga, relationships, all of it!

3) Faith still is the answer. I thank Heavenly Father that my husband had that insight and we were able to figure that out. One thing that led to that was me remembering how I felt earlier and knowing that was real, and wondering what the difference was. 

Faith is a choice. Sometimes pressing forward in the darkness is what defines our faith.

I think I could write or talk about this for hours. So I will just leave it at that for now.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sister week!

My parents raised us away from their families, so I always expected I would do the same. But it wasn't until to was married and had a baby that I realized how hard this can be. I am blessed to have a close family, and all we do all year is look forward to the one or two times a year we can get together.

At this phase of life, my two sisters and I all temporarily live as far east as any of us Seattle girls ever have. I'm in Columbus, Ohio, Marianne is in the Detroit area of Michigan, and Jenni just moved to Boston to go to grad school at Boston University.

When Jenni called to see if she could come visit me for a few days before her job and semester begin, I was thrilled! We arranged for Marianne to come down as well, even though she's already visited me twice since I've lived here (it's only a three hour drive for her). So it was a sister party!!! Jeff commented that he's never seen me so happy (I think he says that every time we are with my family).

The two full days involved lots of cousin time, going to my yoga class at the Y, a splash pad, talking time, Graeters Ice Cream, Jenni reading lots of books to her nieces, Asian food, Fixer Upper, photography practice, more talking time and a sisters night out.

Graeter's Ice Cream is allegedly the best ice cream Marianne has ever had, and she loves ice cream. :) So we had to try it.

The shop was cute and had these awesome old-fashioned ceiling fans on belts. The girls LOVED their sprinkle cones. I got black raspberry icecream. Yum. But I'll admit, I was mostly focused on taking pictures of the cute girls enjoying their cones.

Sister Photo-shoot!

Always fun to have a reason to get dressed up. Even if it is to go to the yard across the driveway and take a few photos. :P 

Caught on an off-moment :)

That's more like it.

Failed attempt having Elena shoot the photo from a chair by the tripod. "I can't see your faces!"

That night we did get beyond the yard and went to an Asian-fusion restaurant downtown. Not THE best we've ever had, but very enjoyable and yummy. It wouldn't be a Bement get-together without Asian food. Did I mention that our Mom covered dinner? Thank you mom!!!

Oh, avocado sushi rolls. You make my life.

I love these sisters of mine and I am SO glad they could come this week.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Skidmores in the Ohio

I just wanted to write an update for anyone who cares to know.

The short version is, we are doing really well in Ohio. We feel peace knowing we are in the right place. We feel blessed in many ways - Jeff's position is looking like it will be a great experience for his growth and future career. We feel very grateful to be in a welcoming and spiritually strong ward. I love the mom friends and regular play dates we have. I appreciate our house and the nice weather and green trees.

On a deeper level (my favorite level) I feel like the Lord has guided me out of a place of darkness to greater peace and light, and I am very thankful. Everyone I know in Arizona knows that I did not enjoy living there. Yes I complained about the awful weather, but the truth is, I was not in a good place in Arizona. Maybe my memory is foggy, but I feel like more often than not I was struggling. There are so many factors that went into that, and it doesn't really do any good to go into that here. And I believe we all have to go through those time in life, and I know that God will work all things together for our good.

I would like to share some ways the Lord specifically guided me out of that place. Before we moved I prayed a lot about being happier in Ohio. One day in the temple I kept thinking that I need to take a yoga class. I have always loved and believed in yoga but have never taken a class. And I also had impressions about practicing mindfulness. I think this actually helped me before we moved as well.  I felt so much hope associated with the move, that I think it actually helped me live in the present more while we were still in Arizona. I enjoyed our last few months there and was able to face the stress of packing and moving with strength and optimism.

Soon after moving to Columbus I made it a priority to join the YMCA and have been going to yoga twice a week. It is so good for me in so many ways, and the girls enjoy playing in child watch. Thank heaven for the Y!

As a result of doing yoga and practicing mindfulness (I started reading Mindfulness for Parents by Amber Hatch and also bought Hunter Clark-Fields daily practice yoga and meditation package) I have been more calm, less, reactive, more present with my girls and overall happier!

This has also helped be able to sort of find God again. I know he is always there and cares about us, but when a person is depressed and tired and overwhelmed it can be hard to feel it. Being more connected to myself has helped me have more meaningful prayers and receive more revelation and hope for my life. I feel so grateful for all my blessings and know the Lord is taking care of me and my family.

On that note, last night I watched this wonderful BYU devotional with some friends. Some of us decided to form a discussion group for women so we watched this and then shared our deep thoughts and personal experiences and feelings and it was like a dream come true for me. I would highly recommend it! And the talk was so beautifully validating about that feeling of being lost and in the dark, with faith inspiring principles in how to deal with it. Check it out!

So I don't mean to make it sound like life is perfect. Being unemployed for a couple months, and not getting paid for three months took a toll on our savings. Jeff started delivering Donatos pizza shortly after moving here. He is the best! With only one car this has meant me driving Jeff to and from OSU every day for work (I'm not about to be stuck at home all day). That should be changing soon, yay! So we have our challenges, but overall I just have so much peace and gratitude. Also, I'm sure my time in Arizona helped me become more patient to get through these little challenges. It helps that I know they are temporary. We are so very blessed.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bargain finds for our new home

We are in Ohio! We are loving our rental home. It's not the dream home, and there are some annoying quirks, but overall a huge improvement from our previous place.

Biggest thing we appreciate -- more space! More space for storage and more space to live. This has allowed our home to be less cluttered than before. It also helps that I've been working on minimalism to an extent. We got rid of lots of things before and after moving.

Other good things - more natural light. A nicer kitchen. A little fenced yard. Green trees. :)

Another day when everything is ready I will do a post of the whole place. But today I wanted to share the great finds we've had!

Though Jeff graduated, we still haven't "arrived," plus he actually hasn't started working at OSU yet, so saving money is really important right now! Also, I don't think my income will ever outgrow the thrifty Mary Jane Wright side of me.

Here is what I did. I made a (long) list of all the things I wanted for our home. I prayed that we would be able to find good deals (an important step). And then I kept my eyes open. I went to thrift stores, I went to discount furniture stores. We went garage sale-ing (is that a word?) and I scrolled through craigslist and facebook marketplace (the latter is much more user-friendly) many times. And over the next two weeks we scored!

First score: this cute blue couch. It was at a garage sale for $75. Wohoo! It even has a pull-out bed. (no guarantee on how comfy it is, but you are all officially welcome to come stay with us when you visit Kirtland! :D) On that garage sale trip we also got really great toys for the girls, for next to nothing. Grandma Jane was proud of me that day!

Next, after scrolling through old, brown and black TV stands, I found this beauty on craigslist. It is brand new -- it was still in the box. The owner had bought three and was only using two. $100! Very happy with it.

The most recent find was this rug! I had been looking around and had even contacted a few people on facebook marketplace that didn't work out, but this one is new as well.  Bought it this morning for only $75!

The clock was like $12 at walmart. I need to teach Elena how to tell time, plus it's always nice having a clock on the wall. The canvas art on the side is from Lowes. It was $29.99. I saw it one day and took a picture and couldn't stop thinking about it. So I thought it was worth buying to tie our room together. I love it!

The other thing was this little shelf I wanted for our bedroom to keep all our journals and things. This was on facebook marketplace for $5. This is literally the exact shelf I was thinking of buying at walmart. And the guy delivered it! What a find!

So, there you have it, if you wait long enough, you can find what you're looking for, sometimes even new, for a super awesome price. I am quite pleased.

As Elena said, "it looks like a home!"

Friday, April 14, 2017

California Visit

I wanted to share some photos from our recent trip to California. It was a wonderful vacation for us, and much needed after Jeff successfully defended his dissertation earlier that week. Wohoo!

Great to visit the Hartvigsons and see Aunt Annie. Elena had a blast with her second cousins, or, "my friends," as she called them. It was especially fun to see Eleina Hartvigson play so well with Elena Skidmore. Name buddies! We very much enjoyed seeing everyone, eating Polly's delicious food, having lengthy breaks from parenting while the girls played happily on the farm, and dreaming of our future owning land, etc.

Here is the cute trailer we got to stay in.

Here is the view of the mountains that border the 5 acre farm. The weather and the scenery were gorgeous!

Snake adventures! This gopher snake was spotted several times around the farm while we were there. When Jewellia found it on Friday, she called Brigham and they tag -teamed it's capture. It was pretty sweet to watch, and timely that I had my camera out.

Go brother-sister teamwork!

You can probably tell, I think snakes are cool.

Look at these cute cousins!

Elena was in heaven with these kittens

The whole group :)


Outtakes from our family photo shoot.

These cuties

Abby climbing, as usual


Look at Abby's huge smile!