Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Forgotten Holiday

I love Thanksgiving and what it represents. I do get frustrated though when it seems we go straight into Christmas from Halloween and it gets forgotten. For that reason, I refuse to celebrate any Christmas festivities before Thanksgiving has come and gone. It is one of those holidays where you can spend time with family, eat a delicious meal, and express gratitude for all that we have. I think we forget sometimes, myself included, that gratitude is so much more than just saying "thank you" to those we love. It is also giving to and serving them. It is really an opportunity to do things we should be doing everyday of the year. Today in church, one of the speakers spoke of gifts that we give. She  received advice to give three gifts during the holiday season. Give a gift to a stranger, to someone who doesn't like you, and give a gift to your Savior. I loved the thought of this. It is sometimes easy to give to those we care about most or those who are closest to us. How much harder is to to give to someone you know doesn't like you? It is so much more of a sacrifice. So many times during the holidays, we forget our Savior and all that he has given us. It is diluted into who is getting what and what present I should get for so and so. We forget that the best gift we can give to our Savior and those around us is a gift of service and a Christlike life. I am committing myself now to do better at serving those around me. I heard a quote last week on Music and the Spoken Word that has stuck with me.
"True Gratitude manifests itself in how we choose to give to others. When we truly feel grateful, we feel a compelling desire to help other people. Perhaps that's why "thanks" and "giving" so often go together."
I am committing myself now to do better at living everyday full of "Thanks" and "Giving". Who wants to join me? Here is a quote I found that puts things into perspective on what true gratitude represents and why I think Thanksgiving should not become a forgotten holiday.
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

 Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

Women and the Salon

 I was thinking as I was leaving the hair salon a week ago, feeling all good about myself, how funny it is that women love the salon. In some ways, we live for the salon. Think about it, how many of us love going to the beauty salon? No matter what kind a day we are having, even if it is one of the worst days you have ever had, you leave the salon feeling better about yourself. We love to get our hair done, have facials, massages, or mani's and pedi's. We love it. There is something to be said about taking time to do something for ourselves. I feel like there are some who need to do it more. I have been thinking about so many of my friends who are so stressed out with motherhood and all that it entails and demands that they forget about taking care of themselves. We need to do something for ourselves even if it is only a simple pedicure. It is something. I think as women we feel the need to be perfect or live up to the pictures we see in magazines and it makes us feel worse about ourselves. We get busy trying to be the perfect wife or mother or caregiver that we stress ourselves out to the point where we feel bad about ourselves. We all struggle with it. I know I do. I was so stressed out trying to adjust to being a new wife and stepmother that I lost sight of a lot of things that mattered, important things. I was so busy trying to "be perfect" in everything that I did that when I made a mistake or failed at something it made me feel insecure and not worthy of love. That in turn made me lash out at those around me or I would just spend so much time trying to have the "perfect" everything that I didn't appreciate the simple or the little things. I had to learn a hard lesson about what matters and I would like to think I would do things differently now.
One thing I will never do differently though is taking some time for myself. I am sure a lot of people think that since I am single and live alone, I have so much time to myself. While that may be true some of the time it isn't always the case. I still need my spa or salon days when I can just forget about the worries of life and relax and rejuvenate my body, mind, and spirit and leave feeling better about myself. We all need to feel good about ourselves. So this is my advice to all of us, most of all to myself. We need to take time for ourselves whatever that might be that we enjoy and we need to stop trying to fit the "perfect" mold. It simply doesn't exist and will prove to be destructive to us and those around us. We need to love and accept ourselves for who we are and accept those darn imperfections. So let's all go to the salon and relax a little more :).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Love and Relationships

This is a topic I have been thinking about a lot this week. Last Sunday, I watched the LDS movie "17 Miracles" with my family. It was such an amazing story about the hand cart pioneers and all that they endured. It was a great example of faith, hope, courage, strength, and love. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried my eyes out. I am pretty sure I heard a sniffle come from my dad too. The part that touched me the most was the love story of George and Sarah. They were an engaged couple that was traveling together to the Salt Lake Valley so that they could be sealed together. Sarah got sick and George gave Sarah his meal portions so that she would get better faster. He had to have been so hungry, but sacrificed for the woman he loved. She did get better and then later on George was one of the men who helped carry the weak and the sick on his back across the freezing cold river. George got sick and was not able to recover and died near Martin's Cove. In the movie, it shows him dying and Sarah finds a love letter that George had written to her. It is one of the most beautiful love letters I have ever heard. I don't know if the letter is true or part of the script, but it touched me deeply. George never got to marry his love on this earth, but President Faust was so touched by their love story that he allowed for them to sealed in the Temple in 1997 despite the fact that Sarah later married someone else when she got to the Salt Lake Valley. I think we can all safely say that we all want our own George or our own Sarah. To have a love so deep that you would sacrifice and risk your own possible death for the one you love. I thought about this and wondered if I have ever had this in my life. I can honestly say I have deeply loved in my life and would have sacrificed my own life for love. I am just not sure anyone would do that for me. I want that though. I want to be someone's everything. Maybe one day I will get that. I am grateful for the wonderful examples of true love that are all around me.
Today is a particularly difficult day for me and has been for five years now. It never gets easier. I always feel the pain. I wish I didn't. Many people always talk about hindsight and it is so true. You learn a lot from your mistakes, unfortunately you wish it wouldn't cost you so much. You learn a lot from past relationships and you hope that one day they are going to not repeat your mistakes.
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, I attended the annual Utah Hospice conference. It was a great conference and I learned a lot. The keynote speaker on the final day made me think a lot about people and relationships. The speaker was a man named, Matt Townsend. He is a relationship and communications coach. He has a book titled "Starved Stuff: Feeding the 7 Basic Needs of Healthy Relationships". He talked a lot about these 7 Basic Needs that we all have. They are: Safety, Trust, Appreciation, Respect, Validation, Encouragement, and Dedication. If someone isn't feeling all of these things in a relationship then they are "starved". As a result, starved people begin to starve the people closest to them. They become more selfish, reactive, hopeless, and more polarizing. They negatively interpret more and are more likely to abandon a relationship. As he talked about these things, I started to realize there were too many times so far in my life that I have starved people that I love. I think we all do it, but when you have that "aha" moment and realize you are at fault, it can sometimes be a hard thing to swallow. I hope I can one day be forgiven by these people and that somehow through forgiveness and God's tender mercy I can be someone who feeds rather than starves. Someone who loves without end and someone who like George in "17 Miracles" gladly sacrifices my portion of "food" to feed the love in my life.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Busy October!

October is always a busy month for my family just because there are so many birthdays in the family that we celebrate in October. My mom's birthday, brother's birthday, and my nephew, Austin, and niece, Kendyl all celebrate their birthdays in October. So we have a lot of family celebrating. Kevin is living and working in Wyoming now so we had to just celebrate with him in spirit. It wasn't just the birthdays though that made October busy and exciting. Here are some of the fun and exciting things that took place this month:

Temple Sealing of a dear friend and her family
So Stephanie that I work with and my work BFF had an amazing beginning to their month when she and her beautiful family were sealed in the Temple and I was able to be there for such a beautiful experience. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I almost did though. As I was leaving work that day to head to the Temple, I slipped and fell hard. It had rained that day and the sidewalk outside of work was slick. I was wearing my wedge sandals and I rolled my ankle, lost my balance, and took a face plant. It hurt, but the most upsetting thing for me was I had a beautiful framed picture of the Temple in my arms that I was giving to their family and when I fell I landed on top of it and heard the shattering. Devastating. But the place where I bought it was really great to replace it after I explained to them what happened. I was hurting bad, but had no time to realize how badly until I finally sat down in the Temple and my foot started to throb and swell. I knew I had really hurt it when I got up to move and couldn't put any weight on it. So after the temple, I headed for x-rays. Not broken, but a pulled tendon in my foot and sprained ankle= crutches and a special shoe until it healed. But again, I seriously wouldn't have missed the glorious opportunity to be with Steph and her family. I will never forget the beautiful scene of her children walking in the room all dressed in white and kneeling together, holding hands to be sealed forever. It was beautiful beyond description. So glad that they let me be a part of it.  

Boot camp
I started a boot camp in September and I have been really enjoying it. It even gets me out of bed at 6 AM three days a week to exercise and for anyone who knows me is aware that is a miracle by itself. I was worried when I hurt my foot that I wouldn't be able to do it anymore, but I stuck it out and though I wasn't able to do everything (particularly the running), I didn't quit. I felt good about that and was actually able to earn a dog tag. No easy thing. I earned mine by doing 300 full sit ups with no break longer than 3 seconds. My abs killed for a week after, but I did it. I even survived Hell Week which consisted of having no soda which meant no Diet Coke. I did it thanks to Crystal Light with caffeine. What I am liking about this boot camp that is different from other ones I have done is that they combine it with nutrition and healthy meal plans. All of the recipes I have tried are delicious and healthier for me and I am beginning to see some results. I like it so much I just started my second session on Halloween and now my foot is well enough to be able to actually do everything.

Trip to St. George with the family
So I mentioned that my nephew, Austin has a birthday in October. Since he and his brother live in St. George with their mom, we don't get to see them as much as we might like. So we decided to head down to St. George the weekend before his birthday and suprise him and his brother. So me, my parents, and Peaches headed down to see them. We had such a fun time. We swam a lot in the pool at the hotel, played, talked, ate, and laughed. It is so good to see them. I use to babysit them a lot when they lived here and I miss them. They are growing up so fast! McCrae, my oldest nephew, is now 13 years old and is 5'9" and actually probably 5'10" by now as fast as he is growing. He is definately going to be taller than his dad and my dad at this rate. Austin is still as funny as ever and has the greatest one liners. Ex: I was complaining that my boobs were too big right now and popping out of my swimsuit and Austin out of nowhere said, "Aunt Shannon that is not a bad thing". Seriously don't know where he gets it, that's not true. Anyone who knows my brother knows where he gets it from. Such a fun weekend with them. Glad we could go visit! Here are a few of our pictures from the trip:
Austin and McCrae in front of their house. They were all dressed up for a parade they were in about pioneers. Such Handsome boys!
Family photo. Seriously look how tall McCrae is!
Austin and Grandpa lifting some red rocks :)

Road trip and David Cook!!
Probably one of the best trips ever! So my friend Stephanie and I have known each other for like 6 or 7 years now, but we really started to get to know one another when she started working in the office and then our friendship really blossomed when we both discovered our mutual love of David Cook and I introduced her to Pandora and the David Cook station. We have been playing nothing but that station in the office for months gearing up for the release of David's second album. He then announced he would be touring and we decided that we would go to his concert together. Even if he didn't come to Salt Lake, we would go to the closest venue. He announced his co-headlining tour with Gavin DeGraw and we were sad to learn the closest place he was coming was Boise. Stephanie is pregnant so I worried the trip would be too much for her, but we decided to go anyway. The concert was on a Monday so we had to take Monday and Tuesday off from work to go but we made it happen (minus a few work calls I had to take as we were driving to Boise). We left in the morning so that we could get there and allow ourselves plenty of time. We decided to do the VIP tickets because it was only a little bit extra and we could get a t-shirt, autographed picture, guitar picks, and we got to meet David and be there for soundcheck. It was so worth it! We got into Boise, checked into our hotel, got all prettied up for David, and headed to the venue for soundcheck. We got lucky that there were not that many VIP's so it was a more personable experience. Boise city had a noise ordinance until 5 PM and since soundcheck was at 4 we got to have a special acoustic concert instead. He played three or four songs acoustic, did a question and answer thing, and then we got to meet him. I have met a few famous people in my life and most of them were rockstars and he is seriously I think the nicest one I have ever met. He was so sincere and was truly interested in each of us. He was funny, witty, and just all around adorable. I think I told him that I might, maybe just love him a little, okay a lot :). It was a fun night and a great concert. Another VIP perk was that come showtime they actually let us into the venue before everybody else and since it was GA we were happy to have first dibs on where we wanted to be for the concert. We met a couple of older ladies from Canada that became our concert friends, DeeDee and Marla. They loved their wine and Steph and I had fun laughing at how drunk they got as the concert wore on. Marla kept assuring me that they weren't driving home. It's a good thing too. We had so much fun and when we got back to the hotel we just layed in our beds with the lights off talking about awesome it was until we both pretty much fell asleep mid sentances. I am so glad we went and that Stephanie and the baby were safe (I had told her I would be her bouncer to protect the two of them if need be). It was fun and safe night though. Here are some pictures from the trip:
 Showing off the VIP lanyards

There he is!

Signing autographs.
I am blushing a little in this picture because he put his arm around me and then I went to put my arm around his waist and somehow I missed and touched his bum. I was so embarassed that I quickly moved it up to his shoulder. Not sure if he felt it or not but I sure did :).
Love this picture of the two of them.

I told him it was the baby's first concert and one of the band members said he should rub Steph's belly for good luck. He told them maybe she didn't want that and Steph immediately told him it was fine :).
Then David thought it was only fair she get to rub his belly for luck too. (Can I just tell you how jealous I was at this moment). I think that's why the picture is slightly blurry.

The only good picture I got of the concert was of Gavin DeGraw. The venue didn't allow picture taking and they were watching closely. Right after this picture, a big mean looking dude with a lot of piercings told me I had to put my camera away. So the only pics of David performing are in my mind :).
I'm with the band. Don't we make a good couple :)
One of the best nights ever!

A party and a maze

So I mentioned that my niece, Kendyl had a birthday this month too. She had a party to celebrate and then we went to the corn maze. My aunt and uncle have a corn maze they own so Mandy thought that it would be a fun place for her party. I was glad that we went before it got dark since it gets haunted after dark. I admit I am a wimp and hate haunted houses and the like. I just don't like to be scared. I am still traumatized from a few years ago when my cousin chased me with a chainsaw wearing a creepy monkey costume through their maze. It was a fun maze, although I may have cheated to get us out of the maze sooner. We pulled the map of the maze up from facebook on my phone. Had we not cheated though I am pretty sure we would still be in there. It was a great party. Here are few pictures of the princess, hamming it up for her birthday!

Love this girl!

Here's hoping November is a little less busy, but just as much fun!