Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Steps on a Journey

Off and on for years I keep finding myself drawn to the modern day homesteading idea. No, I'm not thinking of moving off to an isolated spot in the country to grow all my food and have heat from a wood stove and hot water from sun. One of the foremost hinderances would be that any animal there would turn into a pet so there's no way I could kill it and eat it. And I just wouldn't make a good vegetarian... Going all or nothing on this, I'd die.

But one of the interesting things I've discovered lately is a trend called 'Urban Homesteading' where you continue to live in an urban setting while incorporating many of the homesteading ideas and ideals. I find this concept very appealing and I think I'd like to incorportate it into my lifestyle.

We (basically me and a neighbor fella) are planning a big garden for this summer. I had already decided to plant corn, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions thinking this would be about all I could find the time and energy to take care of with a full time job, a big house to take care of, all the meals to cook, plan and shop for, yard work, church responsibilities and my mom to care for. Not sure what all Alan wants to plant but he's fixing the pipes that run water out to the garden and getting it tilled. Yay!!!

Would it be pushing my luck too much to think he might also help me get the raspberries into order? I'd share.

I also have a big ugly pine tree that he's been talking about helping get cut down and chopped up for fire wood. Where will I put that much more fire wood? I already have oodles. Guess I'll have to start using those fireplaces more often... Once that tree is down, I want to put a peach tree there. And an Italian Prune between there and the apricot tree (that looks like it's going to be in overproduction mode again - too bad apricots make me gag!). A friend is going to give me the runners off his strawberry patch this summer and I'm thinking about planting them between these trees. Then there's a place up front between my driveways that I can put a couple of dwarf apples and a pear tree. And I saw blueberries at the nursery last week... maybe I can find a spot to tuck a few of them in either along the front fenceline on my east or in with the herbs and flowers along a section of the back fence.

It's a little much for me to take on right now but the city allows you to have up to 6 (or is it 8?) chickens. Wouldn't that be awesome for fresh eggs? Had some recently from a friend of a friend who has chickens in her yard and they were so much richer and more flavorful that those sad white things you get at the store. The shells were thick and colorful in shades of brown, green and blue. Almost too pretty to break and use! Maybe this can be a year two project.

Here's a link to a whole bunch of great ideas and information:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I Learned About Cognitive Therapy

Monday at work we had a lunchtime presentation about helping your moods by controlling your thoughts... basically cognitive therapy. It was very interesting. The premise is based on this quote from the philosopher Epictetus, "Men are disturbed not by things themselves, but by the views which they take of them."

The speaker used this model:

Not all people react to the same events and situations in the same way. That's because they have different thoughts and beliefs which they filter them through. One very simple example of a negative thought process uses getting a "B" grade in school. The statements then became: I must always get an A. If not, then I am a failure. Therefore, I deserve to be punished.

The problem with this is that you are using an event or situation to measure who you think you are and that is a false measurement of worth. Your worth can never change or be measured by man. He then tied this to several scriptural references that are worth noting. It sure sounds like God thinks we are worth something!

"Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?" (Matthew 6:27)

"They measuring themselves by themselves... are not wise... but... our measure [is] according to the measure of... God." (1 Corrinthians 10:12-13)

"What is man, that thou are mindful of him?" (Psalms 8:4-5)

"For ye are bought with a price..." (1 Corrinthians 6:20)

"The worth of souls is great in the sight of God." (D&C 18:10)

"Thou wast precious in my sight." (Isaiah 43:4)

That puts the focus of the battle right on our thoughts. If we can use correct thought processes we can direct our feelings toward positive things. The presenter used the following quotes to illustrate why this is so important.

The premortal war was "a terrible conflict for the minds and loyalties of God's children." (Hinckley, Ensign May 2003, p. 28)

"Satan with his angles will try to capture your thoughts and control what you do." (Packer, Ensign November 2003, p. 25)

"Thus he whispereth in their ears until he grasps them with his awful chains." (2 Nephi 28:22)

And to further elaborate on these "chains of hell."

"Satan... the father of all lies... to lead them captive at his will." (Moses 4:4)

"Creeds... lies... confusion... [become]... the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell." (D&C 123:7-8)

An interesting side note on "the father of all lies" is that try as we might we can never have a false thought that is original. All lies originate with the devil.

Maybe what we all really need to do is change our thoughts to something along the lines of... I must always strive to get an A. If not, I know that I did my best work. Therefore, I can be happy with a B.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Problem With Being Perfect

Have you ever read something and had an idea hit you so hard you could almost call it a physical force? That happened to me today. I was reading an ezine article about addiction recovery out of pure boredom and avoidance of work I really needed to be doing. After all, what could addiction recovery possibly have to do with me? I’m not a drunk or a crackhead. I don’t look at pornography or even want to. And yet, there it was… undeniable evidence that I have out-of-control behaviors and attitudes.

There was also an explanation. And I think it’s the explanation that convinced me of the truth that I, too, have addictive behaviors just like every drunk or druggie I’ve looked down my nose at. Two short quotes:

“No one would ever see a drunk, passed out in the gutter, and say, 'There lies a perfectionist!' But that's exactly what I was! If I couldn't do life perfectly, then I wouldn't even bother trying."

“I was bowled over by the way the Spirit (of Truth) likened this man's -- this alcoholic man's -- story to me. I heard the following thought go through my mind, "No one would ever watch a 300 pound woman walk by and think 'There walks a perfectionist,' but that is exactly what they would be seeing -- a perfectionist!" And I knew the thought was for me and I knew that it was true for me. "Humble," self-depreciating, self-loathing me -- I was a perfectionist. How could I tell? Because if I couldn't eat in the strictest, healthiest, most perfect way possible and be the perfect size ASAP, then forget it! I wouldn't even try!" (Link to full article: )
A light bulb went on in my head! How many times have I told myself that it doesn’t matter what I eat because it’s going right to my butt anyway? How many times have I thought carrot sticks, Cheetos… what’s the difference? They’re both orange, finger-shaped snack foods. Suddenly I was squirming uncomfortably in my seat. I don’t think I like this label.

Yet at my core, I know it’s true. And maybe, to overcome it, I must first embrace it. So here goes:

I am a perfectionist. I spend too much time, money and effort on trying to create MY vision of a perfect life. And when I fall short, I get angry and give in to defeatist thoughts. I compare how I look, what I possess and where I live to others and when I come out on top I feel superior. When I come up short, I’m fat, ugly and too stupid to ever make anything work right.

Yikes! That’s an ugly truth to try to hug.

‘They’ say recognizing the problem is the first step toward solving it. And when I look at it in these terms, I can see that perfectionism is a big stumbling block on the road to who I want to become. It undermines an essential trust that God will be willing to forgive my screw ups. It tells me that I will never be enough. It saps my power and effectiveness in sharing His love with all of His children. Trying so hard to be perfect is distracting me from actually doing anything of real or lasting importance. When did I forget that failing and trying again define the learning
process? And when did I forget that the very reason I’m here on Earth is to learn?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taming My Inner Grizzly Bear

This past weekend was exhausting! It was filled with things I was unprepared to hear and have no idea how to handle. I feel caught between the conflicting emotions of wanting to run far far away saying it's not my problem to deal with and that of a raging momma bear intent on killing the one who hurt her babies.

I suspect the three kids who spend a lot of time here are being abused at their mom's house. It's been a niggling thought for quite awhile as there would an unexplainable bruise or a comment that was so far off as to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. But the things that they said and did this past weekend have tipped the scale to where I am nearly certain they are being hurt.

The littlest one, age 6, is normally very boisterous and chatty. This time he was sullen, fascinated with death and had a total potty mouth. It was freakishly morbid to hear such a young child say "I want to die" and "I wish I was dead" and "things would just be better if I was dead" over and over again. I haven't heard it before, but their dad tells me this isn't the first time there's been talk about wanting to die. And the cussing wasn't the normal "hell" or "damn" that would give a little one such a rush... it was much worse.

At one point I asked "Where'd ya learn to swear like that?" The answer was "My mom." The next older sibling chimed in then saying that she doesn't mean to swear but that's how she was raised and sometimes she just gets so mad that she can't help but swear. Later this one told me that the "bi word" meant a female dog. We stopped then and talked about how it was also used to disrespect a woman and that it was a very naughty and hurtful thing to say. And while it wasn't said outright, I was definitely left with the impression that the kids get called this (among other equally awful things)... and not infrequently. There was some talk of the consequences of the kids swearing at mom's house that ended with "beat the holy crap out of him and throw him in the corner."

The next day they were going to watch a movie with me but the little one wanted to play with my new Wii instead and had the worst meltdown I think I have ever seen when I said no. It was so far out of proportion to the situation and more intense that any previous tantrum that I've witnessed that I was flabbergasted. There was no appeasing, no distracting - it just got worse and worse and worse. The oldest child, 12, started threatening a spanking and asked me for a wooden spoon to do it. I said no, that noone was going to get hit and especially not with a wooden spoon. And then it escalated even farther with this child dragging the littler one upstairs and the little one screaming and grasping for the stair railing in fear of getting beat. I called their dad to come get them because I was afraid someone was going to really get hurt at this point.

That left just me and the middle child to watch the movie. Before it started, I learned that spankings with a wooden spoon are commonplace. Sometimes they are hit so hard the spoon breaks. I know they have had bruises in this approximate shape and size before...

There's more. A lot more. But I'm going to get upset again if I continue.

And the thing is I don't have any rights in this situation. The kids have a happy little family life all planned out for us, and I know in their minds they have bedrooms all picked out in my house, but their dad and I have no such agreement. I'm not their parent, I'm not even their prospective parent. I can't document anything that happened with dates, times, pictures. Nobody is going to listen to what I say. So, basically, I am powerless to effect any change whatsoever and it just makes me sick.