Sunday, August 23, 2020

Parenting Tip - Might As Well Try!

 I heard a true story that has completely changed my attitude and actions.  This high school boy heard about auditions for a singing group that would be touring internationally.  He wanted to try out for it so he told his friend about it so they could audition together.  His friend said, "we're not going to make it.  Why even try?"  The first boy said, "Because we have already NOT made it right now.  But if we audition there is a chance that we WILL make it."  So they auditioned and made it!

I can't draw and don't know how to water color.  If I take a class, I'm not going to suddenly become Grandma Moses (a woman who became famous for her artwork which she picked up at age 78).  But you already can't draw and water color.  Taking a class will at least teach you the basics and get you going.

I want to teach ukulele classes again, but no one will sign up during this weird stage of COVID-19. You already are not teaching. Offer a class and see if anyone signs up.   (so far 18 students have signed up--I had to offer 2 additional classes!)

You don't have a green thumb.  You can't garden--everything you plant dies on you.  Why bother to wish for a new landscaped backyard.   You already have dead plants and an ugly backyard.  Take a class to find out why they die. Look up ideas for a backyard and follow their lead.  (I took an online class and found out about watering correctly, fertilizing and planting in the correct spot for the plant's needs.  I looked up ideas, got professional help and have received numerous compliments on my backyard).

Now when I want to try something new, I think about where I am at and how I already don't know how to do it.  But what is the harm in trying, and learning and growing.  It's invigorating and fun!!

My first sunflower!


learning to write with fancy fonts... 

one of my fairy gardens

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Parenting Tip - Transitions in Life

Last month I turned 70 years old.  I have dreaded this day for several years.  In fact, I have dreaded it so much, that I completely ruined my 69th year by thinking constantly of turning 70 and so I didn't even appreciate my last year in the 60's decade.

The reason I have dreaded turning 70 was because this puts me in the "old people's" decade.  I feel like those are the people with gray hair and achy joints, who stand up slowly, are hard of hearing and go to bed at 9 pm.  The world categorizes them as "has beens" and that is how I thought my life would become.
Vector Old Lady, Vector Character, Cartoon Characters, People ...

But my hair is still brown (with lots of gray).  My joints don't hurt (knock on wood).  I have noticed, though ,that I can't hear high pitches and some nights I'm anxious to go to bed early, so I see myself sliding into being "old."  But I have so much energy still.  I want to continue teaching music and I want to travel and be an important person in my children and grandchildren's lives.  I don't want to be old and gray and sit in a rocking chair.

And to that mental turmoil I was experiencing in comes the pandemic with quarantine and life routine changes, closures and major upheaval.  Now I really am sitting at home doing nothing day after day.  My nightmare is real!

So I had a mid-life crisis.  I had a melt down. I had to talk seriously to myself and my God and get a handle on this new life.  Here is what I came up with:

*Life is in 3 parts:  Single life - birth to marriage (23 years) Wife/Mother – (age 23-61, 38 years)
Widow/Retirement (age 61-99, 38 yearsThese years are based on my life.

*The last third of my life is as long as my middle life! 

*I’ve already lived 9 years of  my third life and have possibly 25+ years more---that’s a lot of time. 

*What am I going to do with it?  (I come from ancestors who lived a long life, so that’s what I’m counting on)

*I’m definitely not a “has been”.  I have interests, passions and goals.  I have a lot more things I need to accomplish and do. 

*This is my third life and I need to relish it, enjoy it, and keep learning, serving and loving.

I felt better about my life after figuring all of that out.  But with COVID-19 I can’t keep teaching as a service missionary, I can’t serve at the temple, and I can’t teach my music groups.  Then I remembered my 2020 yearly goal is to ACCEPT the season of life I’m in, accept the season of the year that’s here and accept others as they are.  So I had to figure out what I could do during this time of life.  I felt like if I knew what my values were, and did things each day that involved them, then I would feel like I was accomplishing things.

The values I decided on were: *Learn something new *Serve others *Seek Christ *Teach others

 I realized I have been doing things which include those values and so I feel much better about how I am spending my days.  I have a purpose in life.  I have goals.  I'm learning lots of new music on my banjo, ukulele and mandolin.  I'm looking for Just Serve projects and doing them.  I love reading the scriptures and learning from Come Follow Me podcasts.  I'm teaching my grandchildren through the marco polo app and doing science projects at my home.

I AM NOT A HAS BEEN!  

Watch out people.  Here I come with 70 years experience.  Welcome to the next third of my life!!

Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Parenting Tip - What Can I Do?

The last 3 months have been the strangest I have ever lived through.  I never thought in my wildest imagination that I would see the world shut down.  That businesses would close their doors.  That people would stay quarantined inside their homes for weeks and now months on end.  That my sons and son-in-law who live in 4 different states would be working from home.  That school marques would say, "School closed until further notice." That a pandemic the size of the whole world would bring the world intimately closer together.

And then, just as the world was beginning to loosen it's hold on the stringent methods it had to use to forestall the deaths of possibly millions of people, one person is brutally killed and everything is turned upside down again.

I have read many view points on the killing of the black man by the policeman and have wondered at the rioting, hate and crime that have insued.  I feel the pain of those people who are so often ridiculed, persecuted and unjustly accused and slandered.  I have felt embarrased and chastened by my own lack of understanding and ignorance of the racial issue.  I have pondered on what I can do.  Is there something that I can do to reduce the racial hatred that is consuming so many people? 

I am only one person and touch only a few people's lives.  My small pebble dropped in the pond only creates a small ripple.  But it does create a ripple.  It does move outward and who knows what other small ripples it may touch.

So what can I do? 

I can teach.
 My children are grown, but I have grandchildren and I can teach them to love and accept others who are different from themselves.  My nephew Bradley's wife, Kailei, posted on Facebook a list of books we can read to our children.  I borrowed one and read it to my grandchildren on Marco Polo today and bore my testimony that God loves all His children and made us different so we can help each other.

I can feel empathy.  A biracial family I know feels sad and threatened.  Wouldn't they appreciate someone recognizing their pain and hurt from past occasions and welcome a treat and note of love?

I can acknowledge another's humanness (yep, that's a word).  When I fly on a plane, I notice that the seats next to black, brown, Muslim, poor, and fat people are the last seats to get taken.  It is obvious that others are avoiding sitting next to them.  What if I chose to sit by someone different from me and acknowledged them?  What message would I be saying without saying a word?

I'm ready to look around and see what small things I can do.  I'm ready to listen to the still small voice whispher what small things I can do.  Because "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Alma 37:6

Thanks for reading,

Cathy
PS I chose to read this particular book to my grandchildren because of an experience I had several years ago and again just recently.  The Proudest Blue is about a young girl who begins 6th grade and wears a hijab for the first time.  Several years ago when I was teaching school, a mother came up to me on the first day of school with her daughter and said this was the first day she would be wearing a hijab to school.  She wanted me to talk to the class and explain a little bit about her daughter's new headwear so the children wouldn't make fun of her. I was happy to do this and happy to find out more of the reason for wearing a hijab.

And then recently, for the past 1 1/2 years I have been teaching English to women from Somalia who  all wear hijabs.  I have gotten to know these women and love them.  I admire their desire to dress modestly and respect their beliefs.

We are all different.  We are all loved by God. 


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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Parenting Tip- Adult Whining

While I was writing the blog post about whining children, I began to get an uncomfortable feeling--did I whine--and to whom?

Dictionary.com's definition is:

to utter a low, usually nasal, complaining cry or sound, as from uneasiness, discontent, peevishness, etc.:The puppies were whining from hunger.to snivel or complain in a peevish, self-pitying way:He is always whining about his problems.verb (used with object), whined, whin·ing.to utter with or as if with a whine:I whined my litany of complaints.
 Suddenly I had memories of myself talking to my son about my laptop which wasn't working, and whining about not knowing how to fix it.  But worse, I remembered many of my prayers where I presented Heavenly Father a list of my problems and family members who needed help and asked Him to fix everything. Did I pray "in a peevish, self-pitying way" and "utter my prayers with or as if with a whine"?

I began to seriously think about how I prayed and pondered if I was whining when I prayed.
We are told to
Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
26 But this is not all; ye must apour out your souls in your bclosets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your ahearts be bfull, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your cwelfare, and also for the welfare of dthose who are around you.Alma 34: 24"
So if we are told to cry continually for our welfare, doesn't that sound like whining?  I decided it depends totally on our ATTITUDE and FEELINGS when we pray.
Do we pray with humbleness in our hearts? Do we acknowledge our love to our Father in Heaven and pray with this feeling of love and reverence?  Do we ask the Lord for His mercy and grace in our lives, knowing He loves us, too?  Do we have faith in accepting His timing as we pray over our problems and ask for help?  Do we acknowledge our willingness to grow in our struggles and see the strength we are receiving? Do we stop to see and thank Him for the tender blessings and mercies bestowed on us each day?  Do we rejoice and praise the Lord for His goodness and love?
If I can answer YES to each of those questions, then I realized I am not whining. Whew! I am actually talking to my Father in Heaven and discussing my needs and desires.  I am explaining my situation and trying to get help and understanding in solving my problems.  It's actually exhilarating, enabling and humbling to really talk with Heavenly Father on a one on one basis and listen for his direction and have His ideas come to my mind during my prayers.  
Prayer really can be a conversation, a discussion with my Father.  And when I am filled with love for and accept His love for me, then that conversation is never whining. 
Thanks for reading,
Cathy
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Monday, February 3, 2020

Parenting Tip-The Whining Child

I just spent 2 1/2 weeks babysitting my 21 month year old granddaughter.  It was so fun because she lives out of state and I don't get to see her very often.

My daughter plays in a string quartet and her quartet was performing and teaching in another state.
So I went with them to babysit during the times my daughter was rehearsing or teaching.  My granddaughter always cried when mommy had to leave, but here are two things I used that worked like  magic to help her be happy:
**SINGING!  Let's see, I wonder how many times I sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald while driving in the car?  I would venture to say at least 100 times each!  I also made up songs and was often impressed with my rhyming skills, though no one else above the age of 21 months ever heard me to appreciate my talents.
**DISTRACTION  The name of the game with unhappy toddlers, even older kids, is to distract them.  I distracted my granddaughter by playing with toys, reading books, playing with play doh, etc.

When mommy wasn't teaching or rehearsing, her toddler was often whining at her.  This drives my daughter crazy because she does it so much at their house too.  So I decided to look up why toddlers/children whine and what to do about it.  All the articles I read agreed with each other.

Children whine because they don't know how to express their emotions and needs. They want someone to pay attention to them and they get frustrated when their needs are not met.  So they cry or start to whine.

All the articles I read about whining offered the same basic ways to cure whining:
1.  Understand that your child is whining for a reason.  Is she tired, hungry, sick, overwhelmed with too much stimulus, her scheduled has changed, late bedtime, teething, the list goes on and on and on.
2.  Explain what whining is and ask your child to say what he wants in a normal voice.  Then respond immediately.  This doesn't mean you necessarily give him what he wants (I understand you want to play longer, but now it's time to go home from the park.  Thanks for letting me know what you wanted), but if you are kneeling down looking him in the face, he knows you have heard him and at least have understood his needs.
3.  Spend quality time with your child each day.  Give her your full attention, hugs and kisses.  No phones or distractions.  Be in the present and enjoy your child.
4.  Look at your needs.  Are YOU stressed, tired, overwhelmed?
5.  One mother who blogged about whining cut out all screen time except on the weekend.  Instead of using screens as a babysitter so she could get something done, she used real toys and books instead. Be creative:  use kitchen gadgets as toys, recycled materials, pour rice with measuring cups into a bowl, water paint on rocks.

Some children whine more than others.
Some days/weeks are better/worse than others.
Some parents are more sensitive to whining then others.

But knowledge is power, and if you know what to try, even though all days won't be perfect, you will be more patient with your child--and yourself.


My next blog post will tell how I discovered I WAS WHINING, and to whom!



Thanks for reading,

Cathy

Monday, November 11, 2019

Parenting Tip - I'm the Supporting Actor

A revolutionary thought was presented to me this morning.  It completely changed my focus and gave me a paradigm shift.  It came from the book, The Memoir of Mary Ann, which is about a young girl who has an incurable tumor on her face and comes to live with nuns in a convent.  During her years living there, another family brings their baby with cancer to be taken care of by the nuns.  The parents are heart broken to leave their baby, but Mary Ann, age 9, tells the parents, "Oh, I always wanted a baby to take care of.  I didn't pray that a baby would get sick, but I prayed that if one did get sick, it would be brought here."  The mother is comforted in thinking that their baby has become a blessing to and for another person.

How many times do I think life is all about ME.  Poor ME, look at ME, this horrible thing is happening to ME, when instead I could see life as an opportunity to look at others and help them in their experiences.

This was brought home to me when my husband passed away and I became a widow.  At the time, my mother-in-law had been living in our home for two years.  Now I was faced with living with her all by myself, while going through my grieving process.  One day while I was having a pity party for myself, I asked Heavenly Father why I had to share my home and couldn't just grieve by myself.  The following thoughts came to me:
  This isn't about YOU.  It's about your mother-in-law.  She is a righteous daughter of mine who has lived the gospel of Jesus Christ all her life.  She has raised a family of six children, served a mission with her husband, was Relief Society president 3 times and has been faithful to the end.  She deserves to end her life living in a gospel-oriented, faithful home with loved ones around her.  Her other children cannot provide this environment for her, but you can, and I am asking you to do this for her.
I was humbled by this experience and didn't complain again!

What is happening in your life where you think you are in the starring role?  Look again, are you really?  Is your husband losing faith, or focuses on sports instead of family?  Do you have a child that is rebellious, or autistic or seems out of control?  Were you sent to these individuals so YOU could support and help THEM?

I always thought of Abinadi in the Book of Mormon, as playing the starring role of martyr in his story, which he did, but was he mainly the supporting actor to Alma, a priest in wicked King Noah's court, so Alma could learn the gospel?  Was Alma not the lead character at all, but the supporting actor for his wayward son, Alma and the sons of Mosiah?  But did Alma the Younger's rebellious, then repentant journey enable him to meet Amulek and build him up to become a great missionary companion.  Or was that so they could teach Zeezrom, who repented of his zeal for money and in turn, went on missions himself?

I could go on and on with this line of reasoning, but it is obvious that we are all important.  We are placed on earth to learn and grow, but that learning and growing should help others too, not just ourselves.

The next time I decide to have a pity party, I hope I'll look around instead, and see who it is that I'm suppose to be helping and supporting in their life story.

Thanks for reading,

Cathy
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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Parenting Tip - Our One Body

I wish everyone was as smart as I am.  And as wise.  And have had the experiences I have had so you would stop making those crazy decisions you're making.

Ha, ha, sorry about that.  I meant to only think those thoughts, not actually write and publish them....

I have some concerns about how the world is going, so I'm just going to spill it out and be frank in this post.

Last week I was at the gym walking on the treadmill listening to podcasts and couldn't help but see the advertising on the TVs because at first I couldn't figure out what the advertising was about.

It turns out it was a razor for women to use on their faces to get rid of peach fuzz.  Yes, peach fuzz. 

What?  Now I have to add ridding myself of my nonexistent or hardly seen peach fuzz to my daily make up regime?  I would have just ignored the advertisement, but it was on 5 of the TVs and it kept repeating the advertisement over and over and over again.  Every day.

Do you see what is happening?  As women, we are so obsessed with our looks and having to be in style that we are spending money and time on the silliest things...peach fuzz razors!  Our eyebrows have to be big and distinctive, our teeth have to be the brightest and whitest, our nails have to be polished, our wrinkles need to disappear and we have to decide between highlights or streaks in our hair.  Not to mention we have to be skinny.

Is Satan distracting us from what is important?  Is Satan trying to get us to compare ourselves with each other so we are miserable?  Satan doesn't have a body, so he is encouraging us to ruin our body.  He wants our bodies to be billboards, playgrounds, and sources of discontent.

Time is short.  We have one body.  We have this one life to live on earth.  Let's encourage each other to use our bodies to learn, grow, serve, and become more like Christ. Our bodies house our spirits. They are temples.  Let us protect our bodies.  Let us enjoy our bodies and use them to the fullest we can.  As in the parable of the talents, let us return to our Heavenly Father with our bodies physically healthy in the best condition we can take care of them.  Let us show our Father how we have used the gift he gave us in service to others with purity in thought and mind.

Thanks for letting me rant,

Cathy

PS
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If you have commented in the past, I found out I haven't been receiving them.  I'm not expecting you to comment, but if you do, try leaving them with the google account to see if that works.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Parenting Tip - Turning Frustration Around


Life is frustrating at times.  Lots of times.  Every day in fact, there are frustrating things that happen.  Frustrating things caused by others to you, by them not understanding what you said, by them doing their own thing instead of what you asked them to do, by them……well, you know what I mean.   Then, just as you’re judging someone else about their deficiencies, muttering under your breath about them, and rolling your eyes at what they did or say, you turn around a commit a major faux pas (an embarrassing or tactless act ) yourself. 
Ah….pride goeth before the fall!

Here are my recent situations:
1.  My hair cut.  A friend cuts my hair and I love the way she cuts it.  At my last hair cut she told me her secret of never getting “butchered” or getting her hair cut too short.  She said, “I say I just want a nip off the ends.”  That means no length is cut, just a little evening out. 

So 10 days ago I went to her to get my hair cut.  I told her I wanted what she had said to do, just a nip off my sides---it was the back at the neck that needed the trimming.  45 minutes later I walked out with one inch cut off the sides and the back of the neck super short.

Frustration!  I hated my hair and I do NOT LIKE it to be that short.   It ruined my whole week and I grumbled every morning when I fixed my hair or looked in the mirror.

2.  The Bishop asked to talk to me, initiated by me, because I felt my service missionary work was overwhelming me and my ability to do my other ward calling.  I explained the amount of time I invest each week in my service as a missionary.  We talked for quite some time and he agreed that if I was overwhelmed, I would be released.  Finally at the end of the conversation, I said something again about being a service missionary, and he replied, “Doesn’t your service missionary work just take an hour a week?”  I replied in unbelief, “NO! It takes Tues and Thurs morning plus hours during the week preparing file folders of lesson plans for the other tutors to use.”  I had explained that 3 times in those same words during our conversation but he hadn’t understood.  I sometimes spend 6-8 hours a week and he thought I was only spending one.  I wondered how I could have explained my situation any differently.

Now for my Pride Fall.  Yesterday I realized I had forgotten to mail and text my really good friend a Happy Birthday.  Then, when I got home from Church and looked at the calendar, to my horror, I had forgotten to wish my out-of-state grandson happy birthday 3 days ago!  I have tried so hard this year to be better at sending birthday cards on time and singing Happy Birthday on my ukulele on Marco Polo.  And here I had forgotten twice!!

The lesson I am constantly relearning is this: no one is perfect.  We will all make mistakes.  Sometimes it will necessitate me forgiving someone, and sometimes it will be necessary for someone else to forgive me. And especially hard to do: I have to forgive myself as well. 

So today I’m laughing at myself.  It’s so easy for me to judge others and their shortcomings when I am just as bad!
Funny, funny Cathy!

And the good news is:  my hair has grown a tiny bit, I was released from my other calling and had it reaffirmed to me that the Bishop is interested in my life and is led by the Spirit.  I texted my friend yesterday and sang to my grandson belatedly an hour ago. 

Things are normal.  And good.  And that’s what life is all about!

Thanks for reading,

Cathy
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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Parenting Tip - Do I Have FAITH?


I was recently talking with a family member about faith.  We were questioning the amount of faith we had, because when compared with the faith the pioneers exhibited, we found our faith to be lacking. 

When reading about the sacrifice and faith of past ancestors and stories from the scriptures, I wonder if I could have made the same choices these faithful saints had made.  My great grandmother in Sweden was given the choice of continuing her allegiance to her new found Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) or remain a member of the Lutheran Church- the state Church. This was the ultimatum given by the Lutheran priest in her town.  If she would not denounce her new faith she would be forced to give up her two foster daughters, ages 7 and 5 (which she had reared since birth).  She chose to remain faithful to her new religion, but suffered deeply over the loss of her two foster daughters.  My grandmother, who was a child (5) at this time, did not even know her sisters were not her real sisters. Eventually my great grandmother and her family emigrated to Utah to be with the Saints (when my grandmother was a teenager). 

Many times in my life I have thanked this great grandmother for her example of faith.  But could I have made that same choice?  As a young mother, and now an older mother and grandmother, I wonder if I would have enough faith to give up someone I loved so much?

When reading the scriptures, I often ponder over the martyrdom of the prophets and think, "Well, of course they had enough faith in God to die for His name, they were prophets."  But then I read about the men, women and children who would not deny their faith in Christ and were burned while Alma and Amulek had to watch. (Alma 14 : 8-10, Book of Mormon) Would I have enough faith to endure this horror?

I wonder about the Bible story when Daniel was told not to pray openly to his God but did anyway.  He was thrown in the lion's den but preserved by the hand of God. (Daniel 6) Yet when Alma, the younger, and his people were told not to pray, they obeyed and did not pray openly, but poured out their hearts to God in secret prayer.  They too, were eventually delivered by the hand of God, (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 24).  So it seems to me that the Lord accepts different ways of showing faith, depending on the circumstances.

How deep is MY faith?  Can I sacrifice really hard things if I am asked to?  As I have pondered these two questions over the years, I think I have finally come to this conclusion:

**I’m not asked to show the kind of faith shown by the pioneers or people in the scriptures.  
**I can’t compare my life situation to theirs.  We live in totally difference circumstances that require different living conditions and commitments.  
**I don’t understand the world they lived in with the attitudes and conditions of their times, or the historical context of their living situations.  And that is not a lame excuse, saying, "I don’t understand their times."  It is a fact.  It is a fact that life was different.  People thought differently, did different things to survive and thrive, and so they reacted differently and made choices differently compared to how we live today.

I decided to make a list of how I was showing faith, right now in my life.  Sorry--it's kind of personal so feel free to quit reading.......

How I am exercising FAITH right now:

**I am striving to endure to the end by giving SERVICE, and have faith this will make a difference in my eternal progression.  Currently I am a service missionary teaching ESL at the Somali Center in Phoenix two mornings a week and additionally creating tutoring lessons.
**I have faith that Ed is serving a mission (for the rest of my lifetime), and still helping our family and me.  Hey, I'm like the pioneers in some ways for this is the same sacrifice some of the women had to make when their husbands died or served missions for an extended period of time.
**I have faith my piano and ukulele teaching will help children and families by giving them the gift of music
**I have faith that my performing at retirement homes through music will help enrich a senior’s life
**I have faith that going to the temple every week will help my relatives make covenants so they can progress in the next life
**I have faith that exercising and eating nutritional food will help me to be healthy as I grow older
**I have faith that getting out of my comfort zone by flying to my out-of-state children's homes to babysit grandchildren will build a strong relationship with them in the future
**I have faith that reading my scriptures, conference talks, Come Follow Me, listening to BYU speeches, and other uplifting reading daily, will increase my spirituality and help me stay virtuous
**I have faith that learning to play the banjo and mandolin, knitting, and making art will help my creative abilities and be an advantage in the next life
**I have faith that I was inspired to start a blog and write my thoughts down so I could help someone else who is reading them

So that is how I am showing faith right now in my life.  I'm not walking across a prairie or freezing in the mountains with no food or help in sight.  But the pioneers did not walk their whole entire lives--which sometimes I find myself thinking they did.  No, that was but a short period of time in their lives.  Then they settled in towns, building homes, raising children, living their faith through their daily commitments.  

And that is what I am trying to do!



Thanks for reading,

Cathy
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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Parenting Tip - Do it Alone

Those who know me, know  I love to hike.  A friend and I have been hiking together for the past 10 years or more.  Lately my hiking buddy has had some physical problems that have kept her indoors, and this has really cramped my style.  Summer is coming with it's hot weather and we quit hiking then, so I've been desperate to get outside while I can and enjoy nature and the wildflowers--which are plentiful this year.

I decided I would just have to hike by  myself and even wished for about 2 seconds that I had a dog I could take with me.  I don't feel it's safe to hike alone, but as I was thinking back to some of our past hikes, I realized there are lots of hikes that are so popular you feel like you're walking on the freeway.  So Friday I went to Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale and hiked alone--I mean with the other 300 people that were either passing me or I passing them.

And it was fun.  It's a different experience to do things on your own.  I never do things on my own, and just stay home if I can't find someone to go with me somewhere.  It was ironic, though, as I was hiking I was listening to a podcast entitled "Go Someplace Alone" (Gretchen Rubin Happier).  They were listing the advantages of going places alone, and there I was walking, listening and experiencing what they were saying! 


Here are some of the advantages I experienced:
I could listen to podcasts driving to the hike and while I walked
I walked my own pace
I walked further than my friend and I usually do because she gets tired before I do
I stopped and rested whenever I wanted to on the steep sections
I looked at the scenery and enjoyed nature
I took pictures to send to my grandson and didn't feel guilty about taking "one more picture"
I jogged on the down sections

I did miss my friend, but I learned a valuable lesson:  I can have fun and experience things differently by myself.

One of the podcasts I listened to while driving to  my hike was about not comparing yourself with others.  Good thing I listened to it and I even laughed at myself, because I  constantly compared myself with the hikers running past me or looking more stylish than me in their hiking clothes.

And speaking of podcasts, I enjoy pondering and thinking about the things I've heard on a podcast after it's over.  I always benefit from doing this and get thoughts on how I can incorporate the ideas I've heard into my life. This is a time when the Spirit can teach and instruct me. Sure enough, a couple of ideas came to me as I hiked down the mountain at the end of the podcast.

These are my favorite podcasts:
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
All In - LDS Living
This is the Gospel - LDS Living
BYU Speeches

Oh, here's another fun thing I do by myself.  I'm taking mandolin lessons and my teacher gave me a book of duets.  It's hard to get with others to play duets, so I record myself playing the piano accompaniment then I play the recording while playing the mandolin. It's nerdy, but enjoyable.  Last week I took it a step further and recorded me playing the mandolin while playing the recording of the accompaniment and --whoolah!  I've got a recording of me playing the full duet.  It's amateurish, but it was so fun!

What are you NOT doing because you have no one to do it with?  Can you rethink it and do it alone?  Can you use technology to help you?  Try problem solving the issue and you may find out you enjoy things on a whole different level when you do them with your best friend--YOU!

Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Music Tip- Influence Your Small Circle


Saturday night I went to the MCO concert (Millennial Choir and Orchestra) at the Mesa Arts Center with a friend. 

This choir is composed of hundreds of singers from age 4-adults and is led by two brothers who came from California where they initially started a choir like this one.  Now 11 years later they have choirs/orchestra in California, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Idaho.

The brothers, Brandon and Brett Stewart are exceptional musicians with conducting, piano performing, choral and arranging talents that are inspirational. Their focus is on religious and patriotic music. They arrange music that starts with one group singing, and then they add the other choral groups to the mix to build to a gigantic choral and orchestral masterpiece.  It truly is amazing, sometimes overwhelming and very inspirational.

As I sat listening to one magnificent song after another and pondering on the huge undertaking it was to bring all these singers and instrument players together—the composing of the music, the rehearsals, the mechanics of organizing the singers along the balconies, when to walk in, where to go when they’re not singing, getting them quickly on stage, organizing a trip to New York during the summer with all singers in the 5 states performing at Carnegie Hall, etc, etc, I began to feel very small and unimportant.  I began to feel like I am not worth anything as far as music is concerned.  All my little efforts at teaching piano, ukulele and music classes with the moms/tots were so unprofessional and puny and inconsequential, that it was almost laughable to think of myself as a fellow musician.  Sure I can play the piano, but never on the level one of the brothers who went to Julliard can.  Sure I have learned to play the ukulele, banjo, dulcimer and mandolin, but only on a very amateurish, beginner level.  Sure I have organized small groups to perform, but only for retired people who don’t care or understand how unprofessional we sound.

I started thinking that I was worthless.  These brothers have touched thousands of lives with their musical talents.  They have influenced a circle of thousands in several states—thousands of people who both perform as well as listen in the audience.  My circle of influence is tiny.

But as I listened to the last song, Nearer, My God to Thee, and heard the beautiful, inspirational music, I felt God’s love for me as He gave me these thoughts:
"You are not worthless.  I need you to bring music to others who would never come in contact with the music you’re listening to or be influenced by it.  Who would bring music and happiness to Grandpa Tom when you bring the children to his care home for music classes?  I love him just as much as everyone else sitting in this concert hall.  And Grandpa Mike, whose smile and excitement to see the children make his whole body jump with joy, even though he can’t say a word to express his delight.  I need you to bring music, joy and happiness to him as well as Grandpa Reuben and Grandpa Gene, for I love them too and in their later years, they deserve to be happy and to find joy and feel love from others.
 And remember how thrilled Danielle was to see her husband and children sing and play the ukulele?  She said she hoped they would continue to play together.  What about Chloe’s mother who said Chloe doesn’t like to be in front of people, yet there she was playing her ukulele and smiling and enjoying herself.  I have billions of children living on earth. I need you to help me.  Even though you think your circle of influence is small, I need you to touch their lives and care for them.  I have placed you where you are and count on you to share my love with others.  You are important to me and I value your contribution. I love you.”


I sat weeping, feeling God's love for me.  So now I don’t feel worthless.  I feel like I am needed and though my musical abilities are small and may not be professional on a grand scale, I feel I am talented and gifted with musical ideas and teaching abilities that I need to continue to share.  I’m excited to share music with those around me!  What a privilege and blessing!!!!!!

What about you?  You, too, have a circle of influence.  Look around you at your husband, your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors, your friends.  Be the person they need in their lives right now.  Can you cook and take them something?  Can you listen to them?  Can you just love them?  

You can, and so can I!  Let's go do a small and amazing thing!


Thank you for reading,

Cathy
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Music Tip - Music Wins Every Time

It's the end of April and with it comes the end of my ukulele classes and my mom/tot music class.  I'm excited to have more free time now, but sad to end my teaching of a wonderful group of children and adults. I took my ukulele classes to perform for senior citizens and my last mom/tot music class was kind of bitter/sweet.  One of our grandpas who really loved us coming and responded well was moved to another facility--so we didn't get to say good by to him.

Here are some pictures with the ukulele classes, mom/tot music class and the residents.  They love us and we LOVE them!



 Thanks for reading,

Cathy
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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Parenting Tip-It's the little things that count!

I love reading about the thru hikers who hike the Appalachian Trail-- a 2,200 mile long trail that goes from Georgia to Maine. I dream that maybe some day I will hike it, but then I remember I don't like sleeping on the cold hard ground!  I bumped into a post on You Tube of a family of 7 hiking the whole trail (which takes several months) and the youngest child was only age two.  I watched several of their posts, envying their days of hiking and enjoying nature, that is, after it finally quit snowing for several weeks.  They were living a life with intention.

A couple of days ago I started reading a book about another family of 7 who took a year out of their normal lives to sail from the Caribbean to New York City with their five children (the youngest with Down Syndrome).  They had little money and little experience, but they had big dreams and lots of ambition.  They were living an intentional life.

Last night I started reading a book about following your ideas and dreams, though they may appear "stupid" and not achievable, and see where they can lead you.  Your idea may be the next million dollar start up business. 

I reflected on a conversation I had with a retired doctor who was volunteering at the same refugee center where I was teaching English.  I had asked him about his past and he told me his glorious life of traveling here and there and everywhere doctoring, teaching and doing wonderful things.  When I told him I had grown up on one street in Mesa and married and moved to the next street over and had raised my children there and still lived there--a street away from my parents-- he put his hand on my forehead and said, "Cathy, we need to get you some help!"

Yes, I have lived a pretty risk-free, non exciting sort of life.  I've only hiked a few miles on the Appalachian Trail when visiting grandchildren who live in Virginia, I have never been on a sailboat, but did get the courage, once, to ride on a water tube behind a boat in Tennessee. And I've never started a million dollar business from scratch , though I have had a piano studio for 43+ years.

I obviously could never write a book about my adventuresome life.  But I have lived a life that has been intentional, fulfilling and happy.  

I have intentionally stayed at home to raise, teach and nurture my children.  I have lived in one very small home with only one bathroom (for most of the time) and taught my children how to work, how to share and how to make do with what you have.

I have intentionally taught my children to love God and to serve others who not only live far away, but may live right in your neighborhood and are just as needy.

I have felt fulfilled as a mother as I watched all my children pay their way thru, and graduate from college, then marry fine individuals and are currently raising wonderful families.  I have felt fulfilled as a grandmother each time I babysit and play with my grandchildren.

I have felt overly and abundantly happy as I watch the sunset from my kitchen window while washing dishes, or hike in the desert with a cherished friend, or finally play a song on the banjo it has taken weeks to learn.

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.
Alma 37:6-7

You don't have to do a great and grand adventure with your family.  You can, if you want.  But please don't underestimate the seemingly small and simple things you are doing every day.  The sense of peace and security you give to your children by living your "routinely, boring" day cannot be taken lightly.  It is HUGE! 

Take a close look at your day, at your life, and at your family and marriage.  Smile and acknowledge all the good you are doing.  Go be adventurous!  Go to the library, the museum, sit and help your child practice an instrument, draw, paint, run around in the backyard.  

Whoo whee!  Life is good!


Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Parenting Tip - How to be a Student

I'm in my late 60s, but I'm a student.
I teach piano and ukulele lessons, but I'm a student.
I've already graduated from college and completed a music endorsement, but I'm a student.

I'm a student because I'm taking mandolin lessons (I'm on week 3!)
I'm a student and just enrolled in a gardening course.
I'm a student and taking a fabric art class.

But there are many other areas where I'm a student, too.
I'm a student because I'm still learning from my children and grandchildren.
I'm a student because I'm still practicing things like learning not to judge and how to have faith.
I'm a student of the scriptures and learning new things each day I study them.

I bet if you looked at your life, you would realize you're a student too!

Sometimes it's fun to be a student.  I love to learn and accomplish new things.  It's fun to learn to play a new song on the mandolin.  Other times, it's not really fun being a student.  Not when I cower in fear or uncertainty instead of exercising faith.

It's easy to say, "Well, I'm just a student, that's why my efforts were not the best.  That's why I was wrong and goofed up."  or "Hey, what do you expect? I"m just learning?"

However, being a student-- a really good student---means there are certain requirements we need to fill, certain repetitions we need to perform, and a certain amount of time needed in order to acquire our new skill.

As a teacher, I tell my music students to practice slowly and play the notes correctly so their brain understands what to do.  I tell them to play a short section of their song many times in a row, perhaps 5-10 repetitions. I tell them to watch their fingering and do it correctly each time so their muscle memory can help them later on.

As a mandolin student I play the G scale on my mandolin over and over again.  My teacher says it's important to use the pick correctly, so I play slow and carefully.   I'm making progress but I wonder if I'll ever be good enough to play fast.

My teachers are kind and encouraging, both in my music, gardening and fabric art classes. There are some days when I can almost hear God, the Supreme Teacher, talking to me and encouraging me.  "Cathy, be slow and careful in how you want to judge that person."  "Cathy, I know you've read your scriptures countless times, read them again and pay attention this time."  "Cathy, you may not think you're making progress, but you are, hang in there!"

I'm a student for life-- learning and progressing one step and one day at a time. I will take it slowly, practice carefully and correctly, and enjoy each little success along my path.



Monday, October 22, 2018

Parenting Tip - I'm Not in Control Today

Have you ever been in a bad mood?  Out of sorts!  Mad at everyone and everything?!  Having a "terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day"(s)?!

That has happened to me so many times during my life, and I'm sure in your life too.  Sometimes when I stop to analyze my feelings, I find out that why I'm feeling so mean and rotten is because I'm not in control of certain situations in my life.  Things are happening around me that I can't do anything about.  And that feels horrible.

Here are some examples that you might just relate to:
the car needs new tires--no money to pay for them--but it's new tires or an accident's going to happen
your son is dating a girl you don't like
one of your child's teachers require way too much home work, putting lots of pressure on your child
your child has no friends and you don't know what to do about it
you have no closet or storage space in your too small house
your brother has a big gorgeous home with less children and plenty of closet space
your husband is working overtime but you need help with the kids

I could go on and on with the examples, but you get the idea.

This summer when I was in Nauvoo, I was having lots of great experiences, but sometimes not having a lot of fun.  I realized it was because I was not in control of my situation.  I didn't have a car and had to rely on other people to take me where I was suppose to go.  I would make new friends and then they would leave after two weeks to go home.  Then I had to make another friend and arrange for more rides......

So after losing my first new friend when she went home, I analyzed my feelings, realized the problem and wrote this song for myself while I went for my daily walks after lunch one week.


I’m Not in Control
(tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb, minor key)

I’m not in control today
And I guess, that’s okay
I need another’s point of view
I guess they could be right--- it’s true.

I’m not in control today
And I guess, that’s okay
So calm myself and count to ten
Then breathe and count again!

(Major, happy key)
God is in control today
And with that, I’m okay
He sees a broader point of view
His ways are always true!

God is in control today
And with that, I’m okay
His tender mercies help me see
His sweet abiding love for me.


Writing this song really helped me understand that yes, I won't be in control of my situation lots of times in life, but God is always in control.  If I rely on his perspective and ask for guidance, he will help me see and understand what I can do to help myself.  And he always loves me and sends tender mercies if I keep my eyes open to notice them.

I hope you can get control of one of your life situations or at least learn how to deal with it.  When I can't control a situation and change IT,  I try to find something--anything  I can do that I'm totally in charge of.   Then I feel better.  Find a craft or sewing project, do some cooking and baking, or read a book you want to. Going for a walk always helps too.   If all else fails, declutter a drawer or cupboard.  That ALWAYS makes me feel better.  And it's so much easier to do when you're mad, too!

Thanks for reading,

Cathy
PS  Have you read this book lately?

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