Monday, January 30, 2023

December Randoms

This was my advent calendar of chocolates from Harbor Sweets. 😋

I saw these two plaques at a shop on the Cape and I liked them since one of my favorite movies is It's a Wonderful Life.

I also saw this dishcloth and thought it was funny. And relevant.  

I've been finding over the last year or so that I "fall apart" approximately once every 8-10 weeks or so. This is not a planned thing, it just seems to be an emotional cycle for me. It's not fun but it's cathartic and it gets a lot of the built-up stress out of my system. I think I'm handling the stresses and trials in my life pretty well (thanks in large part to the blessings of righteous living and keeping my covenants), but there's a lot going on under the surface and sometimes it gets overwhelming and something happens (or doesn't happen) to trigger it and then I cry easily and frequently and feel pretty upset for a couple of days. I've learned to lean into it and let myself feel all the feels instead of trying to avoid it, and that is very effective. I also get support from my mom and from one of my best friends who has been so supportive of me over the last few years, and I pray, pray, pray and turn to my Savior, and then it recedes and I'm back to normal again. 
Now you know the emotional life cycle of Donna as it relates to tacos. 😁    

A pretty sunset

This is my favorite laundry detergent.

I like this catalog but everything in it is very overpriced.

These were the pretty centerpieces at our Relief Society Christmas party.

Here is the aforementioned best friend. Sharalyn and I showed up to the party in similar sweaters and outfits which we thought was funny so we took a picture. She and I are very alike in many respects, including that we have the same birthday. I just love her!
A few weeks after this, there were ward boundary changes in the stake and I got put into another ward in another building. I was so upset about this for a couple of days--it was in fact the trigger for my last falling apart episode. That change in combination with all the big unknowns ahead for me this year was overwhelming, so I promptly fell apart and cried a lot and couldn't sleep for a couple of nights. But it literally lasted two days, and then I was pretty much back to normal. Lean in and let it out and let it go!

Church has been an essential source of stability and comfort for me in my life, especially over these last few years with my difficult and ongoing divorce, and seeing many of my good friends at church each week helped me more than I realized. Most of them aren't in my new ward and I very much miss seeing them on Sundays, along with the familiar faces of the people in my old ward.  It was hard when that was suddenly taken away; I felt like I had lost my weekly source of support. But I hadn't really--I still had church and the sacrament, just with different people in a different place. I knew that logically, but my heart still hurt over the change. 

It's been about a month now that I've been going to church with my new ward in my new building, and I've already gotten used to it. Life goes on. I continue and will continue to get together with my friends, which is hugely comforting. And I'm making some new friends. I still feel a little sad about it all, but it's okay. All in less than a year, I've lost the following: my trusted bishop who helped me so much during the darkest time of my life (he became stake president), my stake president who I went to for help and questions about the divorce (he became an Area Authority 70), and now my ward with my best friends, in the building I'd gone to since the age of 13. Things change frequently in the church and it can be hard, but the gospel itself doesn't change and neither does the Savior, and that gives me great comfort and a firm and unshakeable foundation for my life. 

Anyway, back to the Relief Society party! I made this pretty little evergreen arrangement, which I put on the TV table in my family room. Nearly two months later, it's still there! It is evergreen, after all.

I love David Suchet and that he was in this year's Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert! I look forward to seeing it next December when it airs on PBS. He was the best Hercule Poirot. My DVR has been recording all of the Poirots each week from every season the show aired, so I have a date with Poirot every Thursday night! 

I went into Boston one morning with my friend Beth to help pick up her son from college. I stayed with the car so it wouldn't get towed or stolen or anything. It was my first time sitting in the driver's seat of a Tesla, how thrilling! 😄

The view as I waited.

Argentina won; let's go Argentina!
Normally I don't care that much about World Cup soccer but it was more exciting this time, mostly because Sam got into it. 

Chocolate-covered pretzels are one of my favorite treats! I bought a few at a bake sale and devoured them.

This is one of the owl ornaments I got in Newport. I liked its vintage look.

A cute dish towel from Sharalyn. Continuing our twin-like similarities, we both have a house on Cape Cod.

John's winter band concert was our only concert of the holiday season, and we enjoyed it. They always play "Sleigh Ride" at the very end which is fun.
John is somewhere in the back on the right playing trombone.

I'm pleased to announce that John will be going to college at Southern Virginia University in the fall! It's an LDS-affiliated school where he can do NCAA wrestling and where he'll be supported in his desire to serve a mission. He visited it in August and really liked it, and it seems like it will be a great match. When someone asked me about it I realized that I didn't know where exactly it was (except that obviously it was in Southern Virginia!), so I looked it up and there it is. 
I also looked up the driving time and it's about 9.5 hours without traffic, so we can make it there in a day. Exciting things ahead for my eldest son!

Ornaments on the tree outside of my favorite Thai restaurant.

It's a miracle that John wore a Santa hat AND smiled for this picture!

My two new owls from Newport doing their job on the tree! 

That ornament next to the owl is a Strawberry Shortcake one from 1986 when I was six years old! We still have it all these years later.

I was looking forward to the third season of All Creatures Great and Small, one of my favorite shows.
I've been watching it this month, and it's good, although I liked the first two seasons a little more.

James and Helen finally get married in the first episode!

James is a great guy and reminds me of a friend of mine in both appearance and personality.  

John got me this box of bath bombs for Christmas, which was really sweet. They smell so good!

My Auntie Kathy surprised me with a gift. She saw these cute owl salt and pepper shakers and thought I'd like them. She was right! That was so nice of her.

We do a name grab for Christmas gifts with my brothers and sisters and my brother Ben had me and got me this cool book about the Nile River that I'd been wanting. Someday I will go on my dream cruise down the Nile and tour all the cool sites of Egypt!

An even prettier sunset!

Still working on organizing and selling the boys' old but in good condition clothes. I found another bin of them in the storage room!

I saw this on a walk in my neighborhood. So cute! 🎅

This was my attempt to take a picture of the stars one night. I like finding the constellations. I think I need to use my actual camera for photographing them effectively, though.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Things Done and Not Done

 This past December was a really busy month for me. I almost always make a detailed To-Do List for each new month, but I didn't get around to making one for December--a rare lapse for the structured, organized, and disciplined Donna! There was too much going on and I had to mostly focus on just getting the basics done each day. I did however make a quick little goals list on a Post-it note one night when, among other things, my lack of monthly list was stressing me out. 

I made four "Dec. Goals," and I only met one of them! 😆 I'm normally a goal-setter and keeper, but not so much last month! At least not as far as keeping or achieving the goals went. But I have to say on my own behalf that I'm pleased with my personal growth in my attitude about this. In the past, I would have put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve these things (I'm a classic Upholder), but I don't really do that anymore, at least not for things like this. The trials of life have mellowed me out and helped me to focus on what matters most. I still like to do what I set out to do, but I've learned to cut myself slack when life gets a little crazy. And that is a very freeing way to live!

As for the goals, here's a quick(ish) report on them:

1. Finish the OT: I'd been reading and studying the Old Testament for my daily scripture reading for about 18 months and wanted to finish it by the end of 2022. But I would have had to double or triple up on my reading in December in order to make that happen, and I didn't really have the time most days to do that. So instead, I kept up at my usual study pace and finished reading the Old Testament a few days ago. It doesn't matter that it didn't end nice and neatly with the calendar year; the important thing is that I read scriptures every day, and I read every verse of the entire Old Testament for the first time in my life!

2. Finish Part 1 of training and send it in again: Ohhhh, this one. 🙄 This was for my medical transcription training that I've been doing since last spring. I finished up Part 1 of the actual transcription training where I listen to a (pretend) doctor's voice and type out what he says, printed out all 300+ pages, and sent it in to be evaluated. I was so disappointed not to get glowing feedback about it in November; in fact, it was quite the opposite. I was stung by the criticism of what I thought was high-quality work. This was still training, after all, and most of the people doing this program are totally new to transcription and advanced medical terminology. 
I didn't realize how picky they were about having hardly any errors in any of it. 

I stewed about it for a few days and then decided to swallow my pride and do as they asked and go through the whole thing and fix it up to their (::cough::extremely high and unreasonable::cough::) standards. I wanted to get it all done in December and send it back in by the end of the year. But because of the busy-ness of the month, I wasn't getting very much done with it and ultimately decided to shelve it until January when life got back to normal. 

It now being January, I'm happy to report that I've started working on it again and have a new goal to finish up with it and send it back in by winter's end at the latest. This is much more reasonable, and it's not going to make any difference in the long run. Actually, it could make a good difference because I'm not rushing it and am combing through it very thoroughly and fixing up every last thing that I can find (because of their ::extremely high and unreasonable:: standards!). It's time-consuming and painstaking work and I'm glad I didn't try to do this all last month! This is a goal I'm glad I didn't meet.

3. Go to the temple every week as my gift to the Savior 🤍: This is the goal that I did meet, and I'm so happy that it was the one I achieved! It was by far the most important and impactful one. At the beginning of the holiday season I thought about what I could do for my Savior, He who has done and continues to do so much for me, and decided that I would attend and serve in His holy house every week for the whole month. I made sure to set aside the time for this, even during challenging weeks when a lot was going on (including the crazy week before Christmas that included divorce court, two trips to the emergency room for Bentwood, wrestling meets for the boys, and John's winter band concert!). 

(Obvious disclosure, the grounds didn't quite look like this in December! 😁)

I've never been to the temple for four weeks in a row (it actually turned out to be five going into January), and I absolutely loved it. Two of the times were for my five-hour shifts as an ordinance worker, and two were for endowment sessions and initiatories. Doing this was so good for me, and it truly blessed my life. I believe some special blessings happened because of it. That's what the Lord does--you give to Him, and he returns it to you ten-fold. I love my Savior and His temple so much. I've missed it this month and wish I could still go every week. I'm so glad that I did that last month as my gift to Him. If there had to be one goal to focus on--which there was!--that was the right one.  

4. Make my reading goal for the year: Well if you read my blog regularly (and why wouldn't you? 😜) you know that this didn't happen. I wrote about it here and here. I would have had to read like a maniac throughout the month to get that done, or read a bunch of very short books, and that wasn't happening. And it's fine; it really doesn't matter!

I guess the point of this post is to say that oftentimes in life, some things get done and some things don't. As long as you're doing what matters most, it's okay. Last month, just getting through the month with my health and sanity intact was a big accomplishment. Add in my temple goal and I was golden (or goalden 😉). This is a big step forward for me in letting go of perfectionism and managing expectations for myself in a realistic, more flexible way. I still love To-Do Lists and getting things done and I'll always be an Upholder and a goal-setter--that's just who I am and I like that about myself--but I'm learning how to do it better.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Wisdom, Humor, and Inspiration in December

Amen to that! 

This helps me a lot in my life. I'm of course not perfect at it, but overall I take good care of my body and of my health, and it makes a significant difference in the quality of my life overall, especially in the midst of hardships and challenges.

This part of Elf is so funny 😂 

I could have written this myself! I've found this to be 100% true in my life, especially in dealing with major challenges over the last few years.

So relevant, especially #3 for me right now.

 This reminds me of John and Conner 😂


The Babylon Bee kept on cracking me up!

I love this promise of President Nelson's. I know for myself that it's true. There is so much power in temples, now and in the future. I continue to experience beautiful and sacred blessings and miracles from frequent temple attendance. 

I've been trying to get better at this. 
I'm cutting a lot of things out and simplifying as much as I can. I have to now that I'm working more (and that's only going to increase) and preparing to sell my house, find a new place, and move this year. Oh, and continuing to try to get divorced from an incredibly stubborn, foolish, and hardhearted man (yep, I said it!). And having John graduate and start college. Simplifying and focusing on top priorities is the name of the game for me this year.

"People whose passions are for things that society doesn't reward with money may be better served taking jobs that just pay the bills." ✋
That's where I'm at right now. Career isn't that important to me because my overall career choice was to be a mother, wife, and homemaker. This hasn't been a popular choice for a long time, especially in the Ivy League culture where I received my college education, but for me it was personally much more meaningful than anything I could have done out in the workforce. My professional ambition is increasing now that I need to work (I was forced back into it because of the divorce instead of being able to choose to return), and I do enjoy the work I'm doing, but for now I'm mostly just working because I have to.

So helpful!

Manage/eliminate expectations

Less screens, more real life

Control less, worry less...

...and just do it.