serving suggestion:  add water

serving suggestion: add water

Ricky Nelson had it about right, I guess.  “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

One of my Facebook friends once thought I was cool because, after I referred to an Imprimis article, he assumed I was a reader.  I’d never heard of the publication before or even the college that publishes it, but I have now.  Eager to live up to my undeserved cool rep, I became a subscriber.  I received my first newsletter in the mail today.  Glancing through it I can see it’s going to be like eating one of those envelopes of Quaker Instant Oatmeal without adding water.

Not sure I want to be cool or informed after all, but I’ll give it a try.

I hope it’s the maple flavored kind.

flying

flying

This morning my niece Athena posted on Facebook that she’d had bad dreams again and they prevented her from getting a good night’s sleep.  This isn’t the first time she’s posted that kind of status.  Since bad dreams are also a problem for me, I commented thus:

“I may have said this before, but I’ll say it again–pray for good dreams every single night of your life.  And don’t forget to say thanks in the morning.  This is the best cure for bad dreams.  It works.  Also, I’ve learned that there are certain things that trigger my bad dreams–like movies (could be some scene or theme you weren’t expecting) or the news.  I pay special attention to my prayers on those occasions.  Try reading good stuff before you turn out the light.  And sing or listen to uplifting music.  I love it when I wake up with the Hallelujah chorus playing in my head.”

I wrote that shortly after having read the following classic thought (courtesy of David Kenison).

Classic thought for Friday 10/11/13 – Howard W. Hunter on the magic of thought:

“As a being of power, intelligence, and the master of his own thoughts, a man holds the key to every situation, to make his life what he chooses it to be. When he discovers the divine power within his soul, he can lead his life to a God-like nature. If one dreams lofty dreams, so shall he become. There is magic in the way one thinks. If we expect the worst, we will get the worst. If we expect the best, we will receive the best. If we train our minds to have faith in God and ourselves, we are using one of the great laws of life. If we think and live righteously, happiness will find its place in our lives. It is amazing when we expect the best how forces are set in motion which cause the best to materialize….
“Outward circumstances do not determine the course of our lives as much as the thoughts that habitually occupy our minds. These thoughts carve their impression on our faces, in our hearts, and on the tablet of our eternal souls.”
– Howard W. Hunter, “Thoughts Make Us What We Are,” Beneficial Life Insurance Company Convention, Victoria, British Columbia, 7 July 1983; see THWH 74

I don’t disagree with President Hunter, but it seems to me this is a borderline piece of information.  I’d be more willing to think I am wrong than that he is, so I want to ramble on this topic for awhile.

A good deal of my unhappiness seems to be the result of my thoughts.  (Maybe all of it.)  People often say things like the above and I am quick to object now whereas there was a time I would probably have agreed.  I was raised on: “I think I can.”  But I started to find that I couldn’t do the things I thought I could.  I’m willing to concede there are a good many things I don’t want badly enough to work harder for their success and maybe that’s the whole crux of my problem.

Thinking of President Heber J. Grant who is the classic example of TRYING, I’d have to say that I don’t try hard enough at everything.  I could try harder, but it also seems the harder I try at some things the harder The Forces Against Me try.  (Actually, I don’t think they try.  They are successful with a wave of the hand.)  If I decide to change my sleep habits I find myself unable to fall asleep or stay asleep or avoid bad dreams or the house floods during the night . . .  Whatever!  There is always opposition beyond my control to daunt me.  And I am easily daunted I guess because I don’t want it badly enough.

I don’t want most things badly enough, but it’s not because I’m lazy.  I’ve learned to not care vitally about worldly success (as defined by me, which is a bit different from what’s ordinarily regarded as worldly success) because it is so elusive.

Is it the case that I’ve found that the most important things come easily?  Or is that understanding my blessing, my gift?  What matters to me is peace and safety and–hokey though it may sound–a close relationship with God, having His approval.  I’ve had to learn to value those because the obstacles against everything else I’ve ever “wanted” are too overwhelming.

My emotional state is a preventative to getting the extras.  How much of that is within my control is a question that could consume every minute, every day.  I don’t want to think about it all the time, so I fold.  I say to myself, “Fine.  Take it.  You win.  I don’t want to fight anymore.  If you won’t let me fly, that’s OK.  How about we just read a book?”  Because I’m dealing with this condition all the time–facing the disappointment that I’ve survived the night each morning, dealing with the trauma of another day of life, and trying to persuade myself to function–I have little to give to my other interests.  My interest in my interests waxes and wanes.

I repeat this from the HWH quote above:  “Outward circumstances do not determine the course of our lives as much as the thoughts that habitually occupy our minds.”  Was I having thoughts my whole life that were eroding my temporal foundation–my dreams or aspirations?  And am I now (for the past 18 years) just waking up to their loss?

You know what?  I HAVE WHAT I WANT.  Most of it is or seems handed to me.  Home, Kerry, the gospel, peace.  That is all I know on earth and all I need to know.  (Thanks, Mr. Keats.)  I’ve never been much into decoration.

And, in large measure, I AM WHO I WANT TO BE.  I just need practice in a variety of similar conditions each day to operate consistently.  So I do my practicing by dallying in my dreams (not nightmares)–writing, art, used to be dancing.  I even have my Almaic wishes.  I believe in Elder Wirthlin’s promise of the law of compensation.  In fact I’m not sure I haven’t already been compensated.

Perhaps my life’s mission is to learn that.  Over and over and over.

ah, dreams

ah, dreams

I will conclude with a quote from Roald Dahl:  “Dreams is very mystical things,” the BFG said. “Human beans is not understanding them at all. Not even their brainiest prossefors is understanding them.”

I don’t claim to be a brainiest prossefor, just a regular human bean.

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

a well-lit way

One thing I do each day (when I’m operating in Things I Do Every Day mode) is sing two hymns.  Every night Kerry and I sing a hymn before we read our chapter from the scriptures.  We use the hymnbook’s accompanying CDs and work our way straight through.  We’ve gotten pickier after so many times through.  We often skip long hymns or ones we sung that day in church or that we just heard in General Conference (as was the case last night).  After all, this is supposed to be enjoyable and worshipful, not a forced march.

So, this morning, as I’m trying to reinstate the Daily Grind (I don’t think of it as a grind, of course!), I started singing “Come Unto Jesus.”  (The third verse is my favorite.)  And I realized I was hardly paying attention.  I was swinging my foot in an anxious manner and was practically on the verge of standing up.  I love to sing the hymns, but I realized that I was feeling like I should be up and doing–moving on to the next thing before I had completed this one, and without enjoying it.  So I said to myself essentially, “Be here now,” which might sound trendy (old-trendy), but it works.

Thereafter, as I sat singing I felt some peace steal over me.  Spots of tension became obvious and I relaxed–you guessed it–my neck and shoulders.  Took deep breaths (as much as one can while singing).  And then other thoughts came which I thought were profound, so I stopped the song, wrote them down, then resumed singing.

This learning experience was similar to what I’d learned while praying.  I said to myself that I need to take time to really pray, to be guided in what I pray for.  I’d already written a mammoth list of all the stuff I wanted to do today (and it was merely an ice berg tip of what I wish I could accomplish) and it’s not that it seemed overwhelming, but I know from experience that it won’t get done–not all, not even half.  I’ll do a number of other things then add them to the list (like everyone sensible does) so I can then immediately cross them off.

So much of what I do is just rushing around “getting things done.”  I figure if it’s good, then it’s good–do it.  (Based on the “we’ll be judged on whether or not our actions are good, not amazing or important” principle.)  And I know this seems obvious, but I forget to remember it–I need to take a breath and think, or “pause.”

(Pausing is SO SO SO important–see the story of Mary and Gabriel as compared to Zacharias and Gabriel.  Also look at Joseph’s reaction to his dream.  Mary and Joseph paused before asking a crucial question or taking action.  Poor Mr. Z just doubted.)

Here’s what I need to think about:  “What does Heavenly Father want me to do?  What’s good, better, and best?  Do what’s good, but do the best good.”  Now that’s a delightful building block to add onto what I’ve been clinging to for a few years now.  Do the best good.

In general my perception of best will be the thing I do, but sometimes what I think isn’t as good as something else–or even what appears disastrous (like cleaning up a Polly mishap)–may turn out to be the best good after all.

Art Journal Girl

Art Journal Girl

Once upon a time . . .

I learned not to judge by appearance.  God looketh on the heart and so should I.  This includes the heart of a matter.  Sometimes guidance comes in reprehensible-looking packages, so I’ve learned that even when I don’t like a particular word or expression, if my eyes can stomach the content (despite a flaw or two), then I can learn some really great lessons.

Such was the case yesterday.  Below find a quote from one Mandy Jordan, a fellow art-journalist.  (I have edited slightly.  The quote has not lost its meaning.)

“the thing about journaling is that it is supposed to be personal.  if you find yourself comparing your journal pages to others’, if you worry that you’re using material you “shouldn’t” or whatever, stop.  I might even suggest you not join a group like this or otherwise make your journal open to public scrutiny if it makes you feel like you’re trying to fit in or compete or whatever.  I used to read books on journaling techniques and take workshops and subscribe to magazines until I realized that as inspiring as it was, it was ultimately a muse-killer.  I had to walk way from all that and go back to basics, to not [caring] what my journal looked like and if I was “doing it right” before I could find my voice again.  I hope this does not offend. I just hear myself in your questions.”

After reading this I wondered if I would have the strength to quit my online art groups.  I loved what I was seeing from others.  And I got such good ideas for art exploration and imitation that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I want to spend my creative time wisely.  It’s challenging to post my latest work, but it also feels good for me–in a helpful and enjoyable way.  It would be easy (though a bit of a wrench) to quit, but if it weren’t for the group I wouldn’t be doing any artwork at all.  The challenge to be true to myself but also make art worth looking at is a challenge I can cope with.  I don’t have to post everything.  I think I’ll stick it out for now and see how I learn to deal with situations that are tickly or sticky or tough.

Spend wisely and know when to walk away.