Monday, April 21, 2014

Almost Every Moment

Since the moment I signed my contract with Deseret Book to publish  'Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?' I have been asked a hundred times, 'Aren't you just LOVING every minute?!'

Of course I am! How could I answer otherwise?  I am a published author--of an inspirational book, nonetheless! I landed a my first book deal from my very first pitch session at my very first writer's conference. I am proof that miracles can happen, that dreams can come true! 
So, of course I tell people I am loving every moment. Because I should, right? Right? How dare I not?

I've loved almost every moment.

But, the truth is, I haven't loved every moment. In fact, there are some moments I haven't enjoyed at all.

Like the moment before I signed the contract, where I cried and wondered how I could possibly publish a book about insecurity when I still had moments of insecurity.

Like the moment I realized my book wasn't flying off the shelves, and people weren't fighting to get their hands on the last copy in the store.

Like the moment my book was replaced by the 'next big release' and I was an 'old release.'

Like the moment I was snubbed by someone I looked up to.

Like the moment I walked up to a woman at my book signing, handed her my book, told her all about, only to have her hand it back to me and say, "No thanks, I just want Where's Waldo."

Or like the moment an old friend called me after many years to tell me she she bought my book and she felt the need to tell me I was a terrible person who needed therapy, that I am sick and twisted for writing such things, since I was a deeply disturbed person inside. That she will read my book, though she won't enjoy it at all. 

That moment was awful.

I wasn't expecting any of these moments, and, frankly, they all sucked.

Then there were other moments that were filled with surprising and unwelcome feelings.

Doubt that I could write another book. 

Fear that if I tried and failed I would become an official 'One Hit Wonder.'

Sadness that the phone stopped ringing and the emails stopped coming as I stepped off the euphoric New Release roller coaster and back onto the platform of real life.

Confusion when I struggled to know what direction to take next.

Pressure to write another book before the few fans that I have forget me.

Though these moments and feelings have only dotted the joy that I've felt during this experience, they are still real. And I have felt awful for feeling them.

Have you ever felt like that? Like you had an amazing opportunity, blessing, or experience, and yet, there are some bad or tough moments, or negative or difficult feelings that arise? Perhaps after the birth of your child, or a new job. Maybe a new relationship or marriage. Have you ever felt guilty for not loving every single moment?

I'll admit, I grappled with justifying the contradictory moments and feelings. Then I've found  few things that have helped me to understand how it all fits in--how we can feel bad amid the good, and what we can do about it. 

First, I accepted the fact that I am human. We have bad times, even bad days. That doesn't mean we're bad--that I'm bad.

Secondly, I recognized the adversary's influence in my difficulties. As I looked at timeline of the bad moments/feelings, I saw a direct correlation with my successes and opportunities. As I took a step back, it became easy for me to see the influence of the adversary on my journey. He doesn't want me to succeed. He doesn't want me to be happy. And he definitely doesn't want me to write another book.

One of the things I have loved about the publication of my book is the way it has touched and empowered so many women. I get emails and phone calls, meet them in person and online. Through hugs and tears I have heard their stories, their heartbreak, and the hope and joy they have found through the truths contained in my little book. Satan wants to stop the good from progressing. He wants to stop me.

Once I realized that, I allowed the bad moments and feelings to be just that, moments and feelings. They didn't ruin my experience. They didn't take away from the beautiful and far-reaching effects of my intentions and efforts. They didn't mean I haven't done any good, that I am weak, or that I am not cut out to do this again. They are just moments and feelings. They aren't me.

I am prone to these moments and feelings because I am doing good things, because I am pushing myself, putting myself out there, and trying hard.The adversary wouldn't mess with an unworthy opponent or one who wasn't a threat. It is a sign that I am actually doing good--really good.

Third, I also realized that, though these moments and feelings were real, and sometimes awful, it was the guilt that I felt over even having them that weighed the most heavily on me, as though having them meant that I either didn't appreciate or deserve the wonderful experience as a whole. Once I saw them for what they were, just moments and feelings I could compartmentalize and work through, rather than an indictment of my failure or unworthiness of this experience, I became free to focus once again on the joy of the journey. 

And it has been a joy.

Fourth, I realized, once again, the power that prayer unlocks. Through a lot of prayer, God has mercifully given me glimpses of His perspective and purpose. He has eased my fears, and strengthened my shoulders and heart. And He has let me know that, as always, He has a plan for me--even though I might not love every moment of it.

Fifth was the realization that difficult moments don't mean the experience isn't a or valued one and I can't still be grateful. It's okay to not love every moment or be grateful for everything we have or don't have, as long as we have gratitude in our circumstances. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke of this recently:

"Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other, I'm suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances--whatever they may be." 

He acknowledged that it can be difficult to be grateful for the things that are painful or difficult--but, he said, we can have gratitude IN all our circumstances.I can have miserable moments and feelings and still have a thankful heart. And that's ok.

As I look back at my journey this past year, there has not been a day--even days with tough moments and negative feelings--where I haven't felt an overall gratitude to God for His love and guidance. It was ok that I wasn't grateful for every moment, that I didn't love every second. I could have those not-so-happy experiences AND still be grateful. It wasn't an either or. 

That was a big moment for me. The guilt I felt for struggling with these moments and feelings left. There are some residual feelings there, especially as new pressures arise and new opportunities loom (or not loom), and that's all right.

Lastly, I realized that this will probably happen again--and that's ok. Good marriages are dotted with tough times. Parenting is riddled with challenging moments.Pretty much any worthy goal that requires effort to achieve will also bring on moments and feelings that might not be joyful-that might be downright awful. But that is the ebb and flow of life, the rhythm of growth. The reason we are here.

We aren't here to love every single moment of this life. But, we are here to develop the ability to have gratitude in our circumstances, whatever they may be. We are here to reach and grow, to extend ourselves and improve ourselves, to be more than we are today. That kind of reaching brings growing pains, from inside ourselves and out. With God's help, we can have the perspective to see through and beyond those moments and feelings, to the wonderful things He has in store.

So, have I loved every moment?

No. But, I am deeply grateful for my experience.

Do I look forward to the more painful moments and bad feelings?

No. But with perspective and God's help, I am ready for them, and I say, "Bring it on."

Now I'm off on another journey, another book, another amazing ride, and another set of difficult moments and feelings. 

And I'm gonna love (almost) every moment of it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Do Believe in Fairies. I do, I do!

When I was younger I had a very active imagination—like borderline therapy-active. During my third grade year, my friend Melanie and I were convinced we were actually long-lost daughters of Zeus. We spent our recesses running from small green nymphs on the playground fields, and at least once a week I would do a thorough sweep of my house searching for the secret door that would lead me home. Yes, I loved anything magical or imaginary.

**Spoiler Alert for all Tooth Fairy and Santa Believers. You might want to skip ahead a few paragraphs.** 

After my parents gave me ‘the talk’  (you know, the one where they tell you that the most exciting things in your life up that point had been all lies)  I still secretly believed in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause. I even had an imaginary friend named Fred. Yes, I still believed in all things magical.

Then I grew up and stopped believing.

But, something has happened in recent years that has caused me to open the doors of belief once again. No, it’s not the Tooth Fairy. The Tooth Fairy in my house is completely unreliable. I don’t know how many times I’ve *ahem* I mean the Wilson Tooth Fairy has had to sneak in a stupid quarter while I ‘searched’ for the money my poor children ‘must have missed’ under their pillow because they were still half asleep.  It’s not Santa, either. As much as I love the idea of a fat man breaking into my house to watch me in my sleep and give me stuff, I think I’ll pass.
The thing that got me believing in fairies again is dirt.

I don’t know how many times I have cleaned my house, only to turn around and find dirt on the floor. It’s in the crook of the baseboards, peeking out from under the fridge, on my carpet, and in my bathtub. I know I clean my house, and my children tell me they didn't do it. For years I racked my brain, pulled my hair out, and hollered at my totally innocent children. Then it finally hit me. It must be the Dirt Fairy. The realization rolled around in my brain and gave birth to a life-changing epiphany:

 Fairies are actually real!

As I let this once-again-found belief sink in, the possibilities and explanations to all other life’s mysteries opened wide up—and the answers all led to fairies. But not the sweet, beautiful fairies you'd imagine.

These are totally dysfunctional fairies.

Have you ever picked up a room, went in to the next room, only to come back into the just-cleaned room to find toys on the floor. Yep. That’s the Clutter Fairy.

Or perhaps you’ve always wondered how so many shoes end up piled by the front door in masses. You can thank the Shoe Fairy for that one. She is a devious one. She steals an occasional shoe and hides it under the bed, just to watch you suffer. She also feeds your best shoes and favorite slippers to the puppy when you’re not looking.

Then there’s the Sock Fairy. She’s the Shoe Fairy’s half cousin and a total kleptomaniac.

Who can forget the Random Jab Fairy? At first I thought my random aches and pains were due to my getting older; a strange pain in the side, an ache in my knees, and headaches a plenty. But know I know that the Random Jab Fairy follows me around during the day, randomly jabbing, smacking, poking and kicking me. Sadistic fairy.

The Money Fairy is nearly the worst. Somehow she messes with my bank account, lowering my balance and ordering stuff from Amazon and the iStore that no one seems to claim.

The list goes on and on. The Gas Fairy, who siphons gas from my van when I’m asleep, leaving just enough fumes for me to get to the store the next day, all while muttering, “I just put gas in the thing!”

The Cereal Fairy who opens up twelve boxes of cereal, rips the bag in the process,  lets the cereal get stale, and NEVER finishes it.

I can’t forget the Gray Hair Fairy, who is attempting to plant a silver meadow on my head. She’s buddies with the Sleep Like Crap Fairy—the one who gives me bad dreams, hot flashes, and makes me toss and turn at night.

I won’t even go into the Metabolism Fairy, who slows my metabolism to the pace of snail. I look at a cookie and my hips explode,  yet she revs my teenage son’s metabolism up so high he can jam a gallon of ice cream, five corn dogs, and a bag of chips into his 3% body-fat physique and still be hungry. Twisted, I tell you!

The Time Fairy is the worst. She speeds it up, slows it down, and steals it from me. 

The Memory Fairy has turned my steel-trap memory into a colander. 

And I mustn't forget the Laundry Fairy that puts my children’s clean clothes right back into the dirty clothes hamper so they won’t have to put them away (they love that one.)

Luckily, in my search for fairies I have found a few good ones who are trying to salvage their family name.

I owe many thanks to the Long-lost Five Dollar Bill in my Pocket Fairy. She’s paid for many an Oreo McFlurry.

Then there’s the Bargain Fairy, who stashes the rare perfect shirt among the chaos of Norstrom Rack, Marshall’s, and Ross for me to find.

And I need to acknowledge the very real Sample Lady Fairy at Costco who has kept me fed and staved off a number potential Costco panic attacks. She’s the best.

You may not believe in fairies. You might blame my children, or coincidence, or old age—whatever. That’s okay. But, for this forty-two year old woman, I am squeezing my eyes shut and whispering, “I do believe in fairies. I do, I do! I do believe in fairies. I do, I do!”

(And I’m secretly hoping that when I open my eyes, the Warm Brownies and Vanilla Ice Cream Fairy will have stopped by. She comes around. A lot.)