Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Losing A Spouse

This month's LDS Living Magazine contained a story on advice for those who have become widowed, and for those who interact with widowed members. It's a wonderful article and well worth reading.

Losing A Spouse

It's been 11 years (it will be 11 1/2 years on Valentines Day) since Decker passed away unexpectedly, and I do have a few more words of advice, based upon my own experiences and that of those with whom I've been privileged to be a widow buddy for.

1.  Seek and receive Priesthood Blessings often.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Every widowed person should seek to call upon the powers of Heaven for their aid.  Doing so will yield expected and even some unexpected blessings and revelation.

2.  Journal the advice given from the Priesthood Blessings, as well as experiences, promptings and revelation you receive.  My learning curve when straight up after Decker died.  I'm so thankful now to go back and read those experiences, and continue to journal as I experience more now.

3.  Go to the Temple often.  If you do not currently hold a Temple Recommend, do whatever it takes to get one, and wear it out.  The House of The Lord is the place where the veil between mortality and eternity is the thinnest.  It has been my personal experience that I can not only feel the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but also Decker, when he's not too busy with his work.

Make sure that you arrange your schedule so that you can take as much time as you would like to in the Temple.  Don't over schedule yourself and end up with a rushed experience.

4.  Have a checkup with your doctor.  While preparing for Decker's funeral, I came down with bronchitis.  A few days after the funeral, I went to the doctor to not only find out I had the bronchitis, but my blood pressure was near stroke levels.  Grieving is very stressful, not just emotionally but also physically.  Take vitamins (particularly the B-Complex vitamins for stress) and if you cannot sleep at night consult your doctor for medications that can assist with that.

5.  Get a widow buddy.  This should be a widowed member whose spouse has been gone for at least one year.  The reason is that the first year is the hardest to get through, you need someone there who has experienced it.  The article I mentioned above talks about support groups, however sometimes those can be hard to find in different geographical areas.  It's easier to find at least one widow buddy in your stake.

Make sure you spend time with that widow buddy, phone calls and emails will not cut it.  They need to see how you are doing, as well as to be able to get you out of the house for a little while.  They can also see if there are signs of trouble and get help before things go really bad.

6.  Do not delay or skip the grieving process.  Delaying the grieving process actually makes it harder when it does hit (and yes, it will eventually catch up to you).

Also keep in mind that just because you've made it through one stage of the grieving process doesn't mean you won't repeat it.  This happened with me, and it's happened with everyone I've met who is grieving the loss of a loved one.

7.  Remember that there is hope.  You never stop missing and grieving the loss of your spouse, but it becomes less frequent over time.  I still have my "basket case" days when our wedding anniversary approaches and the anniversary of Decker's death approaches.  I know this and I can forewarn anyone I happen to be with that I will be more emotionally sensitive during those times.

Keep the door open for Jesus Christ, He can't take the pain away, but he can help you bear it as you experience one of the most challenging times of your life.

Also keep in mind that while you are experiencing transition in your life, so is your deceased spouse.

A Little Bit About Outliers

Monday, January 30, 2012

How To Become Happier Part 5

Celebrate Failure

Have you heard the expression, "if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well"?

This expression means to do something right the first time around.  The problem is, how many of us could do that?  Do something right the first time it was tried?  I would say not very many.

Instead, change the expression to "if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly... at first."  This would imply that you would eventually get it right, but you need to do things badly before you can get better.  Doing nothing at all - or burying your talent - will result in you losing it altogether.  You don't use it, you lose it.

I know this from countless hours of piano practicing, working on genealogy, working on web sites, anything I want to do.  I have to do it badly before I can do it well.

If you haven't read this book yet, you should.  It's called Outliers.

The book talks about those who are the exception to the rule, the geniuses in their respective fields.  One thing is in common with all of them:  they each spent a minimum of 10,000 hours working on that field.  This includes the computer programmers and musicians.  This seems to be the "Tipping Point" (to coin another book title by Malcolm Gladwell) that makes a person go from good to great.

The problem is, we focus so much on the accomplishments and achievements of great and talented people, we don't see the hours when the work of these people was not at it's finest.

Sometimes, however, you need to celebrate the failures, because you are on your way to greatness.


Edison failed over 10,000 times before succeeding in making an electrical light bulb.

Colonel Sanders' chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before it was accepted by a restaurant.

Walt Disney went broke several times before he became successful, and was fired from his first job at a newspaper because he lacked imagination as a cartoonist.

Think you've seen failure?  Check out the Snopes article on the truth of Abraham Lincoln.

So, the next question becomes, what will be the next failure for you to celebrate?  Me?  I have a few in mind...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Things To Be Grateful For

It's Tuesday and I'm already falling down on the job for this week's assignment. My only excuse is I had a doozy of a headache when I got home last night, so I spent most of my evening asleep.


I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and my ability to receive forgiveness. I make a lot of mistakes, so I need this a lot.

 I'm grateful to have reliable transportation, and the ability to play music from my iPod on my car stereo. It allowed me to put on Gospel centered music, instead of the junk the world thinks is so great.

 I'm grateful for the job that I have and the work that I do. Particularly the students at the school I work at. They are great young people.


I'm grateful for ibuprofen. I've been needing it since I had dental work done on the 13th. Serious dental work, involving serious pain.

I'm grateful for Rachel, my cat. As bad as I have felt in the recent past (including last night), it always feels so good to pet her.

I'm grateful for my friends.  We all need at least one good friend in our lives.

I've got more things to be grateful for, however I'll save them for the rest of the week.

Expressing Gratitude

Monday, January 23, 2012

How To Become Happier Part 4

Don't try to feel happy, instead focus on feeling grateful.  Happiness will follow.

Try It!

Write down three good things that have happened each day in the coming week, AND why they happened.

Gratitude Exercises:  Make A Gratitude Adjustment

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Widow's Mite

What "mite" will you be giving to the Lord this coming week?


I'm always amazed at how the Lord knows exactly what we need, just when we need it.

Last night's Stake Conference was a night of miracles, not only where I was the recipient, but I was also involved in making a miracle for someone else.

I love it when that happens.  :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Coping With Memory Clutter

I found the DVD that I have the recording of this show on, I'm so glad I saved it and have found it again.

Coping With Memory Clutter

This is another really big problem area for me; letting go of the clutter.  I'm getting there, but it's taken me a long time.

Do you have any projects you would tackle first?  Do you have a plan of how to do it?

Video:  Minimize Your Memory Clutter

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Communication And Self Esteem

There are some people, including myself, who have some difficulty in getting the point across when I'm speaking.  I'm much better at writing than speaking.

I was thinking this might be a project to work on:

Pick a Gospel topic, compose and give a talk on the subject.

Need some help?

Prepare A Talk - LDS.org

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Bids For The Day

I work in public education, so a lot of my bids are regarding students, with a few interactions with teachers. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, but with my life being dominated with student testing, I have a feeling my more meaningful conversations will be with my cat more than anyone else.

 At least I got my exercise in, running up and down the stairs this evening.

How Are You Doing With Your Bids?

How well are you doing with your bids?  Did you make any today?  Did you respond to any today?

I work with children for six hours per day, so chances are I make a lot of interactions with these young ones.

The challenge is having that one meaningful conversation each day.  Do you think Facebook counts?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Update - January 16th 2012

This past Friday, after working part of my shift at school I went to the dentist for a four hour procedure.  What started out as one root canal turned into two root canals and a retreat of a root canal in addition to the two.

I still need to have the other tooth removed, but I'm waiting until I'm healed from this round.

This was somewhat of a traumatic experience for me, and I've had root canals before.

I won't go into too many details (rather gory), but it involved using a laser to burn gum tissue to get to the cavity in the teeth.  There was a lot of it that I felt, and smelled from the procedure.

I did stop by work on my way home to make sure everything was okay there, and on the drive home a thought crossed my mind:  I wonder if the Savior experienced any of this pain and trauma during the atonement?

With the combination of ibuprofen and hydrocodone (thank you, Heavenly Father, for pain meds) that thought got lost.

Until Sunday, when during the Sacrament hymn, the thought was brought back to remembrance and the answer was given.

While singing Behold The Great Redeemer Die, hymn 191, second verse:

"While guilty men his pains deride,
They pierce his hands and feet and side;
And with insulting scoffs and scorns,
They crown his head with plaited thorns.

Although in agony he hung,
Nor murm'ring word escaped his tongue.
His high commission to fulfill,
He magnified his Father's will."

The answer was yes.  He felt the pain that I went through, and experienced the trauma that I went through, and did it so He could succor me and others like me with peace and healing.  He couldn't remove the pain, but He could help me get through it.

"Father, from me remove this cup.
Yet, if thou wilt, I'll drink it up.
I've done the work thou gavest me,
Receive my spirit unto thee."

Yes, He did the work of the Father, because He loved us so much He was willing to endure excruciating pain to help each of us get through our pain.  Physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain.

My heart sorrowed, because I'm sure I've caused Him a lot of grief and pain in the course of my journey in mortality.  How grateful I am that He is still willing to help me despite this.

How To Become Happier Part 3

Stop Trying To Find Friends

Wendy Ulrich talked about the importance of having good friends.  In fact, studies have shown that those who are happiest at their jobs have a best friend there.  One they can confide in.

So, instead of trying to find friends, what do you do?

Instead, develop the skills of friendship.

One of those skills is understanding "bids".  This is where you say something to someone (or they say something to you) to start a conversation.  It could be anywhere, whether at work, or while standing in a line at the grocery store or bank.

Those who are the happiest had 6 hours of social contact daily.  This may or may not include work.  For me, I have at least 6 hours of social contact each day with students.  I can tell when I haven't met my quota, because I feel like I've been cut off.

Another part of this is to celebrate the success of others.  People who minimize the success of someone else with their own successes are not really friends, are they?  This is especially important for children, whose self esteem is still somewhat fragile.

Try It!

Make and respond to "bids".
Have at least one meaningful conversation daily.
Celebrate other's successes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Some Healthy Words To Ponder

I often find it amazing how instruction given years ago is still applicable today.

Here is a talk I found on www.lds.org, given in 1978:

Good Health - A Key To Joyous Living

And, of course, with such a global reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our teachings of helping out our brothers and sisters with their health needs, let's not forget the basics. Let's all pray for their privilege to Choose To Become, simply by surviving disease and war.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Diabetes Care

This post is more for me, although I'm sure there are a few others out there who have Diabetes.

I have the adult onset of Type II Diabetes, where too much sugar is going into my bloodstream and is not being regulated properly.  This is controlled by a pill form of medication.  I do not require insulin at this point in time.

What I didn't know, was exactly how this all worked.  I found a link for these videos from the Dr. Oz Show, and I thought I'd post a link to a video I found on this site that makes informational and educational videos on the human body.

Here is one of their videos on Diabetes:


Here is the link to the main web site, I just did a search for Diabetes and found a number of videos on there.


If we are going to talk about becoming healthier, this does not simply mean exercise, but eating properly can also help you to feel better physically, allowing you to be emotionally and spiritually happier.

Here is Dr. Oz's 3 D's to a Healthy Diabetic:


Friday, January 13, 2012

Workouts From The Dr. Oz Show

Here are some other workouts featured on the Dr. Oz Show.  Be sure to check with a physician to make sure any of these are right for you.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Update - January 11, 2012

A lot has been happening the last few days, concerning my physical health. Yesterday I didn't get much exercise (unless you count the walking I do as a crossing guard in the mornings), however today I parked away from my workplace and walked a good 1/4 mile with bags totaling in weight of about 25-30 pounds. Very good exercise. On Monday morning, I was awoken by searing pain in one of my teeth. Further x-rays and an early morning exam this morning, it can be saved, but it is getting infected so I am on anti-biotics. The tooth will need a root canal, and a second tooth will need to be removed. I was supposed to have check up appointments on Friday with two doctors (including the ob/gyn who performed the ovary removal 1 1/2 years ago and the endometrial ablation on me this past October), however those have been re-scheduled so I can have the dental work done instead. As much as we love to feel we are in control of things, there is always this push from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that teach you otherwise. Like many of the widowed people reading this, we are well acquainted with the fact that there are some things that we cannot control. Learning to accept those instances and try to find ways of dealing with them is a part of life. I do find, though, that some of these times are where Heavenly Father and the Lord are shaping me into what they want me to become. In order for me to become the daughter they want me to be and be able to progress in my life, I need to get these things done first. This is another part of the physical health aspect of choosing to become, and choosing how I will handle these situations.

Get Active Your Way

I found this article with some additional ideas: Get Active Your Way

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

How To Become Happier Part 2

2. Don't Try To Get Motivated To Exercise

In this part of her talk, Wendy Ulrich briefly explains that exercise releases chemicals in the body to make you feel better. The problem is, that a lot of us have, as she put it, "gremlins" in our head that we have to overcome to feel motivated to exercise.

Her advice?  To trick the "gremlins".

Start with small steps.

This might require changing clothes, not because you want to go running or walking, but because they are comfortable.

Then walking to the door and opening it up, not because you want to exercise, but because you want to  check the weather outside.

You walk to the end of the curb to your home (or in my case out to the parking lot of my complex), to see what is going on in the neighborhood.

By this time, you tell yourself you may as well go for that run or walk, as you're already there anyway.

My problem?  Getting home before dark.  I'm not sure I want to go for a walk alone in the darkness.

Good luck!


To make a long story short, I ended up at the dentist today after a 2:30 am wakeup call of pain from a tooth that has seen it's last days.  I don't know exactly when it will be getting taken care of as it was almost 7:00 when I finally got home this evening.

I did however, take a walk down and a jog up two flights of stairs at my complex this evening - so I could collect the mail from my mailbox on the ground floor.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Patriarchal Blessings

One thing that Wendy Ulrich mentioned during her talk was going through your Patriarchal Blessing and listing the strengths and weaknesses (or things you need to work on) that are listed by your Heavenly Father.

I did this today, and found it was not only illuminating to see how many more strengths I have than weaknesses, but also the weaknesses that Heavenly Father knew I would have and would be facing even now, even though my blessing was given in 1986.

There were also sections that really put on new meaning as I did this exercise, things I didn't know Heavenly Father knew about me.


What of your strengths or gifts can you use this week to create?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The habits of happy people | January 2012

The habits of happy people | January 2012

This covers the majority of the Wendy Ulrich talk, but I'll post more later. It's Saturday and I'm cleaning the tub/shower out.

If you're in Arizona, enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cemetery Traditions

It's late, I'm still coughing from the bronchitis I'm trying to get rid of, so I thought I'd post something that happened over Winter Break.

In the month of December, four people I either knew very well or was at least somewhat acquainted with passed away.   Between that, doctor's visits and running errands to prepare for the holidays, Mom and I got a little behind in the one tradition we now have at Christmastime:  visiting the cemetery and changing the flowers.

I know, it probably sounds like kind of weird to have a tradition of visiting a cemetery at Christmas, but when the majority of your family is deceased, and Christmas is a time for family, then a trip to the cemetery is one of the things you do.

This time we were a little late and went after Christmas but before New Years Eve.  The flowers looked beautiful and afterwards Mom and I went to the small Lion House Bakery inside the Chandler Deseret Bookstore for some fantastic chicken salad with a roll.

I will also add, however, after leaving one of the funerals at the beginning of my break, I went straight to the Temple.  Keeping my thoughts focused on the teachings and feelings there helped me get through a very difficult day.  Being dressed in all white and surrounded by others dressed in white reminded me of the Priesthood Blessing I had received a few days prior to the funeral reminding me to keep an eternal perspective on things as they unfold.

The Temple was such a "saving grace" for me when Decker passed away, and it continues to be a source of peace and strength for me today.

At Such A Time As This

Esther 4:14

"... and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

You have been saved for this particular time, in this particular dispensation, for the particular mission God has for you.  You have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this.

The Holy Ghost

How do you know you are on the path God wants you to be on?  How do you know you are becoming the person God knows you can be?

The Holy Ghost.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Have You Decided Yet?

Given yesterday's post, have you decided which of your strengths you would like to use?

One of my strengths is Faith.  It's not on the list, but my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has seen me through some very difficult challenges.

If I could develop this, it would be to the level of Job.  I'm not there yet, but it's something I can use and work at.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How To Become Happier, Part 1

One of the speakers, Wendy Ulrich, gave a talk at the TOFW called How To Become Happier. According to Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist who began a study of achieving happiness 10 years ago, there were seven different things you could do to become happier in life. They are:

1. Stop worrying about your weaknesses
2. Don't try to get motivated to exercise
3. Stop trying to find friends
4. Don't try to feel happier
5. Celebrate failure
6. Don't try to get help with your problems
7. Don't endure to the end

The first was to stop worrying about our weaknesses and focus on our strengths. As Wendy points out, though, does that mean we no longer work on those weaknesses? No. It just means that those weaknesses should not define who we are. We have been blessed with gifts and talents that could be used in whatever capacity God gives us, it's a matter of finding what that is.

That list of strengths that Wendy gave in her talk:

love of learning
seeing the big picture
honesty & authenticity
kindness & generosity
social skills to fit in or connect
loving & accepting love
team player
fairness to all
appreciating beauty & excellence
gratitude to others
humor & playfulness

Her assignment? Find two or three of these or other strengths we each possess and find new ways to use them in the course of our daily lives.

Here is the link to the study Dr. Martin Seligman, who Wendy spoke about in her talk, did this study on what makes people happy. The list above is a partial list that Dr. Seligman found in common with all the religions of the world.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Your Personal Best

Yes, it's that time of year again to set some goals.  Have you set up lofty ones you will fail at, or have you given up entirely?  I was in the latter camp until this year.

When I ran cross country and track in high school, there were other runners who were a lot faster than I was.  I learned a lot of things with the long distance running, though, and one of those was to not compare myself against others, but to compare my running times against my previous running times.  It was called getting your "personal best".

So what is my personal best?  What is yours?

Without a benchmark like this, you don't know if you're gaining or losing ground with whatever it is you are doing.

For me?  It comes from a source I used long ago, and am starting to re-use again.  I'm wondering if more widows should do the same?  Should we create a system to track our personal best and set goals?

I'm thinking yes.

The source I am using?  The Young Women Personal Progress for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Who says it's only for Young Women?

I sat down on Sunday to look over the Young Women Personal Progress Booklet.  I purchased it, along with a small, matching journal, at the Church's Distribution Center in Mesa.  You might, however, be able to get one free through your Bishop.

The Church also has this one online:  Young Women Personal Progress and when you log in using your lds.org account, it becomes interactive, meaning you can actually enter things in there and save them.

The first question is:  do we stick with the same Young Women Values or do we change a few things to make it more pertinent to widows?

Here were my thoughts:

Divine Nature
Eternal Nature of Marriage
Individual Worth
Good Works
Enduring Enjoying To The End

I'm still working on this, but I would love to hear from anyone else with ideas and suggestions.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Three Choices

I love it when I'm on the same page as the Bishopric in my Ward.  This talk was profiled in one of the talks in Sacrament Meeting yesterday.

Three Choices by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, October 2003 Conference.

It's never too late to make changes in your life.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What If?

This morning, while waiting for Sacrament Meeting to start, I read from the Book of Mormon.  In my personal reading, I've started 2nd Nephi.

I read this (2nd Nephi 1:8-10

"And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.
 Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.
 10 But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise—behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them."
I wondered what if the descendants of Lehi, all of them, had remained righteous?  Would the "New World" as the Americas were called ever been discovered?  Would Christopher Columbus had been able to find the Americas?  Would the pilgrims have known about the Americas to leave Europe in search of religious freedom?  Would there have been a Trail of Tears?

Then the answer came.  Sometimes the question "what if?" is good for an increase in knowledge and understanding.  In fact, it's great if you are looking to innovate something for the future.

But pondering "what if?" about the past?  It may be interesting and even educational, but to dwell on it serves no purpose as it will not change how things are now.

YOUR Happily Ever After

For the full talk: Your Happily Ever After

I would invite you to fully study this talk.

If you are grieving and think you'll never feel happy again, "hold on, the light will come". Many thanks to Michael McLean for that song.

Welcome To The Widowed Connection

Welcome to the Widowed Connection, where widowed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can read and share in this blog.