Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Paralyzed in Fear

I am not one to whine on my blog, or complain, or be negative...BUT this past week has been a huge piece of the puzzle that we call "Moving To China". I am writing this so in the great times (there will be them) I can look back, even if it is to say, "wow, I'm glad I am not there anymore".

Up until about a week and a half ago, I had moments of interest, doubt, anticipation, fear (do you notice the back and forth?) It really just depended on the moment . I always tried to put on a positive face, especially for the kids. That is really not like me since I usually let every emotion out, all the time. Then it happened, it all changed. My body began to take over. My appetite decreased dramatically (I knew this was bad since I deal with normal stress by eating). I started waking up in the middle of the night and staying up for a few hours. I would feel sick to my stomach when I would think of, or anyone would mention, the "C" word. I would try to discuss this with hubby but he was/is dealing with his own stress of the move (i.e. Visas, dog stuff, deadlines here in the US, etc). My fear began to take over me and my life. Then I would feel guilty because I know " if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear". I felt like all I was doing was preparing!

Then I broke. Our property manager was over talking about a potential renter for our home. His voice became tunneled, I began to sweat and I knew I had to leave. By the time I got upstairs I could not breathe. I tried doing the head between the knees thing but I was so ashamed that I lost control in front of someone else. It made the anxiety worse. I was pacing, trying to breathe but thinking "I can't do 'this'" over and over. The 'this' meaning move. That panic attack ruined our entire weekend, because then I became angry. I still feel bad about ruining hubby's father's day weekend.

Well, I have learned a few things in the couple of days since then. I was preparing, which would lead to my anxiety. But I needed to prepare spiritually. I needed to put my trust in the Lord. Although it was hard for me, as I never received confirmation that China was the right decision for me and my family. I would tell myself, "this would be so much easier if it was a mission because at least I would know that it was the Lord's will". But I needed to get over that. Whether it was His will or not I still needed to have faith the He would comfort me and guide me no matter where I was in the world.

I also learned that slacking on the daily basics only leads to unhappiness for me and for my family. Just like I KNOW I have to exercise for my physical and mental health, I KNOW I need to focus on my prayers and scriptures for my emotional and spiritual health. It seems so "primary" to say that, but I learned first hand...I do pray and read my scriptures...but I was taking them for granted and being casual about them. This resulted in the Spirit being faint, which allowed anger, fear and negativity in.

I am still anxious. I still can't quite talk about leaving my family, friends and home. But I know that if I continue to make my spirituality a priority that Heavenly Father will bless me with peace, comfort and endurance.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Gifted Giver

Many of you know I embarked on a side business last year. It was The Gifted Giver- your personal shopper for gift giving. Unfortunately, due to our move I have closed up shop. I am sad because it was something that I am passionate about. Below are the gift giving tips I thought I'd share with you from my Facebook page. Enjoy!

This gift was for a special friend who was having a baby. The adorable ribbon was found at Michael's for 50% off and instead of using wrapping paper I used contact paper (without peeling the back off) to line the baby's drawers.

Gift Giving Tip #1- How you wrap your gift is the "first impression" of your gift. Gift bags may say, "I'm too busy to wrap your gift" or "I'm cheap so I'm regifting a gift bag". Instead use a box, tissue and paper. Don't forget real ribbon for the finishing touch. If you are on a budget use a fresh flower from your garden or fun scrap fabric instead of paper. They will be excited about your gift before they even open it!
Gift Giving Tip #2- Think outside the "box". Sometimes the best gifts are experiences that they would usually not provide for them self. Arrange a trip to a museum to see a special exhibit, or a cooking class, or a walking city tour. Instead of just a gift card, make all the arrangements for them. It will take more time but will be well worth it.
Gift Giving Tip #3- Avoid last minute gift scrambles by picking up items when you see them. Have a gift "spot" like a closet or a drawer. But try to have someone specific in mind when you buy it and tag it with a post-it note before you tuck it away. You never want your recipient to think you gave them a "generic" gift that you did not pick out especially for them.
Gift Giving Tip #4- Although it is tempting, try to have the only "strings" attached be the ones with the bow. Sometimes we are tempted to buy something for our significant other that will benefit us and it results in giving him something to do....garage door opener? A gift is not something that will soon be added to a honey-do list.
Gift Giving Tip #5- Be aware when giving gift cards. Some of them, especially bank cards like Visa, may have a fee attached. And you do not pay extra for that fee it comes off the card. For example, you may think you are giving a $20 card but it will only really have $18 on it. Also, steer clear of gift cards that decrease in value when not used in a given amount of time. Read the fine print, as these obstacles are not advertised.
Gift Giving Tip #6- "Bite your tongue"- I really struggle with this one. When someone is opening a gift from you avoid talking altogether. We sometimes want to break the awkward silence by saying something like, " I don't know if you are going to like this or not" or "you can return it if it doesn't work for you." It may be awkward silence but let them cherish the gift opening experience. Do not ruin it with your lack of confidence.
Gift Giving Tip #7- When choosing a gift for someone how do you decide? Do you choose what you think they should have Do you choose something you'd like to receive? Do you grab whatever is the easiest? There is no easy formula, but getting to know as much as you can about the recipient will ALWAYS pay off! Remember, the gift is about them...not you.
Gift Giving Tip #8- We all try to stretch our dollar, especially when gift giving. To make a bigger impact, without breaking the back, choose three less expensive items to cluster. For example, three $5 items make more of a statement than one $15 item.
Gift Giving Tip #9- When you are invited to someone's home, anytime of the year, it is polite to bring something. Be sensitive to your host. If you bring wine, make sure they drink. Or it may conflict with the meal. Flowers may be inconvenient to put in water while dealing with last minute details. A perfect hostess gift is something that your hostess can tuck away and enjoy at a later moment.
Gift Giving Tip #10- It's time to be gracious. Writing thank you notes is always a kind gesture. Try never to send a thank you for a gift in an email. A phone call is nice, however a hand written sentiment shows class. Remember to always reference the gift specifically. If it is for money, it is nice to add what you intend to use the money for.
Gift Giving Tip #11- Start a gift giving list. Use this list throughout the year to reference so you are not giving the same person the same gift. Use the "notes" section in your contact list of your phone or email accounts. If you thought it was the perfect gift this year, chances are you probably will next year too.
Gift Giving Tip #12- Take advantage of all the sales now to shop for gifts throughout the year. Make sure you have someone in mind and mark it with a sticky note. You don't want that great deal to feel generic to the recipient.
I hope you enjoy these tips! I LOVE giving gifts and I truly hope those I give them to LOVE getting them!

What are your favorite gift giving tips?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

May I make a suggestion for your garden?

I am, by no means, a gardener!

However I do have a beginner's garden where I love to have color, especially color that I can clip and disperse throughout my house. Flowers make me happy! Especially flowers that I've grown.

If you are a beginner like me and want an easy shrub that produces gorgeous billows of heaven, then add some hydrangeas to your garden. I love their decorative lush leaves, but the array of colors (depending on the soil) is what makes these a favorite of mine. As a matter of fact my bridesmaids carried bouquets of periwinkle blue hydrangeas in my wedding 16 years ago.

When I say easy, I mean easy. Don't get me wrong, I adore roses! But somehow I cannot grow roses well enough to be pest free and durable enough to cut and distribute throughout my home. And, well, peonies are a fave too but I am only three years into that relationship and am only grossing about six blossoms a year so far. Patience.

But hydrangeas have not let me down! They grow tall and wide each spring. All I ever do is feed them, keep the snails away and cut them down to sticks in the fall. Every year I have enough to cut ample displays throughout my home AND keep lots of color in my garden...all....summer.....long. Last year I even had a few friends that I took jars of hydrangeas to all summer long. But this year I am keeping them to myself since I will miss their next few seasons. Try them, just don't put them in hot sun...they thrive in morning sun. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Two Choices

Last night we did Family Home Evening. For those of you who don't know...we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. To find more out about Family Home Evening click here.

I was feeling that we should start with reading from The Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi Chapter 2. This chapter is about Lehi who is a father of a family. He receives revelation for his family to leave their home, in Jerusalem, and everything in it (besides provisions and tents) and go into the wilderness. Could you tell why I wanted to read this particular chapter as a family? Our journey to Beijing is somewhat like Lehi's, although our home is not going to be destroyed ( I hope) and we will be able to return one day (I hope). Nevertheless, we are often told to liken unto the scriptures and they will teach us...and that was exactly what happened.

As I read aloud with my children, it became very clear to me what the lesson was I needed to be taught AND what we needed to learn as a family. It almost became as clear as if a teacher was writing it on the chalkboard (maybe that is because I am a teacher). Lehi had sons . Each son chose to deal with this "family move" differently. The imaginary chalk on the imaginary chalkboard illustrated to me : choice A) Laman and Lemuel- the sons who questioned their father's revelation, complained and whined/poor attitude, made everyone's life around them miserable. choice B) Nehi- the son who trusted in his father and trusted in the Lord, continued to draw near to God instead of using this to move away, exercised faith by praying and seeking guidance from the Lord.

I had already planned that the activity would be to write in our individual journals ,making personal goals to get us each through this transition. I also asked the family to then write goals that we should have as a family to get us through our move and our new life in a foreign land. Next week at Family Home Evening we will discuss our suggestions for family goals and create a family mission plan so that we not only will survive, but thrive.

Here is what I came up with for my personal goals:
(I'm sure you have heard them all from me before)
  • Exercise faith like Nephi by looking at the eternal perspective and seeking guidance from my Father in Heaven.
  • Pray and seek the scriptures daily.
  • Have a positive attitude and not murmur like Leman and Lemuel.
  • Exercise every day.
  • Look for ways to serve others.
I am so grateful for the inspiration I receive as a mother. I could not teach my family without this guidance. I am grateful for The Book of Mormon that teaches me valuable lessons in my life.