Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ha, ha... quote to start my week off well!

"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month" - Anonymous

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My light-bulb experience this week and awesome quote!

This week I had the eye-opening, light bulb going off in the head, experience!

I work part-time as an elementary counselor. This year I mostly work with Kindergarten students. For the past several weeks we have been talking about "strong feelings", particularly feeling angry. We've talked about what events might trigger us to choose to become angry (notice it's a CHOICE!), how our body feels and reacts when we are angry, and what we can do to calm down.

Now, let me just add, I teach the same weekly lesson AT LEAST 10 times a week every week all relating to the same topic even though each lesson takes it from a different angle. I could probably recite the lessons in my head without my notes! (so you'd think I could apply them in my life too... hah!)

This unit was brought on by a request from mostly the teachers. Hitting and name calling is a BIG problem this year. Kids are becoming more and more aggressive. Someone hits me, makes me angry in some way, or calls me a name, BOOM - let's get 'em right back! Each time "upping the anty" a bit until someone else intervenes (usually a teacher). It's discouraging for adults to watch and some of the kids are LITERALLY afraid to be anywhere NEAR some of the kids in their class!

To me, it's simple and I've been bewildered by some of the stories I hear. Why can't the child go and get a teacher's help before replying? Why can't he/she just calm down first and THINK before acting? Why can't he/she see that violence and mean replies DO NOT solve the problem? HA - well, Cara, that's because you're not in the situation and you're also a bit older and SHOULD hopefully be a bit more mature :)

Well, I learned this week I have not been learning from my own lessons as much as I would like! Someone I love very much received an email this week (or a few emails) that were very hurtful and attacking. The person receiving this email is innocent of charges being made and has bent over backwards trying to support this other person making the attacks. When I read the emails that were sent I wanted to IMMEDIATELY reply with a nasty email. How DARE they hurt this person I love with FALSE accusations and also spread their FALSE accusations with others to hurt this person's reputation? I wanted to jump right in and ATTACK!!!

Fortunately, I did take some time. Fortunately, I did think about how to reply. Fortunately, I was a third party and not the recipient of the terrible accusations (because if not, I think I would have acted poorly!). But, anyway, I realized I needed to apply my own lessons in my life. I needed to calm down and think about the best way to handle the situation and what helpful advice I could give to the person being accused.

It SUCKS to be in that situation. Sometimes people are just DOWN-RIGHT mean and IT SUCKS that you can't change their actions. You feel powerless. You feel hurt/betrayed. UGH - it's a TERRIBLE feeling. (and I wasn't even the direct recipient!) You WANT to do something, but there is NOTHING you can do to change the other person. NOTHING. Until that person decides to change themselves.

That's a hard part of life. Hard lesson to learn. Gut-wrenching in some cases. But, that's where the gospel perspective of hope and faith come in. That's where the Love of the Savior and the Atonement come in. But, it's still hard! When someone attacks YOU it's hard to just shrug it off and turn the other cheek. SO HARD! But, as I teach my students, does hitting back solve the problem? No! It only makes it worse. UGH - it looks like the lessons I am teaching these little ones are ones I CAN APPLY to my own life... for my ENTIRE life. It never gets any easier... whether you're 5 or 55. But, hopefully you learn some things along the way :)

And, now I have a better understanding of why some of these kids have a really hard time controlling their actions when someone hurts them verbally or physically.

And, yesterday I read this quote to add to my light bulb experience:
"That HE may know how to succor..."
"Can we, even in the depths of disease, tell Him anything at all about suffering? In ways we cannot comprehend, our sickness and infirmities were born by Him even before they were borne by us. The very weight of our combined sins caused Him to descend below all. We have never been, or will be, in depths such as He has known. Thus His atonement made perfect His empathy and His mercy and His capacity to succor us, for which we can be everlastingly grateful as He tutors us in our trials...And when we feel alone, can we presume to teach Him... anything at all about feeling forsaken? Should we seek to counsel Him in courage? Should we rush forth eagerly to show Him our... scratches and bruises as He bears His five special wounds? .... Indeed, we cannot teach Him anything! But we can listen to Him. We can love Him; we can honor Him; we can worship Him. We can keep His commandments. and we can feast upon His scriptures."
Elder Neal A Maxwell

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A post to all the beautiful women I know... who sometimes doubt that they are beautiful in every way!

Okay - so many of you know that I really don't like driving. I think it's because I do so much of it and I get tired of sitting, tired of drivers who don't know how to drive, tired of traffic, and I get VERY tired of some of the trash on the radio!

Whether it's "morning show" hosts or just lyrics I don't need to hear, I get frustrated and antsy. This became very clear to me in Boston. There was a station that I used to be a faithful listener of. The morning show hosts were funny (or so I thought at the time)! I liked the beat of the music as well! But, one day I realized that I was laughing at jokes I really shouldn't be listening to, and many of the songs had lyrics I didn't need to hear. I wanted to be feeling uplifted and rejuvenated when I got to work or home... and I wasn't. I noticed many times how the lyrics affected my attitude - and not for the good. There were also times I knew I wouldn't want a child to hear what was being played or talked about... so it made me think - WHY was I listening?!

So, then I went on a kick where I just played my ipod or drove in silence. It was good and I definitely recommend it, but then I moved to DC and a whole new world opened up to me when I discovered
WGTS 91.9 FM

I immediately fell in LOVE with this station. Yes, some might call it a "gospel music" station and there are stereotypes that go along with that. But, I challenge anyone to a 91.9 minute challenge! Listen to this station one day for 91.9 minutes (break it up in small chunks -totally doable) and see if you're day and your attitude in life aren't changed for the better!

Whether it's the positive thought of the day they give every morning, the uplifting thoughts about life and God/Jesus, or just the lyrics (not to mention the beat of the music), I guarantee you will walk away a happier, uplifted person.

Who is going to be worse off for hearing phrases like:
"Don't forget why you are here on this earth.
There is a purpose only you can do.",
"Never give up HOPE",
"Thank GOD for each day",
"Be strong in the Lord", etc...

This station has changed my outlook on driving and that's no small feat! Ok - so I'd still rather not be driving and just listening at home or work, but it's had a profound affect on my attitude while driving.

I even have it on at the house when I am with the kids! I have noticed a difference playing this music over the top 40's helps to have less contention and generally, happier more content kids!

Ok - so yes, you get the occasional preacher telling you what you need to do to be "saved" and how we need to "find Jesus"... and while I don't necessarily believe some of their messages, the general idea/thought is what counts.

So, back to my reason for this post. This morning I was driving to church (yes, it's 30 minutes away when there is a chapel about 8 minutes from my house!!) and they did an interview with Jonny Diaz who wrote "More Beautiful You". I've heard this song before, but never connected the message!

He wrote it for women, especially young teenage girls, who can be SO influenced by the world and the world's view of what makes them beautiful! I was blown away by the powerful influence this song has as you listen to the lyrics and hearing a story about his wife and why he wrote it for her. The link to the video is below. (who knows how to embed it in posts? I am so bad with technology!!) Listen to it. It's got a good beat, but wow - I want to share this song with all the amazing and beautiful women I know!... and some of the girls I work with who are in 3rd grade and already commenting on how they wish their body was different :(

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake
And she’s always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you
dont buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you’ve already done
Anything to get ahead
And you say you’ve got a man but he’s got another plan
Only wants what you will do instead

Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come
You starve yourself to play the part
But I can promise you there’s a man whose love is true
And he’ll treat you like the jewel you are

There could never be a more beautiful you
dont buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

So turn around you’re not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path go another way
It’s not too late you can be saved
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the one who’s strong can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light He will show you truth
And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl

There could never be a more beautiful you
dont buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you
There could never be,
a more beautiful you. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More on George... and GREAT advice on life and relationships!

So, I've been studying the Ten Commandments recently and reading articles about each one. I naively thought that I was very successful in following the majority of the commandments... and I am when I read them word for word, literally. But, recently I was challenged to REALLY study each one and see how I can apply and EXTEND its meaning into my life.

For instance, one commandment is: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (Exodus 20:4). Yep - got that one covered. No graven images in my room! But, digging deeper, I can see how idolatry may take many forms. I do not bow before graven images or statues, but need to examine my life and see if I, at times, instead replace the living God with other idols, such as money, material possessions, ideas, or prestige. In their lives, “their treasure is their god”—a god that “shall perish with them” (2 Nephi 9:30). For me, a new application and something to think about...

Back to George and the reason for the post! Today I ran across an article from one of the former prophets of our church entitled "Honor." The intended audience was the youth of the church at that time, but I know its message applies to me to!

In the article he referenced George Washington. My new fascination of studying the life of this man was again renewed today by reading this quote from The Making of George Washington by William H. Wilbur (1973).

“At a very early age George was required to memorize the Ten Commandments. His mother found time to see to this.

...“August [George’s father] did his part by explaining the meaning of the Ten Commandments. He made it crystal clear that a member of the Washington family does not lie, does not steal, does not cheat. The lesson was well learned; Washington’s whole life exemplified these precepts” (Wilbur, p. 71). I think this is very admirable and I agree that his life exemplified this. I imagine his father sitting him down and not beating around the bush by covering "gray areas." "This is it", he must have said. "It's black and white. No if's and's or but's!"

Later in the book, a chapter entitled “Age Fifteen” has a fabulous statement on the relationship of young men with women. Counsel given to young George by his brother Lawrence:

“The Lord gave most of us a wonderful body, George. He gave you a particularly remarkable one. EVERY part of it was devised and created by the Lord for a particular purpose. He made you different from a woman so that later you could find a fine woman, make her your wife, and produce children. Real happiness can be found only in family life with a good woman. …

“If the woman you choose is not a person of high moral standards, is not true to you, your life will be a miserable one. I believe it is equally true that a woman cannot find happiness with a man who is not true to her...."

He then goes on to give some dating advice to young George with the point of reminding him to seek for a pure and virtuous young woman and one who holds her standards high... and then it ends with this quote which I also LOVE!

“If you find it hard to keep your thoughts in line, go out and run a mile, a longer distance if necessary. Or go out and do some strenuous physical work. …

“Be the master of your body; be the Captain of your ship!” (Wilbur, pp. 135–37).

The power of exercise or even strenuous work can do miracles for our thoughts! Even ones that are just negative. I've discovered in my life that if I am in a bad mood, if I do something physical for even 20 minutes, I find that my perspective completely changes! And, it's a lot better than the option I still (unfortunately) choose at times - drinking a diet coke instead! Caffeine can change my outlook on life as well, but I'd rather have the exercise and I know the Lord and my body would too!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I saw these pictures on another blog... and just had to share.

They make me feel much better about the cold air. If this can happen when it's cold, I can learn to deal with it (but only for a few months :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

New way to approach goal-setting

So, I really love people who think outside the box and share their thoughts with others :)

I don't think I do it very often, so when someone says something to me that seems BRILLIANT, I am so GRATEFUL!

This happened in a class at my new ward on Sunday. The teacher was giving a lesson on setting and achieving goals. (a pretty typical topic for this time of year... and one lesson I have heard many times!) But, she made a point of saying: "Okay - many of us have evaluated our lives this past week and have set goals. Many of us have also broken those goals already or are afraid we're going to fail in the long-run." So, then she proceeded to explain how you take your long-term goal, but break it down day by day or week by week. What SMALL thing can you do today to get one step closer to your final goal!


What one thing can I accomplish this week,
or this day to get closer to meeting my goal
or changing some habit, etc.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year, New Apartment - finally have a HOME again!

Well, I just have to blog about how GRATEFUL I am for my new HOME. Yes, it finally feels like I have a place I can call "home" here in DC.

I have been thinking a bit about that word these past few days because my feelings about my new place are so drastic (literally, I could cry about how much I love it and how comforting it is) from my last apartment where I lived for 4 months.

What makes something a "Home"? Or, what makes something feel like a "Home"? Since June, I have also been living with the family I nanny for (or, I have a room there with 1/4 of all my stuff!) Technically, it meets the requirements of a real "home" and they are a wonderful and generous family. But, I could never call it "My Home." So, I was excited to move at the end of August into a townhouse in Arlington (called Fairlington). Life there was like living in the movie "Pleasantville." Ha, seriously - NOT JOKING! Everything looks the same (all streets and all houses). People walk their dogs and nothing bad ever happens (right!)

But, it was about a month before I ever slept there. Nothing about it ever really felt like "Home" to me even though I really, really tried. I've been thinking about why. My roommates are nice (knew one from Boston). But, I never even really unpacked my things. I think the place (and def. my room) were too small (seemed like a large closet to me). The kitchen was very tiny and I just felt like I had no where to put my stuff, so why unpack it?! It was also just missing... something. Not a tangible thing... but something I could not quite put my finger on... until NOW.

I rarely slept there... ever. It was basically a place to go when I felt like the family I also lived with needed some family time (or I needed some quiet time!)

I NEVER REALIZED how much my feelings would change when I moved into my new place. It was a little bit of a drama over the past few weeks. I had decided to move into another place, sold my contract, but then backed out of that other place for a few reasons. Technically, this left me literally "homeless" again, BUT I was amazed at how peaceful I felt about it. I know everything would work out somehow... even though I could NOT see the end from where I was (and that USUALLY scares the bejeebees out of me!)

But, the LORD has truly blessed me. Through a random series of events, I have moved into a new apartment complex with one other girl who seems to be REALLY great! I have a BEAUTIFUL room three times the size of my last, 2 closets with full length mirrors (!!! never had that before!) and my own bathroom. I am teary just thinking about how grateful I am to live here as I look around my new room!

My move was at a VERY UNIDEAL time. Many friends were out of town and I had to move on the night of the 31st (in between rain storms!)!! Ha, ha. What a way to ring in the new year. But, it worked out and the Lord has blessed me immensely! More than I could ever say, but can proudly bear testimony of - THAT HE is aware of me individually and answers my prayers and opens doors when everything seems closed.

HE also has blessed me with an ANGEL mother who was here with me for the entire thing and has helped me become settled in my new "Home".

So, no conclusion on what makes one place feel like a "home" and what doesn't. But, I think of a scripture (D&C 88:119) where it says to "organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." Even though this is also talking about the temple, I feel like this new "house" will be many of those things for me and I am SO GRATEFUL
for that!


Friday, January 1, 2010

George Washington: An Amazing and Admirable Man

George Washington
What an amazing man and leader!

Martha - An INCREDIBLE woman!

As mentioned, my plan this holiday season was to be out and about taking advantage of all this area has to offer (holiday events or otherwise). Mt. Vernon has been on my list since I moved here in June!

Since my mom came to DC to help me move this week (save that story for another post!), we took advantage of each day and have done some fun things (like seeing another holiday concert at the temple visitor center and getting massages!). Mt. Vernon was a must this week as well.

The weather wasn't the best, but it was the only day we could go when it wasn't going to be raining/sleeting/snowing! It was cold and WINDY!!! The sun was out, but it gave me flashbacks to that BRUTAL Boston wind that just goes right through you to you core! Ugh... I shudder with memories!

We were at Mt. Vernon for 3.5 hours and didn't see HALF of what is there. You can spend a whole day!! (So I got a year membership. If you go 2 times during the year it more than pays for itself. And, since I just moved, my new ward building is literally 2 miles from this place. What a great thing to do after church on Sunday!) The grounds are beautiful and it's right by the river.

We went to tour the house first and had to wait outside for about 20 min. It was worth it though.

Picture of front of house. Quite LARGE for 1700's!

Building on left is his house. Building on right is the kitchen. But, I love looking through this walkway and observing how far they could see out their backyard! The river and the mountains! GORGEOUS!
A closer view of their backyard view!
Kitchen. Wow, I have enough trouble cooking
in a modern kitchen with modern appliances :)
A GINGERBREAD replica of the house.
Very cute and festive I thought.
Only slightly better than the gingerbread
train I did with the kiddies!

I learned so much about George Washington that I never knew before (or maybe, just that I was actually paying attention this time!) I knew he was our nation's first president, but it was so interesting to learn about his childhood and the events that formed his life.

He was a man of character and pursued his dreams and goals. He didn't let others tell him what he was and wasn't capable of. He had high morals and values and wasn't afraid to stand for them. (I think he would have been a GREAT MORMON!!) He loved his wife and wasn't afraid to hide his love for her from others. Some of the letters he wrote his wife from the battlefields could be published in a romance novel! He treated his slaves with respect and with every ounce of dignity that was possible at that time. He had a variety of interests and one thing I TRULY love about him was that he wasn't out for his own benefit. He SINCERELY cared about others and our nation and did what he could to help us be FREE! He wasn't looking for recognition. He desired to do what was right and to help others! Love this man!

Martha deserves a lot of credit as well! I sincerely admire her as well. You can't have a great man without an equally great and admirable woman by his side, can you?!

She was a single mother before marrying George and her life became very complex as he grew in ranks in the military and government! She ran a LARGE household (and was often left for months or years at a time when he was off fighting the war or serving in government. To be with him, she would go and serve the troops under his command. Her undying love for and continuous support of her husband (even after he passes away) is truly notable and admirable! I admire her strength, courage and conviction. I can't wait to read more about her life!

I can't wait to go back to Mt. Vernon :)