Monday, March 30, 2009

Why are you looking at me?

So, there is kind of a reason why my blog has been so quiet lately. You see, pregnancy hormones tend to magnify some aspects of my personality to make me extra pensive, extra sensitive, extra analytical, and extra, extra self-conscious... you get the picture. Most of my thoughts are a bit less than optimistic, and they all seem to be centered around my own little head.

I try to keep my blog as honest and balanced as possible - posting the bad along with the good - the deep feelings countered by the light-hearted joy I find in living every day life. seems that the light-heartedness of my life is kind of swallowed up in this ugly self-consciousness as my mind tries to make room for the new hormones soaring through my body. And so, I suppose I've kind of adopted good old Thumper's advice "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all."

Anyway, I promise to try not to overwhelm you with my thoughts over the next three months. :)

...But, I have been thinking...

I read a post by my friend, Cindy Lynn, that addressed this problem of self-consciousness on a physical level. It was fantastically written (like her thoughts always are!), and it totally inspired the rest of this post.


When I was in high school, I took an elective physiology course. One day, after the bell, Mr. Feltch said, "Put your thinking caps on! We're going to be talking about some pretty complicated stuff today, and I want you to pay attention."

We went on to learn about how a signal is transmitted from the brain to a muscle to cause it to contract. I was enthralled! That day ignited in me a burning fascination with the human body - and it was the start of my journey to eventually getting my degree in human biology from BYU. There's nothing quite like the respect I feel when I start concentrating on my breathing, or my heartbeat, or my contracting muscles, or the images coming in through my eyes, or the deep scratch on my left hand that I know will heal itself. My body is amazing.

And yet, somehow I forget this during the very time my body is doing it's most remarkable thing: assisting God in creating another breathtaking human body. I start focusing on the extra fat puffing out my face and sides, the extra water swelling my feet and hands, the extra pimples gracing my face and shoulders...

I forget all about the miracle of muscles.

A couple of nights ago I wondered, "How do you think this makes God feel?" Here he has blessed me with this intricate tabernacle - just perfect for my spirit - and I'm focusing on all the wrong things. It's kind of like looking at the magnificent mountains of Hawaii and getting distracted by one fallen tree branch stuck at the base of one of the most beautiful vines you've ever seen...and focusing on that ugly, dead tree branch until you've forgotten all about the mountains. I imagine it's slightly offensive to God. Or, at the very least, frustrating.

Hawaii 2008
Well, yesterday and today I have felt thankful for my body. Imperfections and all. If I can just keep this perspective somehow, maybe I'll learn how to overcome the physical side of my self-consciousness.

(Now - if I could only learn a neat trick to get myself out of my emotional self-consciousness, as well...)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tender Emotions

A funeral was held in our church today for a stillborn baby girl and I was in charge of organizing much of it. We didn't know much about the family - just that they were related to a newly activated family in our ward. But as I got to know them, and talked with them about their experiences, I remembered, once again, how grateful I am to have the knowledge the gospel brings to my life.

I suppose it was inevitable that my emotions would be stirred up as I remembered my own stillborn son. Jess Samuel. Though I think about him often, I rarely mention his name out loud. Though I still cry myself to sleep some nights, I try to keep my tears to myself. Though my experiences make up a great portion of who I am today, I don't share them much. Only my journal and a (very) few close friends and family members know the details of my grief, and only my own heart knows the depth of it.

I feel like Jess, and the experiences I went through with him, are enclosed in a small bubble in my heart. I protect that bubble because if it's popped, I would not only dissolve into a weepy mess, but I fear that I would forget some of the most important lessons that were learned as the contents of the bubble freely spilled into unexplored crevices and dark areas of my heart. But it's hard, sometimes, to feel like a portion of my life needs to be guarded. The walls protecting that tender bubble need to be maintained and strengthened as chinks get taken out of it by unfeeling comments, and unbelieving attitudes. By people who don't seem to care, and by those who demean my grief.

I guess nothing could have prepared me for the funeral today which left those walls as rubble - leaving my delicate bubble exposed.

I tried to run from the chapel - to regain myself, and repair the walls a bit. But I was stopped on the way by a small circle of women from the church who, with tears streaming down their faces, asked how I was doing. Their concerned eyes told me that they remembered what happened almost four years ago, and the sincerity of their question left me no option but to fall into one of their shoulders and cry. Most of these women were seasoned with the experience that age brings...and they handled my delicate situation with grace and love, understanding and, most of all, support. As I cried with them, I found myself wishing my mom was there. Wishing I could cry with her...but I felt so, so blessed to have these other women there to provide the same sort of support my mom would have - even if it wasn't quite the same. I was so touched by those women who rallied around to love me on a day that was not even about me.

I felt the bubble in my heart expanding as - instead of air being blown through the wand - love, and support, and gratitude slowly blew in. They'll probably never know how much I needed them today. They'll probably never know that they took something as fragile as a bubble and lovingly expanded it into something that's even more worth guarding - because now I know not only of the Savior's love for me, but of the love that can come from my sisters in the gospel. It won't be long before the walls are rebuilt - but I've learned that taking them down, sometimes, can be just what I need.

I have a lot of gratitude in my heart tonight for all the caring people in my life. I have great parents, fun siblings, a wonderful husband, sweet children, good friends, and strong Relief Society sisters that help make trials like this bearable.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.