My Ireland Trip: May 7 at sunrise

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When I woke to the sun coming through my gorgeous B&B, I couldn’t stay in bed any longer. I dressed quickly, donned a Gibson Girl hairstyle for the occasion, and stepped into the morning sun. The dew still danced on the grass and the sunrise was golden over the silver water.

Crossing the small road, I walked onto a tall bridge that overlooked the water and there stood Queen Victoria, built by the same company that built the Lusitania, bathed in the light.

Since I was about thirteen years old, I have commemorated both the sinking of the Titanic and the sinking of the Lusitania. My mother even let me stay home from school once or twice on May 7, and it has always been my special day of writing. I spend time thinking about the passengers of the liner and what they may have experienced, writing about the sinking, studying about it, and every now and then, feeling it so deeply my heart shook. I never imagined that I would be in Ireland in 2015. I dreamed of it, sure, but the realist in me didn’t want the romantic in me to raise my hopes too much.

But there I was. Overlooking the same land where the survivors of the disaster touched solid ground again and where a few of the victims were buried in it. I listened to my Lusitania soundtrack–the same soundtrack I’ve listened to for thirteen years and sat on a bench, smelling the salty air and noticing the clear sky–the only clear sky of my nine days in Ireland. Through all my study and all my imagining, the disaster never seemed quite as tangible as it did then. Suddenly the characters in my stories, the real people, became real to me. I felt like Brock Lovett,  when he said, “I never got it. I never let it in.”

That morning, I let it in, and to this day I feel changed. Changed because the disaster has so much to offer, so much to teach, so much for us to remember. Twelve hundred people died; 761 survived and were never the same again. All because of a war. And while who is at fault is not exactly clear–except for the man who shot the torpedo–what is clear is the painful damage that war brings. What good has ever come out of a war? The Lusitania disaster was one of the first modern examples of innocent civilians being murdered for the profit of war. Pearl Harbor was next, then Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, countless others.

Sitting on the shore 100 years later, I was overwhelmed by the tragedy of human nature, and the knowledge that even through all that, human kind continues to trudge forward. And I prayed that one day we could learn from our mistakes.

Miss Possible: Overcoming the Self-Imposed Barriers to Education

Trafalgar Square

The only thing better than education is more education.

– Agnes E. Benedict

I just completed my first online course, Computer Science 101. When I found out Stanford University offers the course free, I couldn’t say no. The course covered very basic information about coding, spreadsheets, networking, and computer security.

I am now planning to take as many free courses online as I can. I have just signed up for the “How to Learn Math” course from Stanford, and four courses on Coursera.

Education is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and a great way to show love. If I ask my husband the question, “What would you do if you had a billion dollars?” His answer is never buy a house or never work again, but always, “I’d learn everything I can. Take every class on every topic–become a Renaissance Man.”

I have always admired that about him, his desire to learn and do something new. He has been a wedding photographer, graphic designer, a reupholsterer, a DIYer, a chef, a painter, an artist, and a computer programmer. He inspires me.

You know who else inspires me? Other women, like the two above who are creating dolls like Marie Curie or this commercial. How different would my life be if instead of getting Barbies and baby dolls, I would have received engineering toys? Growing up, I always preferred boy’s toys to girl’s. What if there was no distinction between the two? Boys could play with dolls and girls with legos or vice versa.

From the time I can remember, I believed, truly believed, that girls are just bad at math and science (something in our brain or in the extra X chromosome?), so whenever the subjects came up in school, I had an excuse not to excel. I excelled in every other subject, but math and science, I threw my hands in the air because, you know, I’m a girl.

Thinking about this, I started to feel bad about the missed opportunities. How I chose English instead of computers in college when I had a passion for HTML and CSS. English was amazing and opened so many doors for learning, but I could have excelled in computers as well.

I may not be a little girl any more. I may not be a college student with an opportunity to choose any major I want, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop learning. I don’t have to feel bad, but remember that I can learn until I die. I hope that even when I’m 90, I’ll be reading and keeping up with the ever-changing technological world, maybe playing the newest video game.

Education knows no age or gender, so maybe instead of spending an hour on Pinterest, I can spend an hour on Coursera, or better yet, close my computer and open a book (gasp!).

 

Two of My Favorite Parenting Books

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 9.39.44 PM When I first found out I was pregnant and for the entire nine months afterward, I spent hours a day pouring over every pregnancy, baby, and parenting book I could get my hands on (does every first-time parent do this?). Instead of tossing and turning with my big belly and sciatica (okay, I did a lot of this too), I was mesmerized by my bright iPod screen and the Kindle app reading books like Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and The Baby Book.

Those books were great for preparing for my baby’s physical needs, but didn’t do much for preparing me for raising him, especially for dealing with “the terrible twos”–which I actually didn’t believe existed. It does. The books also didn’t help much with dealing with postpartum depression. After studying and reading a variety of books, blogs, and exploring different parenting paradigms, I’ve discovered a truth that my father-in-law, who taught family psychology at BYU-Idaho for 30 years and holds a PhD in Educational Psychology, had already tried to teach me:

Parenting books should be about the parent, not the child.

A majority of parenting issues arise not because a child misbehaves, but because the parent holds negative energy from his or her own childhood that prevents real connection, connection with the self and by that same token, connection with the child. And while I am certainly no expert on this subject, the lessons I’ve learned from these two books have helped me immensely to learn how to protect and honor my child’s spirit while discovering my own. It’s an amazing and difficult journey to recognize that your child has a soul. He (or she) does not belong to you. He is his own being, his own person, that you have the privilege of teaching and your child will teach you.

If you are interested in exploring these ideas further, check out Dr. Shefali Tsabury’s website and her Ted Talk. I’ve posted a clip from her interview with Oprah before. Watch it if you haven’t already. I believe the things she teaches are key to discovering your own self and by doing so, to helping your child discover his.

Here are two books that have helped me on my journey of self-discovery and in turn have helped me become more aware as I discipline and teach my own son.

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Compassionate Childrearing by Robert W. Firestone “It is vital for us to remember that children are not our possessions; they are not ours in the proprietary sense of the word; rather they belong to themselves and have the right to an independent existence” (17).

Perhaps the most painful book I’ve ever read, Compassionate Childrearing continues to be my teacher. My father-in-law recommends it as the one and only parenting book you ever need.

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The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabury

“It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life?” (read more quotes here)

I plan to write an in-depth book review of this eye-opening book, but until I do, let me just say that Tsabury’s ideas are transformative. They focus on bringing awareness to not only the parent-child relationship, but also the relationship you have with yourself.

As a mother of a two-year-old and an expert at research, I am certainly no expert at parenting, but the above books have given me tools that I had been completely unaware even existed. If you are a struggling parent–or just want to learn more about yourself–I recommend them because they’ve helped me delve into myself in ways that continue to change me daily.

That said, I am always looking for more books to read. Comment below and recommend some for me.

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Greatest Love Story: Learning to Love Yourself

Caspar David Friedrich
“Woman Before the Rising Sun” Caspar David Friedrich

 

 

I made a realization yesterday: Loving yourself is essential to good health.

I’ve had many encounters with bad health from TB to chronic bronchitis to many others. After a particularly difficult time in January, I began to wonder if some of my sicknesses were spiritually or emotionally connected. This one thought led me to try healing my soul before I tried healing my body. I buried my nose in books (I’m good at that) and sought professional help. This blog has been such a great place for me to share so many things about my little life in my little trailer with my little family, and I think it will also be a good place for me to record what I’ve been learning.

One thing I’ve learned through this journey is that there may not be any real truth. Truth is, after all, relative to upbringing, culture, family, hormones, neurons, blocked energy, etc., but there is one compass I can count on, most of the time.

Quiet. Solitude. Meditation. Prayer.

All rolled up into one it creates a pretty amazing weapon. Because only one person really knows what you’re going through. Only one person will be with you throughout your entire life.

You.

So you better love her or him. You better spend some quality time together. Be still. Feel your heartbeat. Admire the way your feet touch the ground, the way your eyes process color, and consider what makes you really laugh–even if it’s silly old slapstick.

I’ve spent most of my life fantasizing and obsessing over some of the world’s greatest love stories. As a teenager I even naively prayed for a great romantic love story–but maybe it wasn’t so naive because I’m starting to believe that the greatest love story you can have is with yourself.

Hm. Gives “living romantically” a whole new meaning.

Thirty by 30

When I went to school at BYU-Idaho, my first semester I got a job as a student secretary in the English Department. As a freshman who had never had a job before, I was totally terrified and completely out of my element. I had talent, yes, but how to use it? No idea.

Then I met Zan, a senior with way more talent, much more experience with life, and a Ninja Turtles backpack. She spent time with me at the computer teaching me how to hone my limited skills with Paint Shop Pro into using Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. Sadly, we barely got to work together at all, but she obviously left a lasting impression on me, then again when she returned a few years later to teach at the University with a Masters, and then again when she left for Ireland to pursue even more education.

And now she has done it again. Following her on Instagram, I noticed something. #zans30by30. Thirty things to do in the 30 days before she turns thirty. I have two and a half years until I turn thirty, but her list made me think of a list I made a year ago detailing what I want to do by the time I’m thirty. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll share it with the internet world or not, but suffice it to say, that I’m working on many goals in the next two and a half years. Some big (like sewing a quilt, a goal I’ve had for years) and some small (like reading more). Though I think the latter will be much bigger than any of the others since I am pursuing it the most right now.

So if you see more book reviews/a photo of a quilt/Owen’s baby book finally completed, just realize it is me keeping track of my thirty by 30.