Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Freedom in "Keeping it Real"

 



A number of years ago I looked around my home at the chaos that raising 6 kids had created. Goldfish crackers on the couch, discarded socks, a pile of shoes by the door, dishes in the sink left over from baking cookies the night before and taking center stage were props we were creating for an upcoming high school production. On a whim, I turned on my camera to record the state of affairs and uploaded the video to Instagram. The caption read “Keeping It Real”.

 

I learned something in that moment. My baring it all for the world (or my small number of IG friends) to see was freeing. But more importantly, it was freeing for other people. Almost within seconds I was getting comments and messages from other moms saying, “thank you! My house looks just like this!” It’s as if by showing 60 seconds of real life, I allowed space for admitting that life is messy. It's imperfect. It’s real, and often, it’s pretty mediocre.

 

We live in a world full of big ideas. Constantly, we are encouraged to be better, live larger, dare more, reach higher. All are great concepts, but I fear that when taken in the aggregate they can produce the opposite results of what we want, or more importantly what is healthy for us. Too often perfection (or the pursuit of it) looms over us and instead of becoming better, we feel we are falling behind, missing out, or not measuring up. What if instead of trying to look, act, or be perfect, we instead embraced the mediocre?

 

At this point, some of you probably want to stop reading. You wouldn’t be the first. In fact, years ago I was asked to write an article on raising children for a parenting website. I titled it “Mediocrity, Let’s Celebrate.” The editors hated it.  Their feedback stated, “While we love the article, we don’t think the title is the type of message we want to send to our readers.” I was disappointed but I understood. The concept of mediocrity isn’t inspiring. It’s not sexy. It’s certainly not popular. But, what if, by understanding it, it allows for the freedom to let go of perfection and to let real life in? What if by recognizing that we will be great at very few things, but good enough at loads of others, we create space for adventure, compassion and grace for ourselves and others? What if by “keeping it real” we become better parents, spouses, friends, citizens and human beings?   

 

Over the next several weeks I’m going to dive into this idea of “keeping it real.” I hope that by doing so I learn more about myself and others. Perhaps in the messy, mundane, everyday life, great joy and purpose it to be found. I hope you join me.

 

Mediocrity—Let’s Celebrate!




Monday, August 24, 2020

Election Year Drama: Finding a Candidate Who Is "Honest, Good, and Wise"

WHO SHOULD I VOTE FOR??

I have friends and family on both sides of the political spectrum with very strong opinions about who they (and apparently I ) should vote for in the upcoming presidential election. Personally I have never before felt so strongly the weight of my vote. Not so much because I think it will make that big of a difference—living in a state that always swings democratic takes some of the pressure off—but because I feel a strong moral imperative to do my due diligence in supporting the person that I think is most fit for the job. 

Most of you know that I am a faithful (though imperfect) member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and as such I often seek counsel from scripture and leaders of our faith. As I have wrestled with my decision I sought guidance from our Church Handbook of Instruction which states: 

 

In accordance with the laws of their respective governments, members are encouraged to register to vote, to study issues and candidates carefully, and to vote for individuals whom they believe will act with integrity and sound judgment. Latter-day Saints have a special obligation to seek out, vote for, and uphold leaders who are honest, good, and wise (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:10).

While affirming the right of expression on political and social issues, the Church is neutral regarding political parties, political platforms, and candidates for political office. The Church does not endorse any political party or candidate. Nor does it advise members how to vote.

(https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/general-handbook/38-church-policies-and-guidelines?lang=eng#title_number178)

 

I take seriously this mandate and I take exception with those of my faith who profess to tell others how they should vote or make assertions that “faithful members” should vote for a particular candidate. I also believe that the counsel given could aptly apply not just to members of my faith, but to all who are participating in the voting process. After all, don’t we all want leaders who are “honest, good, and wise?”

 

The trick is trying to figure out exactly who that is. It’s no secret that the media is biased. (I joke that every day I read CNN and Fox News and then try to find the truth somewhere in the middle.) Numbers can be skewed, news clips are spliced together to present a biased viewpoint and the amount of factually wrong memes, youtube compilations and quotes that are making the rounds on social media is exhausting.

 

So where does that leave me? I decided that the most unbiased information I could get comes from, for lack of a better phrase, “straight from the horse’s mouth.” 


Enter, Twitter.

 

The beauty of Twitter is that these are tweets put out by the individual themselves. (I realize we could make a case that the tweets are molded and fashioned by writers or PR teams but unless I happen to get invited to brunch with President Trump or Joe Biden, this is the closest I can get to what they actually are saying.)

 

So I did a little research. And I found it super fascinating. I’m not going to tell you my thoughts on the candidates at this time—I don’t want to bias you. But there is something about reading exactly what each one of the puts out there that is quite eye opening. In all honesty, it’s been the most helpful thing I’ve found so far to help me in my quest to “seek out, vote for, and uphold leaders who are honest, good, and wise.”

 

Perhaps you are interested as well. If so, I’ve compiled the links I used here. Happy reading! 

 

Trump’s Current Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/potus?lang=en

Site that has categorized President Trump’s Tweets: http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com

Deleted Trump Tweets:

https://projects.propublica.org/politwoops/user/realDonaldTrump?page=2

 

Deleted Biden Tweets: https://projects.propublica.org/politwoops/user/JoeBiden?page=2

Archive of Biden’s Tweets from presidency: https://twitter.com/vp44?lang=en

Biden’s current tweets: https://twitter.com/JoeBiden?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

 

(I looked for a site that categorized Joe Biden’s tweets but have not yet found it. If you track one down, I would love to see it!)


Note: lest you think that I am strictly using Twitter as my voting barometer, rest assured that I'm studying up on the platforms and policies as well. But those Twitter feeds...they are fascinating...


*Photo Credit: Clouds In Bloom Photography

 

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Story of Hope. And Face Masks.

           

Let me tell you a story...It's a story of a group of people who in times of crisis came together to answer prayers, including mine...

As I write this we are on day 46 (?) of our quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic--the fact that this word is part of our everyday vocabulary is crazy to me, but here we are. It's affected nearly every aspect of our lives and each day as I look at an empty calendar and go on my near silent nightly walk, I am struck by just how drastically life can change. School is finished for the rest of the year, Kennedy's play (which she would have shined in) was cancelled (along with everything else) and Dave's work has drastically slowed. Mine is non-existent. To say things are unsettling would be an understatement. Not just for us, but for everyone.

Dave and I often talk about the idea that trials in our life make us stronger. It's not a new concept and we've seen it play out for us and our family. Heck, Dave even wrote a book  about it!  Perhaps it's because of those instances in our life that when this quarantine hit I decided we had to find some good to come of it.

It started in the form of sewing a few face masks.

Thanks to my near olympic ability to scroll for hours through Facebook I knew that there seemed to be some sort of need regarding face masks. I just had this feeling that I needed something to do and somewhere to channel my energy and serve so I rummaged through my meager craft supplies and then hit up my good friend Debra and my sister, Melinda and got to sewing. A few days later and a few FB posts later I found some friends that needed face masks and I found as I worked I was less worried, less stressed and a little happier.

Enter Pizza Hut. (Lisa Oliverio, I'm talking to you.)

Lisa, a big-wig in the Pizza Hut scene (and generous employer of many Morgan boys, for which we can't thank her enough) saw one of my posts and said she could use 200 face masks. 200! Now anyone that knows me knows that there is something about a big, seemingly impossible number that makes me...determined. (Who remembers the TP event of 2018??) Luckily, I have good friends who are in tune with promptings and this time was no different.

Barbara Rogers was on it.

As the head of our women's organization at church she had been looking for a service project for the women and their friends to participate in. (Also, she took pity on me and probably knew that given my meager sewing skills it was going to take me a looooong time to sew 200 face masks.) The woman was inspired because a day or so later "The SEWcial Distancing Club" was born. (name credit goes to Parker Morgan and thank heavens because Dave proposed calling it "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Face Masks").

If anyone is wondering about the power of a FB group, let me tell you about ours. Within a day or so we had 100 members. (We are now approaching 500!)  Friends and friends of friends who wanted to help. From the start we have been amazed to see women (and a few men) join the call to action. They have donated supplies, cut fabric, assembled packets and sewn and delivered face masks. How many you ask?

5426 as of this morning.

You read that right--over 5000 face masks which have been donated to over 50 organizations in our local community. Hospitals, clinics, assisted living homes, schools, homeless shelters, businesses, historical societies, and more. In fact, soon the entire Vancouver Police Department will be sporting masks from this group! And as we have worked we have seen miracles.

Our members tell us that their anxiety is removed. They report that their depression is lifted. Our club members talk about having a sense of community at a time when we are all isolated at home. Families are working together. Couples are delivering supplies and finished products. We hear stories of sisters cleaning out their mother's hope chest after her passing and finding brand new white sheets to donate to our cause because "it is what our mother would have wanted". Neighbors are cutting up their very own shirts to use as fabric because they want to contribute. Treats and supplies, and even dinner shows up on our door step right when they are needed. We are blessing the lives of the recipients of these masks but in the process, we are seeing that the true blessing comes to us that are serving.

If you have followed my blog you know that I've been struggling for a while to find my "purpose". After 28 years the last of our six children leaves home next year . I've prayed and prayed to know how to use my talents for a greater good. To find a way to feel fulfilled, but really to just contribute to the world at large.

This has been an answer to prayers. It's a testament to me that God is mindful. It's a reminder to me that He uses others to answer those pleas. I understand a little better about patience and "waiting on the Lord". And I've learned that people are good. So very good. For that, I am so very thankful.

And that goal of 200 face masks? Well, we've adjusted it a bit. 10,000 here we come!

*If you would like to join our cause (or even just follow our adventure) you can find us at:
SEWcial Distancing Club



Dave's Book: My God Hath Been My Support




Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The One Family Tradition We've Managed To Follow Through With


I should preface this post by saying that as far as family traditions go, we are a little bit on the slow bike in the back. Meaning, I've never been great at consistently remembering to actually follow through on most traditions. The tooth fairy? By kid #3 we were simply handing dollar bills out like candy. Elf on the shelf? The only year we were truly successful was the year Jordan took over elf duties--and terrified the rest of the house. (I mean how does one rearrange someone's entire bedroom while his brother is sleeping in the bed??) Birthday festivities? Uh...can I Venmo you $50? My intentions are good but either due to lack of creativity or commitment I often fall short in the traditions category.

However, there is one tradition that we started years ago that has remained in force and it's probably my favorite. In what I am sure was a moment of inspiration--either from heaven or Pinterest (maybe they are one in the same?) we instituted our "Book of Mormon Time Capsule" and last night was our latest unveiling. The concept is simple: in 2005 as our family started our next read through of  The Book of Mormon, we created a family time capsule. It included our own "gold plates" (which were really silver and held each of our testimonies) along with a few mementos to represent that time of life. Then each time we finish another read through, we open up our time capsule, read over our memories and start the process over again. It has been such a joy (and is also hilarious) to see how our testimonies have grown, whether our predictions have come true, and to remember what we were up to. As it usually takes us at least 2 years to finish a read thru (don't judge us, we are a work in progress) there are usually some big changes that happen and often a few surprises. (A prediction that Trump would be impeached?? Who knew?? Oh wait--I did...)



Over the years we have included the following:

  • Our testimonies
  • Predictions for where we will be and what we will be up to the next time we open the capsule
  • Christmas lists
  • Family Home Evening Lessons
  • Medals/Awards
  • Newspapers and Yearbooks
  • Pictures/drawings
  • Random offerings that we wish we would have labeled--why are there candy hearts in there??



              

             
In case you want to start something similar I offer a few tips:
  • Date everything!!! (This seems like common sense, but...)
  • Sort each "opening" by clipping it together, putting it in a ziplock, etc. (Again it SEEMS like common sense, but...)
  • Label WHY something is in there. (Those candy hearts had some significance but nobody can remember what that is...)
  • Be creative!

We didn't realize when we started this project just how much joy it would bring over the years. There are so many moments in our lives that we think we will remember and yet time has a way of dimming those memories. I feel like this capsule captures the heart of our crazy little family--the emotions, the thoughts, the wit (after all Parker predicted he would "get swoll" and Carter predicted "Jim and Pam will finally get married), the hopes and plans for the future. So the Morgans might not win any contests for the amount or complexity of family traditions, but for us this one is a success.

*For those of you not familiar with the Book of Mormon, more info can be found here: Book of Mormon Info





Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Best of TV (According To My Sources)


In my quest to find my purpose I've been sidetracked. And the culprit is "Poldark". Have you seen this show??? I have a serious love/hate relationship but it did provide some mindless distraction for a while. (But WHY IN HEAVEN'S NAME does Ross keep going over to Trendwith??  WHY?????) 

Here's the thing--at the Morgan house we are creatures of habit which means we tend to watch the same series and the same episodes over and over. (In fact as I type this we are watching an episode of Seinfeld that I could probably recite by heart.) 

I decided it was time to broaden my TV viewing, but what to watch? So much to choose from and so much that is garbage. And so, I turned to the best place I know to get advice: Facebook.

And friends, FB provided. Or more accurately my awesome FB friends did! So many suggestions and now it seems I have a lot of TV to get to. For those of you that expressed interest in getting the list I complied from the 166 (1) comments, here you go:

Castle
Call the Midwife
Gilmore Girls
Hart of Dixie
Kim’s Convenience (Netflix)
The Goldbergs
Longmire
White Collar
Chuck
Bluebloods
Bones
A Million Little Things
Final Table (cooking show)
Bookshop
Friday Night Lights
The Good Place
Doc Martin
Heartland
Mrs. Wison
Elementary
Community
Fringe 
Better off Ted
The Crown
Leverage
Madam Secretary
Chernobyl
Victoria
Downton Abbey
House of Cards
Psych
Community
Parks and Rec
Hawaii 5-0
Brooklyn 99
Sneaky Pete
Parenthood
Chuck
Life in Pieces
See No Evil
Snapped
Nailed It
Heartland 
Justified
The OC
Broadchurch
Luther
River
Sherlock
Cheers
Frasier
3rd Rock from the Sun
Pushing Daisies
God Friended Me
Drop Dead Diva
Great American British Baking Show
America To Me
TURN
VIDANGEL these:
-B Bodyguard (9/10)
-Breaking Bad (10/10)
-Stranger Things (8/10)
-Luther (8/10)
-Umbrella Academy (7/10)
reaking Bad (10/10)
-Stranger Things (8/10)
-Luther (8/10)
-Umbrella Academy (7/10)
-A Place to Call Home

Merlin
The Good Witch
The Durells in Corfu (Netflix)*
Murdoch Mysteries
Father Brown
Bomb Girls and Land Girls (might be 2 series)
Last Tango
Foyles War
Hallifax
Doc Martin
LA Law
Person of Interest

Vera
Line of Duty
Loch Ness

Netflix
Madam Secretary
The Crown
Last Tango in Halifax
Longmire
Arrested Development
Hinterland
70s
80s
90s
Rectify
Five Came Back
Hell on Wheels
Miracle
Brian Regan

Hulu
Gavin and Stacey
Prime Suspect
Rizzoli and Isles
MI5
Scott and Bailey

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Can Someone Point Me In the Right Direction? Mid-life Crisis Up Ahead


“Begin with the end in mind”. I stumbled upon this quote on FB the other day and it spoke to me. Not in the “oh…NOW I understand where my priorities should be” sort of way. No. Not that. More like the “but what if you have no idea what end you want?” sort of way. Now I’m not talking about the BIG end. Nah…that’s pretty clear. I want to greet the next life with my family intact, as a follower of Christ and a life well lived. That I understand. That I get.

What I am having the hardest time figuring out is what the next steps in this life should be. This isn’t a new feeling. It’s been hanging around for a while-a few years if I’m being honest. A usually gentle (but sometimes not so gentle) feeling in the back of my mind. A feeling that there is something I’m supposed to be doing, a goal I’m supposed to be working towards. Just…something. 

I have no idea what that something is. 

I know what you’re thinking. Classis signs of a mid-life crisis right? You probably wouldn’t be wrong. Soon I hit the big 50 and in less than that the last of our children will leave the nest. The gray hairs are multiplying by the minute, I just bought my first pair of drugstore eyeglasses, and I’m a legit grandma. It seems like the perfect time for me to lose it a little, perhaps reassess my life goals and actually move towards them.

But what if you don’t know what your life goals ARE?? I am blessed. Beyond blessed. That fact is not lost on me and I thank my lucky stars for the life I have, the people I call family and the friends that love me for my quirky self. I have a rock star husband. (Seriously—he’s the BEST!). I’ve got great kids who married great kids and are having adorable babies. I’ve got the knowledge that the gospel is here on the earth and I’ve got a boat load of faith. I’m grateful for it all, and perhaps becauseI am so grateful for it all, I don’t want to squander this life. I want to be better, try harder, accomplish more, reach my goals.

As soon as I find out what those goals are…

So, if you can relate, or have any bright ideas, or even just have a magic 8 ball I can borrow to figure this out, I’d sure appreciate it.


Photo Cred: Daniel Gonzalez

Monday, February 4, 2019

Other People's Opinions of You Are None of Your Business


Meet my niece Annie. Annie is six years old and wants to be a clown when she grows up. I want to be Annie when I grow up.

Life has a way of throwing you off balance one in a while. Ok--maybe more than once in a while. But have you ever felt like things were humming along pretty nicely and then "wham", life throws you a curve ball? Or maybe it actually feels more like a tidal wave? Yes. That seems like a more accurate description now that I'm thinking about it...

In those moments it can feel like a spotlight is pointed at you, shining a light on your situation for the world to see and well, quite frankly, judge. And let's be honest, people are judging. I'm not going to pretend that I'm above being judgmental because I'm not. Although there is nothing that will humble you more than going through a life trial. I was talking with a teen recently about something she had going on and she said "I just know people are talking about me and what happened."

"Yep," I told her. "They are."

I'm not going to lie to her because that's just being unauthentic. People talk. People judge. It's human nature. Sometimes it's because they think they could do it better. Often it's because it gives them a false sense of security. ("At least I don't have the Morgans problems"). Occasionally they think they are being helpful. (Here's some advice: usually they aren't).

It begs the question "why?" Why do we let other people get into our heads? Why do we let other people question how we live our life-how we raise our children, live our religion, spend our money, use our time? Why should it matter?

I'm not sure it does. Outside of the obvious--not doing intentional harm to our loved ones and living within the law, it's not really up to anyone else to make us question or feel badly about ourselves. Heaven knows we are pretty good at doing that to ourselves.

Nobody knows us except God. He knows and loves us perfectly. He knows our struggles. He knows our heart. He knows the path HE has designed for us--not the one we think He has designed for us, or others think He has designed for us.

I'm working on saving my energy to be my best self. MY best self--not the person someone else thinks I should be. I heard this great quote today: "Other people's opinions of you are none of your business."

How great is that? And true! Too much of our energy gets taken up with worrying about how others view us and to what end? How does that serve us?

When Annie showed up at the park in full on clown regalia, complete with magic marker make-up, a snarky teenager teased her about it. She just said "I want to be a clown."

Its for sure--I want to be Annie when I grow up.

Oh--and I'm keeping this photo forever. Because it is AWESOME.