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:

Call the Midwife
Gilmore Girls
Hart of Dixie
Kim’s Convenience (Netflix)
The Goldbergs
White Collar
A Million Little Things
Final Table (cooking show)
Friday Night Lights
The Good Place
Doc Martin
Mrs. Wison
Better off Ted
The Crown
Madam Secretary
Downton Abbey
House of Cards
Parks and Rec
Hawaii 5-0
Brooklyn 99
Sneaky Pete
Life in Pieces
See No Evil
Nailed It
The OC
3rd Rock from the Sun
Pushing Daisies
God Friended Me
Drop Dead Diva
Great American British Baking Show
America To Me
-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

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
Doc Martin
LA Law
Person of Interest

Line of Duty
Loch Ness

Madam Secretary
The Crown
Last Tango in Halifax
Arrested Development
Five Came Back
Hell on Wheels
Brian Regan

Gavin and Stacey
Prime Suspect
Rizzoli and Isles
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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

People Pleasing As A Life Strategy: It Works. Until It Doesn't

I was born a pleaser. Not in the "I want to fit in and be cool " pleaser sort of way. More like the "I don't want to give anyone any trouble or think that I'm not doing ok sort of way." Perhaps that is pride-the desire for others to think everything is A-Ok. After all, nobody likes a whiner. I certainly don't. The motto for our house, for heaven's sake, was "no crying, no whining, no talking back." Vague social media posts begging for sympathy annoy me and we all know people who seem to delight in their troubles. So perhaps it's my "anti-whining" sentiment that contributed to the people pleasing trait.

Then there is the fact that it's not really appropriate to air ALL of your dirty laundry. I mean, there comes a point when disclosing the nitty gritty of your life that you just start making people uncomfortable. You know that look people give when in a moment of indiscretion a person vomits the entire workings of their mind and you can see the other party visibly start retreating for the door with a look of "get this woman a therapist"? No? Maybe that's just me...

This "people-pleasing, life is just hunky dory" mentality works pretty well. Until it doesn't. Until one day your seemingly "perfect" life is not so perfect and becomes apparent in a somewhat (or maybe major) public way.

When that happens you have a few options. The first is the natural response: PR management. You put on a happy face, start looking for a positive "spin" on your personal life sensational headline, and go full throttle on damage control. Because people pleasers at heart are experts at damage control.

If that strategy doesn't prove successful or requires too much energy, the next approach is what I refer to as "pulling up the drawbridge". When your current trial is taking up so much energy you don't have time for damage control, instead, you close the door (literally and figuratively). This is demonstrated by going into dark mode where you avoid people as much as humanly possible. If it isn't possible then this is done with a smile on your face and the response "everything is fine" when those you are forced to associate with notice your less than normal cheery demeanor. In actuality you're a psycho mess but you don't want to bother anyone else with that nonsense and more importantly, letting someone else know means you actually have to start dealing with it as opposed to playing Candy Crush for hours on end while lying in your pjs on the couch with a stack of Oreos.

Or so I hear...

But I'm here to tell you that I have discovered a better way. And it's a scary way at first for us people pleasers. It's called "vulnerability". Perhaps you've heard of it. Perhaps that word makes you roll your eyes or retreat in fear. Perhaps, if you're a people pleaser who is currently strung so tight you will explode any minute, you might try giving it a shot.

Vulnerability means admitting first to yourself, and then to those you are close with that things aren't ok at the moment. It means saying "I'm struggling," or "life is hard" or "I have no idea how to handle this right now and I might be losing my mind". It means opening your soul a little bit and confronting the fact that your life might be less than perfect. Vulnerability is not vague booking or whining or airing all your dirty laundry. It's sharing your worries with someone you trust--not the internet.

It's scary at first. But then something happens. Something wonderful.

A weight is lifted. Not just for you but for those you share with. Because here is a little secret: their life isn't perfect either. And now you've opened that door-that space-to allow them to be vulnerable too. To recognize that it's ok to admit that life has thrown a curve ball.

In the last several years our life has thrown us a few curve balls. In actuality that's been happening for a long time. Because life is not meant to be easy. Growth doesn't come from easy. Yet too many of us think that when things are hard that we are doing something wrong and even more disturbingly, that we are in this alone.

Alone is what leads to anxiety, to stress, to depression, to chronic people pleasing.

Alone is scary.

You don't have to be alone. I have learned by experience that when we allow ourselves to say that we are going through a rough patch, something wonderful occurs. Empathy arrives. True friendships emerge and peace comes not just for yourself but for those you can confide in. Because there is a solid chance that they are struggling as well.

My challenge to all my fellow people pleasers is this: try being vulnerable. Try admitting that you could use some friend therapy. Or professional therapy. Try sitting with the idea that it's ok to say you could use some help.

And then watch the magic happen.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Reflections On The Teacher Strike: What can I do better?

For the past two weeks the teachers in our school district have been on strike as they negotiate a new contract. If you're reading this chances are you have at least read some of my FB posts discussing these events. I have found the entire process bewildering.

Truth be told I have never been very interested in politics. I have literally voted for a local representative based on their sign alone. And actually that's not entirely accurate. I voted for them because I couldn't stand their opponent's sign. (I'm not proud of that admission, but it gives you a glimpse into how involved I've been in the past. )

So when the negotiations started here in our district I had very little interest. I figured both sides would sort it out and life would continue as usual. Except it wasn't getting sorted out and suddenly I was seeing and hearing a lot about it. I started to do a little research and then a little more and before I knew it I was involved in my local political scene. It's not so important what "side" of the issue I am on (and to be frank my "side" depends on what part of the issue we are discussing).

What's important is what can I do moving forward? What can we ALL do?

A few months ago Dave and I were invited to a Strategic Planning Meeting for the district. We sat with other community leaders and parents as the district presented it's plans for the next five years. There were lots of slides and graphs and numbers and many, many programs discussed. But at the end of it I realized something:

Public schools cannot make up for what is lacking in our homes.

Because of the breakdown in homes we are seeing the effects in the classroom. There is more poverty. There is more instability. There is less discipline and good examples. There is more anxiety, stress and depression. It's falling on the district and educators to try to fill in the gaps. And it's not enough. It will never be enough.

Public schools cannot make up the difference. But we can.

We start in our own homes where we raise children with love, compassion and an expectation to strive for good things. We teach them respect for others, responsibility and how our actions affect those around us. We teach tolerance, patience and that bullying is not ok. We teach failure and resiliency and that they don't need to be perfect. We teach them their true worth--where they came from, why they are here and where they are going. We love our spouses and ourselves. We watch our tone, eliminate sarcasm and speak with love.

We do better.

And then we reach out.

We volunteer in the classroom to alleviate some of the educator's load. We set an example for the children who don't have what we can provide. We chaperone field trips, become a lunch buddy, serve in a booster group or on a PTA board. We learn who our children's friends are and invite them into our homes. We offer rides and attend their school events to show we value what they do. We volunteer our time and talents and reach outside ourselves to fill in the gaps.

That's what we do. That's what we must do.

Lets start filling in the gaps.