On Dr. Seuss and Failing

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Dr. Seuss when I grew up. Now that I’m a grown up, frankly? I secretly would like to be one of those mommy bloggers who shares her ideas and, you know, just has her cute life together, but I don’t think I’m gonna make it anytime soon.

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday-Day, I decided to try to invent a new, healthier variation on my old tradition of green deviled eggs and ham, and photoblog the whole thing in such a cute way that I could make a Pinterest banner of it.

It didn’t work out that way.

I won’t go into the details of how I started with this:

and ended up with that:

So, I’d never eat these on a boat, with a goat, on a train, in the rain, or pretty much anywhere.
So, I'd never eat these on a boat, with a goat, on a train, in the rain, or pretty much anywhere.

Suffice it to say, I understand why Mr. Sam-I-am-Not was against the whole thing, until he tried it. Luckily his try turned out well. Mine? Let’s just say they didn’t taste better than they looked. But things worked out okay anyway. I think I’ll finish the rest of my story in rhyme:

As I choked down my eggs, though they looked like The Grinch,
I asked, “WHY did I think this would be such a cinch?
I’d wanted to be a most excellent Seuss-er;
Instead, I just feel like a whimsical loser.”

It seemed then a voice whispered into my ear,
“Do you think Dr. Seuss never failed, my dear?”
So I googled a bit and learned more of his story:
Twenty-seven rejections preceded his glory!

But I argued, “It’s not really glory I’m after.
I just want the good life, with its love, joy, and laughter.”
“But you’ve got that!” the voice quickly issued correction,
“Your life is perfected in its imperfection.”

And so, in the spirit of Dr. Seuss Day,
I say, try something new! To fail is OK!
Have fun, be creative, and just do your best,
for it’s only through failure that we’ll find success.

Fairy Tale Endings

Originally posted as a comment on Facebook, I figured I’d save these thoughts here where I can find them again easily:

Perfect really is relative, it’s true, but I’m also thinking the perfect romantic relationship does not exist. I don’t think life’s set up that way. I sort of think you make your expectations and do your best, but ultimately, learning to love and be loved is in large part a matter of learning to forgive and be forgiven of imperfection.

But we still hope for our own personal fairy tale ending, right?

If you take out the Disney interpretations, it seem many fairy tales actually have fairly disturbing endings, not to mention plenty of evil step-parents, witches, and lonely old men. Only the luckiest live happily ever after… and even then, the stories tend to cut off just when the real story of the relationship begins.

But I think that a couple can certainly live “after the manner of happiness” regardless of how looks may fade, and regardless of how times might try. I believe romance can be created with some effort. I believe in a love that grows over time. And, I think Regina Spektor nailed it with these lyrics in The Calculation: here’s a couple who has a comfortable, happy friendship, but they’re each looking elsewhere for the spark. They didn’t even know love could be bigger than that, until:

“So we made the hard decision, and we each made an incision past our muscles and our bones: Saw our hearts were little stones. Pulled them out they weren’t beating, and we weren’t even bleeding as we lay them on the granite counter top. We beat ’em up. Against each other (…) We struck ’em so hard, so hard, until they sparked.”

Even the music in that song starts out a little quirky but ends beautifully. If you’ve got a great relationship, all the effort required to generate romance is well worth it. That’s the love I believe in.

Romans 8: A scripture that hit the spot

I’ll be honest. The kids and I struggled with this chapter last night before throwing in the towel halfway through. Paul is awesome, but the format of the arguments over the past few chapters has been difficult to explain, verse-by-verse or concept by concept, to the kids.

We gave it another go together tonight, though, and I’m glad we did. The feeling of comfort when I read these verses had me in tears.  I could give you a verse  by verse like I did with my kids, but instead I think I’ll share the bits of Romans 8 that hit me the hardest — or warmed my struggling heart, you might say.  My emphasis added:

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Man, patience is NOT my virtue. It’s a big one I’ve got to work on, which is probably why I’m given so much opportunity to do so. When I’m really just as broken as can be, and don’t even know what to ask for anymore; when I’m trusting that understanding will come eventually, but not knowing what to do in the meantime, it is comforting to know that the Lord understands my heart and my needs even better than I do.  That’s not to say I shouldn’t bother asking for the help (not knowing what to pray for is no reason to bail on praying in the first place), but it gives me peace to know that when I don’t even know where to start, the Lord knows the end from the beginning, and how to make all things, including my trials, work together for good.

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be (prevail) against us?

32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

(“Prevail” is from the JST. Sure, people and things and causes can be against us, but they won’t win.) Heavenly Father really will freely bless us.  The trials themselves are even a blessing.  Case in point:

Recently I was stressed out of my mind. My ex was in the hospital having suffered a brain aneurysm.  The chances of survival and going on to live a normal life with those things, particularly when the patient can’t even talk by the time they’re admitted, are not very good.  My kids were facing the very real possibility of losing their dad,  or losing him as they know him.  Yeah,  he was a jerk to me, but they love him dearly anyway. And as one of my friends put it, “We’ve already progressed as far as we can with perfect parents.”  I know he wasn’t perfect, but being rather suddenly faced with the idea of his dying young?  That was hard for me, let alone for my sweet pumpkins.

So I did what I could to help them through.  Add that to the stresses I deal with on a normal day-to-day basis, and it’s no surprise that my back screwed up completely this past Sunday.  I didn’t “injure” it per se, but while I was turning to hug Ethan, it’s almost like a string snapped in my shoulder, and from there the pain just spread til I couldn’t even walk or use my arm.  But one friend took my kids to and from church for me, told the bishop I wouldn’t be leading the music, and made us a meal. Another brought cookies, an ice-pack, and some kind words. My mom brought food, too – and put it in the freezer for us since dinner was already there.  She massaged my neck and back and even fed me soup.   Another friend dropped by with a card with a generous gift inside, understanding my stress was only compounded by our scrimpy budget.  She rubbed my back, too, and also called another friend and neighbor who is a chiropractor.  He came over and helped me, too.  My home teacher and bishopric counselor arrived shortly after that.  I was face-down on the ground at that point, but I had to laugh when Mary opened the door and said, “Come on in and join the party!”  They’d come to give me a healing blessing, but my dad and brother had already come over to take care of that.  My visiting teacher took the kids to school the next morning, and another friend picked them up that afternoon.  She also brought dinner the next day.  Countless others called and checked on me, too, offering whatever was needed.

As the kids tucked me in (a bit of a role reversal given the circumstances, which also encouraged them to hurry off to bed) they sat down beside me and commented, “You know mom, it’s a good thing you hurt your back.  What a great way to see just how loved and blessed we are!”  Other friends have helped me all along with notes and texts and phonecalls and whatever else was necessary to help me pull though.  I am grateful to all of you.  Would I feel such gratitude were it not for these trials?  I wish I could say yes, but I do know now, and I will remind myself often.

This last section had a bit of a strange spot that left me somewhat hesitant to post the whole thing:

 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I’m currently revisiting Psalms in my personal study, giving it a solid effort for the first time since I was a teenager. I’m going slowly and certainly haven’t hit 44 yet, so that bit about being killed all day kind of caught me off guard. What it’s saying there, of course, now that I take a minute to think about it, is that I really would willingly face death itself for my God if that’s what He required of me.

But I’ve heard the question: if we’d die for God, would we live for Him, too? I think the latter is a bit harder in the long run – at least for those of us who struggle with consistency, and all of my imperfections and failings just might make the angles want to keep me away. But even that, and no matter what’s happened or will happen, nothing can separate us from the love of God because of the intercession of Christ. That, is awesome.

Anyway, I shall make an end of speaking for now. I just didn’t want to forget how those verses hit home for me tonight.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk on Forget-me-nots

(If you’re looking for the talk itself, you can find it here.)

I went into Women’s conference today praying for some help, as I’m really struggling to get some things right lately, from dating, to making dinner, to responsive web design. And I’m really, really ridiculously tired all the time. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m overwhelmed, or if I’m overwhelmed because I’m so tired, but whatever it is, it’s giving me trouble.

During the opening song, I wrote in my journal, “[When] I start to think of all the things I must do […] my heart beats fast, and I quickly become exhausted and overwhelmed, to the point of needing a nap. I am praying for help.”

A little scan of my notes from today's talks

All through the RS presidency’s talks, only a few things stood out for me this time around, probably because I was tired and overwhelmed with my own pile of issues.

“True ministry is measured more by the depth of our charity than by the perfection of our statistics.” Julie Beck said that regarding visiting teaching, and I think it applies well to life, too. I don’t need to make excuses for my imperfections because frankly, we’re all imperfect, but I do need to be sure to try my best and keep my heart where it ought to be.

From Sylvia Allred’s talk: The more charity I have, the lighter my own burdens will seem. So, “… have patience with those who have let us down.” Next to this note, I wrote, “Including myself.” Oddly, the next page in my journal had a quote on patience: “Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself.”

Barbara Thompson talked about sticking to our covenants. I wrote, “Be faithful, and when my heart is troubled, give it over to the Lord for comfort, protection, and obstacle-removal.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk really stuck with me, though; it was just what I needed tonight. It isn’t online yet, or I’d link to it, but to anyone who missed it, here are five things to never forget:

– Be patient with yourself. God knows you’re not perfect, and God also knows that person you’re comparing yourself is not perfect, so stop punishing yourself. Don’t forget your tiny successes — God doesn’t.

– The difference between good and foolish sacrifices. Need help differentiating? Ask: “Am I committing my time and energy to the things that matter most?”

– How to be happy now — Don’t put happiness on hold waiting for your “golden ticket.” Those who are most happy know how to see the beauty in everyday moments. Notice the blessings you have.

– The WHYs of the Gospel: Don’t just focus on the WHATs and HOWs. “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not an obligation, but a pathway.”

– How much the Lord loves you: YOU are not forgotten.

All of Women’s Conference was very much needed today, for me, but especially that last talk.

My mother does not approve.

They just called to wish my girl a happy birthday. The kids were playing video games and didn’t really feel like talking much beyond the hellos and why thank yous, so I got on the phone. I was still working on writing all of this up, but I was excited about it. And I tend to blather a bit when I’m excited. The conversation went something like this.

Me: “You know those mormon mommy blogs?”

Mom: “No.”

Me: “Oh, well, basically it’s just a mom-blog by a mormon.” And I read the first few paragraphs of that salon.com article and added, “Basically she’s addicted to these blogs because they make it seem like life is perfect. Of course, life isn’t REALLY perfect. They’re only blogging about the perfect things, right, so…”

Mom: “As they should. Who would want to hear about stuff that isn’t perfect?”

Me: “Wait, what?”

Mom: “Well, they SHOULD only talk about the stuff that works out. You wouldn’t want to get online and … talk about your failures or anything.”

I just laughed and said, “Uh, alright. Well, we should probably just end this conversation right here, mom, because you’re not going to like what I’m going to say.”

Mom: “How do you know what I will and won’t like?”

Me: “Trust me, it’ll just make you mad.”

Mom: “I would not get mad!!”

Me: “You already are.”

Mom: “I AM NOT.”

Good gracious. She and my dad were talking over each other, both upset at me, when I said I had to go and hung up. I IM’d the conversation to my buddy and he said, “I think you should blog that.” So, here it is.

I don’t think I’ll tell my mom about the blog just yet. And honestly, it isn’t going to be all about my failures. I don’t always fail, believe it or not. I actually feel like I’m pretty darn blessed, all things considered. I just believe that we’re here to learn and love, and find joy in the process, not just in perfection. I’d told my buddy earlier that my life is Second Nephi Chapter Two. More on that, later. But for now, suffice it to say, I’m just going to be real about everything. Mom will forgive me later. 🙂

*EDIT*

Just when I was picking up my phone to call and apologize for my hasty exit, my mom called back. I told her I was sorry I had to go, and laughed. I told her I was planning on posting about my not-so-perfect life. She still disagrees with the idea and told me so. She did add a “but it’s your life, so do what you want.” And I’ll do just that.

Rethinking my Resumé

I haven’t really updated my resume since 2002 when a professional writer wrote some descriptions for me in exchange for some work. At that time, I didn’t feel like the “action phrases” really portrayed the value I would bring a company. They sounded fairly bombastic to me, but necessary anyway as far as I knew.

So I added a column and threw in some client comments thinking that would give a clearer message about who I am. It worked well. In fact, the other night when I was out with my UPHPU friends talking about my work situation, one of them suggested that technique saying they’d seen it on a friend’s resumé. I certainly wouldn’t claim I’m the only person in the world to think of that, but the idea was original to me when I did it.

Truth be told, I’d probably just throw in another line of experience if I could find the original file, but it’s nowhere to be found on the computers or disks I have here, and for some reason I can’t even copy and paste the text from this PDF. So I have to redo it somehow, and re-typing all of those words has me rethinking whether I need them all in the first place. Plus I’m wondering what other original ideas might help communicate my value to prospective employers, particularly since I consider my ability to creatively solve problems the most valuable of all my skills.

I’m finding as I do this, by the way, that my biggest weakness is letting a quest for perfection keep me from progressing! So I’m taking a bit of my own advice by setting some parameters as far as time limits and goals go, and aiming to do my best within those bounds. I want to have this done by Wednesday morning. Given that Monday is mostly gone and I have a full day Tuesday, I’m going to have to focus. Here’s what I don’t like about my current resumé:

1) My experience is far more broad than deep, so none of my job titles accurately portray what I’ve done at different companies.
2) The layout is not very attractive, given that I will most likely apply for positions that involve some design work.
3) I should mention something about education. However, the fact that I’m still in school is no doubt somewhat unattractive to the type of employer I’d like.
4) No one is going to read all of the way through it. Just try reading through it out loud. I stop about halfway through the second paragraph. Less is more.
5) I suppose a resumé is supposed to make me sound smart, hence the big pretentious words and phrases used here, but just how smart do I really sound if I’m unable to communicate who I am and what I can do for you?

So whether the end result is perfect or not, I would like a version of my resumé that solves these problems, done before Wednesday morning. Think I can do it?

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