Sunday, March 22, 2015

{Musings} Seasons

{via Amy Weiss} 

(Not so) fun fact: I have depression. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I had postpartum depression after Cal's birth. What fewer people know is that I have had depression since I was ten. That doesn't mean that I've walked around in a fog of melancholy for the last seventeen years; I have gone years without a depressive episode. What it does mean is that it probably isn't going anywhere. While there definitely is a pattern to my depressive episodes (basically, hormonal changes = total upheaval), it doesn't appear to be an isolated event.

For this reason, I have always deeply loved Paul of the New Testament for sharing about his "thorn in the flesh" in 2 Corinthians 12. He begged the Lord to take it from him, and his loving, compassionate Heavenly Father told him, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul responds to this difficult statement with an amazing attitude, responding with gratitude for his trial and the opportunity it gives him to rely on the Lord.

Like Paul, I have begged the Lord for my own "thorn in the flesh" to depart from me, and also like Paul, so far the answer has been no. There have been times when I have gone several years (the longest I've gone between without being deeply depressed was when I was dating/marrying Scott -- hooray for marrying a good man!) and thought, maybe I am done with this, finally. But so far, that has not been the case.

I recently read another book by Madeleine L'Engle (read everything she ever wrote, right now!) (but this one was The Irrational Season) where she discusses healing vs. curing. She talks about how when we pray for healing, we are often actually asking for curing. We want the cancer to be conquered, the pain to be soothed, the sadness to be erased. However, God doesn't always fix or erase the problem; instead he gives us strength to endure it. Of course, we can't use that strength unless we are willing to accept it, so if we are angry that the problem still exists -- if we are seeing only that we haven't been cured -- we are not always able to be healed.

Recently, I was in a season of depression. Not a horribly severe one, but definitely more than a bout of sadness. I was going through massive hormonal changes (read into that what you will), had low energy levels, and felt sick. Cal and I went through a month when we were sick three weeks out of four, and in addition to that Cal has been feeling particularly two lately (dropping his nap, screaming loudly and in public, refusing to eat food and throwing it on the floor). I was having a hard time getting out of the house, performing my basic responsibilities, finding joy in anything (you know there is something wrong with me when I don't even want to read).

When I am sick, I always notice the moment when I start to feel well. There is nothing better to me than suddenly having that return of energy, being able to breathe again, being able to eat again. I haven't always been as good at noticing the same thing when my mental and emotional health is restored -- I think often it is a more gradual thing. However, this time it coincided with feeling physically better and spring descending on Los Angeles (and yes, you can tell a difference. The temperatures are not that different, but there is something in the air that feels better and more joyful when winter is over! And also, swimming). And recognizing that I am okay again, that my depression is in remission for a while, and being able to feel energy and happiness again, almost makes it worth it, just like those first gorgeous days of spring in contrast to a harsh winter almost make up for the months of grey slush and overcoats.

I know there are seasons of depression left in my life, and that I am not going to be cured from this disease in this life. I also know that the love of my Savior can temper the darker seasons and offer me healing and solace as I endure them, and that there will be flowers and sunlight on the other side. And while I wouldn't walk backward through the last several weeks, I know the joy I feel today is stronger because I've passed through them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reading, Watching, Listening {February 2015}


I received this book from NetGalley for review back when I was more active on my book blog. It is essentially a collection of anecdotes about righteous living from the two authors, who have a podcast and blog. While I felt like the format worked better for a blog than a book, I did enjoy reading the life stories of these women. They are both touching and humorous. 3 stars

I've been reading this one slowly. It is a comprehensive examination of the doctrine behind Christ's crucifixion and atonement for the sins of mankind. It was absolutely beautiful and definitely worth digesting slowly. 5 stars

I loved Jean Kwok's first book, Girl in Translation, and also used to be into ballroom dancing, so I was really anticipating Mambo in Chinatown, the story of a girl who breaks out of her family's traditional lifestyle to become a ballroom dancer while still trying to remain close to them. While I found the book difficult to put down because the plot was advancing quickly, I found the writing and characters to be a bit flat. 3.5 stars

This book was heavy and emotional and gorgeous, and not for the faint of heart. The story of a girl who lost her sister and subsequently her way in life, and a boy who struggles with mental illness, but who is interesting and passionate and vivid, who meet and change each others' lives. I still can't stop thinking about this book days later. 4.5 stars

This book is an examination of LDS doctrine about what went down when Adam and Eve fell in Eden. It wasn't really any new information, but was a good reminder and also a good examination of the feminine in religion. 4 stars

This nonfiction book goes through a Victorian person's life from morning til night. It was very interesting and at times shocking to learn what was normal life for people in this time period. The writing was dense and it took a long time to get through, but the information was worth digging for. 3.5 stars

This companion novel to the Kingkiller trilogy was beautiful and ethereal. As the author warns, nothing much actually happens in this novella, and I doubt it would appeal to someone who hasn't read the other books in the trilogy, but if you do love these characters and a good dose of descriptive writing, The Slow Regard of Silent Things will probably appeal to you. 4 stars

This is a collection of talks from the 2013 BYU Women's Conference. I bought a huge bundle of these collections and am working my way backwards through them. I love how accessible they are and the way the women presenting them are normal women trying to live the best lives they can and sharing the lessons they've learned. Looking forward to reading more of these books. 4 stars

This is another novella based on supporting characters from a trilogy, in this case the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. I read this on Valentine's day and it was absolutely stunningly perfect. Laini Taylor's writing is so perfectly vivid and unique, and I adore these characters and the chance to get to know more about them. Honestly, it might be worth reading even if you don't read the rest of the series. I loved this. 5 stars

This was a reread for me. I love Jhumpa Lahiri and have read all of her books; this was her first novel and I last read it when I was 18, so I figured it was time for a refresh. I think I liked it even better this time around. Heartbreaking as all of her books are (I wonder what her personal life must be like for her books to be so sad), but gorgeous. 4 stars. 

This was another review book off NetGalley, also based off a blog. The author is funny and definitely not one of those staged, "motherhood is bliss" types that populate so many of our instagram feeds. However, I would have liked to see more depth and dimension in this book -- it is mostly anger and sarcasm (although I guess I should expect as much from a book titled People I Want to Punch in the Throat). Still, her tirades can be refreshing -- we all have those moments when we want to roundhouse kick someone (right?). Probably not one I'd recommend, but it did have my laughing/nodding my head because I could relate a few times. 3 stars.


I'm planning on watching the season finale tonight. Can't wait to see how it all plays out, and wondering if there will be any (satisfying) resolution to the issues that built up during the penultimate episode!

Still enjoying my guilty pleasure -- I just started watching the 3rd season. There is nothing like a 20 minute sitcom to help me feel better after a stressful day. 

Confession: I haven't watched any of the seventh season yet. Scott just started watching it, so I have been watching some of the old episodes with him. I plan on watching the seventh season when he gets to it. Also, I don't want it to be over. 


:: Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness. My favorite band in high school was Something Corporate, I loved Jack's Mannequin in college, and now it seems appropriate that McMahon's new project is getting me through young adulthood. And his song, "Cecilia and the Satellite," about parenthood, makes me bawl my eyes out. 

:: I've been getting back to Josh Groban these days. Laugh all you want. His music is beautiful and comforting and it makes me happy. I think my favorite album right now is Illuminations, which may or may not be because that is the album he was promoting when I saw him on tour. 

:: Also going back to Mumford & Sons a lot these days. Somehow "Awake My Soul" slipped through my grasp when I was first obsessed with them. It's my current favorite of their songs. 

What are you reading, watching, and listening to these days? Any good recommendations? 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Family Updates {2.15}


:: Turned 27! We celebrated at Hinoki & the Bird, a fancy-schmancy restaurant that is so cool you have to have the parking valets show you how to open the door. (Really though).
:: Made amazing bolognese for a dinner party
:: Is winning father/husband of the year for taking good care of Cal and I while we've been sick


:: Has been a sickie and keeps asking Momma to "wipe my nosey-nose"
:: Spontaneously started singing "Leaving on a Jet Plane" tonight ("Want the airplane song")
:: Is mastering the use of a fork and spoon
:: Pooped on the carpet on purpose to spite Scott
:: Had fun getting Valentines from his friends at daycare


:: Have also been sick and haven't been to work in about a week
:: Have been reading lots of books
:: Found my favorite macarons in the United States so far ('Lette in Beverly Hills)
:: Have lots of goals these days but not quite as much motivation.


:: Have had some extra time together with all my sick days (One upside to being sick, hooray!)
:: Went to eat at the Griddle Cafe this month, and Cal was pretty excited about the pancake
:: Got to visit Scott at school on his birthday and brought some Ike's sandwiches (notice how almost all of these posts are about food?)
:: Decided we are going to get a Great Dane when we move to a place that allows pets
:: Had amazing dumplings at Din Tai Fung (and got to walk around the Americana, which I've been wanting to do for a while).

Sunday, March 1, 2015

{Musings} Happy places.

I am a natural pessimist. I've been working my whole life to overcome this personality trait, but it doesn't come easy. When stressful things start to pile on my head, my tendency is to sink into despair with a groan, let's be honest. The last several weeks have been particularly hard with sickness, stress at work, the terrible twos, and so on, so for today, I am making a list of things that really make me happy when I am down (not the things that are supposed to make me happy). Here they are:

:: Playing the piano and singing super emo songs that I loved in high school and college

:: Reading anything by Madeleine L'Engle (If she were still alive, I would probably go to desperate measures to meet her. As it is, I am going to be tracking her down in the spirit world when I die because I would love to talk to that lady)

:: Making a mug brownie.

:: Stealing squeezes from Cal.

:: Talking to Scott and getting advice from him (He is better than any therapist)

:: Reading a book

:: Writing

:: Making lists :)

:: Talking to my mom and/or sister

:: Watching a funny TV show like Parks and Recreation or Friends

What helps you when you are down?
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