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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Hangover

Dear Readers,

My Name is Lindsay and I'm a Mormon.  I have never had an alcoholic beverage in all of my life, but using the word "hangover" is the only way I can think of to describe how I am feeling.  I know "hangover" is a funny word to use on a Mormon blog.  Like I say, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints abstain from coffee, tea, tobacco products, alcohol, and drugs.  This is part of the Word of Wisdom, which is a guide for healthful living.

To my understanding, a hangover is when someone is still feeling the effects of alcohol to their body, though the period of drinking has past.  They just have to wait for it to flush out of their system, and then their body will feel normal again.

Well, I am still feeling the effects of 2011 though it is gone and past.  All I can do is wait for it to slowly filter out of my system and then one day I'll wake up and be ready for 2012, because mentally I'm just not there yet.  I have all sorts of things to wrap up for 2011.

This was the Year of Reaching Out.  I want to tell you about it.  I reached out to others and appreciated when others reached out to me.

I had a fantastic Christmas.  There is so much to say about our family's experience.  We took the plunge and celebrated Santa-free.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I was scared to death to go through with it and the judgement that I'd receive from others, but it was amazing.  No stockings.  No cookies and milk.  No asking for presents.  I'd love to finish my drafts that I've started about this, because now that we've done it once, I don't think we can ever go back.  It was awesome and Christ-centered and very rich and fulfilling.

December was such a whirlwind because of my "real life".  December 1st-3rd is the only 3 day period where we had nothing going on in the Spanish Branch.  We've been really busy.  With all of the normal (and not normal) Christmas events going on we also had our Young Women Evening of Excellence and a baptism for 6 people (2 YW aged).  That would be cool to share about as well.

See....I'm stuck in 2011 and I'm just getting started.

When I woke up on January 1, 2011 I was still in a Primary Presidency in a different ward.  I had a toddler with a limited vocabulary and limited needs.  I was a teacher to 4 piano students.  I was almost, dare I say it, bored with my life.  I had a lot of free time.  I had no idea what the year would bring to me and the growth that I see in myself.

January - mid February
I was released from the Primary after 2 1/2 years.  That was hard.  I love children.  I loved teaching them.  I loved seeing the growth of these particular children over the years.  They helped fill the void in our home (because we could use 10 more kids kicking around here).  I picked up 8 more piano students rather quickly bringing the total to 12.  This winter a MASSIVE snowstorm shut down the city for 2 weeks.  It was cold.  Really cold.  Records were set around the state.  Things were still pretty quiet.  Little did I know...

end of February - Spring Break
We were called to labor in the Spanish Branch for the duration of our time in this area.  The first few Sundays I cried during the hymns, because I was so overwhelmed by not speaking the language that sitting through the whole hour of Sacrament Meeting was really traumatic in the beginning.  I've really come a long ways.  My assignment was to be the Young Women Camp leader.  I smiled and nodded a lot (okay, still do).

Spring Break - April
Six more piano students started with me bringing my total to 18!!!  They started just in time for recital season.  Recital season goes from Spring Break to the end of May.  We had planned a fun trip for Spring Break this year, but then stayed home at the last minute due to a major breakdown that I had.  Breakdown isn't really the right term, but I can't think of anything better.  I had a series of realizations about myself that really concerned me.  I spoke with some trusted friends who put me in touch with other trusted and respected people and I started making some major transformations over the next few months.  I wanted help to overcome ingrained thought patterns that I had.  I did not have good self-worth.  I did not value myself or think of myself as a daughter of God.  I didn't like how I always was comparing myself to others.  Sometimes I was better than them.  Sometimes they were better than me.  We couldn't all be children of God that were loved equally.  There's more to this story of course, but Husband told me just last week that he thinks that I've finally overcome everything that I sought out to.  Somehow in March and April I was able to carve out hours upon hours to ponder and pray and journal.  I wanted to break vicious cycles.  I was concerned for my Daughter.  I did not want to pass on such un-Christlike attributes.  I never spoke about it on this blog at the time, but it was a major thing that happened to me and our family this year and I am very grateful.

April
We were asked to demonstrate a dance to the youth.  Really, it was just a small assignment, which is why we said yes, when I was already in the midst of Recital Season and gearing up for the recital in May and also the Young Women camp.  I've already discussed this here, but it blossomed into a HUGE responsibility.  We became the teachers instead of just the demonstrators and saw to completion the teaching of a German Polka to hundreds of kids that lived in 2 stakes all over the state.  This was performed at a regional pageant in July.  You know, even though things were starting to heat up, in hindsight, April still seems quite calm.  Maybe all of the changes I was making brought a lot of peace.  Our family took a a few vacations and celebrated some milestones/ progress and it was a great month for us.

May - June
I don't know how, but somehow I pulled off a piano recital and then scooted off to Girl's Camp.  We were going to dance rehearsals now almost every Saturday.  Girl's Camp was amazing.  It was the first time that the Spanish Branch had a leader attend.  They had always been lumped together with another ward at the last minute which always made them feel like leftovers that no one cared about.  All of the girls banded together and decided that they wanted to be married in the temple.  I promised them that I'd attend each of their sealings no matter where I lived at the time.  I'd find a way to be there.  It was the start of a spark of change in the branch.  Those girls came home on fire.  Somehow I became the branch liaison for the upcoming Youth Conference/ Pageant.  In a very short amount of time I had a lot of paperwork that had to be filled out for the youth, but I really wanted them all to attend the Youth Conference, especially after the positive reaction to the Young Women Camp.  There was a severe weather scare.  More weather records around the state.

July
The Youth Conference came!  The pageant happened.  We met with Sis. Dibb of the General Young Women Presidency.  It was all worth it.  We did not get very much sleep.  There was stress and loose ends until the very end.  My daughter is amazing.  In hindsight I have no idea what she was doing from Spring Break-Youth Conference.  My attention was turned to so many other projects and she had a lot of babysitters during all of that dance practice/ piano lessons/ Girl's Camp/ counseling.  I am so grateful that she is so easy going like that.  We almost didn't go because we were SO exhausted, but our family took some personal time to go to Nauvoo, Illinois.  As if we hadn't already had enough life changing experiences in the first half of 2011....it was awesome.  We all came home so uplifted and edified.  It was exactly what we needed after giving so much to others.  We were filled.  The senior missionaries were awesome.  The Young Performing missionaries were great.  We saw every single show TWICE!  We watched the pageant.  We loved every second.  I am getting emotional thinking about how wonderful that trip was for our family, which really is saying something considering that we had just completed 3 months of awesome.  We all came home obsessed with pioneers.  We love them.  We love their sacrifices.  We are so grateful for them.  My daughter is still singing the songs from the shows and talking about Nauvoo and pioneers 6 months later.  We all want to go back ASAP and feel of the special spirit that exists in Nauvoo.  I still have like 6 unfinished drafts about that as well.  The early Saints had such humble circumstances and such trials, but were so faithful.  They are examples to us.  Daughter requested a pioneer outfit and Grandma made it happen!

August - mid September
Heat records around the state.  Unbearable!!!  We lived at the pool.  We must have rested and recovered during this time.  We needed it!  We definitely enjoyed our "Spiritual high".  After living on such a spiritual high for so long, it set a new standard for our family and in our home.  I love it.  My life is awesome at this time.  After being told that once a week wasn't often enough, we start to feed the missionaries 3 times a week.  This brings another change in me about my attitude towards missionary work.  I used to be deathly afraid of it and always just figured that everyone else could just do my share.  Being so close to the missionaries has taught me a ton.  Now I wish I had served a mission, though I never would have said that before.  It is a great blessing to have them in our home all of the time and around my Daughter.  In our new found bliss we start attending the temple every week taking turns who gets to go.  The one who stayed at home had some quality one-on-one with Daughter.  It was a great arrangement and brought a lot of peace and blessings into our home!!!!  Oh, hmmm I taught a few piano lessons in the summer, but started up again in August though only 14 take the fall semester (which is why I agree to take on 2 more?!?!??! - total 16).  I love to teach, though I was apprehensive about starting again.  I was ready for a calm life.  With the start of school we really start to settle into a routine.  I am enjoying my special time with my Daughter making sure to make up for previous months of the year.  She is so smart and wonderful.  A true blessing in my life.  The weather starts to cool.  Life starts to get comfortable.

mid September - December
Young Women's President?!?!  Me?  Train women?!?!?!  I don't speak Spanish.  My life was flipped upside down as I took a new and bigger challenge.  Though with all of the events of the first 9 months of the year I can see how I was being prepared.  Slowly we organized a Young Women's program that was fully functioning and fully staffed.  We put on a New Beginning's in October.  Yes, unconventional and a lot of work, but I didn't know how to have an Excellence Night if no one knew what Personal Progress was.  I did already know and love the girls from working with them at camp.  That part was easy.  I did find great counselors even if our communications were limited and we've just been working away.  That makes it sound like it's easy.  It's not, but it's worth it.  It is really satisfying to see these women grow in the gospel knowing that they are learning leadership skills to put into practice after I move.  Somewhere in here, I stopped cleaning my house.  It's a good thing the missionaries come so much, because on days they don't, we didn't always eat dinner.  I started waking up in the middle of the night A LOT with promptings about my calling.  Being a branch and all, the girls don't come from the strongest families, so there are a lot of girls "on the edge".  Putting our whole selves into the branch required me to re-evaluate my priorities.  I decide to retire my piano teaching early.  Missing out on a recital we did a service project where we played our Christmas music at a retirement home.  I am sad to be done, but it's nice to not feel stretched so thin.  We help with the big Stake Nativity exhibit.  We have the Excellence Night!  We have baptisms and all sorts of good events in the branch.  My family celebrates Christmas.  December was insane.  End of story.



And this is why I have a 2011 hangover.

I love my life, but aren't you exhausted reading all of this?



Serving the Lord has brought my family many blessings, and more growth than I knew was possible.

I am excited for 2012, but I have nothing left to give right now.  I am in need of some serious recharging before I move on.  So 2012, you can wait for me.  I'm finishing my 2011 hangover and I don't know how long it'll take.

Yours,
Lindsay

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