Friday, December 18, 2009

How Many Times...

...have I Told You Not To Eat Straight Out of The Carton?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And So This Is Christmas!

Some of The Highlights of Christmas For Me This year have been:

--Singing with 'Friends And Neighbors' Christmas Group. This was my first year doing so and my job was accompanist. We performed for several RS dinners, some care centers, a private party and our Fireside. I heard them the previous year sing for our Relief Society Dinner and I thought they were wonderful and how unselfish they were to donate their time during this busy season. It turned out to be a real blessing for me. We were able to perform for my friend Viktoriya, who had suffered a traumatic head injury in April of '09 and who now lives in a care center in Murray. I know it brightened her existence. I loved performing for the Relief Societies. I felt like a Relief Society Dinner Crasher when we went to those because we always got fed and it was always so delicious.

--Making goodies and delivering them to several friends around the neighborhood. We didn't do as much this year as last year, but Greg and I always have fun doing this together each year. I'm so lucky that he likes to participate in this tradition. I made 2 of my favorites and Greg made 2 of his. People usually like Greg's because he experiments and does really gourmet things like peanut butter candy, Merry Cranberry Cookies, cheescake cookies,etc. Mine are more traditional favs like miniature banana muffins and good 'ol Oatmeal Choco chip cookies. Maybe next year I'll make my Grandmother's roll-out sugar cookies, a recipe from the early 1900's.

--Setting up and enjoying our Christmas Village. Each year we get a couple new pieces to add and it is fun to look at it throughout the Christmas holiday.

--Getting together with my family, whom I love more and more as the years go by. Families are just wonderful. They just assume you will spend time with them on special holidays. There was a time when I couldn't spend so many holidays or times with them. I lived all the way across the country with small children and it was many times just too difficult to come to them or them to me. So I'm grateful for this blessing in my life now. I have pictured here my sister, Laura, and our niece, Riley Bresock

--I enjoyed looking at the many lights and decorations that people put up in honor of the season. Since we haven't done much to the outside of our home, except to put
up a few token lights around the door and our funny little snowman, I enjoy and appreciate the time others put in to gladden my heart and please my eye, reminding me constantly that this is a special time of year.

--My sons aren't here this year for Christmas. I spent last Christmas with them and it was so great. But Eddie and Joseph will be in Orlando this year at Disney World. I am trying not to be jealous, failing a little bit, but was so glad that Eddie thought of me before he left. He took me out to lunch and we had a great time. He's such a great son and I appreciate him so much.

--The address/talk that touched me the most this year was one by Didier F. Uchdorf at the Annual Christmas Fireside. It made so much sense to me! But there were so many other Christmas messages that touched my heart and brought renewed love for the Savior and a determination to be a little better throughout the coming year.

--Making little Christmas ornaments with my sister-in-law, Alicia. She is the most creative person I know and so I glommed onto her this Christmas as we made some cute little crafts for people we love.

--As I made my last Grocery Stop before the family Christmas get together, there was the cutest little boy, no more than 5 years old, recruited to play all the Christmas songs in his beginner Christmas piano book, sitting at a piano right at the entrance of Macey's in Sandy. It was so adorable. He was oblivious to anything but his assignment of plowing through those Christmas songs and he was trying to do it lickity split. Who knows what kind of reward his mother had promised him at the end of his mission. But he played with gusto and enthusiasm, his little fingers barely reaching the full chords he needed to play. My heart just melted, as I know what a task it might have been to get him to do this in the first place. I know that once I persuaded Eddie to play in a recital in his younger years and it was so adorable. But I was not able to do it again!

--I loved being able to Tivo some select Christmas programs and watch them at my leisure throughout the holiday. The music during Christmas is like no other time and it was just such a pleasure to listen and watch.

--One day during this season, Greg left me a cute and welcome surprise at my

--I watched my Dad in Sandy, Utah get showered by friends and neighbors all the way through Christmas with treats, presents and good deeds. Since I stay there two or three days in the week, it was really fun to see what was left at the door each day. Wow! He got the 12 days of Christmas by an annonymous family. From friends and neighbors, plates of goodies came in regularly. I couldn't wait to see what the new day would bring. Neighbors on both sides of him shoveled his walks when it snowed and just asked him if there was anything they could do. If this isn't the spirit of Christmas, I don't know what it would be.

There were many other things that just brought a smile to my face during this wonderful time of year. I am grateful I was able to stop for a few moments and just take in the simple joys and pleasure of the Christmas Season. I hope you were able to do the same!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stephanie Meyers' Appeal

I first heard about a book called 'Twilight' when I was substituting at Dixon Middle School. I noticed a commotion in the library among a few female students and a teacher. They were animatedly talking about something, although I wasn't sure what. Then I saw one of the girls holding a book and they were all pointing at it and I knew it was this particular book that was causing the commotion. As soon as I got a chance, I inquired about the book and found that it was called 'Twilight' and that not only students were very interested in it, but the teachers and parents as well. I got a copy as soon as possible, and continued on through the series, waiting with baited breath until the next books came out.

I loved the series, but became aware of a backlash of sorts by certain groups of people and as I tried to understand their concerns, I really came to understand more about human nature and fear of the unknown, fear of change, and jealousy. So I am voicing what I have found to be my truth about this series and about this author.

Stephanie Meyer was a literature major, not a writer. She makes no bones about the fact that she was just an ordinary stay-at-home mom before she came upon her literary success. She doesn't claim that she was an experienced or acclaimed writer. She simply acted on a dream about one of the chapters and went from there, keeping things away from her husband at first, because she wasn't sure what he might think of her writing. She used her writing as an outlet from the humdrums of motherhood and there are many of them, to go along with the major rewards. There are undoubtedly many many fans of her work. She has had unprecedented success in the literary world and now the film industry. This is undoubtedly very puzzling for many a seasoned writer, many who have been at it for years and years, with not even a fraction of the success that she has swept up, in this her first series. For example, there are the well-meaning, albeit slightly self-righteous Mormon (of whom Stephanie Meyers is one) critics, who would have had her swiftly stripped of her church membership but had to be satisfied only with the removal of her books from Deseret Books, for her blasphemy of talking about vampires, traditionally associated with the occult, and with insinuating that young people have sexual urges--how dare she--these things should not be talked about so blatently! Wake up and smell the green jello my friends, this is kindergarten fare compared to what every kid in Mormondom is exposed to. Then there are the published authors, even NYT Bestselling authors. They say that her literary style is awkward, obviously amateur, stilted and non-descriptive. Apparently Stephen King expressed the greatest disdain for Stephanie Meyers--and what? He must think that stooping to blatent descriptions of terror, gore, sex and violence is great literary form. They may be literary, I wouldn't even know. But I know that books like his have helped our society descend to such levels of depravity, heretofore unknown. It's called pushing the envelope just a little further.

What Stephanie has hit on is a theme that is rarely, if ever, explored. Especially in a secular setting. It lies mainly with the extraordinary character of Edward. Here is the world of what has formerly been known as evil, mysterious and full of self-gratification and she has singled out a group of vampires, who for the most part have managed to quell these urges for the greater good, so as to live in peace with their fellow earthly inhabitants. They have totally controlled their natural instincts, and the most extreme example is Edward, who although he still has these urges, totally buries them in order to show Bella that he loves her and not only just loves her, but will put her life, comfort and happiness before his own. In a less primary role is Jacob, who also displays some of these characteristics as he becomes more involved in Bella's life. What? Men who actually think beyond the next paycheck, the next meal, the next romp in the hay? Wow! The ones who do that kind of thing are mothers--they have their children under great duress, sacrifice for their children, do for their children and families and live for their families and others. Mothers would give their own lives for their children and those they love.  Women are taught to be future mothers and they have this kind of mindset. Not that some men aren't doing these things, but all of these things at once?  I really think it blows a lot of womens' minds to think a man thinks beyond certain stereotypical things.

But wait--haven't we all been told that we need to control the natural man in order to keep our second estate? Now I'm sure I've lost every non-LDS reader at this point. That's OK. That's why Stephanie Meyer is here--to bring back to recall, in wonderful, easy-to-understand story form! She has brought the main point of human existence to light in a way that is easy to swallow, non-religious, yet so familiar to so many in so many ways. We came here to earth to bring our own natural, temporal, human tendencies under subjection to our spirits. We came here to change the "creatures" that we are to more refined and God-like beings. If we are successful here, we will progress to greater levels. Isn't that essentially what Edward did? I really feel like this is why this series has such universal appeal. And the fact that it was written to young people, before they are covered over with the unfortunate crust of cynicsm. Maybe, just maybe, it will raise some young person's eye to the fact that you really can overcome this life, in its many forms of darkness, despair, discouragment and destruction. Or maybe they will just have a great read!

Whatever the reason that people read the series, I'm sure that Stephanie Meyer felt like she dreamed a silly dream and was just writing it down as an outlet. But what was her driving force behind writing the whole book and then the series? Was she looking to make a ton of money as an author? Not even! She wasn't even a writer. She didn't even know if she should be doing it, hence the initial hiding of the manuscript from her husband. There was only one person who even gave her book a thumbs up for publishing, and that is who she went with. Whatever the reason she decided to write these books, I feel like the world is a better place because of them!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Growing In Marriage - Jesse & LuAnn Crisler

I went to Stake Women's Conference all the way back in June of this year and meant to write out the notes from one of the classes there. It was such a great class about marriage. I never got them typed out, but did save the program on the back of which I wrote some notes. The Crisler's are very musically talented people. Both are accomplished singers and one or both of them sing in the Tab. They attended Julliard School of Music which is where they met. At the time, Sister Crisler was not LDS. They gave 10 observations about marriage that they felt had helped their own through the years.

1. Forget the gender roles that are traditionally assigned to men and women. Do what works, be a helpmeet.

2. Avoid saying "It's your turn". Remember that it won't always work 50/50. Sometimes you are giving more and sometimes you are taking more. It always works out in the end.

3. Don't compare your marriage to others. Everyone has their own individual positive and negative aspects in their marriages, some which aren't visible to the public eye. Just work on improving and appreciating your own marriage.

4. Never mention divorce. It will breed a monster. Once that boundary is crossed, it is easy to go there again and again.

5. Never say, "If you love me, you would...." That is a form of control and no one likes to feel controlled in a relationship.

6. Realize, know and appreciate that you will always have differences. Clarify these constantly. Learn to work with them and make them a win/win for both of you.

7. Always compromise. "Good marriages take work--better ones take even more work."

8. Keep the romance alive. Do things that you both enjoy that help you feel closer to one another.

9. Your marriage is your own. Don't tattle to other people about each other. People never forget what you tell them and how it makes them feel toward your spouse. Often it comes back to bite you.

10. Never forget your activity in the church. Make it your cornerstone in everything you do. It will enhance so many aspects of your marriage, including your children and extended family. Remember that missing just 2 Sundays leads to inactivity.

Okay, those are the notes I had on the paper. There were great examples and stories also given along with these. They did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed this class. Now I can throw away the program I had been saving all this time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm A Disc Golf Chick

I like disc golf. I like my husband for introducing it to me. He bought me the bag, the discs, and I actually know what over-stable and under-stable are and a few other choice terms.

Greg is the most urgent and intense driver (of discs). He can chuck those puppies over 350 ft. When I watch them,they look like birds in flight, rising up and down with the wind. Just last night, he placed 2nd in doubles. This is no small feat since he is the old man of the bunch. One comment that was made was, "Wow! For an old man, you have a hell of an arm."

I must tell you, he thinks I'm a heck of a putter, too. Whenever I make a nice putt, especially in front of a bunch of guys, he starts talking to me in ways that to the normal ear, may sound dirty. But it's actually a lot of disc golf phrases strung together with "my wife" in there somewhere. I have a slight hearing problem and sometimes it is hard to distinguish between consonants, like p and b. But I have no problem distinguishing between those two vowels when we're out playing. It is ALWAYS "nice putt."

Seriously, ladies, disc golf with your man is fun. You're out in a beautiful park, the weather is nice (but not necessarily), you're getting fresh air and exercise, quality time with the hubby, etc. etc. If I was single, I'd take up disc golf, for sure, as a strategy. There are hardly any good women players out there and single, athletic guys aplenty. Greg tells me about some of those he meets. Airline pilots, CEO's of small companies, millionaires, you name it. Heck, Greg plays with a certain BYU quaterback's dad and some of his friends. Of course, there are also the pot heads and nerds.

Sometimes I'll see guys out introducing the sport to their dates or girlfriends. I have to laugh at times. The girl will be wearing a flowing dress or flip flops or a halter top, her hair perfectly coifed. She looks like she needs to be mall shopping or something. The thing that she feels is most important is to look beautiful for her man. And then she throws. It is embarrassingly unwieldy, but the guy gallantly compliments her and urges her on. Hopefully, she will be persistent and the guy will be patient. If so, she will have it made and she doesn't even know it! I think it's fun to see families playing together. One time there was a couple playing, with baby stroller in tow. He was obviously a player and I assumed she was along for the outing, not necessarily the playing. Then came her turn. She let loose a throw that outdid mine by a few feet and she wasn't even trying. By the time their little guy gets to be three, he'll be a player for sure. The other day I saw a little guy tagging along with his player dad and possibly his grandpa. He wss carrying his own disc. I thought, "how cute, the little guy might be out of his element trying to keep up with the big boys." But no, this little guy was a bonefied player and he let those discs rip. So there are a lot of little disc golf virtuosos coming up the pipe.

Greg taught me how to play. It used to be that every time I made a throw, there he'd be, with another and another suggestion. "Please, just let me throw and enjoy my time here!", I'd say. I really didn't care how many feet my disc went or if I made the basket in 4 or 8 tries. So he'd let up for awhile until he just couldn't stand it and there come the comments and coaching once again. He's a lot better now....because I'm a lot better now! I may even enter my first tournament next year. And tomorrow he is playing a tournament in Ogden. We're trying it out today though.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Tribute To Daisy

Daisy was my border collie. We got her as a pup and she was the last one in the litter, blue-eyed, sweet-tempered, and mischievous. For 6 years we had her and those 6 years were all the better for it. Why? Just her presence. She wasn't a licker. She wasn't a barker. But she loved affection and showed affection. I loved the adoring way that she looked at me when I was busy doing something else. I loved the way she anticipated going on a walk with me and trying to be patient while I rounded up all the things I needed. I loved how she refused to put a space between myself and her when I was hiking with anyone else but her. She would always always take her place directly in front of me. I loved how I never ever had to worry about aggressive behavior toward anyone as I was out doing my thing in a park, on a trail or on the road.

In early August of this year, I got a comment that she was looking thin. I had never really noticed, because we fed her well. I thought that the reason she turned down her food is that she was hot and just wanted to keep the fat off for coolness' sake. But it got me to wondering. I started watching her and noticed that she wasn't as energetic as she should be. Soon I really noticed it, especially after taking her to a dog park in Sandy and all of the dogs there ran heads and tails all over her. She was really a sedate little dog. And then the kicker. She collapsed on her legs. I saw it, it was ever so little, she got right back up, but no, this wasn't good. She was at the vet a couple days later. Well, after a few hundred dollars, we found out the diagnosis. I worried about heart worms. I know that dogs get them back east. That proved to be unfounded, since there are only a handful of cases here in Utah. But it was just as, if not more serious. She had Lymphoma. It is a very aggressive form of cancer that dogs can get. After that, she declined so rapidly that it was astounding. I have never seen anything progress so quickly. We put her down 4 days ago. She was sweet to the very end and I'm glad that she saw her family surrounding her those very last moments. I will always think of Daisy as my little sweetheart. Believe it or not, we already have another border collie. Her name is Evie and she is 10 months old. She has a few issues and needs a bit of rehabilitation. She has taken to Greg immediately. She and I haven't hit it off so well. I really miss Daisy. We'll see how this goes. Time will only tell.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wounded - Not Beyond Repair

My soul took a casualty, a major beatdown.....again. Certainly not the first!
It came out of nowhere and shook me to the core.
And yet, in a strange way it was also an answer to my prayers.

My weather-beaten, battle-scarred soul has yet another deep cut, etched out of sorrow and sin. Is it worth the pain? Is peace, tranquility and serene preparation grounds for someone else, someone else indeed, a fitting trade? (I didn't know I was the one who would have to pay...)
That's OK.

This tough, calloused, bruised soul has taken hits before and of this, at least, I'm sure. I'll come out yet again in triumph.....even more in debt and humble gratitude
to Him who conquered all.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Born On The 4th Of July


Today is my son, Eddie's birthday.

It seemed so funny at the time that he should be born today, a national holiday. But as I've seen him grow and mature, I've come to think how really appropriate that he was born on this day. He is the most patriotic person I know and he loves his country and would do anything to defend it.

The only thing more important than being a part of the Armed Forces is being a part of the Lord's army, serving as a missionary. Even that has been delayed and has made him wait for awhile. And I'm OK with this. I know that the timetable of the Lord sometimes isn't our own. Some of us have to wait, for whatever reason. I know it isn't easy for Eddie to wait, but he is and has been doing it with grace. Today he offhandedly told me that he might be on the big screen at 'Stadium of Fire'. Earlier this year, he had been with his BYU Air Force ROTC Unit at Hill AFB, welcoming incoming soldiers from Iraq tours of duty. They randomly selected some of the cadets to describe what it means to them when they see the flag. I know he said something short, succinct and to the point. That is how he is. But it would have been good. I wish I had known that, because I would have been sitting in that Stadium tonight, even though I'm not a Jonas Brothers fan. But as it is, we will be celebrating with our family, such as it is, tonight. Simple, that's how Eddie has always liked it. That's not such a bad thing in this day and age of over-the-top entertainment and revelry. I've always known that Eddie is a stronger, more valiant spirit than I ever was. He knows what he needs to do and just does it, regardless of the unpleasantness or how he is feeling. He has the self-discipline to avoid things that aren't good for him--like too many helpings of dinner on Sunday or spending all kinds of money on cars, bikes and entertainment and instead using it on his mission.

Who would have known that on that 4th of July 21 years ago one of God's truly valiant warriors would be coming to my arms to stay awhile. Not for too long, really. Just long enough to get the basics so he could continue on his way. But what a privilege it has been for me. Happy birthday, Eddie. I love you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Viktoriya, My Teacher, My Friend Part II

Viktoriya's lessons weren't cheap, by Provo standards. We paid $120.00/month. But really, her knowledge of the middle-eastern culture and her expertise in dance and choreography were worth much more. The choreographies that we learned from her were authentic, artistic and meaningful. As our lessons progressed we moved from the gym, to her own little studio that Dave built for her, to Noah's in Lindon, to another home with another studio. We never stayed stationary for very long and sometimes it was really hard to get a continuity of what we were trying to learn. Often she would start on a choreography with us and then become distracted because of a show she would be preparing for or a photo shoot or personal problems with her own family. After all, she was adjusting to a totally new country, new language, new customs, new family structure, new faith, new friends, new everything. This takes time and she was trying her best to fit in the best way that she could, trying to make everyone happy, including herself. Sometimes it was more than she could handle. But when she was able to give us her absolute, full attention, it was well worth it. The cboreographies were amazing and we were so lucky to be called her dancers.

Throughout this time, I learned that she had a very fiery temperament and sometimes she would manifest it in word and gestures and Russian expressions. She would often halt our lessons to vent about an issue she felt strongly about. Once she gave us a detailed description of life in Russia and the culture there. It took about an hour. Did we say anything? After all, we were paying for dance, not a cultural dissertation on Russia. No, we just ate it up and listened to every enthralling detail. Another time, she told us exactly what she felt about Utah culture. Viktoriya is very metropolitan and she felt that Utah is so provincial in many ways. She definitely loved the area for the protection it offered to her girls and the good religious values around her. But she also felt that there was a bit of close-mindedness as well. Those of us in the class heard her talk about this and although many of us were native Utahns and we love our state and our way of life, many of us could relate. She talked about how many of the women in the LDS church were raised to be so careful sexually that they were even restrictive in their own relationships with their husbands and thus the reason why many of the men here stray into deviant, secretive lifestyles. She told us, "Don't be afraid to be a woman! Show your femininity and be proud of it. You don't have to be loose to do this. " She told us of how men in her ward would make passes at her, unprovoked by her, and that she didn't like it at all.

She had great charity because of the experiences she had lived through. Once she had a special class about nutrition, all compliments of her. She talked about her experiences with the fast food and convenience foods here in America and told about the ill effects this food can have on women, especially. She showed us alternative ways in which to cook, eat and prepare food. She had us taste things she had cooked. It was so very interesting and although I'm sure most of the women couldn't put everything she told us into effect, we certainly took away some things that benefited our lives. I know I did. I gained a renewed appreciation for the nutritional value of raw fruits and vegetables and how bad the white breads are. Viktoriya called white bread "white death". I have to agree wholeheartedly. She was an avid gardener. She had an amazing variety of vegetables in her garden, which she cared for herself.

Because of the many experiences she had throughout her life, she had a lot of charity for people of all races and religions. I have never seen anyone embrace all different kinds of people in every class so readily as Viktoriya did. The only prerequisite for you to be her friend was that you were able to appreciate her and accept her for what she was, listen to her and be available to help her sometimes. For some, that was a tall order. But for many of us, it was a privilege and an honor. She spoke of one day being able to go to the temple and there be sealed to her husband and her precious daughters.

She desired tolerance from others--here was a woman from a totally different culture, trying to assimilate into the American, LDS, Utah culture, to the best of her ability. She just wanted to be seen for the good that she did and for the people around her to give her peace. There came a time when she separated from her husband, Dave. She moved into another neighborhood. She was very low on finances and needed to support herself. She took in some boarders, who were a bi-racial LDS couple. The woman was from Russia, like herself and the man was black. They were married and quite happy, but she received a lot of harrassment from the neighbors. They called the Housing Authorities on her for having renters. She had lessons in her small studio. They called the city for that. She never got any peace or understanding from these LDS neighbors, who smiled sweetly to her to her face, but then turned around and backstabbed her. She felt like her visiting teachers were a sort of gestappo, trying to figure out what her status was so that they could report her and gossip about her.

Her husband, Dave, turned out to be a user and a manipulator and he was terrible to her. He blackmailed her, he lied to her, and he made false promises to her. His family was very intolerant of her and her daughter. Her feelings toward Utah and members of the LDS church turned sour. Many of us were so sympathetic but we wouldn't go so far as to deny the truthfulness of the Gospel and the reality of the plan of Salvation, the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith. I told her that the people weren't perfect, but the plan was.

She eventually moved to SLC, where she had a position with the Utah Ballet Conservatory as a teacher and where she was nearer to film and modeling opportunities. She continued to teach middle eastern dance and perform at weddings and competitions. Her name was only getting bigger. Her birthday came around and she turned 39. She felt a sense of urgency to establish a solid reputation in a business where youth and physical beauty were the top selling commodities. She needed to establish security for her two daughters.

Then the fateful day in the middle of April. She was going down the road with a million things on her mind. She was still in a new country, learning a new language, learning new customs, with new people, surroundings.....and traffic patterns. She didn't see the light turn yellow, then red. She ran straight through it and her little white Toyota was hit by an oncoming van. She was rushed to the hospital with extensive internal and head injuries. Oddly enough, not one bone was broken and no external injuries were incurred. But Viktoriya was gravely injured. She lay in a coma as the surgeons tried to help her. They shaved her beautiful hair. That was a tragedy all in itself. But she was unaware of anything that was going on around her. It has been 2 1/2 months since that horrible accident. She now lays in a care facility, still in a coma.

I have been to visit my friend. She doesn't recognize me. She lays there day after day. I wonder what will happen to her beautiful daughters. One of them is left parentless and the other will most likely be raised by her estranged husband's family. One thing I do know--she has a most beautiful spirit and had so much to overcome in this life. Maybe Heavenly Father has taken her into his arms and rescued her from the grasp of the world, to teach her of His ways, to surround her with His love, and to give her a peace that she never could know otherwise. Somehow I know that He will not leave Viktoriya alone. She has done too much good and has too much love for others. I am grateful for this and grateful for His love and mercy. So rest, Viktoriya, and learn, even in this state of limbo. Your destiny is one of greatness. I love you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Viktoriya, My Teacher, My Friend (Part I)

been hearing about a Viktoriya for awhile from one friend of mine and then from another friend of mine. So when I was invited to "try out" one of her classes, I decided to do so with some trepidition. I do have some dance background. I took ballet as a little girl for about 4 years and that effect is still with me to this day--I can do full splits and am very limber. I was in a Modern Dance Group in HS called Culliver's Choreographers and in Jr. College, I took an advanced Modern Dance Class where we did a few choreographies there. So I felt like I wasn't totally a duck out of water going to "Middle Eastern Dance." The class was in a small gym on Canyon Rd by Day's Market. When I got there Viktoriya greeted me and had me start right in on their class. My first impression of her was "foreign", with a heavy Russian accent, quite pretty and very sweet, almost solicitous in her friendliness. They did bar work, about an hour and then moved into the dance technique part. The bar work was really easy for me, because of the dance experience I had. No sweat! (Wrong expression, yes, I did sweat, but it was all do-able for me and didnt put me out of commission afterwards.) Then came the technique. Not so easy. I didn't realize hips and belly could move that way and it was difficult to get them to do even a little of what she was asking us to do. Then one of her "intermediate" students, from her dance group came in. She started practicing in front of the mirror. I thought, "I could never shimmy or move like this person, ever." That's when my inner challenge knocked on the door of my pride. I decided to give it a try. I worked with Viktoriya for about a year, taking lessons about once a week, and am happy to say that I was able to work enough so that I conquered the moves that I at first thought were so difficult! I actually had new people comment to me on how they didn't think they could ever do those moves and how I was such a pro. (Yeah, right!)  It was through the great teaching of Viktoriya that I was able to conquer these moves.  Sadly I thought she'd be around forever!

Viktoriya is an extremely interesting person. Born and raised in the Ukraine to a "family of Doctors", ranging from a mother who was a psychiatrist to aunts and uncles who were all very well educated and trained in their professions, Viktoriya started out early in her education. The Russian Education system is nothing like our own. She was sent to school and in Russia, dance training is mandatory. The teachers in Russi are very strict and to berate a student in front of the class is perfectly accepted and normal. In dance class, teachers stroll around with canes and tap or even hit students if they aren't in perfect form. Those students accept this and don't take out major lawsuits, etc. It always amazed Viktoriya about the lack of respect American students show their teachers... 

 Those few dance students that make the cut are sent to more advanced training and from that advanced training is where the prima ballerinas are found and sent to the professional schools of ballet. There is no ballet in the world like Russian Ballet, known for its perfect form and discipline. Viktoriya was one of those talented ones who was sent on to the advanced training. But she had no desire to be a prima donna in the Russian Ballet. Thus she didn't put in the required hours to do that, as I will explain later.

Another thing that Viktoriya was amazing at, was the piano. Her mother made sure that she had the opportunity to have lessons with the finest teachers available. She became a concert pianist at a very young age. She has shown me what she was able to do. She played a little bit of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for me, and it was stunning. She talked about practicing 4 - 5 hours each day on her piano. To me, the discipline she had was amazing.

But alas, Viktoriya didn't want the disciplined life of a concert pianist or a prima ballernina or a doctor or some such profession. She was a beautiful girl with a lot of life and personality. She left home and lived in Moscow and partied! She talked of nights of fun and dancing and drinking and just major good times. Viktoriya probably would have settled down and come back home to continue some sort of career and all. But she got married and had her 1st daughter. This marriage was a disaster. Suffice it to say, she landed in the hospital with serious injuries at one point with this marriage.

Then the economy went bust in Russia and pretty much through most of Europe. Some girls, who were good dancers, travelled to the Middle East and became bellydancers, to make money. Some of them did OK and some became famous, making a boatload of money. Viktoriya became famous and made a boatload of money. She danced at major hotels, did parties, made videos and really became quite a commodity. She learned the culture of the Middle East and she learned that bellydancing is not cheap and tawdry, when done in the right atmosphere. There is absolute beauty in it and long tradition behind it. Bellydancers do have their place in society, however. As she established herself in Lebbanon and other places, she became famous. For several years she was the lover of a University President. She wanted so much to marry him. But he wouldn't, because she was a bellydancer. The best she could hope for was to be his mistress.

She ended up back in Ukraine for awhile...until she met Dave, from Provo, UT, her ticket to America. He was visiting Ukraine and met Viktoriya. They fell in love and he brought her back to Provo in 2002. Bellydancing was in the past. She became pregnant and had her little girl. She lived a very humble life. She had some health problems, she gained a lot of weight. She became resigned to a humble life. But then, she danced for Dave. He was blown away! Never had Provo Dave seen such a thing. He begged her to start dancing again. He knew that she could make a name for herself if she did. So slowly, she started eating the foods she knew she needed to eat in order to gain health back. One of the things that so appalled her when she first came to America was the food. Apparently, Dave was more than enthusiastic about introducing fast food and convenience food to her. Apparently, it was his staple and for awhile it was Viktoriya's staple. Viktoriya wasn't used to Del Taco or Burger King or Mikky D's. It wreaked havoc on her health. So she slowly searched out foods that were raw, or organic and she used her nutritional training to heal herself from her many health problems that developed. She lost her weight and started dancing.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Three Men In My Life

My blogging has gone way down, as I thought it might, since I started another venture--work--and the novelty wore off. My husband calls me a fickle woman at times. I don't think it to be true in most things, but yes, in some things I can lose interest pretty quickly. Don't get me wrong! I think blogging is great, especially if you need something to keep you updating in the journal department. I kept a journal faithfully through my young adult life, starting with a diary in HS, which I still have and I look back at it and think OMGoodness, was I really that naiive, shallow, wise, faithful, etc. when I was just 16 - 18? Now the journaling has tapered off to nothing and so an occasional blog entry can somewhat fulfill that aspect of life, although I don't think blogging totally replaces journaling. Because a journal is private, your deeper feelings can be recorded. For me, blogging is kind of superficial and transparent---but fun.

Well, my sister and her husband have left for Paris. They will be there for around 10 days. The last trip they took was to India I believe. They are quite the travelers. I, on the other hand, have been to Canada! I can't say that I feel like I'm missing out. For me, every day is an adventure and I love my life. If I'm a healthy person, I'm a happy person. But I did ask for some parisian chocolate. I'm not even sure Laura can do that because it's so restricted these days. But she's a sweetheart like that, and I know she'll bring me back at least a postcard. I know she'll be missing her two little boys, who are staying with her mom-in-law. Carter has just been weaned and Harrison is a very energetic 3-year-old. So I think she is ready to get away just a bit. I'd say that is getting away a bit, wouldn't you?

Eddie is still in his braces. At almost 21 having braces is a real hindrence. But as with any trial, it can be turned into a blessing and I think it will eventually be to his benefit. We went on a great hike for Mother's Day. It was nice to spend some time with him one on one. We are so busy these days and once in awhile it's nice.

Greg has started a blog and his is amazing. I need to get him to show me how to put on a playlist and how to put up wallpaper (I still haven't figured that out) and how to write and how to get helpful information so that other people will actually find it worth their time to follow. His blog is

Can I just say that I've enjoyed visiting with my Dad so much? I went over last night and found him sick with a really bad cough and a fever of 100. He hadn't eaten and I was glad that I had brought him some of our Sunday dinner. This is a man who deserves to be taken care of and loved for the rest of his life. He shouldn't be without a visitor for even one day. He has always given liberally to people and lived such a simple life himself. I don't know what I'd do without him. He is my hero. We've had our disagreements in the past, but I'm glad that I overcame my resentments and just forgave. Who hasn't had a few issues with their parents? It opened up so many horizons as to who he is and helped us to understand each other.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'll now post and pretend that I'm doing so after having been to this
beautiful scene instead of having been subjected to another day of ghastly weather. Seriously, when will this end? I couldn't even work my job today! We can't operate those hand-held computers in this stuff. But it was a good napping day, TV day, and Family History Day. As much as I've wanted more kids and whined, moaned and complained that it didn't look like more kids were in my future, today my nap was uninterrupted and blissfully peaceful.

Speaking of sleep, I now snore. Apparently, Greg couldn't sleep last night between the hours of 3 am and 5 am because I was raising the roof with my snoring. How terrible! I always felt like I would never be one of those ungainly women who had no apparent self-respect nor self-control in their sleep. Well, it's happened. All I can do is say, "Well, why don't you use ear plugs? I do!" I'm sure that this is just a lapse of......well, self respect and self-control and that soon, I'll be back to normal. I'm not coming down with a cold, that I'm aware of, I'm not overly exhausted, I'm not stressed out, so it's obviously just a lapse.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Depression Seminar Final Session

Frontal Lobe - Medical Conditions

"The eyes are the window to the soul" and the frontal lobe, too! This picture was so striking to me that I had to include it and find a way to make it work in this set of notes. This boy makes me think of the two boys in 'The Kite Runner'. So thanks for the indulgence.

Medical Conditions
Many diseases of the body affect the mind. This is true of Hepatitis C,head injury, stroke, lupus, congestive heart failure, postpartum syndrome, pms, inadequately-treated thyroid, low or high adrenal gland output. So when looking for the 4 hits of depression, always make sure that you do not have a chronic, untreated physical problem before ruling out the Medical Condition hit. Although having a medical condition would certainly increase the chances of depression, 85% of people with major depression do not have any of the above causes.

Frontal Lobe
Research done in the 90's and 2000's show that the main characteristics of depression are found in the frontal lobe of the brain. A depressed person shows a definite decrease in frontal lobe blood flow and activity. An easy way to show frontal lobe activity is through a PET Scan, which shows frontal lobe activity. As with different areas of the brain,the Frontal Lobe has specific functions. The seat of spirituality, morality and the will are found in this area. Compared to animals, humans have a comparatively large area for the frontal lobe. For instance, cats frontal lobe area is only 3.5% of the total brain. Dogs are 7%, chimpanzees have a 17% frontal lobe area, while humans have anywhere from 33 - 38% of the brain reserved for the frontal lobe.

When the frontal lobe is compromised by injury or impairment, the effects are myriad. Some of these are that moral principle is lower, there is a lack of foresight in decision-making, societal impairment is evident, abstract reasoning is impaired and there is a loss of empathy for other living things.

The Frontal Lobe is fed by carbohydrates. Fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables are sources that are good for the frontal lobe. Sugar has a hypoglycemic effect on the brain and large amounts of sugar has been shown to impair frontal lobe activity in grade school children. After taking in large amounts of sugar, it takes approximately 4 hours for the frontal lobe and brain to return back to normal, and a common practice is to eat more sugar before that has occurred because of the dip in blood sugar that happens. Therefore, many school-age children have an absence of critical abstract thinking.

It is known that the effects of hypnosis cancel out frontal lobe activity, making people highly suggestible. It is shown that hypnosis is achieved by having the subject stare at a bright flickering light. The constant changes of the light puts the person in a trancelike state. Something that is very hypnotic is entertainment television. It is very quick and scenes change in an instant, changing hundreds of times per minute. There are over 3,000 studies about TV and the mind. Studies show that 17 areas of the frontal lobe decline in the face of watching entertainment TV. Even news programs are doing the quick scene changes that make people glued to the TV.

Other things that adversely affect the Frontal Lobe - extremely hard rock, rap, hip-hop, alcohol, drugs, low carb diets, unmarried sexual activity, actual hypnosis, going against one's conscience, not praying or meditating or reading spiritual materials.

There are many examples in the scriptures where people have gone through depression, showing that good people have sadness. Elijah was depressed, Job was certainly not happy at one point, King David went through terrible depression, the whole book of Daniel talks about depression, and there are many examples of good people who were not spared of sorrow. Some of these people recovered when they changed something in their lives or stesses that were previously there went away. Whatever the case, we can learn from the scriptures.

Afterthought: I was so glad that I was able to attend this seminar. It made me place even more value on many of the teachings I've heard for all of my life. Many of them I took and did haphazardly in different periods of my life, when it was convenient or when I thought about it. I can see that these things (reading the scriptures, praying, meditating, eating good foods, avoiding harmful substances, not watching so much TV, going to bed early, getting up early, working hard, physical exercise, doing good to others, having positive thoughts, listening to good music and laughing!) are not only good teachings, they are essential to maintaining a joyful life. This was an excellent seminar with many truths that I will definitely implement with more intent in my life. It is ama
zing how much great truth is out there and the science now backs up what was taught to us forever...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Closed Doors

Tomorrow I go to my U.S. census training. I will be one of thousands of government employees attempting to get an accurate count of the people living in the United States. I will be recording data on a hand held computer. I will learn something of what is behind closed doors, and I will put it in a permanent record. There is a story behind every door and I hope to be able to tell some of that story with my statistical data.

Just recently, information from the 1860 US Census helped to pinpoint where my great grandfather, Henry Breisach, lived and died. And this helped us to do important Family History work, piecing together clues that help connect us to centuries past. Someone like me had taken the time to find out who was living in the home and record it to the best of their ability.

I actually worked the 2000 US Census when I was living in American Fork. I had just moved to Utah and was getting used to the grid system, which did help me quite a bit, when I was smart enough to use it. Now I get to work here in the Provo area, which I am quite familiar with. I'm really looking forward to this. I love being outdoors and walking. I like figuring things out and I like meeting people. So, if you see me wandering around the streets of Provo, know that I'm probably on the clock, getting my exercise and getting paid.

I met one of my best friends doing the Census in 2000. Patti Jones was a student, like me, going to BYU for the post bacheloreate program in Special Ed. That didn't start for a few months later, however. I noticed her in the Census training session. A pretty, vivacious, blond woman who was always tallking on her cell. She would get and take at least 3-5 calls every session. She usually left to take care of the call. I thought, wow, how popular she must be. I didn't even think that she might have kids who needed her attention, which she did. (And, she is indeed extremely popular and fun!) At the time I was living in much different circumstances than I am now. Truthfully, I was very lonely, homesick and missing my own children terribly. Doing the Census was something to help me ease the pain I was feeling. We didn't speak at that time--I just took mental note.

A few months later, when the BYU Special Education Certification program was underway, I encountered her again. It was crazy and busy. This time we spoke and I found her to be so friendly and approachable. She wasn't so busy to not be interested in me and be my friend. I found out that she, like me, had been recently divorced and devastated by the whole thing. She was bravely going on with her life, taking care of her children and trying to certify in Special Ed so that she could keep her job at Timp View High, teaching the Emotional Support Unit, a class made of boys and occasionally girls who are in youth custody and working to be mainstreamed back into the regular classroom. These kids cannot be successful in regular classrooms or life until their behavior is under control. Patti is fabulous at what she does. She has a heart of gold and gives these kids so much empowerment to do what they need to do and be successful. I've been able to help her in her classroom now and again and I absolutely love it. She makes big deals out of birthdays, good behavior, special events and even ordinary events. Out-of-pocket is how it usually ends up. Budgets are not big by any means.

Here, again, we're talking about closed doors. These kids have seen some pretty rough times in their lives and doors have closed for them. Patti's class is pretty much the last stop before prison or institutionalization. I've seen the behavior---not good. I've seen unprovoked attacks, bad language, hostile attitudes, delinquent records, failed academics, removal from school, and so on.

The good news is that I've seen some miracles, too. I've seen some boys/girls take hold of themselves and realize that they need to act now, and turn their lives around. I've seen them take an active interest in learning because in reality, at this late stage in their schooling, no one else will take responsibility for their education. I've seen them make moral decisions that foster trust and their privileges increase from there.

When the day comes that someone actually graduates or is actually mainstreamed into regular classrooms, it is indeed a celebration. It means that there is an achievement or gold star by their name. Notes are taken, attention is paid and somewhere a door will open. And maybe, because of that one success, another and another door will open. And somewhere because of the actions of one caring person, the light is allowed through. Thanks Patti!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Depression Seminar Session 7

Overcoming Loss And Life's Disappointments - "How Can You Mend A
Broken Heart?" -The Bee Gee's

It's hard to ever think that a broken heart will be mended. The pain is so intense, the memories don't seem to fade quickly enough. But in this session we learned some really great things about grief, what to expect and how to move on and be healthy afterwards. Warning: No one said it would be easy.

Take a look at what critical loss looks like--it doesn't just mean the death of a loved one. It could also be loss of a home, loss of a job, loss of a loved one by estrangement, divorce, loss of a body part (as in amputation) or even loss of social status.

With any one of these situations and any number of others, a grieving process is appropriate and expected. Some events may be more traumatic than others but all must be acknowledged in order to heal properly. Just as with physical wounds, the mind needs time to heal. If someone were to receive a physical wound, appropriate treatment is essential. If the treatment is inadequate or belated, complications arise and the risk of the wound not healing properly or even fatality occurring is greatly magnified. Some wounds are so severe that one never regains full physical function. I'm sad to say that just today, in the headlines, actress Natasha Richardson has died because of a brain injury that occurred from a seemingly minor skiing accident. I'm sure her family is wishing that they had taken every precaution and had not turned away paramedics. It's just one of those hard calls, but experts say that if she had gotten appropriate and timely care, her death could have been avoided. And so it is with mental or spiritual wounds. We need to seek and obtain the healing balm so that these can be healed once and for all and not leave painful residue.

There are ways we talk to ourselves and during the experience of loss we need to make sure we self-speak in healing ways and not like these distorted views--"I will never again be happy." "This kind of unfair thing always happens to me." "My world has ended because I lost him." Acknowledge the loss in ways like this--"I will miss the companionship that she has given me and I feel extreme loss." "I have lost a very important part of my life." "This is painful and it sucks." There are some subtle but important differences in the two groups of expressions of grief. Can you pick up on them? Good!

There are 3 Stages of Grief
1) Shock and Disbelief - This lasts for a few minutes up to a few days.
2) Developing Awareness - This lasts for 3 - 12 months. Symptoms are inability to concentrate, preoccupation - always going back to thinking about the event, anxiety, restlessness, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, digestive problems, fatigue, anger, guilt and depression is common. Although this stage can be longer in duration, the grieving individual should feel increasingly better month by month.

3) Resolution - Anywhere from 3 - 12 months after loss. This is when you gradually take charge of your loss and resolve to live your life despite of the loss.

We were referred to a study of a group of 40 men who had experienced a death of a spouse and whose immune systems were already compromised before the loss. They were asked to reflect on the meaning of the loss. The groups divided naturally into 3 categories. Group 1 only emphasized the negative aspects of the loss. Group 2 accepted the fact of the loss and just moved on with their lives. Group 3 found a new respect for life and made new commitments to improve their own lives. It was found, upon examination, that both Groups 1 and 2 experienced a decline in their immune systems and overall health while Group 3 showed both an improved immune system and long-term survival rate. So from this we can infer that there are healthier and worse ways to go through loss.

Healthy grieving does not come naturally to most people. So one can almost view it as a series of tasks to go through when progressing through the stages of grieving. What experts have found is that indeed, time does not always heal wounds. But working through them over time can.

The Tasks of Mourning

1. Accept the reality of the loss - We do this by having funerals, memorials and talking about the person and reminiscing about them.

2. Work through the Pain - Don't avoid the pain. Acknowledge the hurt and loss and then make sure that you take care of yourself. For 15 minutes a day for about 4 or 5 days, write about the loss and what you are experiencing, feeling and remembering. Get rest, sunlight, proper nutrition, and plenty of social support. It has been shown that poor social support is more closely related to depression than torture during wartime. Maintain spiritual ties to develop patience in suffering. Cling to hopeful beliefs and faith and know that loss was never meant to be.

3. Identify the functions that the loss provided and try to replace them or adjust to them.

4. Emotionally Relocate the Loss - Put the loss to rest in your mind. Put it away and know that it will never that same space again but it can be relocated. For example, Grandma's not here anymore, but she now is in heaven and is happy and I'm happy for her.

5. Reflect and Grow from the loss. Think about what may have been learned from that hard
experience and how it has changed you for the better. Romans 8:28. Discuss with someone ways to grow from the loss. Remember that sharing with someone is good. "Don't go into your mind alone, it is a dangerous place," especially during the grieving process.

Grief is always complicated by severe Depression. In addition to the above symptoms the severely depressed person feels worthlessness, has greatly impaired functioning, and goes beyond 18 months bereavement.

If you are not now experiencing a loss, why not help someone through who is experiencing a loss? Share your love with them and help them to find their way. It will come back to you when you need it!

Depression Seminar Session 6

Coping With Stress

"Stress is the trash of modern life - we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life." Gnarly Karly

Stress in life is inevitable--it's what 21st Century people live with. It is so ironic that we, with all the conveniences and the technology so readily available, and the wealth flowing, that stress has never been higher in any other century. It is in epidemic proportion. It contributes and speeds up most all of the major illnesses, including depression. So to be able to cope with stress is tantamount to our survival in society.

One-half of depression patients are unable to cope with stress, thus making it one of the four hits qualifying for the development of major depression. (Congratulations, you have the necessary number of hits, making you a qualifier for major misery!) So how does one cope with stress? It helps to understand a little bit more about the brain.

The Pineal gland is in the brain. It is only the size of a kernel of corn, yet it controls so much. It produces a chemical called epithalamin, which catalyzes a process that slows down the aging process, and even increases lifespan. It works with other chemicals in our bodies to create this effect. The end product produced is melatonin, a hormone that peaks during nighttime hours. It is sometimes called "the hormone of darkness". Melatonin protects against free-radical damage, enhances the immune system, assists in coping with stress, increases the ability to experience pleasure, regulates cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rhythm, and decreases risk for osteoporosis, among many other things. Melatonin levels fall as a person ages but one can maintain melatonin levels by enhancing pineal gland health.

Some things that cut melatonin production significantly are going to bed late, and exposure to blue light and/or regular light after 10 pm. We were referred to a study done at BYU, where students' GPA's were evaluated on individual sleep habits. It was shown that those students who were able to get to bed at around 10 pm had better GPA's than those who did not. Also Dr. Nedley cited his own experience during medical school where classes alone were from 6 am - 6 pm, not including homework, etc. His solution was to be in bed by 9 pm and up at 4 am. The only time he studied were the hours in the morning before class. He did this throughout his medical college years and he ended up with a 4.0 GPA. He attributes his success to his sleep habits.

One can supplement with melatonin and results have been good with short-term use and lower dosage (.3 mgs vs 3 mgs)but studies have not been conclusive about the long-term effects of melatonin supplementation. There are foods that are sources of melatonin among which are: corn, rice, barley, tomatoes, banana, ginger and the highest source - oats.

Lifestyle can also reduce melatonin levels:
  • Not coping with stress
  • caffeine (cuts melatonin production by 1/2)
  • alcohol (cuts melatonin production by up to 41%)
  • tobacco
  • aspirin-like drugs
  • beta and calcium channel blockers
  • anti-anxiety drugs and sleep aids
  • vitamin B-12 (3 mg and above/day)
  • anti-depressants
Having said that not coping with stress is a bad thing, there are some forms of stress, if managed, that can actually be OK. First we need to define the different types of stress. Passive stress is the kind of stress that we feel when we are watching something horrific or terrible happening. For instance watching a scary movie puts us in great stress and turmoil and that would be characterized as passive stress. Active stress is the job deadline, the challenge of taking care of your kids, work demands. We were referred to a study in which subjects were exposed to either 12 minutes of watching gruesome surgical procedures or 12 minutes of a challenging test, and afterwards receiving a saliva test. The immune levels of those who took the test actually increased and the immune levels of those who watched the surgical procedures decreased. It all had to do with the kind of stress the subjects were exposed to. Passive stress depletes the bodies reserves. So the good news is that most acute stressors will boost the immune system. It is only when the stress is unusually prolonged or repetitive and passively endured that stress is detrimental. And again, the best thing to deal with all of it is melatonin.

Ways to Increase Melatonin Production:
  • Increase natural light and decrease artificial light where possible
  • sleep in complete darkness
  • eat foods rich in melatonin
  • avoid calcium deficiency - calcium plays a role in the production of melatonin
  • fast once a month for 24 hours. Fasting increases the production of melatonin, especially during the evening hours.
You can also learn to turn harmful passive stress to active stress. First, list the top 10 stressors currently in your life. Try to implement healthy adaptation by finding a way to either limit, avoid or remove the stressor. If that isn't possible, don't ignore it or use escapism. It won't go away and by ignoring it or trying to temporarily escape it may make things even worse.

As always, it is so important to implement a healthy lifestyle. Have an exercise program, get plenty of hydration, sun, fresh air, rest, moderation in all things, and trust in God. Do the things that are so often recommended for us to do, as Christians and LDS people. Do good deeds - it helps us forget ourselves and our pain. Put planning and organization into your life, then don't get hung up on it and let things work themselves out, putting faith in God. Dwell on the good and positive. Practice some form of restorative meditation, prayer being the very best. Finally know that you can cope, that God has given you ability and tools to cope. Trust in God.

"The only time to be anxious is when we are anxiously engaged in good works"

And finally, when the World Trade Center bombings took place, there was a tremendous amount of stress experienced by the survivors. Public figures such as David Letterman, movie stars and sports figures stated that in the grand scheme of things, what they do for a living to influence the public is so trivial and many sports and entertainment events were cancelled during this time. If the very people who facilitate these things are saying this, should we not believe it and limit our time on trivial things?

The more time we spend on helping ourselves and others by implementing wholesome lifestyles and contributing to the good of society, the more prepared we will be when life throws a curve ball at us and we're down for the count. We will have our reserves built up and so if we can't do everything, we know that the preparation we have done in advance has been our salvation.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Depression Seminar Session 5

Positive Lifestyle Choices - Overcoming Addictions and Other Harmful Habits

As I was contemplating and dreading writing these notes about addiction, I was struck with how many addictions I really have. And I'm not talking alcohol, tobacco, drugs or porn. I'm talking about other things--the stereotypes I cling to, how I use my spare time, my old, worn, and oh-so-comfortable excuses, sugar(!), and so many others, I'm sure. The thing is, I haven't been that desirous about changing some of these. They and I have just gotten too comfortable over time. I've learned to live with them and nothing extremely terrible has happened because of them (at least not that I'm willing to admit)!

And that's the thing--why change if the changing is harder to face than the potential bad result of the thing I'm addicted to? I mean, hey, change is HARD! I'm always going through change anyway, whether I like it or not! So why not keep a few things the same (even if they aren't the greatest for me?) Do you see the problem in this thinking? I do, but it's still hard.

So Here are the 5 stages of Change:

1. Pre-contemplation - This is the stage that you are in if you haven't even begun to think about something in terms of wanting or needing to change it.

2. Contemplation - When you start to think about a bad habit or addiction and maybe weighing the pros and cons of changing it, you are in the contemplation stage. Try thinking about something that you would be better off if you changed it. Now rate this thing in seriousness on a scale of 1 - 10. If it's only a 5, chances are you are not adequately motivated to actually make a change. What would it take for this thing to become a 10? Maybe you need to do more contemplating and actually figure out some motivating reasons to change or maybe drop the idea of changing this specific thing and move on to something else and not think about it so much. When you have moved the seriousness of the thing up to a 9 or 10, you are sufficiently motivated to start the change.

3. Preparation - After you are sufficiently motivated, you need to make a plan and prepare for the change. Plan for setbacks, opposition, criticism, and disappointment along the way. Make plans for all possible scenarios but also plan to ultimately succeed and visualize yourself succeeding in your goal.

4. Action - After you have done the preparation, it's time to implement the preparation and take action.

5. Maintenance - Part of change is the long-term maintenance of that change. Plan to keep up the implemented change by taking inventory as needed and put in the work to keep the change permanent.

In terms of Depression, the Addiction Hit includes addictive use of alchohol, marijuana, narcotics, cigarettes, caffeine and yes, pornography. Incidentally KSL just ran a major story that Utah is the #1 state for use of online pornograhy. Also, there was a particular emphasis on marijuana as being particularly bad for depression because it significantly slows down frontal lobe activity, which is the major brain center for feelings and moods.

What constitutes something being labeled an addiction? Here are some common characteristics of a true addiction (labeled here as "the thing"):

1. There is a high rate of dependance on the thing.
2. There is a compulsion to use/do the thing continuously.
3. There is an need for an increased amount of the thing over time.
4. When making an attempt to stop the thing, there is a high relapse rate.
5. The thing is harmful to yourself, immediate and work relationships and even to people you may not know, thus making it harmful to society.

In dealing with addiction, it is better to make a clean break and go for total abstinance. If you say, I'll just do it, say, once a month, chances are that you will have an increased sense of deprivation and will relapse. (Hey, I'm just the messenger here, OK?) Also, if you give up things simultaneously, it will actually be easier. For instance if you give up caffeine and tobacco together, the relapse rate is lower if you quit the 2 things at the same time.

10 ways to Quit Addiction:

1. Choose not to do the thing
2. No hidden cheats (No pepsi in the vegetable crisper, no cigs hiding in the drawer, no cookies in the laundry hamper, etc.)
3. Practice deep-breathing (See Depression Seminar Session 2). It will help you calm yourself and focus your thoughts.
4. Get daily exercise.
5. Get more sleep. The work of quitting something that is an addiction is hard work. You need the extra sleep so that you have the energy to do the thing that you've set out to accomplish.
6. Get plenty of hydration. 8 - 10 glasses of water is optimal.
7. Bathe often. This is especially true when you are shedding toxins from your body. It comes out through your skin.
8. Avoid risky situations--For example, if you know that you will be at a party that is serving something that you are tempted with, avoid going.
9. Acknowledge that the thing is destructive and choose to overcome it.
10. Rely on Spiritual resources. No one has overcome addiction without the Spirit of God.

There was actually a lot more material about addiction and help in this area and I'm so glad I was present. I think I will actually find the capacity within myself to abandon some of the things that have been chaining me down! Hooray! Yay! Onward and upward!

Oh, I almost forgot. My contemplation about the need to cut out sugar includes these compelling reasons I found in another essay about sugar addiction. Does this motivate me enough to put my need to quit at a 10 yet? I'm still contemplating!

Sugar can suppress the immune system. Sugar can upset the body's mineral balance.
Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.
Sugar can reduce helpful high density cholesterol (HDLs).
Sugar can promote an elevation of harmful cholesterol (LDLs).
Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
Sugar contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection.
Sugar can cause kidney damage.
Sugar can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
Sugar may lead to chromium deficiency.
Sugar can cause copper deficiency.
Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
Sugar can increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
Sugar can promote tooth decay.
Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and grey hair.
Sugar can increase total cholesterol.
Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
Sugar can increase systolic blood pressure.
Sugar causes food allergies.
Sugar can cause free radical formation in the bloodstream.
Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
Sugar can overstress the pancreas, causing damage.
Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
Sugar can compromise the lining of the capillaries.
Sugar can cause liver cells to divide, increasing the size of the liver.
Sugar can increase the amount of fat in the liver.
Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney.
Sugar can cause depression.
Sugar can increase the body's fluid retention.