Tuesday, November 10, 2015

THE Policy

I'm not going to try to go into all the ins and outs of my thoughts and feelings on the new policy that states that children with parents who have ever been in a cohabitating same-sex relationship cannot receive the same blessings and ordinances as children whose parents are not LGBT+. I'm not even going describe the policy. I am just going to say one thing. It is wrong to deny innocent children ordinances required for salvation and to place stumbling blocks before them.

God will fix this. I don't know how or when, but he will. And the meantime I'm just going to say my one thing: it is wrong.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mrs. Riggs

A lot of the people I am grateful for in my past are teachers, but librarians also have a huge permanent spot in my heart. I’m pretty sure that my patronus is a librarian. (Unfortunately, I am a Hufflepuff and never did manage to get the patronus charm down well, so I can only assume.)

For the most part I’ve forgotten almost all of my librarians’ names. Not Mrs. Riggs though. She was my grade school librarian and she was ridiculously kind to me. She knew all the good books, film strips, and records and never batted an eye when I managed to talk my teacher into letting me out of class (which I hated) to go watch my Greek gods and goddesses film strip again.

Her little haven of books was my favorite place in the school. Loved it more than the playground. Certainly more than the classroom. I loved Mrs. Riggs more than any student in the school and more than all but one teacher. She had two things I value above all others, kindness and a really great collection of books.

 I was so disappointed by the junior high school library. It was run by managers who were always in the back, telling the student volunteers what to do. If my high school had an adult librarian, I never saw any evidence of it. I failed to be impressed by school libraries again until I was in college. For some reason, the University of California, Davis’ library, where my mother worked for a time, seemed rather commonplace to me, but BYU’s Harrold B Lee library filled me with awe.

Years later I was in my elementary school library and picked up a book that had fallen out of popularity—Twenty and Ten, I think. It still had my name written on the card a half a dozen times. I was just flooded with lovely library memories. And when the Yvil sister became a substitute teacher for a while about a decade ago, she ran into Mrs. Riggs who remembered her. Twenty years after the fact.

She also sort of remembered me. “There was another one of you. She talked. A lot.” Oh, yes, indeed, I did. How could I resist? A kind adult with rooms full of books that she couldn't wait to share with me. You betcha I talked with her. A lot. Bless her lovely soul!

This could be an actual picture of a patronus for bibliophiles.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Two Elaines

This the first of my posts Giving Thanks for People in my Past.

Thought I'd hit both Elaines in a single post. First things first: I have never known an Elaine who wasn't a beautiful person. It's one of the reasons my oldest is named Elaine. The other two reasons are:

1. My aunt Elaine.

My mother's older sister Elaine was a small fiery creature. I've heard hilarious stories about her temper. But that's not what I remember about her. I remember her kindness and her love of Jesus.

My mom was a very young mother, seventeen when I was born, and she received a lot of help from family while she finished high school and then as she was working. Elaine was my second mom when I was small and I adored her.

One of my earliest memories is of waking up with the stomach flu while I was at her house. I remember her calm patience. I remember her gently washing the vomit out of my hair and reassuring me again and again that it was going to be okay and that she wasn't mad about the mess I'd made. I remember her making me feel like the most gifted person in the world when I got my cousin to burp. I remember her not laughing her tail off when I sprayed Lysol in my eye wondering what it would feel like. I remember hours and hours of fun with her and her babies.

She worked with the kids at my church too. I remember her singing with me about Jesus. I have a very distinct memory of a call and response song asking why I loved Jesus (because he first loved me). I knew he first loved me because she told me he did. That is no small gift.

When I was five, she died from liver disease, the same liver disease that had plagued her the entire time she was doing all those wonderful things with me. I've never stopped missing her. I'm certain that, had she lived, I would have had a more complicated relationship with her, as my conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints flipped out the rest of my Southern Baptist family. Perhaps I wouldn't have found her fiery temper so amusing if it was aimed at me, but as it was, I just had a loving aunt who was there for me whenever I needed her. 

2. An Elaine I hardly knew who gave me one of the most generous gifts I've ever known. 

This Elaine was someone who knew me when I first joined the church. She and her husband decided that I ought to go to BYU and so they paid for my tuition for both years I attended. (One of those years was after a significant stock market crash which hit them hard and they still helped me.) All that they asked is that I pay it forward when I got a chance. After my mission, I transferred to a local college. Since my family had moved out of my hometown, I wasn't in the same ward anymore. I lost touch with her. But I didn't forget. And I'm still working on that pay it forward thing.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Giving Thanks for People in my Past

This November I've decided that I am going to write a series of posts thanking people from my past, many of whom have moved out of my life now, but who have touched me, served me, changed me in beautiful ways. Some have died. Some were never close enough to keep in touch. Some were far too close and needed distance to move on with their lives. Some just drifted off. I just want to share in a reasonably lasting way some of the people who have blessed me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Original 160 Scriptures Mastery Verses with Links

Update: Now with links and columns! I may cry with joy (or fury, if the formatting doesn't work out). You have no idea how hard that was for me.  The links take you to the chapter and then you scroll down until you get to the highlighted verse. If I got a link wrong, let me know and I'll fix it.

Having just spent an inordinate amount of time seeking out the list from which I memorized scriptures back in the stone ages, I am going to put it here, so I can easily find it. Feel free to correct me in the comments if any of them are wrong. Many thanks to the anonymous person who went digging in her in-laws' crawlspace for the information. And thanks to my friend "JoAnnaBeth" for sending me hunting.

Update, 8 October 2015: My friend Julia G. pointed out this handy dandy chart. I found it fascinating, so I'm sharing it with you. I'm fairly sure the verses in the left column are the replacements for the list above and the ones on the right are their replacements. Nothing so constant as change.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Brain Dump that Facebook Missed

I'm taking a break from Facebook right now for several reasons: The noise of all those voices and notifications. (As of now, I've got 71 waiting for me when I get back next Monday.) The politics and fractious sharing of religious opinions. The pull to look again and again to see if anyone has written anything new. And oh yeah, the life envy. I admit to shoving down a bit of life envy from time to time. (The week before my birthday a friend posted about how sweet her littles were being whispering and planning surprises to delight her for her birthday. I got bubkis. A little twinge of covetousness.)

But more than that I found myself turning again and again to my online community of friends whenever I needed support, not to my family, not to God,  but to Facebook. It was all well and good in moderation, but I'm not that great at moderation. I realized the face I wanted to see was God's face, metaphorically, of course. So I decided to stop immersing myself in my virtual community, seek out real-life interaction with people I love, and try out some of those "Sunday school answers" in real life. (Q: How do you feel the Spirit? SSA: By fasting, praying, attending your meetings and the temple, service, etc.) So here are a few of my insights a week in.

1. I miss it. I miss the noise and the arguments and the announcements. My nephew and his wife just announced a pregnancy, and my SIL had a huge proud mommy moment. My husband says it's "weird" when I tell him to tell them I said congratulations. My daughters agree with him, so I'm tapping my foot, trying to keep my weirdo commitment to not facebook for two weeks. 

2, I have a backlog of thoughts I want to share with the wide, wide world. I want to write, Hence the blog post.

3. I have logged way more hours on my spiritual and intellectual pursuits than I normally do. I've been cleaning up other people's messes in Family Search. (Honestly, doesn't anyone else notice the thirty kids, and six Janes and six Joes and six of everything? Then I have to go research and see which Jane, Joe et al are the real ones and merge a bunch of people which messes with their kids . . . but I digress.) I've also done a lot more reading out loud to Caroline.

4. I am no more physically able to do other kinds of things, like cleaning, exercising, moving things, gardening than I was prior to this fb-fast. So I have a fair amount of sitting around thinking, "Hm, I can't really move: what should I do now?" Luckily, I live in my very own library, filled with my very favorite kind of books. Also, I have six million Kindle books. (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit on the Kindle.) And a laptop. (Did I mention how hard it's been to NOT go to Facebook?)

5. I kind of hate Facebook, because Facebook destroyed casual blogging. Our easy likes, and short quips and one-stop shopping (all of our friends in one spot) was easy enough, but our status updates have been ridiculously easy. A sentence here, a paragraph there. I wrote when I blogged, and I made new friends through blogging. I miss it. But I love Facebook for all the reasons I hate it. I'm fickle like that. 

6, There have been new Doctor Who episodes and I've been staying away from Twitter and Facebook, so after I watch the new episode, my husband asks, "How was it?" And I respond, "SO GOOD!" and that's the end of it. No speculation about Missy's clever idea or chuckling over the clever lines or fist-shaking over Davros' evil plans or cheering over the Doctor choosing mercy and still winning the day. Nope. Nada. Silencio. However, point 3 sort of makes it worth it. I can squee with my online friends later. 

7. People know that I've written on my blog primarily though me posting a link on Facebook, so very few people will see this. Which is fine, I guess. It's the point, I guess. To talk to real people, not virtual ones. The problem is that some of my very favorite people in the world are ones I only have on-line contact with. I won't name names, but I'm fairly certain, they know who they are. 

So, given that maybe seven or eight people will read this, I'm not feeling all that motivated to put a big ribbon of a concluding paragraph onto this mess of thoughts, but please know I DO appreciate you reading it. 

The end. (Of this post. Sheesh. Don't get all dramatic on me.)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

TMI, in Honor of World Suicide Prevention Day

While I was pregnant with my fifth, the whole world fell apart. Some nut jobs flew planes into the twin towers and the Pentagon. People started getting envelopes with anthrax. My girl scout co-leader staged a coup. ("Good news! We have enough girls from our school to start our very own troop!") The city came into my home under the guise of a rehab loan to insulate our ceiling and get a safe water heater, and decided that a third of my home had been built illegally and needed to come down. I already was experiencing my usual pregnancy depression, and things went south from there. I couldn't take it. I didn't want to take it. Thoughts of death filled my every spare thought. I wanted to die with every iota of myself.

It was obvious that I needed to get back on anti-depressants. I'd gone off mine because I didn't want the extra risks for the pregnancy, but the truth was that suicide was 100% deadly to a fetus. The benefits clearly outweighed the risks. I happened to have insurance at that point so I called Kaiser to get an appointment with a therapist and/or psychiatrist. They asked basic questions to ascertain whether I was planning on killing myself. I knew that a yes to any of those questions would result in a "5150," an involuntary stay at a psych hospital. My kids were 10, 8, 5, and 3 at the time. Where would they go?  The only possible answer: "No, I am not going to kill myself." The Kaiser employee, having determined that she didn't need to send the police to save me, scheduled me for the next available appointment, four months from then. Four months. Luckily, I got into my primary care physician after only a month for an SSRI. I just "talked back to the crazy" while I waited.

My crazy brain thought of caulking myself and the kids into the kitchen and having a "movie, ice cream and pizza party" while the gas was on, and I told the crazy brain to SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP, I'd ponder snow camping and freezing to death, and I told myself that it wouldn't work and to SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP. Envying people with cancer, wishing for a meteorite to take me and my house out, hoping for a deadly car accident, all were greeted with my standard SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP. Never underestimate the power of telling the horrid thoughts no. It got me through while I waited for help.

Eventually, I got my SSRI and I started meeting with the Kaiser therapist, a kind of crappy therapist actually. It was enough to keep my domino up. Kaiser eventually got me in to see a psychiatrist and she was a delight. I later found a private therapist who was willing to do phone therapy with me and I worked hard to find my joi de vivre again. The meds stopped the death thoughts. The therapy gave me tools to deal with the emotions that come with life's trials. I was out of my house for fifteen months with a young family. It sucked in the biggest possible way, but I stayed alive. And I got better.

My husband later told me that while crazy me and sane me were fighting it out in my brain, I was calmer than usual and easier to get along with. He couldn't tell that I was on the edge of the abyss. I was running girl scout meetings and interviewing contractors and meeting with midwives and homeschooling and wanting to die with every iota of my being. I talked to some of my closest friends about it. I talked to my husband about it. They all knew I was stressed, but they didn't know how tempted I was. How close I was. Even though I was saying it, they weren't seeing it.

One of my closest friends saw it. She was similarly tempted. She and I made a living pact, similar to a suicide pact, with a happier outcome. The image of the line of dominoes falling and standing strong to hold up the dominoes that depended on me came from this pact of ours.  If I were to kill myself, people would be affected. Period. A lot of people.

I don't say this because I am immensely popular. I say it because when Carla jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, it affected me. We weren't close, but she was my friend. She bought cookies from my girl scouts. She was a Pampered Chef host for me. We'd talked about life, parenting. I say it because when the daughter of one of my best friends from college took her life a few weeks ago, when the sweet girl from my first married ward and sister of my good friend killed herself last week, those deaths affected me. When they died, my domino took a hit, a big hit. Every domino that falls hits so many others. Some we would never suspect. I do not want to knock other people's dominoes over.

I'm not blaming people who kill themselves. Depression is a real illness.When people kill themselves they are not being selfish. They are being sick. Their brain chemicals and their hormones are out of whack. When I started taking the SSRI, my death thoughts stopped. I didn't have to shut them up. They went away because my chemical imbalance was being corrected. It wasn't magic. I had to try several different kinds of SSRIs and fiddle with the dosages with my doctor, but it worked. I'm healthier.

I'm not sharing all this for a big pity party or a love-on-Jami-fest.  I'm sharing it because I know right now there's someone doing all the stuff they are supposed to be doing while envisioning their own death, while googling painless suicide methods, while trying to figure out how to do it with the least amount of harm to those left behind. I'm begging those people to stay, to please get help, even though it all seems insurmountable.

There are happy days ahead even if you can't imagine them now. Believe me. Believe all of the survivors before you. Please seek help. For every time I've thought that life was hopeless and there was no point in going on, I've had a dozen where I experienced peace and joy that I would not have happened if I'd given up. It's not all fields of daisies, but it's do-able with moments of delight.

Those of you who are supporting someone who is tempted by suicide, I need to tell you that if they decide they are going to kill themselves no amount of following them around and trying to fix it will stop them. This is their battle. BUT you can help. You can be there. You can not judge. You can not make it worse by making it about you. You can not give up on them. There are many resources (some conflicting) that you can explore, including seeking therapy on your own. Here's a nice starting point.

For those of you who are on the edge, have been on the edge or might be on the edge in the future,  I give you one of the best self care lists I've ever run into.  Seriously, click on it and try a few of the things. I also give you the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255. Also I remind you that no one can be you. Not to your kids or your friends. Not to your mom or dad. Not to your mail carrier. You are the only you that is ever going to be and you are precious. Please stay with us. Stay to experience those bright moments of joy that will surely come. Stay to someday hold the hand of someone else who wants to die. Don't buy the lie that it won't get better. It will. Don't buy the lie that we'd be better off without you. We won't be. Stay. Please.