Change of Direction

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I had full intentions of doing a second part to my Moab trip, which obviously hasn’t happened, so I’m going to incorporate some of what I had in mind for that post into this one, including my first video uploaded to YouTube, yeah first one I know. I’m a photographer, not a videographer, but did this in one take with no editing, haha. The content of the video has some bearing to this topic.

I have never interacted with someone who has said “my life has turned out just the way I thought it would” have you? So having detours whether large or small are a part of life and a part of everyone’s lives. I haven’t blogged lately because I’ve had quite a few things pop up that were tremendous obstacles for me to overcome. There oddly isn’t even one person in my life that knows the whole of what I’ve been experiencing or trying to manage. And that could be part of the problem I was having, I didn’t have that one person that I can tell anything to without worry of being judged. That is something that I hope to overcome and/or acquire.

Over the past few months I have done some serious soul searching, all while trying to manage navigating through being a single mom again and a widow. The cycle of grief is never ending and can pop up its ugly head at any time and in many unexpected ways. Ketan would have been celebrating his 46th birthday on the 5th, and the time between my birthday and his was extremely difficult on me. I could be on top of the world laughing about memories one moment, then start missing him and crying. I am happy that I have been able to process the trauma of that night. However, I think I have been expecting way too much of myself and have allowed myself to get discouraged when I haven’t lived up to my own expectations. I was, at so many times, ready to give up on so many aspects of my life. I anticipated an active dating life while the kids were gone for the summer, being super busy with photography, going on many hikes that I’ve never done. I thought my photography business was going to be significantly more busy than what it has been, with the hopes that I would be able to do that full time and not have to go back to work in ophthalmology.

However, if my business had picked up as I had hoped, I wouldn’t be on the path I am now. I’ve shared this news with a few people but will now make it public, which helps with accountability right? I have decided to go back to school (starting next Spring or Fall) with the intention and end goal of going to optometry school and becoming an optometrist. Age 40 isn’t too old to start a doctorate program right, haha? The ironic thing will be that I will becoming presbyopic while in optometry school. I guess that will be my contribution to my classmates to help with near manifests! I won’t however be going to school full time, being the only money maker in the household mama’s gotta work. So unlike when I was going to school in Spokane, I will be working full time, plus school. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to accomplish the feat, but know if I rely on the Lord I will be able to do it.

On a slight tangent: Anyone who knows me knows that I love the UK (although I’ve never been there) so I guess its an uninformed infatuation, like at the beginning of a relationship. I’ve said I would love to move there and I can guarantee I would never be bored. Who knows with the royal and aristocratic blood in me, I might be accepted into British society and find myself a single Lord or Baron of some sorts and become a Lady or Baroness. Do you think Henry VIII being my 15th great grandfather, as well as many other direct royal ancestors, count as anything these days? I recently started looking at Optometry schools in the UK, and learned it is a bachelor degree there, instead of a doctorate here. With a few more advanced courses under my belt, like biochemistry and higher math, along with my current AAS degree and work experience, it appears I would meet the entry requirements for a couple of the universities I’m looking at. Now before you get all excited for me and thinking oh yay, I’ll know someone who lives in the UK and can stay with to save on hotel costs, stop. If it was just me and I didn’t have my kids, I would be pursuing this track vigorously and enthusiastically. Granted my youngest has only 4 years left before graduating. Oh wait, she is so brilliant she could graduate early if she wanted, lol.

For now I’m focusing on studying for my COA so I will have an easier time finding a job as well as better pay. I’m hoping its the same scenario as 2 years ago when I interviewed here I got a job offer on the spot with each practice. I’m not going to be actively dating and focus on current friendships and family relationships. As I begin my track of going back to school, just as we learn line upon line and precept upon precept with the gospel and everything else in life, so will my life and path unfold before me. Who knows I might be able to live my dreams sooner than I think, as life never turns out the way we plan or hope for. I’m grateful for personal revelation and for the knowledge that the Lord and Heavenly Father love me enough to give me guidance. No matter what path my life takes I know that I will learn and grow, just as I did while trying to find Ring Arch.

Red Rock Solace

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This post was going in two separate directions so I’m dividing up my Moab trip into multiple posts.

Those who know me know how much I love Arches National Park and the Moab area. The majority of my trips I travel by myself, which has always made my dear mom worry about me, and gets the statement from others “you go hiking in the desert by yourself?” I respond yes, and I blame the movie 127 hours for people thinking I’m crazy, like I’m going to fall and have to cut my arm off or something. I go on known trails in the parks or BLM land, not canyoneering slot canyons in the middle of nowhere. Hiking in the desert is a wonderful way for me to process thoughts/emotions and commune with the Lord. I say its my temple away from the actual temple. When I know I’m the only person on the trail, I will often talk and pray out loud. Wait so does that make me crazy?

There was a significant amount of things that I set out specifically to process and release on my recent trip to Moab. I left there the moment I was done doing the photography for my wonderful friend Melanie’s funeral services. There was negativity, anger, sadness, hate and frustration that all needed to be released. The negativity and bad energy from others had taken and was still taking a significant toll on me. I was still angry. Angry with Ketan, angry with the Lord, angry with myself, angry at my situation. Angry is one of those words that if you say over and over again it starts to sound really weird, haha. Sadness and frustration of being single again, being a single parent again, being the sole parent for spiritual guidance for my kids again. Sadness from grieving the loss of Ketan and my dear friend Melanie. Frustration of people feeling sorry for me when I don’t want sympathy. I did realize on my trip that for a time I was wanting that sympathy and attention, telling anyone and everyone that I recently became a widow. I’m not overtly sharing that information now and it is significantly better. Hate, hate for the people who were hating me, self-hate for opportunities not taken, hate for spending months in a depression wasting time.

On my favorite hike in the Island In The Sky district of Canyonlands, Aztec Butte, I was able to process and release every single negative feeling and thought that has been plaguing me for the past 6 months. As I was walking, I waved my hands away from me as a shewing motion while I listed all the crap I was letting go, visualizing it leave me. At this point I’m sure I would have looked crazy, lol. I felt the negative energy leave my body, I felt the weight of the emotional distress removed from my shoulders. Once I had gotten rid of all the negative, I then switched the direction of my arms to bring in the good. I asked the Lord to bring in love (of myself and others), happiness, joy, forgiveness (of myself and others), the light and love of Christ and His healing power of the atonement. I felt His love and light come to me and fill me until my cup runneth over. I felt renewed, I felt like the Kristi I knew almost exactly 2 years ago, who was forging onto a new life back in Utah. The confident, going to conquer the world and put all my trust into the Lord, Kristi. It is so good to feel that way again, that is my true self. Especially trusting in the Lord. He knows the trail ahead, He sees the whole map, He is the best trail guide.

I have many times since getting back, repeated those mantras of releasing all the negative and receiving all the good. It has worked every time. So much that things from the night of Ketan’s death has come back to recollection, allowing me to feel and process those images and feelings. I don’t think I was fully ready to process some of those traumatic things until now. I feel renewed and revived, and it is through relying on the Lord that that is possible. I feel excited and optimistic about life and all the possibilities that the Lord has in store for me. Who knows, I may be able to continue my photography full time with public speaking opportunities, I may go back to work in eye care and possibly go to school to become an optometrist?! I feel like the sky is the limit and the world is mine for the taking, and for the contributing.

For more pics from my trip you can go to my Instagram @thehappymormon

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days

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I treated myself to a vacation last weekend. It was part of an LDS singles retreat in Island Park just outside of Yellowstone. I was super excited to be back in Yellowstone as it had been 22 years since I last set foot on the ground that is boiling under your feet. I was also looking forward to meeting new people, making new friends and turning acquaintances into better friends. I imagined myself being surrounded by and flirting with a couple of cute guys and spending lots of time with other people. The long weekend was not anything liked I had hoped.

I arrived on Thursday when it was just getting started and I knew that I would be one of the few early birds. I unloaded my stuff onto my bed and drove to Yellowstone by myself. I thought that this was going to be my only “alone time” and thoroughly enjoyed it. With the majority of my time in Moab being by myself, I’m very comfortable hiking around and talking to foreign tourists. I got back to base camp when dinner was getting started and there were more people there. I pictured myself being confident, happy and I found myself being unsure of who to talk to and what to say. (A separate post will come later about what I learned about new conversations and what to share) I felt awkward like I haven’t felt since high school. I felt like the small fish in the big pond. I didn’t have my confidence and I was wondering where the hell I had left it. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t have my voice and was wondering why I somehow didn’t pack it to make the trip with me? This isn’t me. Where is the Kristi that used to be able to walk into a room and command a presence and pick out the cutest guy and walk up and introduce myself to him with confidence. Hello! I am an inspiration to others! I am a thriving survivor! I am a person who coaches friends on finding their confidence and navigating the social scene of flirting and dating! So why am I feeling this way? Ok, so maybe it’s just first night jitters.

The next day Friday was pretty good. I went along in a big group of cars to see some waterfalls and short walks. I enjoyed the company of the other people I was driving with and interactions with others at the stops we made. I was super tired as I got less than 3 hours of sleep the night before and when we got back to base camp I knew I needed to take a nap. I tried to for a couple hours and was unsuccessful. I need to get 8 hours to feel rested and normal, and those that know me know that if I don’t get my sleep I am a big grumpy pants. People starting coming back to base camp for dinner and after dinner I was so tired I sent myself to bed early at 10 to get a good nights sleep, which fortunately I did get almost 8 hours.

Saturday morning included an amazing plane ride after breakfast. Seeing Yellowstone from the air was freaking amazing and I got to experience this:

  
When I got back to base camp a couple people that said they would go into the park with me had left and others were waiting to go into the park in a few hours. I should have waited with the others, but I volunteered to run a very important errand for someone and then go into the park by myself again. So there I was at a singles retreat with dozens of other people and I was relegated to spending the day by myself again. This did allow me to take my time and not be rushed to get photography shots I wanted. This also gave me time to process some thoughts. That is one of the main reasons I go to Moab by myself. I normally dread the editing process but can’t wait to process the photos I took with my Canon. Here are a few from my phone:

   
      Normally me processing thoughts in national parks is a good thing for me, but the timing of this deep thought processing couldn’t have come at a worse time. I didn’t anticipate processing things regarding Ketan’s death and it brought up a variety of emotions that with me being sleep deprived was very strenuous and draining for me. Add to this that I just said good bye to my kids for 9 weeks, the week before. I got back to base camp as dinner was almost ready. I rejoined in the group but felt detached, like I was walking through some dream. The deep thoughts combined with me telling people about my being a widow several times (again will be posting about that later) was more than I could handle.

I started crying and I couldn’t stop. I went into my private room with the door shut. Praying out loud to God on my knees to help me stop crying. Help me be strong and be able to enjoy myself. I have a learned behavior of not allowing myself to cry in front of others. I have never in my life had a “safe” place or person to allow myself to just sit there and cry and let them hold me and tell me everything will be ok. Since I couldn’t stop crying, it was going to be impossible for me to enjoy the dance that was starting in less than an hour and even if I did stop crying my whole face was blotchy red with swollen eyes. My social anxiety was out of control at this time. The only option was for me to leave that night at that instant.

So like a crazy, emotional mess I packed up my stuff and loaded my car, this was at 9:30 at night. I had to go out to the common area to get my camping chair and speak to one of the people in charge. I was crying as I did this and it took so much courage for me to go out there and have others see that I was crying and telling this person I had to go. There were several awesome people that I met that I didn’t get a chance to say good bye to. I don’t like a fuss being made over me anyway.

So I drive like a bat out of hell, averaging 110 MPH on my way home, crying from Island Park until past Pocatello. I exchanged angry words with Ketan and with the Lord. I got a lot of anger out that obviously hadn’t been processed yet. So again in the vicious cycle of grief, hello anger stage we meet again, can’t say I’m happy to see you.

So finally getting back to the title of this post. I have to understand that even Peter Parker had times of doubt and fear. Even Wolverine (um yes Hugh Jackman) had to relegate himself to isolation for his own and others sake. So I need to give myself a break that even inspiration people have bad days and bad times. I’m allowed to be human and don’t need to have my “super powers” on all the time. Even superheroes are allowed to have bad days.

Oh I’m Sorry

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With everything that I’ve been through in my life I have had the phrase “oh I’m sorry” said to me hundreds of not thousands of times. I understand that in our society (as compared to older British society, think Downton Abbey) our conversation skills are usually the same template of words. When we think something that has happened to someone is tragic or sad, why do we apologize? In my opinion apologies are for trying to restore some type of wrong the “apologizor” did to the “apologee” and unless you were the cause of the situation that caused you to say I’m sorry, that isn’t a very good choice of phrase. 

Now I’m certainly guilty of this myself, but over the last few years I’ve tried to make a concious effort to not say this phrase unless I’m apologizing to someone for something I’ve done wrong.  I have also tried to help my daughter break from this habit as well. I guess she got it from my history of less than stellar behavior. Im sure it’s part of her feeling like she was responsible for things that “went wrong” but was not her fault. I pray that this is changing and will not follow her into adulthood. 

It’s recently been moderately difficult introducing myself in single social situations. It’s dang near impossible to not mention being a widow when meeting new people. Not that I want to hide it, it’s that I don’t want people feeling sorry for me or be the focus of our first conversation. Yes it’s odd and there is not handbook of how to handle myself in these situations. 

It’s already difficult enoughfor me with my social anxiety that I am extremely nervous when meeting new people, but now I have the added anxiety of how they will percieve me, are they feeling sorry for me, are they thinking they have to be very careful about what they say because I could start randomly crying for no reason, are they going to give me attention because they pity me, are they judging me from going out and dating already? Yeah just a glimpse of what a millisecond in my head looks like. Let’s add me over analyzing for the next 24-48 hours what I said, did I sound like an idiot, did I come off as unhappy or ungrateful, do I appear heartless as I am already moving on? Yes life with anxiety sucks at times. 

Not to mention it’s an unusual windowing. Being young, being only married for 8 months, it being a complicated and tumultuous marriage that I tried so hard to make work. Anyway I will try to be patient with others and with myself, as I and people I meet both try to navigate this unusual situation. 

Suggestion: instead of apologizing for my husbands passing, focus on the positive. Say “I’m so proud of you for picking yourself back up and getting back out there” Come to think of it, this phrase is probably also good for someone who was recently divorced might appreciate. I try to focus on the positive and appreciate others that do the same. 

My circumstance was all in the Lord’s plan for me, and I agreed to go along with it with him in the pre-existence. So if its what the Lord wants for me and I agreed to it, then certainly don’t feel sorry and apologize. I promise not to be mad or offended, just treat me like a normal girl wanting to find a handsome, priesthood holding gentleman. 

We have to break to become strong 

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Can I just have a day where I feel pissed off at everything and almost everyone? I’m hurt, I’m sad, I’m overwhelmed. Does that disqualify me as being “inspirational” as so many call me? I sure as hell don’t feel inspiration right now as I’m crying in my bedroom with the door locked, feeling like a horrible mother. 

I have been getting pulled in so many directions by many people. I am getting the most vile and cruel “hate mail” from my late husbands family and best friends. Why can’t they just let me be?! Why can’t they realize that the kids and I are also hurting and missing Ketan? Are we not allowed to grieve as well because we only knew him the last part of his life? Do we “his wife and kids” not count? Can’t they realize that the cholesterol and plaque build up in his arteries, that takes years to get to the point of killing him, is HIS fault, not mine?! If you are mad Ketan is dead, be mad at him! I tried to get him to be healthy and I sure as hell tried to save his life while doing CPR. 

Logic tells me that I shouldn’t give a rats ass what people think of me. I’ve never had a group of people have so much hatred towards me before and I honestly don’t know how to process it. People telling me just ignore it, doesn’t help so please stop telling me that. Getting messages of “you killed my brother, you are the reason he is dead, you buried him, you can go to hell” “you are such an evil person, how dare you ruin my best friends life” this is just a sample of what I’ve received. As I posted previously, I’m not going to discuss the abuse that I was on the receiving end of, but do these people think that Ketan was perfect and I was the cause of the unhappiness in his life? Anyone that knew Ketan knows that he doesn’t put up with anything he doesn’t want to and does exactly what he wants. You couldn’t make him do anything, including being unhappy. That is something he had to do all on his own. Eating ones emotions for years is not the sign of an emotionally healthy person, and I over looked that as I was directed by the Lord to do so. He is the one that refused to go to couples counseling, it wasn’t needed for him because in his eyes, everything was my fault. I guess it makes sense if it was that way in his mind, it would be the same with the several people he talked to about our marriage. 

Now it’s 4 months later and abuse still continues. Don’t get me wrong I have hated a couple people in my life time, but I have never sunk to the levels that these people have. I guess I’m not a human, a daughter of God, a widow, a single mother again, and trying to keep myself emotionally and spiritually healthy too. How difficult could it be for these people to just leave me and the kids alone. Anyone who knew well Ketan misses him, me and the kids included. Even with our difficulties, don’t you think if I could snap my fingers and everything would be back to the way it was I would, difficult marriage and all? 

I’m just tired of hurting, of having a short fuse, of having people (some of my closest friends and family) not be supportive and there for me. I’m doing all I can to rely on the Lord and I guess today and some other days my faith has just been lacking in His ability to cover and carry me. 

I just want to be happy. I want to feel of value to those around me. I want to be a good friend and mother. This “Happy Mormon” isn’t always happy as none of us are. I’m feeling so much of the opposition that I feel like I’m being suffocated with judgement and hatred. I just want to love and be loved for who I am, imperfections and all. 

I refuse to capitulate to the hurt and sadness. I have to process it, work through it and move on. Anyone who has had to “reinvent” their life can probably relate to this. As always thank you for liking, sharing and commenting. 

It’s Not Always Easy

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Choosing happiness has been difficult for me the past couple weeks. Yes “The Happy Mormon” isn’t always happy, nor do I claim to be. One reason why people have told me I inspire them is that I’m real. I don’t let the days that I don’t achieve happiness prevent me from pursuing it the next day, or the day after that. I keep on going, keep living, keep inspiring. 

Lately I have been living in the past (which makes it impossible to be happy, we must be present to be happy) especially with it being our anniversary last week. I am no longer focusing on or remembering the bad things, but focusing on the good. Which is an admirable and correct thing to do. Why is that so much more painful for me then? What I’m realizing now is that the anger I was so happily enjoying, yes seems ironic but that is the best way to describe it, was masking some emotions that I really do need to process. It is easy not to miss someone when all you are thinking about is the negative experiences you had with that person. Now that I’m trying to think of only the positive, it is now forcing me to manage the void, insecurities, pain and sorrow. To add insult to injury, I’ve had people very close to me hurt me recently too.

I have been told that the grieving process is never ending just ever changing. I now am seeing the truth behind that statement. There is no order of processing, no rhym no reason. It just happens. You can be one place one day and find yourself in a completely different stage of grieving the next day, even hour from hour. I’m finding the littlest things can trigger me from being happy to totally pissed off; or sad to laughing hysterically. 

There will be days in your life where choosing happiness is difficult. There may be days where you just want to feel pissed off at everyone and everything and tell someone their baby is ugly lol. I have to remind myself to allow whatever emotions I’m feeling to flow through me, get processed and release them. I have to be of use for myself, my children and the Lord. I pray to snap out of this soon because I have a lot of things I need to get done over the next 3 weeks. Shortly after that the kids will be gone for the summer. 
Although I’m not super duper happy right now, I am extremely grateful for my Savior and His atoning sacrifice for me and you. I know that as I rely on Him I will find happiness again very soon. I am also grateful to have two of the most amazing, forgiving, loving and long-suffering kids I could ever be blessed with. We did have an awesome trip this past weekend. I have so much going for me and have many things to soon look forward to!!

   
   

A Widows 1st Anniversary Gift

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April 12, 2014 Ketan and I were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake temple. I’m going to be completely honest with you, today has been the most difficult day since the weeks shortly after Ketan died. First anniversaries are usually filled with gifts, laughs, affection and of course eating the top tier of the wedding cake if it was saved. The kids and I did laugh about me shoving cake into Ketans face at the reception, while we were eating the wedding cake (one year old cake was better than what I thought it was going to be) Jason was supportive with hugs while he just held me and let me cry. So that takes care of 3 of the 4 things I say consist of a 1st anniversary, although not with whom and in the form one would expect. Now leaves the issues of exchanging gifts, which brings me to this post. 

I have recorded impressions and things stated in a blessing that comprise what Ketans ongoing gift to me is. These are too personal and sacred to share here. However, I will share with you what my gift to Ketan is on what would be our 1st anniversary. 

Ketan wanted people to always be better, do more, work harder, sacrifice more than what they were currently doing. Ketan would “encourage” me to do many things. I now know that he pushed me in so many ways, not to be controlling, demeaning or critical as I first thought, but to be a better person and better disciple of Christ. His delivery method was contrary to what was the best way for me to get motivated, but I understand his intentions behind the somewhat abrasive at times delivery. He wanted me to get to the gym 3-4 times a week as it kept me mentally and physically healthy and minimized my back problems. He wanted me to read my scriptures more regularly and for longer periods of time, to strengthen my doctrinal knowledge and understanding. He wanted me to spend less money; less than the monthly $200 of my “do whatever I want with” allowance. So this is what my gift to him will be. 

Exercise: I haven’t been to the gym since Ketans death. Mainly because the gym is in South Ogden near where I used to work. I would go to the gym after work and so it was much easier. It’s hard for me to drive 20 minutes just to go work out, not to mention the unnecessary miles out onto my now new car. My back pain has been somewhat controlled with stretching and the occasional yoga and my continued chiropractor and massage visits. 

I commit to going to the gym at least 2 times a week with my time spent there being 1-2 hours per visit. I know I will feel better mentally and physically from doing this, not to mention start getting into better shape for hiking and swim suit season. I will take care of this body which is an amazing gift from God. I’m locked into a contract and am still paying for the membership so I might as well get what I’m paying for. 

Scriptures: Regular scripture study has always been a challenge for me, and that hasn’t changed since Ketans death. On average I pull out and read my scriptures once a week, that isn’t counting the times I do a quick look up of a reference or I’m thinking about a particular scripture either at home or the temple. If I counted thise times it would be around 7-10. I find praying and going to the temple come much easier to me then sitting down and reading from the scriptures. Some may find it ironic that I can go to the temple twice a week, but not do my daily reading. It usually takes me 3 to 4 times of reading the same thing over and over again to  really understand its meaning. With my dry eyes my vision gets blurry easily and reading often makes me tired. Ketans most prized possession in this life was his scriptures. He read them constantly and if he wasn’t reading them, he was discussing and pondering what he had recently read. He was such a great example of how we should all treat and make use of the wonderful blessing the scriptures are. 

I commit to reading from the scriptures (not the Ensign or doctrinal commentary books, of which I have many) for at least 10 minutes each day. Yes I know this is something I should be doing anyway. This will help strengthen my testimony of the Savior as well as make me a better mother and disciple of Christ. I hope that as the scriptures become a familiar friend to me, I will remember the deeper doctrinal meanings or perspective Ketan shared with me while also figuring out some of that on my own. 

(Side note) I realize that to many of my friends and aquaintances that have called me a “spiritual giant” or told me I’m the most spiritual person they have ever met (yes many have said that to me and I’m not saying it to brag) might be surprised by my confession that I am far from consistent with my scripture study. It goes to show you that you can have stengths and weaknesses within gospel living, yet still have a temple recommend and have the spirit be a major part of your life with the capability of positively impacting others. 

Money: Anyone who knew Ketan knew how he was with money. As far as women go, I and others would tell him how easy he got off as far as a wife shopping and spending money. I didn’t demand a huge diamond or an Hawaiian honeymoon. I was content with my small and modest ring (for the most part lol) and a honeymoon in Moab. I just wasn’t enough of a tightwad as Ketan wanted me to be. His expectations were ridiculous and unattainable when you have a family to take care of, he was realizing this more and more. 

I commit to being a wise steward with the money that I have been blessed with. I traded in one of our cars (both on their last legs) and purchased a brand new car free and clear, which will be free from repair for several years. I am able to be a WAHM and am doing my best to expand my photography business, public speaking and now acting. These things I have counseled with the Lord and received his approval of doing. Through blessings and answers to prayer, I’ve discovered the kids and I are supposed to be enjoying this time, having fun, and spending some money while doing it. 

Life rarely turns out the way we want. Most brides and grooms don’t anticipate spending their 1st anniversary being a widow or widower, but that is what the Lord intended for me. I will hold onto the promises He has made to me and continue to trust in His unwavering and guiding hand. So to Ketan my eternal sweetheart, I commit and gives these gifts of myself to both you and the Lord. Please accept them and continue to be a guardian angel over me and “our” kids. I promise to start looking into a headstone for your grave site shortly 😉