Enter the Arena

As we sat in the south end zone at the BYU game, we watched the punt returner stand alone, waiting for a high punt to reach his arms as his opponents were rushing toward him in hopes of tackling him to the ground. Tom said to me, “You would have to have nerves of steel to do something like that.” The ironic thing is, we get mad when he doesn’t catch it. We wonder what is wrong with him. To me, it’s astonishing that anyone ever catches anything when they are in a stadium of nearly 64,000 people with 300 pound men charging towards them.

Years ago I was walking through the lobby of my housing complex at Ricks College. The Miss America Pageant was on and several girls were watching it. There was criticism about their dresses, their hair, their shoes and their answers to the host’s questions. I remember thinking, “Which one of us could get up on that stage and do what they are doing?” Not me for sure.

Brene’ Brown has said, “A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor.”

I want to be in the arena: sharing ideas, looking for solutions, making the world a better place to live in. I may not be catching footballs or winning beauty contests, but I can enter the arena in other ways. I believe success comes to those who are willing to fail.

At the end of one of our kids soccer seasons their coach invited us to play in an adults vs kids soccer game.

As we panted up and down the field I felt bad for all the times we had yelled from the sidelines, “Run faster!” I have never played competitive soccer. I knew very little regarding the stamina it takes to run the field for 70 minutes. It’s easy to yell from the sidelines about how others should play the game. I remember thinking, “They should have done this at the beginning of the season. We wouldn’t have been so hard on our kids.” Getting on the soccer field changed my perspective. I had new respect for each player.

My kids have amazed me with their willingness to do hard things, try new things and do things alone. These experiences have taught them, strengthened them, and helped them believe in their own resilience. They have listened to critical spectators for years and yet have pressed on. It’s truly inspiring to me.

Brene’ Brown says, “The willingness to show up changes us, it makes us a little braver each time.”

Showing up is key. Internalizing feedback from the sidelines is optional.

Abundance

A few weeks ago, late on a Saturday night, I realized we didn’t have any ice cream. We had invited two young couples in our ward over for dinner the next day. I had asked one to bring a half gallon of ice cream and the other to bring toppings for banana splits. I was going to get some more ice cream just in case; but I forgot.

Already in my pajamas, I thought about it for a few minutes. I tried to estimate how much ice cream you would need for seven adults and three little kids and then I decided, “Whatever they bring will be enough.” We will enjoy the ice cream they bring and I won’t worry about getting more.

I knew Tom might not agree with my approach, so I told him I had forgotten to get ice cream. I told him I was choosing to believe it would be enough. We also had a pie we could share if we ran out, but I was comfortable with however it turned out.

He decided that we should have more ice cream, so he got out of bed and went to the store. I went to sleep. Sunday came. One couple brought two cartons of ice cream and the other couple brought their toppings and three cartons of ice cream. There was enough and to spare!

Here are the things I love about this story:

1. I could decide that things would work out no matter what happened.

2. I could be at peace with Tom having a different opinion.

3. There wasn’t a “right” decision. We both did what we felt comfortable with and it worked out beautifully! Had they only brought one carton of ice cream and we ate less or used the pie, that would have been perfect too.

Choosing to live in abundance allows me to create a life that brings me more satisfaction. Not because the circumstances change, but my thoughts around them do.

This is powerful work my friends!

strawberry ice cream in clear glass bowl

When our kids have challenges in their lives, we can either jump into the pool and flail helplessly with them, or we can remain calm on the side of the pool and throw them a lifeline.

Sometimes we feel like jumping in shows them we care. It shows them we are really invested.

But is jumping in useful? When we do, we all end up feeling like we are going to drown.

What if we could be the steady help from the side of the pool? Instead of jumping in to save them, what if we chose to think thoughts like these?

He is well equipped to handle this challenge.

She is going to figure this out.

Some parts of their lives are going to be hard and that’s okay.

I have learned so much from the challenging parts of my life. They will too!

When I stay safely on the side of the pool I can offer the lifeline of loving support and encouragement. I can remain calm. I don’t have to be dramatic about it. I can express my confidence in their abilities to find their own solutions. If they don’t want to take the lifeline for awhile, I don’t need to make that mean anything about me. I can be ready and waiting when they need my help, but it’s not my job to fix anything.

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I Can Listen

We often fear the things we don’t understand. Our brains are constantly looking for danger. Part of our brain’s job is to protect us and keep us alive, so it makes perfect sense. But sometimes our brain thinks things are dangerous that actually are not. Another person with a different opinion doesn’t need to be dangerous.

If I disagree with someone about vaccinations, masks, political parties or religious practices, I don’t need to be afraid. Rather than putting a wall up, I can respectfully ask questions. I can be curious about their decisions and what brought them there. I can remember why I love that person. I can remember all the things that tie us together. I can ask sincere questions to try to understand. They have their reasons and I want to make room for the journey they are on.

I don’t have to know all the answers. But I can listen.

I love her!

I was mad at my body for a long time. I wanted her to be smaller. I was 5’8″ in the eighth grade. I thought I was bigger than all the girls in the world. As I grew into adulthood I logically knew it wasn’t true, but it was hard for me to drop the belief I had created. When I met Tom I couldn’t really consider him as a viable romantic option because we were the same size. It took me over three years to adjust my thinking on that. The work I have done in the past two years on my relationship with my body has changed my feelings dramatically. I love her now. I love that she has gotten up with me every day of my life. She has blessed me with four beautiful, healthy babies. She breathes in and out all day long without me even reminding her to do so. Through her I get to hug the people I love, laugh and cry with the people I care about and learn, learn, learn so many new things. She has complicated systems that regulate temperature, fight off infections and heal broken bones. She is truly amazing. When I wake up in the morning, before I get out of bed I spend a few moments telling Heavenly Father how grateful I am for this marvelous body I have been blessed with. I stretch my legs, spread my arms and fingers open wide, breathe deep and remember what a beautiful gift she is. If this is your struggle, it is so worth spending some time truly coming to love your body. It will not only change that relationship, but all of your relationships.

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Must See Inside

When we were first married we lived in Sugar House in a 70 year old house. The neighborhood was filled with newly renovated cottages and others that needed some love and attention. It was common to see a FOR SALE sign with this additional plug, “MUST SEE INSIDE.”A house that looked a little dated on the outside was often filled with hardwood floors, stunning woodwork, modern kitchens and upgrades. I often have thought we should all carry a sign that says, “must see inside.” When we see inside another person we gain understanding, empathy, appreciation and clarity we didn’t have before. We are less quick to judge and make assumptions. When I am curious, interested and give someone my full attention, I learn things that I couldn’t have known with a passing glance. In Michelle Craig’s talk in October general conference she shared this: “Columnist David Brooks said: ‘Many of our society’s great problems flow from people not feeling seen and known. … [There is a] core … trait that we all have to get … better at[, and that] is the trait of seeing each other deeply and being deeply seen.’” I’m practicing this every day!

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It Doesn’t Need to be Perfect

A common “meltdown” time for me is the hour before the ______________ fill in the blank. It could be my daughter’s birthday party, company for dinner, or anyone coming to stay.

The day generally starts out fine. I have my list. I have the allotted amount of time for each item written next to it. But somehow it often takes longer than I think it will. As the deadline gets closer, I start going into scarcity mode. I start shouting instructions at my family and getting more stressed when they don’t seem to be urgent enough in completing their given tasks.

I am doing better with this now. I hope my family would agree. I am realizing that people can come to my house even if I haven’t vacuumed. People can enjoy the party even if I haven’t dusted. No one will die from this. Including me.

I have learned that my panicky feelings come from panicky thoughts. And panicky thoughts are optional.

I am learning to let go of them. Learning to adjust my thinking has been a little vulnerable for me. For many years I have believed it should “appear” that the bathrooms are always clean, the sheets are always washed and waiting for guests. Letting go of that has been a very healthy thing for me. I try to be ready for my guests, but sometimes they help me put the clean sheets on. I feel okay about that. It’s a more accurate view of my life.

I remember going to stay with the friend once. She picked me up from the airport in her minivan. When the door to the backseat opened I was so happy to see that there were cold French fries on the floor. My first thought was, “Oh good, this looks like my car.” I was so glad it wasn’t perfect.

Allowing myself to be more human instead of trying to appear “super human” has helped me be kinder, more present and, I think, ultimately a better host.

Allie

This morning my husband and I had the most beautiful conversation with our daughter, Allie. She is in Costa Rica on a humanitarian trip for three months. Living in a third world country has broadened her view of the world. Her insights have opened new light to me as well.

Before leaving for Costa Rica she was attending BYU. She was knee-deep in school, work, a hard break-up, roommates, and juggling all the responsibilities that come with college life. She felt she wasn’t measuring up to all the “perfection” she saw in others.

Today she shared how seeing Jesus in his role as Creator has changed her. Living in the jungle has opened her eyes to all the little creatures that God created: the variety of trees, grasses, and plants; the constant motion of the clouds, the earth, and the stars. We are all constantly in motion; growing and learning.

Looking at the patterns and creations of the earth is a way to see what God is trying to teach us.

God could have created one kind of tree and put it everywhere, but that wasn’t the plan. He loves diversity! He loves motion and growth. He loves new birth and new life and resurrection. He didn’t want all the trees and the flowers to be the same. He doesn’t want us to be the same either. He wants each of us to be ourselves. He wants us to create and contribute in ways that enhance our talents and capabilities.

When we truly tap into who we are and the creativity that is within us, we can share those gifts with each other. We are less worried about comparing ourselves to others and more in tune with what we have to share.

Ziplining Grandma

We took our kids ziplining in Mexico to this great place called Xplor. It has two courses with seven zip lines connected together. You start by crossing a tropical forest high above the trees, then run up the stairs to the next landing where you zip off again. As we raced up the stairs to wait in line for the next run, I remember feeling so alive and so glad to be with my kids. We zoomed across the forest, then ran up the stairs to the next one, over and over again. It was October and there weren’t many people at the park that day. We felt like we had the place to ourselves.

We came off one set of ziplines and were headed to the next when I saw a Grandma. She was talking to her grandson and telling him, “Come back and tell me how it was.” She sat by herself, waving goodbye to her family as they went off on their adventure.

I decided then and there. I’m not going to be a grandma that says, “Come back and tell me how it was.” I’m going to be standing in line to zipline with my grand kids. I know I don’t have complete control over that, but there are many things I can control.

I can choose to take care of my physical health.

I can choose to be open to adventure.

I can choose to say yes to new things.

I can choose to try.

Those things don’t happen on the day you get to the adventure park. They happen every day starting today. Every day I make choices about how I’m going to take care of my body. When I make choices that lead me to good health, I’m ready when the opportunities come.

Now is the time to prepare. No one can do it for me. No one can exercise for me, eat healthy foods for me, or learn tools that increase my mental and emotional health for me. These are decisions I have to make for myself.

Putting off the effort to make those patterns part of my daily routine makes me less prepared when opportunities arise. If I’m working at it every day, I’m always ready.

It’s works the same way with spiritual preparation. When my kids are sick I can ask my husband to give them a priesthood blessing. He doesn’t say, “I’m going to have to wait a few weeks to get myself spiritually aligned. He is preparing for that every day. He is taking action each day to be ready.

I want to take action every day to be a ziplining grandma. I hope you’ll join me!