Monday, November 15, 2021

The Eye of the Storm

My next door neighbor is amazing.  She is always so calm and collected.  She is the eye of the storm. The quiet and the anchor when things in life feel out of control. I absolutely love talking to her because her serenity is like a tranquilizer to my madness. In case I haven't been clear, I adore her and her zen. 

There was that one time that Faye and the little girl I was watching disappeared.  They were found half a mile away, in the dead of winter, deep snow, and on a busy road.  They were building a snow man in the front yard while I was getting the two babies (mine and the sister of the girl I was watching) down for their naps. I could see them out the window. And then I didn't like for a measly 5 minutes when Faye and her friend wandered off.  I asked my neighbor to come sit with the sleeping babies so I could go out and find the two little girls. It was a terrifying time for me. I drove around, yelling their names until I was hoarse.  Driving became difficult as the fear in my stomach began to tighten, my hands gripping the steering wheel, and the tears forced their way out of my eyes. I was so scared about those two little girls. 

A kind woman saw them, and luckily Faye knew her address, and she brought them back to my house.  My neighbor called me and I rushed home. 

I walked in the door seconds after the kind woman dropped them off. The relief was like a sudden sucker punch, knocking the wind out of me.  Unfortunately, my first reaction was to chastise those little girls. My neighbor, who was calmly knitting on my couch, mildly said, "Don't they look so cold, and a little bit scared still? Maybe they would like some hot chocolate, and a hug." There was no judgement in her voice, no condemnation, just her trademark calm, cool, and collected observation, nay, wisdom. 

I love that woman so much. She is absolutely amazing! I have found that for years, I have struggled and tried in vain to be more like her. I want to be rational, not rash. When confronted with a problem, I wish I could observe it, and then act on it with composure instead of the jumping at it, like a rabid dog, with whatever emotion has me foaming at the mouth. I often think how much more peaceful my life would be. My home would be! If I could be more mellow, there would probably be more peace in my house, as I would be able to moderate the fights easier. This has been going on for years for me, often times subconsciously. 

As I was thinking about her today, for whatever reason, I don't even know, I had a realization. I am so blessed to have her in my life, and to be able to see her and be able to think on her example, however, God made me the way I am for a reason. I don't exactly know what that reason is, and I know that I have a lot to work on, to better myself, but I am this way for a reason. 

When I see my sweet neighbor, she is relaxed and careful about things. 

I look at myself, and have to sigh. Nothing about me is calm, cool, and collected. My brain is always in a rush to get to the next thought. It is hurried to expel whatever emotion I am feeling, and instead of taking time to understand and process. My emotions are powerful and persistent and while i instinctively ignore them, that sometimes makes them boil over the top and be worse than they otherwise would have been.

And that is how I roll.

I am working on accepting that this is the way I am. I have to remind myself that I am the spice of my own life.  My life never gets boring. I always have something going on, something that I am working on. Which is exhausting. But I'm not sure I would know what to do with myself if I did have that tranquility.

And then I learned about the ADHD, and it suddenly made sense that I work this way.  Sure, I still dream about being able to have a mellow life, but I am beginning to accept that it is not likely to ever happen in this life, because that is not the way that I am programmed.  

I am just grateful to live next to this angel woman, and to be able to bask in her radiating tranquility and peace. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Chaotic Structure

I have found that I very much need structure, but within that structure I need a lot of flexibility. I mean, I have 5 kids ranging from 14-4 for heaven's sake! Life changes direction on a hairpin and I need to be able to adapt and overcome. 

This morning I woke up around 6, which is half an hour late, for me.  Kip had climbed into my bed in the night and was showing signs of wanting to get up so I hoped if I stayed there for a little longer, so would he.  I cannot do my morning scripture study which begins at 5:30 if there are children there. They distract me so much and I am not able to learn much of anything at all. So I stayed in bed, in hopes that Kip would go back to sleep, which he did.  But then I heard uncertainty, desire, and indecision in my doorway in the shape of a little boy who really wants to be with his mommy, but isn't sure if it is too early, or if he will be turned away (let's be honest, when is he ever turned away?), and so he lingers in the doorway turning the possibilities over and over in his mind until he quite literally takes the leap onto my bed, nearly waking Kip in the process because he landed on Kip's leg.

And what that meant was that I stayed in bed much much longer than I had meant to because I had to somehow trick Vince into going back to sleep.  Which he did! But I didn't get any of my scripture study done today as a consequence, which 100% throws off my day.  Sigh.

Why didn't I just study later, you ask? 

I still plan to, you know.  I will not go to sleep until I have.  And I have been listening to Come Follow Me podcasts while I cleaned, so I was somewhat getting some in, but it isn't the same as having the scriptures open in front of me, my colored marking pencils next to me, my heart full of prayer, and my head full of thoughts as to how what I just read pertains to me, and how it will help me in my day, and in my life.  Hearing what other people have to say in regards to the scriptures is wonderful and educational, but it is not the same as being taught by the Spirit of the Lord. 

But my day has been dominated by kids, and my own distractibility.  Also, I woke this morning with a migraine because apparently I truly am allergic to pistachios and all things that are yummy and bring joy. At any rate, I struggle sometimes to attach the right amount of importance to tasks, and for this, I have not yet read my scriptures, and also because of this, my day has just been off. 

However, it is nearly 6, and that is prime Amy time.  From 6-8 is time for self care, and to me, that translates as going to the library tonight and getting a study room, and sitting in the quiet, studying and pondering the words of God as given to us through the ancient and modern prophets. I really am looking forward to that quiet time today. There will be no distractions, it will be quiet, and I will be able to just think and ponder as much as I want (within the 2 hour period) without things around my house that could otherwise distract me.  Yay! I look forward for this time with the Lord to be instructed in His ways.

About 2 (maybe it was 3) years ago I was praying about something, I don't even remember what it was, but I felt a strong impression (and have felt several confirmations since) that it is important for me to be outside every day. I need to spend some time out in nature.  This has been a very difficult instruction for me to follow, but if I am able to manage my time properly, I will be able to study for an hour, and then go outside and walk around for half an hour or so, and then I can do some outdoor (and in the dark) yoga for 15 minutes or so (which is another instruction I have received- the yoga, not necessarily outside and in the dark), and I will have been able to accomplish my main 3 goals of the day.  I have these 3 every day and it is a rare occasion I am able to complete all 3. But I know that through Christ I can be helped and changed to the point where these things will be a habit to me, and not something I struggle with.  

Anyway, I completely went on a tangent there.  Since the boys were both asleep on my bed, I got up when Beth came into my room, and we started to get her ready for school.  As I was looking for her school clothes, I had a very persistent thought.  She needed to take a bath before she went to school today. Well, that would make us late, but I am trying to follow those thoughts because in my experience they usually come from the Holy Ghost, so I decided today was going to be a late day. It was Beth's first day back at school since getting sick last Thursday and I guess I needed to make sure, one last time, those germs were good and off her.  Or something.  I let Vince sleep and I helped Beth wash her hair, and when she was finished with her bath, she asked if she could have her hair curly today.  

My little girl has the most beautiful curly hair ever! But I rarely get to fix it for her because we don't have a lot of time in the mornings, and she usually wont let me. But this morning she did and her hair!!

She was so happy to be back at school today! 

I do really hope that I can figure out a way to have that flexible or chaotic structure and still be able to get the things I need to do accomplished. Its a good thing that I always get to try again tomorrow to be a little better than I was today.  

And really, thank heavens for repentance!

image and recipe found here

Today was interesting, depending on how I looked at it. I’m super tired so just the highlights. 
I did so much better with maintaining tranquility in my demeanor and interactions today. I only lost it once or twice. But I don’t want that to be the focal point. I would rather focus on blessings. 
There was a Relief Society (women’s organization) activity tonight. I had signed up to bring a pie for refreshments, forgetting about the plethora of allergies I now have. But there was a pumpkin pie base recipe I had been dying to adapt and try.
I messaged the lady in charge and explained that I couldn’t find a good pie recipe that could accommodate my allergies, could I bring in a gluten free-dairy free pumpkin bar treat instead? She responded that my request was an answer to her prayers. She has been worrying about what to do for the women who are gluten free, and there are quite a few. She has been very concerned about how to accommodate everyone to ensure all were included. When I asked if I could bring a gluten free dessert to share, she was flooded with relief. 

What I learned from this was yet another witness to the goodness of God. He is so mindful of each of us. He knew that the woman who had organized the whole activity was worried and concerned about how she could help others, and so He prompted me to reach out to her in a way that alleviated her fears. He knew that I love pie and really miss making them, but He knows me and my determination to go around trials and setbacks like that, and that I wouldn’t give up until I found a good recipe. God blesses His children by us, through us. We can be instruments in His hands to answer prayers, bless lives, offer needed help, or even to just be a friend. I am so grateful that I was listening and that Heavenly Father knew He could trust me for this little task that helped to bless the whole day for someone, in the most delicious way possible! 

On a side note, I think I need to add pistachios to my list of food allergies. Sigh. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

A Healing Heart Found in a Letter


Dear Reader,

It has been 14 years since we first began our correspondence.

A lot has happened in those 14 years. I’ve had 7 pregnancies, 5 children, 5 houses, 5 cars, 4 pets, and more adventures than I can count, or remember. 

I am grateful for your sympathetic ear as I share my life with you. You are always so patient with me when I get busy and neglect you, and while my correspondence has been sparse, I know you are always there for me. 

In March 2020 a global pandemic began. In January 2021 a personal journey was begun. I briefly mentioned it in my last letter. Up to now, I have mostly only talked about motherhood and life raising these crazy hoodlums. Up to now, that was sufficient. Since endeavoring on this new path in life, it has become very apparent that some of the things I have let go of, in the busyness of life, ought to have been maintained. As I have grown and changed over the years, so has this quiet little space of mine. Things that once were so important to me became nearly forgotten. 

But never you. Never this connection we have. 

A quick update, Jeffrey and I discovered a problem I have. I never really understood why this problem existed and I always just subconsciously went with it. I used shopping as a sort of therapy. Now when I say shopping, I mean 

1) leaving my house

2) buying something that is needed. Cat food or dish soap or whatever it was. 

3) sometimes grazing over the decorations for which every holiday was in season and pick up something here or there. Something small and cheap. To help my house be more cozy, inviting, and welcoming. 

4) very rarely did I spend money on myself, unless it was for food. 

Unfortunately as my stress climbed, so did the price tag on my therapy. But I never put two and two together until last month when I looked at what I had spent in a month. 😳 Reader, it was alarming! And so I decided something had to be done. I came up with a scheme and presented it to my wonderful and supportive husband. He was absolutely on board, even before I finished explaining what I had planned. Now, he is in charge of all spending for the rest of the year. If I need something, I put it on the list, and he will get it when he goes shopping next. 

To help me, do I don’t feel so cut off or trapped, I get 2 hours of alone time every night. I usually use that time to go walking, or do yoga, or read my scriptures. Those are all things that God has asked me to do in order to help my mental health. It’s hard to find the time during the day of re-domesticating my little boys, so I do it at night during my alone time  

Except something was broken. Things weren’t working how they should have and I didn’t realize it until tonight, but by not going shopping, I lost my therapy. I lost my main source of dopamine. We have been doing this going on 3 weeks now and last week there was a day where I completely lost it. I had to send the kids off to someone who was right in their head, and lock myself away because I couldn’t trust myself. I felt like my evil twin had tied me up and taken over my body. I would say things that I didn’t know where they were coming from, but it didn’t feel like they were coming from me. They were horrible, awful things that I apologized for the moment the left my lips. I was just plain awful and I hated it! 

Tonight I locked myself in my bathroom and took a bath because I could again feel that rage rising. And I felt helpless to stop it. 

Jeffrey got home shortly after and we discussed what I am doing to fill the gap that shopping used to fill.  How I am getting that dopamine that is now vacant in my life. 

I read my scriptures daily. I pray daily. I try to walk or yoga daily. I spend time outside every day. But I’m just not getting that hit of dopamine that helps me be a sane and loving mother, delighting in the accomplishments of my brood instead of waiting for them to quit talking to me, so they will go away and leave me in peace, in a very annoyed sort of way. 

The things that I used to enjoy hold no appeal to me anymore. 

Jeffrey suggested I find an old hobby that I could dust off and resume and see if that would help. I couldn’t think of one. 

And then I remembered, Involuntary Smiles! I love writing. It is therapeutic and cathartic to me. And so, dear Reader, I hope to find much joy and dopamine in picking up our correspondence again, but writing more about my ADHD thoughts, struggles, and education. I will still record my adventures in motherhood, but possibly through a new lens. Because mental health is important. 

Yours always,


Monday, November 8, 2021

My Decent into Maddness

13 March 2020 was nothing special. Aside from it being my sweet sister in law’s birthday with my brother’s (her husband) following the next day. Life was full of the usual ups and downs with a lot of laughter thrown in the middle. And I expected life to continue on in this way. 

That Friday, the kids came home from school, as usual, we talked about the day, and they scampered off their separate ways to play with their friends and begin their weekend. 

“No School!” was Keith’s battle cry. 

That evening, I received an email from the school stating that until Spring Break was over, 3 weeks later, school was temporarily shut down. I was very surprised, not being an avid news consumer. I had only heard whisperings of a deadly virus half a world away. I was not aware that said tiny virus could be so intrusive and disruptive of the gentle rhythm of our lives. 

The kids relished the extra time away from school while I adapted to the sudden surprise of having them all home all of the time. The school offered free breakfasts and lunches, which was a wonderful and much needed excuse to leave the house daily. 

3 weeks turned into 3 months of adapting and learning. When it was apparent to everyone that this wasn’t just going to go away, we all had to learn a new normal. 

And the weight I had so valiantly been carrying quadrupled over night. Not that I was carrying an excessive amount, but having all 5 kids home all day, trying to help the older 3 to get their school work done, suddenly becoming aware that my girls most definitely have attention problems, juggling class calls and teacher calls two-three times a week per child, and not neglecting the 2 and 3 year old kids was very difficult. But in this house we adjust and adapt, and that is what I did. 

Jeffrey started working from home, and that was incredibly helpful. He could take 10 minute breaks here and there to help me with the little boys. But the truth is, they were woefully neglected as the needs of the older kids were a little more pressing and time sensitive. Beth was the hardest to help. She was in first grade and some nights we stayed up until 9:30 trying to finish her homework because I just couldn’t make her sit still long enough to complete the daily 4 pages she needed to do. It was so hard for everyone because their school is very hands on, and they don’t really have worksheets in class so it was all very foreign to them. 

But the neglected and ignored 2 and 3 year olds, they are the most amazing, most adorable, and most ingenious antagonists in this narrative. 

Whilst doing school time with my 3 very adhd children, Vince and Kip became feral children. It seemed that every time I turned around, they had made another mess.  I can't tell you how many times they "made it snow" in the living room with our 5 gallon bucket of flour that I kept in the closet for bread baking. They did it enough times, that I don't think I have made bread since the pandemic began, because of the ptsd associated with it.  

I think there has been quite a lot of ptsd building going on here, honestly.  And I am not saying that in jest. Those boys really did a number on me.  

The pandemic dragged on.  And on. And on.

I did my best to juggle all of the balls in the air. We scraped by and ended the school year with huge sighs of relief from everyone except Keith.  School at home was his JAM! That boy was so happy doing school work from home.  He could get a week's worth of work done in a day, and then spend the rest of the week happily doing whatever he wanted.  He really thrived at home with his personal study.  I debated for a very long time whether or not to let him do home school. He really wanted to do it. But the fact of the matter is, Keith is far too much of an introvert. He would very happily never leave the house if he could help it. He needs to be out, amongst people, forced to be social and to learn interactive people skills. 

Summer flew by, the next school year began, things were weird, but we pushed through it. Vince started preschool. He loved it.  I loved the time I had together with Kip, and I tried to reclaim him from his feral state. Things started to get better, except the boys were getting better at being curious and making messes because that is what they do.

Except January 2021 began.

And with it, a deep dark cloud settled around my head, like a halo of darkness. I had trouble seeing anything outside of that cloud.  I was suddenly living inside of a black hole, nearly suffocating from the constant unbearable pressure.  I felt completely overwhelmed and broken. On Valentine's Day, I tried very hard to make things nice for an evening with Jeffrey.  I straightened my hair because the weirdo prefers straight hair, and carefully applied my makeup.  I felt pretty.  And then I left my bedroom.  

All over my light grey living room rug was ketchup.  

I think this was the defining point. The point where I realized that reality was slowly ebbing away from me and if I didn't act fast, I might never regain my faculties again. I became a mom-beast and shouted at the kids to get to their bedroom and to not come out again the rest of the day. And then I collapsed on the rug, sobbing, feeling like I had utterly failed. Jeffrey came up and coaxed me through my meltdown, we cleaned up the ketchup. 

***side note: Did you know that shaving cream can get ketchup out of carpet? I was a skeptic at first but am now an amazed believer!***

*****Side side note: When I was finally calm enough to ask them, I learned that the kids were playing detectives. Every good detective gets to solve a murder. Every good murder has lots of blood. Obviously the only thing that would work for blood is ketchup. Obviously!*****

I eventually called my sister that night and she suggested I was dealing with depression. Because I was tired all of the time. Because I so often felt overwhelmed. Because of a lot of things. I reached out to the mental health specialist in my ward, and she confirmed depression. She also suggested I was dealing with some ptsd that I need to work through. I talked to yet another counselor who had the same diagnosis. 3 times depression and 2 times ptsd. For the record, my sister is a licensed therapist, as is her husband. The lady from my church works for the county behavioral and health department, so these weren't just random people, they are people I trust, who have degrees and credentials.

After grappling with this for a few months, I finally made an appointment to see my doctor. He confirmed depression.  Except I have never felt like I have depression. I just thought it was part of having 5 kids, two of which were slightly feral. I bounced around from medication to medication for a while, never finding one that actually worked.

And then I took Keith in to see him because Keith has some pretty intense anxiety.  While talking, the doctor suggested I have ADHD...

... and suddenly all of the pieces fell into place. 

A lot of the signs of depression are also signs of ADHD, apparently. Always being tired is contributed to a great many things, one of them being mental exhaustion which completely tires out the body. A feeling of overwhelm is another sign. Feeling like you just can't do your job (for me it was to be a good mom) is often attributed to something called impostor syndrome, which again, is a sign of ADHD. The more I learn about it, the more I can plainly see how much I have been trying to do, completely taking the wrong approach, and making things so much harder on myself! Today was an exciting day, because I finally got to quit the depression medication (which I honestly feel made things worse)! While that diagnosis still hovers over my head, I 100% believe that it is incorrect because all of the things that people think are depression, are really just signs of ADHD that have been misdiagnosed.

Life is still teetering on the brink of a black hole, it seems.  But I would much rather be teetering on the brink than crushed within it! However, I am now better able to see my triggers and to understand what is going on, and so be able to counter it.  Sometimes. 

Other times, I just feel like I am going mad.

Baby steps, you know?

The Culprits:

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

If one were to glimpse my day, as moments in a photograph, it would appear serene and full of peaceful happy moments. And they would see truth. Minus the serenity, that is. But those photographs, those moments show truth.  

But they wouldn’t see the whole truth. 

They wouldn’t see that while I am trying to do my morning scripture study, the set up so picture perfect and deceiving, I am actually sitting in the middle of a war zone. Little boy war whoops and battle cries ring around me while bouncy ball missiles (sometimes) narrowly miss me. Little bare feet pound the fake wood floor, chasing after the wayward ricocheting bouncy balls. Screams of delight and laughter echo  throughout the house and I can’t help but join them in their infectious laughter.
While my heart and soul long for a peaceful moment in which to feast upon the words of Christ, there is a satisfying and fulfilling joy in hearing these peals of mirth and excitement. Come autumn, Vince will be in kindergarten, and Kip will be going to preschool, and I will have quiet moments to study. Or shower! But I think I will miss the thundering little feet and spontaneous hugs, or the story reading demands while I am in the middle of washing dishes. There is something so endearing about the simple joys little ones find in everything. 

Just the other day I was remembering how I used to be like that. I would get so excited and happy over little things. I would squeal and kick my foot up and to the side because I could find such joy in everything! I somehow lost that, I realized. So I have been working on rekindling that joy and light heartenedness. And what better teachers than those two dear boys? 

Of course, they may very well be the cause for my crisis living that I seem to have been doing for the past four years. 😳
On Monday I had a migraine so I went to the store for caffeine. Jeffrey was home but Faye was watching the boys. In 20 minutes times, my family room  became host to a kitchen experiment. This was after cleaning up a bunch of other messes they had made that morning while everyone was still asleep. Maybe I won’t miss these memorable and delightful morning bouncy ball wars so much when weighed against the level of destruction that 2 minutes of unsupervision can create. 

But I certainly will enjoy and try to learn from them as much as possible before it all changes this coming autumn. And in the meantime, I will try to capture more deceptive photograph moments with the truth written down somewhere. So I can look back and remember, and cherish these eminent moments in time. 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Summer Schedules

    The amount of unbelief I have over current events is unreal.  I am shocked,dismayed, and saddened by everything that is happening.  The uprisings of minorities is amazing to watch, and the many men and women who stand beside them is inspiring.  However, what is not inspiring is the way that people have decided to make their voices heard. Especially through the violence and law breaking.  As the Prophet stated, two wrongs don't make a right. Sigh  Jeffrey and I have had countless discussions on everything in regards to this, and  I don't want to sully my blog with politics, so I will not address it more, other than to say that I am praying and fasting for a swift and peaceful conclusion to all of this.  

   Things are much the same they have been. The only real change that I can think of since last writing is that we have been able to go back to church with certain restrictions in place.  I can't even express how lovely it is. 

    While I have loved being able to worship at home, and to be able to continue to partake of the sacrament, I do love being able to go to church and have someone else do everything so that I can more easily focus on the sacrament and my own growth and repentance. Thus far only Keith and myself have actually gone to the church for the sacrament. Later in the day we have the sacrament at home with the family.  I have missed church dreadfully, and am anxious for the day when we can go back to the full 2 hour block. Isn't that little sacrament tray sweet? My sister sent it to me! 

    This is such a weird time.  It is my year to plan the family reunion, and things have been so up in there air, it has been incredibly difficult to plan. We didn't even know if we would get to use the venue that we had reserved up until recently.  I am happy that it seems to be working out right now, though.  We get to do a service project while we are there, so that is a bonus! 

Life feels a lot like the Groundhog's Day movie where every day seems to be much the same, day in and day out. Jeffrey and I have been watching the virus (covid-19) trends, and he is realy good at paying attention and predicting trends.  While the state and the country seem to be opening up a lot more, we have noticed that people have become very cavalier and the infection rates seem to be climbing again, and so we are going to stay in lock down a bit longer.  Sigh. It is very difficult for me because I am an extrovert at heart.  I have enough introvert in me to not be going absolutely crazy, but not enough to be completely content with life as we know it.  It is hard for me to be in this house all the time, never leaving it.  Jeffrey is in heaven, but I am struggling.  I have found ways to supplement, though. On Tuesdays I started a General Conference Book Club via zom. Thursdays my Come Follow Me group meets via zoom. Both Tuesdays and Thursdays my sweet niece Gennavie hosts a yoga session that I try to join whenever I came. So there is a bit of talking with others, and I get a little adult conversation in. I have plans to explore some of the outdoor amenities around here. There are some that I have never been to that look absolutely smashing! But my biggest goal for this week is to find ways to be happy at home. To find ways to find joy and to share that joy with my family.  It is very difficult when I am home all the time. We all get into our schedules, and they aren't necessarily good. The kids all want to rush through their chores and summer reading and math so that they can get on the computers. And honestly, I have been letting them. Because it then means quiet time for me. I feel really bad about that, and like I am failing them, but we are surviving the best we can. In an effort to enjoy being at home more, I am going to come up with a schedule for the week and see if that helps any. Having a schedule to fall back on, and to have less screen time.  But quite frankly, the boys are exhausting and they are masters of mess making.  Kip cut his favorite shirt off of himself today. He was so sad when I showed him that I was throwing the shirt in the trash, but he needs to learn that scissors aren't toys!

At any rate, we are doing our best to survive. I am grateful for the grand perspective that I have.  I am grateful that I know that I can gain strength from my Savior. What a glorious blessing that knowledge is!