Why I Needed to Have a Bad Day

A number of  years ago I was having a particularly horrible, edgy day. I was angry at everyone, and everything around me. Even things that weren’t all that bad felt intolerable. I don’t even know what originally set me off, but I was totally out of emotional control.

And then the final straw: doggie poop in the back yard.

That was it. We had already had a pow wow with our children the month before, and the deal was agreed: they needed to pitch in on his poop and start caring for him without being reminded, or we’d need to find him a better home. Don’t judge me.

With seven children between the ages of 3 and 17, surely one of them would care enough about keeping our basset hound to show some initiative.

But unfortunately, it had been about four weeks, and only once had one of the children cleaned up his poop independently.

He was already listed in one classified ad, and we had received two calls up to that point. But we also had a list describing the perfect home (it would need to be a step up), and we weren’t going to give him away unless we found a home that matched the list.

But on this day, I was especially upset about the poop and determined to place another ad to speed up the process. My 14 year-old son saw me typing furiously on the computer and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Placing another ad for Charlie.”

“What?!” He was devastated. He couldn’t believe I was actually going to go through with it, and was horrified to find out this wasn’t my first ad. Finding no sympathy from me, he stormed out of the house to cool off. Naturally, I felt horrible. Total mom failure.

But a few days later I found out how God used me, even though I was a mess, to accomplish his purposes:

On the day I placed that ad, my younger ten year old son was across the neighborhood coming home from the park on his bike. His pant leg had gotten caught in the bike chain while he was on a street that we rarely traverse. He was stuck, alone, and didn’t have the strength to pull it out. That’s when my 14 year-old wandered into that remote area of the neighborhood, just looking for some time away from his cranky mother. But in reality, he was being LED to rescue his brother, and didn’t even realize it.

Now, I don’t think God purposely ticks me off so he can set up a rescue; but he does know me, and he knows my weaknesses, and miraculously, and mercifully, he even uses my weaknesses to accomplish his purposes. Knowing this helps me feel like everything is going to turn out okay, if I just keep trying and trust that the Lord is in the details, even on the days when I’m at my worst.

Think about that: perhaps all is NOT lost when you feel like a failure; in fact, I’m certain that quite often, there is more good that comes out of those experiences than we realize.

So keep your chin up, and if you want to learn more about how you can get really great results in spite of yourself, find out how in the Mindset Mastery Program. You really don’t have to be perfect to enjoy wonderful results. Originally published November 6, 2009

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What we do to ourselves sometimes can’t be undone on our own

I was visiting my in-laws one evening when I signed in to my Facebook account and saw this post on my newsfeed. It was from my 18-year-old son. He said:

Jacob (18)

I just walked past my parent’s room and heard my 4 year old sister Sarah crying. My parents are gone so I thought she was in there waiting for Mom to get home. I tried to open the door but it was locked, so when I got into the room with a key and asked what was wrong, I saw that she had tied the ribbon of her dress to their bed.

As I was struggling to untie it she said:

“I’na good tyer.”

Then she came and asked me, “Wanna know why I tied myself to the bed?”

I asked, “Why?”

Bethany (7) and Sarah (4)

“Because Bethany was being mean to me.”

That was the only explanation she gave.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t be mean to your little siblings or they might lock themselves in a room and tie themselves to furniture with knots that they can’t undo on their own.

~~~

It’s true; sometimes our reaction to life’s disappointments and frustrations becomes the real source of our problems. We can really complicate matters when we react instead of responding with calculated choice of thought.

The fact is, life will disappoint us, and frustrations are inevitable.  Our power to rise above such problems, however, does not lie in the circumstances themselves, but in how we respond to them.

And, as explained in Hidden Treasures, Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Your Money Matters (free download), the larger the problem, the greater the opportunity.

So, I echo my son’s moral, and remind us all to apply it to the world of adults:

If life is mean to YOU, don’t tie yourself up in knots that you can’t undo on your own.

Success is not a measure of how many problems we avoid; it’s a measure of how well we respond to the problems we have.

However, if you feel like you’re already “tied up” in some way, pat yourself on the back for being a good “tyer” (be kind to yourself!) …and then get some help. You don’t have to stay stuck forever.

To see how I can help you now, and to learn how to choose your thoughts carefully in a crisis for the best possible outcome, visit ProsperTheFamily.com Originally published November 29, 2010

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Finding Relief from Heavy Burdens

47tips-heavy-burden

A Special Message of Faith

In December of 2012 I was asked to speak during my congregation’s sacrament meeting. This is one thing that is common throughout my church worldwide: that members are given opportunities to teach each other about the gospel, and how they are learning to apply it in their lives.

Here’s the message I shared:

When we realized back in 2006 that we had purchased too much real estate at the wrong time, sometimes all we could do to calm the raging storm was to turn off the lights, close our eyes, and let “Peace Like a River” CD soothe our troubled and fearful hearts.

We tried to focus on the Savior, and let Him assure us that in the eternal scheme of things, everything was going to turn out okay if we fixed our faith upon Him.

He showed us that no matter how heavy the burden, he had the power to do for us what He had done for Alma’s people as described in Mosiah chapter 24 when he told them:

“I will … ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that … you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”

The Bible tells us to have faith in Jesus Christ, and to love one another. But until recently, I never really recognized an important connection between these two directives, and how it relates to the lift of our burdens.

At the time, I considered the peace I ultimately discovered to be a tremendous personal victory. We were still in a mess, but He taught us peace in spite of it. That all of that could be happening and that we could find peace anyway was a miracle to me.

As our difficulty stretched on, I felt that I could relate in a small way to the man who had been a part of the fateful Martin Handcart company who said, “‘I… pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary … that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and … said, I can go only that far and there I must give up…’ ” He continued: ” ‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there… The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.'”

As hard as it was for us over those last few years, I wouldn’t give up the testimony we gained through it – that God lives and is mindful of us and gives us strength.

However, while it’s true, that when things appear to be falling apart, a return to the Savior (pondering his life’s example, repenting of our mistakes, finding gratitude, and imagining his steady and unconditional friendship) always brings peace, sometimes it can be really hard to set aside personal challenges enough to be able to think about helping someone else.

But what I’ve been learning is that our needs are cared for when we focus on others.

This is probably a more complete and true exercise of faith in Christ. Not just believing that He is real and finding peace in our challenges, but taking it one step further… do we really believe that our needs will be met if we forget ourselves? Do we really trust that the Lord will carry us through our problems if we lose ourselves in the service of others?

I remember back several years when my husband and I were trying to be anxiously engaged in a good cause, but our investment problems were screaming so loudly that it seemed nearly impossible to carry on.

We had come to the end of all of our visible resources – our savings were entirely depleted, our credit was completely exhausted, and with only $200 in the bank and no paycheck in sight (with another $15,000 in bills due in the coming 2 weeks), the moment we had tried so hard to avoid was finally upon us.

It was our anniversary weekend, and so with no other solution in sight, we decided to at least enjoy a dinner together and try to rekindle our hope in the future, and our faith in Christ. During our conversation, it dawned on us that even though we were at rock bottom, we were still alive, still breathing, and still able to help others.

We asked ourselves, if we were homeless, could we still teach? Could we still help others? Would we? Of course we could, and would. So that’s when our conversation shifted. Instead of focusing on our immediate needs, we projected our minds forward and imagined where we saw ourselves in 10 years. Did we think we’d be back on our feet by then? Would we have figured things out and put our lives back together by then? That seemed easy enough to believe. So then our focus shifted, and we brainstormed on the things we could do right away to serve others better, and made those plans.

By the end of dinner, we felt hope again. We felt the Spirit confirm to us that although we were in a pretty ugly mess of our own, we were on the right track.

So we paid the bill and just as my husband was opening my car door, the waiter came running out to the parking lot after us with a voided receipt yelling,

“Since it’s your anniversary, the meal’s on us!”

In that moment, we experienced a little bit of what the Lord had taught his apostles. He had tried to assure them that as long as they would feed his sheep, their true needs would be met. We’ve heard it so many times: “Consider the lilies of the field…” “…trust the Lord with all thine heart” “…fear not…” but how it is possible?

To explain, let me share it the way Elder Jeffrey R. Holland described it:

After Christ was no longer with his apostles, in effect, Peter said: “Brethren, it has been a glorious three years. …But [it] is over. He has finished His work, and He has risen from the tomb. He has worked out His salvation and ours. So … ‘What do we do now?’ I don’t know more to tell you than to return to your former life, rejoicing. I intend to ‘go a fishing.’”

But, … the fishing wasn’t very good. Their first night back on the lake, they caught nothing—not a single fish. With the first rays of dawn, they disappointedly turned toward the shore, where they saw in the distance a figure who called out to them,

“Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find,” —and with those simple words, recognition begins to flood over them. Just three years earlier these very men had been fishing on this very sea. On that occasion too they had “toiled all the night, and [had] taken nothing,”…. But a fellow Galilean on the shore had called out to them to let down their nets, and they drew “a great multitude of fishes,” enough that their nets broke, the catch filling two boats so heavily they had begun to sink.

Now it was happening again. [They] eagerly lowered their net, and “they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.”

After a joyful reunion… Looking at their battered little boats, … and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said … three times, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

To which Jesus responded …perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish?

“What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do.

“Ours is not a feeble message. … It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally…”

“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back…

To those who have not yet joined with us in this great final cause of Christ, we say, “Please come.” To those who were once with us but have retreated, preferring to pick and choose a few cultural hors d’oeuvres from the smorgasbord of the Restoration [of the gospel of Jesus Christ] and leave the rest of the feast, I say that I fear you face a lot of long nights and empty nets. The call is to come back, to stay true, to love God, and to lend a hand.” – Elder Jeffrey Holland

Now, on Christmas we were blessed to spend some time on the phone with our missionary son Jacob, and I asked him: What can we do for you? What can we do to help you?

He replied, emotionally, “I just want you guys to love each other. I want you to do your best to get along with each other. It’s so true that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I just want you guys to also stay in touch with me, keep writing letters, keep emailing me, keep me posted with what’s going on in your lives, the good and the bad…”

Our Father in Heaven – during our separation from Him – wants us to love each other, and stay in touch with Him through prayer. He wants us to go to him with the good and the bad, and let Him be a central part of our life.

And when we have burdens too heavy and worries too consuming to think outside of ourselves, I testify that we can put our trust in the Lord, hand him our burdens, …and as we focus on helping someone else, everything will work out just as it should.

I have a special journal dedicated to this – for when I have a concern or a need that seems to be more than I can handle, I’ll write “What I needed” on the left side, and then on the right side I write “How He helped”. After all, He has asked us to acknowledge his hand in all things – and this is one way I’m trying to do it.

(The following section is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to a friend, giving more details on this new journal tool.)

I felt the Lord inspired me to do something I hadn’t done before, when things were terribly overwhelming to me. The Spirit nagged me for 2 days until I did it… and that is this:

I got a notebook or journal that was specifically to be for one purpose. On the left side of the page, I wrote: “What I needed”, and I listed the things I needed to turn over to the Lord. I imagined angels being given permission to get to work on those items for me, because I was physically, mentally, emotionally unable to handle them myself at that time.  On the right side of the page I wrote: “How He helped” because I thoroughly expected Him to handle some of those things for me, and I wanted to document His hand in the process.

Within 20 minutes, I got a phone call that answered one of the pleas listed on the left.  Over time, it seems that all of them have been either checked off or making good progress. To me, it’s working better than a vision board ever did, because it’s more of a system for the purpose of fulfilling my life’s mission, and for handling the distractions that slow me down as well.

Once I put something on the “what I needed” side, I let it go and I get busy on something that I CAN make progress with, knowing that the other items are being handled.

And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you; (D&C 61:36)

Related: Do the Problems Go Away?

(Back now, to my talk at church…)

I know that God lives, that Jesus Christ is with us, He’s mindful of our heartaches, and ready to help. He is merciful. He loves us. He loves you. He knows what you’re going through; it’s not pointless.

May we exercise our faith in Christ not just by believing He is real, but also by trusting him – literally – to handle our burdens that feel too big, while we look instead for opportunities to feed his sheep.

This is my prayer for all of us.

Originally published on December 18, 2013

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What you can Learn from a Locksmith

When results don’t come as fast as you want, trust that each epiphany along the way gets you one “tumbler” closer to your next victory.

Perhaps the reason “one book” or “one seminar” or “one program” was a MAJOR turning point for one person, but nothing more than a small stepping stone for another, is because achieving success is like opening a combination lock.

There are a finite number of discs that need to move into place before the lock will open.

Some people are raised in such a way, or have a natural-born inclination to live in harmony with the laws of success.

Sometimes those people have all but ONE of the discs already in place, so just one book or seminar or conversation with a mentor is all they needed to set them free and launch their lifestyle into the stratosphere.

Others have hundreds of discs that need to move into place. (That was my situation.)

But each time you increase your mental capital by learning more about how success really works, and by trying and failing and learning the lesson the experience contained, you allow yet another disc to rotate into place, and the good news is: that disc can stay in place for good.

One day, with just one more try, one more class, one more book, one more seminar, or one more conversation with a mentor, that FINAL disc will move into its proper position, and the lock WILL finally spring open.

You’ll probably tell everyone that that was THE BEST event or book or conversation there ever was… because it facilitated the most tangible results in your life.

The truth is, that each “aha” moment leading up to it was just as important and critical to your success as the last. If just ONE of the previous epiphanies had not happened, then that final event, book, or conversation would probably not have been the final disc.

So keep learning, keep seeking the next epiphany, because you never know… it just might be that final disc for you. If it isn’t, at LEAST there’s just one less disc to go.

Even if you’ve experienced a breakthrough before, taking it to the next level will always require the opening of another lock, sometimes just a little more complex than the one before.

But don’t worry, you’ll open them all, by just rotating one simple disc into place at a time.

Remember:

Your desire is simply a “possibility” seeking expression through you… honor your dream, don’t give up on it. One step, one rotated disc at a time and you’ll surely get there.

If you’re ready for your next epiphany, click here.

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AP Chemistry and Forest Fires

Positive Thinking Tip: Life’s disasters are like forest fires: they release new seeds, and always mark an exciting new beginning.


This is the third installment of my personal exposé that began with “Getting Personal Here” and which continued with “Something’s Gotta Change“.

In my last installment, I ended with:

“It’s nearly 3 am again – I’m eager to share what those extra lessons turned out to be, and you’re probably wondering, ‘so, what about the debts?’ or ‘what are you going to do with your business now?’ but I’ll have to save those details for next time.”

It’s finally “next time” so, here we go…

About those lessons learned, no doubt I haven’t learned all that I need to learn, and I’m sure there are more to come, but to this point I’ve learned a few:

For one thing, I recognized at least one huge blessing that was contained in my timely meltdown. As I said in the first post, I dropped off the map in May.  From May through October, my husband and I reassessed our roles, and found a more workable long-term plan for our family.

By November, I was breathing again, just in time to shift my attention to helping my oldest son prepare for a full-time 2-year service mission for our church.  He applied to serve and was assigned to a region that includes Northern Colorado and Southern Nebraska/Wyoming, and he was to report for training on February 8th, 2012.

To help him prepare for this assignment, we started gathering some serious winter clothing (seeing as how we didn’t really own any), there was a ton of paperwork to complete, and countless appointments to get all the doctor’s and dentist’s permissions and medical records turned in.

It doesn’t sound all that time consuming in hindsight, but it was a feat of ginormous proportions while I also worked to keep up on all the other children’s activities, needs, Christmas concerts, preparations for Christmas itself, and especially trying to help my junior survive AP Chemistry.

(At the same time, there were some business commitments that I still needed to fulfill, so once Christmas was behind me, those took center stage.)

Once my son was all settled into his missionary assignment, I was able to reflect on the timing of my meltdown and recognize that it gave me the space I needed to have some very special, meaningful experiences with him before sending him on his way. It’s possible that he has left the nest for good, and I feel so much gratitude for the sweet memories we were able to create with him those last few months.

Another lesson I learned had to do with letting go. 

To explain, let me share an experience I had with my 16 year-old son:

At the beginning of the school year, I encouraged him to sign up for AP Chemistry because he had enjoyed regular Chemistry, and because he had demonstrated an increased commitment for doing well in school and an increased willingness to study hard.

It seemed like an amazing opportunity, because his teacher had been the recipient of a national award, and so I pictured my son having an experience something akin to what was demonstrated in the movie “Stand and Deliver” with the dedicated and heroic teacher, Jaime Escalante.

I believed that with hard work and with my son taking advantage of ALL the help his dedicated and award-winning teacher would have to offer, my son could pull it off.

What I didn’t bank on were the unexpected challenges. Had we known that these issues were going to be part of the equation, I certainly would have thought twice:

  1. His teacher is rarely available outside of class.  There are two lunch periods, and my son’s lunch hour is during one of that teacher’s regular classes. He was invited to come in at lunch anyway, working independently while the other class is being conducted, with the plan to get some help here and there as time permits… but it never really worked. The teacher often taught right up to the bell and then it was time to go. He couldn’t help before school, because he was busy with an A-hour class. And, he was not available after school, either (I’m not sure why).
  2. There was a mentoring program at the school where students were paired up with other students who could help with a certain subject… however AP Chemistry was not one of the available topics. None of the volunteer mentors knew the topic well enough to help anyone.
  3. The students were required to use an online homework assignment program called WebAssign, and sometimes it rejected even the right answers.  One time (after beating our heads against the wall for HOURS), we called his teacher at home to get help on a problem, and his answer was, “Oh, yeah, that one is kind of buggy. You got the answer right, but for the online program you have to put in this other number [which was a wrong answer] to get it to accept it.”
  4. Another time we were stuck and his teacher said, “Have you tried Yahoo Answers?” (That’s where some other desperate, struggling student has copied/pasted the WebAssign question on Yahoo and a kind stranger has responded with an answer. To survive the class, students went looking for the answers on Yahoo, without really learning what’s going on and how to come to the answer… and because our award winning teacher is spread so thin, he even began to encourage the resource.)
  5. We hired a professional tutor to help my son with the class, but she couldn’t get the WebAssign to accept her answers, either.
  6. We hired a fellow class member who seemed to be understanding it a little better than the others, to help my son learn as they went. But sometimes he was not available, and ultimately began to get just as stuck as everyone else.
  7. The teacher told my son, “If you find yourself spending more than x minutes on any one problem, call me!” Well, that’s nice and all, but the fact of the matter is, under the circumstances, my son would have been on the phone with his teacher for HOURS at a time each night if he had had the gall to take him up on it.  My son did timidly take him up on the offer a few times, but rather than working to discover the gaps or mistakes in how my son was trying to solve the problems, the teacher just quickly rehearsed the process like he did in class and sent my son on his way. Sometimes he just outright told my son the answer so we could all get off the phone and move on with our lives.
  8. Oh, and the last time he told my son that he should call him at home, he added, “I’ll probably be grumpy about it, but then I’ll help you get the answer.”  Well, my son was already feeling like a huge inconvenience, like he was the one student who was struggling the most in that class, but in spite of that, he mustered the courage to call one more time, only to get the teacher’s voicemail, and days later, the teacher still had not returned his call.
  9. We recognized that this was a college level course, but at least in college, you can go to the science lab for help when you need it!!

Even though he was in danger of failing, and in spite of all these ridiculous obstacles, he managed to hang in there and keep a passing score.  I know it wasn’t an “A”, but the fact that he was passing was enough for me to be one seriously PROUD MAMA!

Then, on one particular day as I was experiencing some massive stress over this class from h***, and just as it was looking like my son was coming out of the woods, I got a phone call from his math teacher. She told me she was concerned because he was failing her class.

MATH?? Seriously?? That was one of his best subjects!  Because of his comfort level in math, apparently that was the class that was getting the neglect, just to save his bacon in Chemistry.

I sighed. Here we go...

I asked, “So… are there any assignments he’s missing that he can make up?”

“No,” she said, “we don’t accept late work or retakes. Department policy.”

Well, that was the last straw. My blood began to boil (I was a secondary math teacher in my former life, and could not fathom denying a student of the opportunity to fix past mistakes. After all, if it takes time for them to want to learn it better, thank heavens they want to learn it at all! Let them learn it! Better late than never! If they’re having to do homework-triage to stay afloat in a potentially college-credit bearing class, give them a break!)

She continued, “He’ll just have to do really well from this point going forward. Now, if he would like to come in at lunch to get some help…”

Lunch?? He was already expected to be spending lunches in his Chemistry room hoping for some help from that teacher. He didn’t need math help, he just didn’t have time to keep up.

It was in that moment that the impossibility of the situation sunk in. We had been fighting the Chemistry battle for seven months, always thinking that there MUST be a way to succeed, but suddenly the reality was clear. After all he could do, it was still not going to be good enough. The resources I had assumed would be available to him just weren’t there, and left to himself, it was just too much.

(Because of what I teach, I believed it could still be conquered, but it didn’t matter what I thought, it only mattered what he thought... and he had lost hope. Who could blame him?)

In that moment of peak anxiety, as I stressed like never before over what I could do to help him conquer, an impression came to me, quiet and serene, that said, “Let it go. There’s a better way.”

I caught my breath and pondered the impression. For the first time all year, it suddenly felt okay to consider having him withdraw… that it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and that in every life experience there is a valuable lesson to learn.

Some words from my mother came to me. She had said, “Leslie, if he has to retake a class, even that will be a valuable life-lesson. It’s all going to be okay.”

I realized how attached I had become to the perfect, ideal outcome of his school year. He had chosen to take the public-school path, and I had determined to support him in that. In doing so, I had locked on to the expectation of nothing but success and it only aggravated the matter.

My tenacity (sometimes a good trait when applied to one’s own goals) blinded me to a potentially better alternative within the framework of the path he had chosen.

I was reminded of the principle of agency, and that we are free to succeed but we’re also free to fail. Some of our greatest life-lessons are gained through our failures, and it was being revealed to me that I really wasn’t at peace with my children experiencing failure like perhaps I thought I was… and that needed to change.

A good parent has to detach themselves from certain outcomes in order for the child to experience the full lesson it contains for them. The agency, the accountability, the contrast, the lesson. I was feeling how important it was for me to let go of the outcome, and be a steady force for encouragement and also unconditional acceptance of my son, no matter how he chose to cope with the mess.

The next day he texted me from class: “Mom, this class is killing me, I can’t take it any more!”

So when he came home from school I shared with him the sense of peace that had come over me – how I felt that God was helping me see that it’s okay to look for and find a better path. We talked about what it would mean if he failed the class, what he’d have to do next year to make up for it, what his other options might be, and what it would mean to withdraw and have a study hall for the last few months of school.

His countenance lightened significantly, and after a meeting with his counselor to find all the options and consequences, he, of his own decision, determined to hang on at least for another two weeks until the end of the quarter, and then reassess.

Freedom to choose is foundational to a person’s happiness – and sometimes the fetters we feel aren’t visible. I had been holding him back, without even realizing it. Much of his stress had been coming from my unspoken expectations, and once he felt released of them, he found the strength within himself to make a courageous choice completely independently.

What does this have to do with my May meltdown, and what’s happened since? I think I had been feeling fettered, too. I needed to reclaim my agency and really find out if I still had any.

Like I said, a good parent has to detach themselves from certain outcomes in order for the child to experience the full lesson it contains for them. Perhaps that is what God was doing with me. He let me feel like it was finally okay if I wanted to stop teaching the principles. He set me free, and I truly feel more free than I’ve ever felt before to do what I choose. I feel His encouragement, and His unconditional acceptance, which is now allowing me to feel more joy in the work when I do choose to spend time with it.

That I’m not conducting teleclasses every week, or traveling for speaking engagements twice a month, the business income has declined. We’ve had to sell assets, and are preparing to downsize if that becomes necessary, too. But I wanted to breathe more than I wanted the money. Sure, I still insist that “there’s always a way,” but sometimes the objective, I’ve learned, isn’t always worth the sacrifice.

On the other side of these lessons, as I’m finding my breath again, I’m feeling more joy, too. I’m not numb anymore. There is tremendous joy in lofty achievement, but there’s also a sweet joy to be found in what is, just as it is right now.

I’ve been feeling greater joy again in the little things. I’m getting to know my kids better, too. My days are filled with conscious concern for each of their needs, and my time is spent setting goals and carrying them out for the purpose of addressing those needs.

It’s a leap of faith to focus on my mothering role more than my business roles, but it’s coming more naturally than ever before, and that’s a dream come true. I have no regrets over the way the last 10 years were spent – it was right for us at the time – and this change is right for us right now.

I’ve discovered that my teenagers need my attention a whole lot more than they did when they were little. With that in mind, I’m grateful that the bulk of my work was completed while they were young… a work I can return to more actively as they grow and leave the nest. I still work it now, but only a little bit each week – a perfect pace for our family in this stage of our development.

As for our debts, we started talking again with each of our creditors about what we could do to get them all paid. I was in contact with every one of them, some on a weekly basis, not because I really had anything to work with, but because I wanted them to know of my commitment to making things right. I began calling them faster than they were calling me, and found that most of them were more accommodating than they had been two years earlier, back when the pinch was the tightest.

It was interesting, because more than once I called a creditor to say, “I can’t pay what you’re asking, but I do have ‘x’ that I can send you right now…” and they’d say, “No, keep it… we’d prefer to settle with you when you have a larger chunk to lay down.”

So, I’d tell them what business activities were on the calendar and promised to let them know what we had to work with (if anything) after each event.

Long story short, as with my son’s Chemistry class, after all we could do, our efforts and intentions were still never enough. But once you know without reservation that you’ve done all you can do, and it still isn’t enough, there’s a sweet peace that comes over you and assures you that everything is going to be okay – that there’s a better path, and that it won’t be much longer before you find it.  As with my son’s class, maybe it means coming to peace with the idea of “withdrawing” from “class” (abandoning a goal) and finding a more realistic pace you can live with. After all…

Life is not a sprint.

We’re still finding our path, but we’re gathering clues along the way and we definitely feel guided.  A refinement is in process and we know it’s good.

Every life lesson is valuable. It’s all about finding joy in the journey. Our successes teach us a little, but our failures teach us the most. In a way, my husband and I are starting over, but this time with more wisdom, more experience, and more clarity on what we really want together. We feel more patience with ourselves and each other. Our long term goals don’t need to be realized in three months… after all, they’re long term goals.

And having reached our breaking point and finding out that we’re still alive, and can still think and do and make choices, we feel greater freedom than perhaps we have ever felt before.  The bank account may not reflect financial freedom yet, but we believe it will. We’ve shaken off societal expectations, we’ve unfettered ourselves of the need to “look successful”, and we’ve exposed, identified, and eradicated many of the unfair expectations we’ve had on each other.  If it had to take a major financial setback to bring those issues to the surface so we could address them, then how grateful I am for those setbacks.

Life is sweeter, our relationships are more tender, our family is stronger, our future is brighter, and best of all, it feels like our relationship with God is more alive and present.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the peace I felt about the prospect of my son failing Chemistry is the same peace I feel from my Father in Heaven about our financial failures: it’s going to be okay.

It’s all just a spider that showed up and is moving us to a place (figuratively speaking) where we can, I believe, receive greater blessings in the long run. As such, it will be fun to see where this leads us.

To wrap up:

I’m grateful that I was able to let go of the impossible expectations on my son, because it freed him up to discover his agency, and enact some new levels of personal leadership. They had been stifled as long as he had *me* to answer to for his performance in an impossible class. Whether he fails or succeeds, it’s okay, because I know there will be another new day, either way.

Just the same, after dropping off the map in May, my Father in Heaven helped me finally feel permission to release all the impossible expectations of myself, and it has opened the door for me to rediscover my free agency, and new levels of personal leadership.  (They had been stifled so long as I wasn’t letting up on myself, either.)

Through this metamorphosis, I’ve gained valuable wisdom, and an increase in happiness, especially because I’ve felt the Lord’s assurance that my failures aren’t fatal.

My disasters are simply like forest fires: they release new seeds, and always mark an exciting new beginning.

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Gurus are Human

47tips-gurus-are-human

I received an email this week that spawned an interesting conversation. I’ll share it here. Hector wrote:

How are your teachings different from all the dozens of gurus advertising out there?  I’m genuinely confused by inconsistencies from the gurus.

For example, Wattles wrote books about health and riches and then he died at 53, lost his bid for public office and to my knowledge he was still scrambling economically.

The author of Science of Miracles, Max Long Freedom committed suicide due to leg cancer while his group was in disarray and his wife left him.

Arthur Ray is in jail.

I honestly would like to come to terms with these inconsistencies.  Can you help me?

I didn’t verify his facts, but here was my response nonetheless:

Hi Hector,

That’s a fair question.  I think the bottom line is that each one of them is doing their best to make sense out of life and how it works, and they enthusiastically share the nuggets of wisdom they find along the way.  But just because you gain wisdom, it doesn’t mean you will always be the perfect example of how to live by that wisdom.  If gurus waited until they had perfected a principle before they shared it, only perfected people would have anything to share… and I think we know how many perfect people in the world there are not.

We as students need to separate the principles from the person sharing them or we will quickly become disenchanted, no matter who we choose to listen to.  I’ve been mentored by many a guru, and I’ve seen more than one fall off the pedestal on which I placed them – but that does not remove the value from the truths I learned from them.  Life has a way of delivering tougher and tougher challenges – when we’re ready for the next “lesson”, life delivers experiences to help us overcome and learn.  All the big gurus are still members of the human race, and will continue to face greater and greater challenges until the day they die.

You may solve the money problem, or you may overcome a health challenge, but growth only comes through opposition in one form or another, and frankly, we’re here to grow.  The answer is to learn all the wisdom you can, and apply the principles to your best ability, so that those challenges refine you and strengthen you instead of defeating you completely.  To get up every time you’re knocked down is success.

About each of the gurus you mentioned – only God knows how they faced, or are facing those challenges. The ultimate measure of success is whether you can find serenity and happiness in spite of the challenges that rage around you.  Whether or not you’re teachable enough to grow and learn and become a better person on the other side of the present challenge.

People think they need money to be happy.  People think they need to be in perfect health to be happy.  But the fact is, it’s happiness that is the goal – and some of the greatest people who ever lived were successful at finding happiness no matter what. I’ve had a lot of people go through my programs and find out that they can actually have what they want, and then they go get it, and then they discover that what they wanted didn’t bring them the happiness they thought it would, so they use the programs and principles on more carefully selected goals… and the good news is that it works for those, too.

We can be so quick to judge a person by their bank account, or their outward appearances – there will always be those in the media who love a good hero-to-failure story, but if we jump on that bandwagon of criticism, chances are, life will bring us through experiences of our own that teach us empathy instead of criticism, and to be more forgiving in our judgment on others.

We must try to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Any more, when I hear a story of a fallen guru, I immediately wonder about the “rest of the story” that the media isn’t sharing. I wonder about the person’s internal growth and what lessons they learned in those final days.  I feel that I could probably still learn something valuable from them, and how I would love to pick their brain and learn from their errors rather than wind up repeating them myself.

Anyway, some of the greatest lessons come from our failures, and God bless the man who shares those lessons in spite of his imperfections.

In answer to your other question, to find out how I’m different from other teachers, you see an article I wrote about that very topic at http://www.positivethinkingtips.org/human-empowerment-in-perspective/

Hope this helps,

Leslie

His response:

Leslie,

Thank you for your prompt and thoughtful reply. I still remember when doctors endorsed cigarettes in advertising. That didn’t take away the value of medicine.

I am going to reflect on all the good advice I give to others and to my children, but I don’t follow myself. This is going to be my task for the day.

Without coming to terms with the gurus’ inconsistencies I mentioned to you, I’m always going to poison my progress with doubt and cynicism. I have been infamously good at that all my life and it’s time to change it.

Thanks again.

Hector

PS: I finished the Rabbit book and watched your movie yesterday, and I’m registering for the 12 week Family Course Today.

I congratulate this reader for his astute conclusion. Gurus are human. I’ve shared plenty about my own challenges, even in spite of the pedestal on which some of my readers have placed me, and hope this conversation helps others view leaders in the proper light.

We should learn what we can from them, but ultimately we must all learn to enlist and trust the guidance that comes from God directly. Sometimes that guidance leads us to a guru – but I don’t think that it was ever meant to be a final destination. Each mentor or guru is there to help us get past our present obstacles, or move us through to the next level of happiness or success.

Whatever the case may be, trust that when the student is ready, the teacher will always appear. As students, it’s our job to keep growing, learning, and preparing ourselves for our next teacher.

Isn’t life FUN?!  It’s an adventure for sure!

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When Things Look Bleak

47tips-bleakPositive Thinking Tip: Reflect with gratitude on your current blessings and previous victories.

I remember being in a real slump a few years back… on the verge of some pretty exciting things, but attacked by some new thoughts of concern.

I had set some lofty goals some time previously, and as the target date was approaching, and as things appeared to be bleak, it took all my energy to continually push aside doubtful thoughts.

For several days in a row I was plagued by questions such as:

  • “What if it doesn’t work out?”
  • “What if you miss your goals?”
  • “What will you do if the resources you need don’t come through?”

Each time an anxious thought came into my head, I rejected it. But just rejecting it wasn’t enough to leave me with burning faith, either. I was losing sight of my objectives, and felt weak in my ability to apply the very principles of prosperity I teach.

“Oh, give yourself a break, Leslie… you’re just pregnant.” I’m acutely aware of my emotional state when hormones are all wacky, and I learned to trust in God’s mercy in spite of myself. I believe He can bless me even when I’m not perfect (thank heavens)… and I’ve learned that because I choose that way of thinking over the more typical “I’m not worthy of His blessings” mentality, He is then able to send the blessings, by law…

Still, even though I have, in the past, been able to believe in my goals in spite of myself, that particular week was especially tough. Hope was fading, and I struggled not to just give up.

So I turned to two of my closest friends for support, and to help me fix my thinking. I knew that it was my thinking that needed fixing, even more than the circumstances around me (the lack of evidence that I would succeed). It was my thinking that needed fixing, because my success depended on it.

Let me share with you what they told me:

Marnie’s advice – “Dig into gratitude for what you have and what you know is coming. Also… depression isn’t such a bad thing because it makes you willing to change, helps you see contrast…also the whole [law of] rhythm thing… something great’s around the corner …refocus spiritually… Doctrine and Covenants 6:33-37 really helped me get through [a similar slump]”

(The reference she was talking about reads: “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail… Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”)

My husband’s comment: “God hasn’t brought us this far to fail now…”

That struck me like a ton of bricks. It made me think back to all of the miracles He has performed for us, and it would be absurd to think that He would bring us this far, only for us to give up on our dreams and fail to accomplish the worthy things we’ve set out to do.

Suddenly, the struggle seemed like a waste of time and energy. No longer did I feel like I was IN the struggle; I felt like I had just set it aside as something I chose to have nothing to do with.

I found a quiet place and took Marnie’s advice to think on all the things I have to be grateful for. And you know what? It wasn’t just a nice exercise, it was literally an action step taken to get me back on track. Because I have a growing understanding of the laws of success, I knew that to take a half hour or an hour to allow myself to feel gratitude to God for all He has done, maybe even to the point of tears, was to put myself in harmony with Him again, and prepare myself to receive the very blessings He wants to send me.

No matter how far we come in learning these principles, we will be challenged our entire life to continue exercising those “muscles”. They can atrophy if we let them. Once again, I became excited about my dreams.

It’s true: we can make of our life anything we want it to be!

Above all, the only things that really needs fixing when things look bleak are your thoughts.

0795_Leslie-author-FB-sq-rotated-flippedGet your thinking right, and everything else falls into place.

Download a free copy of The Jackrabbit Factor or Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help With Your Money Matters, and I’ll help you make the transformation, one step at a time.

Prosper on!

Leslie Householder

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