Here's to maintaining some self-respect and sanity while tending to the growth and maturation of young minds, including your own young mind. Here's to recognizing that it isn't necessary to know how everything is going to turn out in advance, and that often Life has much better in store than one can imagine. Here's to hope and happiness even when Life gets complicated, especially then... That's when it's needed it most.

...afterall, the car may only seat seven but room for friends is unlimited...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Science of Happy

The last year has introduced me to hundreds of people and among them I have found many new friends. Lately, several of these have mentioned my happiness, that I am always smiling and laughing. For as long as I can remember, I've claimed to have an extra gene for 'happy'. Well, not long ago, they isolated a gene that prevents the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters. When they studied it they found that individuals with two copies of that particular gene reported feeling happy more of the time than those with only one copy. My jokes about the 'extra happy gene' may be more fact that I realized. There are other things contributing to my happiness, however. One is this; I don't insist that everything make sense to me. I don't insist that life's challenges fit into boundaries which I can comprehend. I accept that my finite nature cannot possibly comprehend the infinite and all that the infinite can comprehend. This saves me an enormous amount of time and worry, allowing for peace where there might otherwise be chaos in my heart. It is critical to my happiness.

In science it is assumed that everything can be weighed, measured and understood. There is a comfort in that kind of thinking, I guess. Thankfully it never appealed to me very much. Relating to the human body, anyone who devotes their life to the study of it has to admit that it's functioning is simply miraculous. We may know what it does but describing the how is another thing completely. How, for example, does one 'think'. All body function, including healing processes, are regulated in the brain with our old friends the neurotransmitters. And what about the healing and repair of bones and tissues? The constant influx and removal of fluid, elements, proteins... every tissue taking what it needs to build and repair. All subconscious. (Who gets nearer to healing the papercut on their finger by thinking about it?) The best we can hope for is to provide the appropriate support and environment for healing. The body then heals itself. Accepting that I am an observer and supporter of health and healing is the key to my happiness as a nurse. I understand enough to be helpful and when I act on what I do understand, I can make a difference.

As a mother, I've been pretty hands off for much the same reason. From the time my children were born, they have been their own and they have known it. Their demands on me were rightful—food, shelter, love and encouragement. Sometimes encouragement is correction, but it is always love and the love has to come first. The most I ever hoped for with toddlers was a somewhat peaceful coexistence, and that I might be able to carve out some time for my own hobbies when they were sleeping.  I wasn't any good at worrying about messes they were making or if they were doing what I wanted them to do. Children can clean up their messes, they can be bathed. My little children were happy little children. Now, I have a full blown adult, two teens and two tweens. My job, even with my 20 year-old is still to provide appropriate support and an environment conducive to growth. I still don't worry much, though I try to keep an eye on their emotional states and how they are coping with their challenges. When they are worried or stressed, they come to me. They pour their hearts out and we cry. They know that I won't be angry when they fall short, because we have that understanding—the I-am-your-mother-and-I-love-you-no-matter-what understanding. It's enough, and we are happy.

I will never understand everything, even in my field. I will never know all there is to know as a person, a nurse or a mother. So, I aim at peace. I aim for growth. I aim for health and healing. I support wtihout controlling. I will never know or understand everything but I understand enough. I trust One who understands all for the rest. And I am happy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Dinner Guest

Something interesting happened yesterday, right about dinner time. A young man from Ohio come to the door and asked the kids if their Mom was home. I wandered over, sure that it was someone selling something, and I was right. We talked for half a minute and I mentioned that we were just about to start dinner, or rather that we were going to read scriptures, and then eat. To that he said, "Are you going to read the Mormon Book? My Dad told me about that, I have one that someone gave me and I've been reading it." I told him that he was welcome to come in and read with us, and he said that he would love to. And so he did.

We read Alma 5:38-52. Everyone took turns reading a verse, including our guest. He was very respectful, and intersted in what we were reading. The section of scripture wasn't very long, but it was full of things I'd been wanting to share with my children. I shared everything with them in exactly the same way I would have if our guest had not been here. There is a section in those verses which speaks of learning for ourselves about God's will and plan for his children. I've been feeling that I wanted them to understand how I gained my testimony, so I spoke to them of my experience with the scriptures, starting when I was about 15.  It wasn't anything earth shattering, just that I started reading every day, and my testimony grew so that I didn't need to rely on my parents' knowledge. I knew for myself, and that's what Alma says, that he knows for himself. I can't imagine any more valuable information for the children of an LDS mother and a father who has left the church and is very angry regarding it sometimes. I know that the kids would have listened, but the presence of our surprise guest distilled the situation for us... it was more potent. He was listening and so they listened as we read and talked about it. As we were finishing, he said that he felt what we had given him was much more valuable than making a purchase from him. He thanked us for being a wonderful family, and sharing the message of Jesus with him. I gave him some dinner and he hurried off to meet up with his colleagues.

I wondered today what he will remember most about this experience with us. I'm sure it will be a unique one for him, if not singular, during his traveling salesman days. I hope it is that there are good people and good families in our country. I hope he felt love here. I am almost certain that we won't find another solicitor jumping at the chance to read scriptures with us. I'm sure it will be something that we tell my grandchildren someday. How many of our experiences in life are surprises to us, but not 'chance'. Many, I think, when we are open to them. When we are they have the potential to leave lasting, beautiful marks on our hearts.