Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother's Day - Don't Be Lame!

I wrote this a couple of years ago, and my feelings haven't entirely changed, so I thought I would recycle it. The numbers are from 2015, so do the math to get the actual numbers.


Mother's Day 2015.

I was supposed to conduct, as I was the only member of the Relief Society presidency who would be there, so all morning I was thinking of a way to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day without offending those who weren't mothers.

It really got me thinking. I have read so many stories about women who get so incredibly offended on Mother's Day because they don't have children yet, or they have had trouble getting pregnant, or carrying children, or for whatever reason. As I thought about it though, people would choose to be offended whether I said something or not.

So, I got up and wished everyone a happy Mother's Day. As I further sat through church, I watched the two babies that were in Relief Society with their moms. I just sat and stared at them and thought how wonderful it would be to be a mom.

Was I jealous? Absolutely! Was I angry? Not one bit.

The sacrament talks were given by a darling Samoan family. As I listened to the mom and dad speak, I couldn't help but think, "How could anyone possibly hate Mother's Day?"

A: We all have mothers!
B: We have all been influenced by mothers.
C: Hating Mother's Day because you aren't a mother, is like hating someone on their birthday because it's not your birthday. (Okay, bad analogy, but I couldn't think of a real good one!)

I think getting offended or hating Mother's Day is a totally selfish act. Am I saying that you can't be a little sad on that day? Not at all. But to come right out and say I hate Mother's Day, or I'm not celebrating Mother's Day is completely selfish.

Now, what do I really know about this topic?

Am I a mother? No.

Have I experienced the heartache of trying and not being able to conceive children? No.

Have I experienced miscarriages, or the loss of a child? No.

So what do I know, right?

Well, let me tell you about my situation. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka, LDS, or Mormon), and I live in Utah. I have been married for nearly NINE years, and I have ZERO children. If you know the typical Mormon stereotypes, you'd think I would have been kicked out of Utah seven years ago. For whatever reason we put off having children. There have been so many times during the past nine years that I've been sad, angry, and frustrated that it's never been my turn, and that EVERY OTHER WOMAN I SEE IS PREGNANT. (I do live in Utah.)

So, you could say that it was our choice that I haven't had children, but at this point in my life, it's not entirely my choice anymore. I have been 'sick' for the past 2 years. There is no possible way that my body could physically bear a child.

You think it doesn't kill me to think that this is something that could have been avoided had we had children earlier?

And then I think that even if I had children, would I be able to properly care for them? I mean, I can't bend over and pick things off the ground, I can't dress my self, I can barely lift my purse, so what makes me think I'd be able to pick up my crying child?

So, therefore, I am not a mother. I have not experienced not being able to conceive, or miscarriage, but I still CAN NOT HAVE CHILDREN. I'm not trying to be insensitive to those of you in those situations, I'm just pointing out that even though my situation is different than yours, the longing for a child is the same.

Okay, so now for the point of this. Again, I sat there thinking, "How could anyone get offended or upset on Mother's Day?" Yes, it can be a very difficult time and day, but if you choose to get offended about something like that, then you need to step back and take another look at your life. You are a woman. You are a mother. Maybe not now, but someday. Maybe not to your own children, but to nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbors, etc.

The sister who spoke gave a great example of her older sister who hasn't had the opportunity to have children of her own, but who still has cared for her siblings, and her siblings children like they were her own. I just think if I never have kids of my own, I'm still gonna be way cooler than my niece's and nephew's moms. I'll be the one that spoils them rotten, takes them to the park, on picnics, gives them their first fake ID. And, let's face it, kids think their aunts are way cooler than their own moms. So I've got that advantage.

I am not perfect. My close friends know that I often complain or get sad that I have no children. Some days are harder than others, but surprisingly Mother's Day wasn't one of them.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As my health has changed since I wrote this, I still don't know whether I could physically bear a child, but I have absolutely no objection to adopting. It's just one of those things that I can't decide on alone.

I didn't actually go to church this last Sunday. Not because I hate Mother's Day, or anything like that, the issue and anger that I currently have are not something I'm ready to discuss at this time, but I'm still grateful for mothers. And think it's dumb when people hate Mother's Day.

Plus, it's probably a good thing I don't have kids just yet, because I would put all you terrible mothers to shame.

Monday, April 10, 2017

That Other Talent I Once Had

Today in church we sang a hymn that really hit close to home. It was one I haven't sung in a while, and as we sang, I was flooded with emotion.

Though my posts would never really indicate this, volleyball and basketball weren't my only loves. Music was/is another. I am obsessed with music. I love to listen to it, find new bands, discover different genres. I love to sing. I don't claim to be Taylor Swift by any means, but I can carry a tune. I even had a classmate tell me I had a "really nice alto", to which I thanked him, then promptly told him to shut up. I love harmonize, and love when I find a soprano at church whose voice blends well with mine. I also love to harmonize with Ed Sheeran, James Bay, Shawn Mendes, and One Direction (to name a few). I'm way too embarrassed to sing alone in front of large groups of people, but get me alone, and I will serenade you.

I also love to play the piano. I have played since I was 8 years old, took lessons until I was a sophomore, was called to play the organ in church, and have held various pianist callings. Until about 5 years ago. You know, when I was diagnosed with Scleroderma. I slowly quit playing due to painful ulcers on my fingers, then as my hands started to become "claw-like", it became harder and harder to stretch my hands to play chords. I quit playing for a good while, and only recently started to play again because I was asked, "Do you know how to play the piano?"

I never know how to answer that question, because, yes, I do know how to play the piano. In fact I was at one time really good at it. I can sight read pretty well, and could teach myself to play various songs in short amounts of time. I just have a hard time playing now days.

Today was a hard reminder of that. The song that we sang is "How Great Thou Art". First, AWESOME harmony in that song. The alto part is amazing. Second, this is a song that I used to play ALL THE TIME. Marvin Goldstein has a gorgeous arrangement of it. My last piano teacher let me borrow "Gift of Love" and I gave it back to her very well worn. It is a very difficult song, and took me quite a while to learn it. I would take it over to Gram's house, where I spent a lot of hours practicing and playing for her. This song was one of her favorites. Here is the version in the hymn book.


As I sat there thinking about how I spent playing this song, and the hours spent practicing, I was just reminded of the talents I once had. Playing the piano was one of my greatest escapes. I would play song after song on the piano, doing what I could to perfect each song that I played. The harder the song, the better. I have a couple of Marvin Goldstein's books, and wish I could still play them. Here is the arrangement by Marvin Goldstein. Just a slight different, right?
 
Luckily I can still kind of play, just don't expect many chords. My fingers only stretch so far, and the angle my hands are taking makes it difficult to play multiple keys at once. I can play most hymns, and unless you have a really good ear for music, you wouldn't be able to tell that I am not playing all the notes. I figure as long as I have the bass and soprano, we should be okay.

It's hard looking back on the things that you were once able to do. I try not to do it because it can be super depressing, but it is still hard, especially when you were good at something. I'm finding it harder to find things that I am still good at. I guess Sarcasm & Pessimism will have to do!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

All in His Timing

If you follow me on instagram at all, you will know that I have some very strange dreams. For example, one of my more recent weird dream was about my friend Melanie and I being asked to pass the sacrament at some multi-stake conference being held in Cokeville, or most recently about how the singer Shawn Mendes replaced my dream boyfriend not only in the band they were in, but also as my boyfriend, and those aren't even the weirdest dreams I have had.

I have had many dreams throughout the years where I am playing volleyball or basketball, but I am not able to play like I used to. Either my feet seem to stick to the floor, or I can't serve the ball, or I can't dribble the basketball. For YEARS I have had those dreams. Even in high school.

Now, we have to back up a little more before I get to my point. My dad has been a volleyball coach for as long as I can remember. I feel like I basically grew up in a gym, and I am okay with that. Volleyball has always been a passion of mine, and some of the best memories I have are from being on the court. To say I was obsessed is an understatement. Volleyball and even basketball were my life...once upon a time.


I haven't been able to play the sport I love in almost 5 years, and the last time I played, I could barely move, and had to serve underhand. It's been hard, to say the least. Watching others play and not being able to even hold the ball like I was going to serve it has kind of sucked.


A few weeks ago I had an interesting dream. It was similar to the dreams I have had in the past, but it was different enough to make me think.

In this dream I was a freshman, and we were at the Bear Lake Freshman Volleyball tournament. I knew that I had Scleroderma, but no one on my team knew. My dad (who was our coach) knew, but Coach Toomer did not. Toomer kept trying to put me in, and I just kept shaking my head, trying to avoid being put in. (Which if you know me, I would jump at any opportunity to be in. "Put me in coach, put me in!")

I would look at my Dad and shake my head and give him a look like, "Don't make me play." Needless to say, it didn't work very well. I missed a few passes because I couldn't move fast enough, and I missed my serve because I had no upper body strength. After the first game was over, I had a little talk with my dad, who then told me to tell my teammates.

That is all I really remember about the dream, but it has bothered me ever since. Like I said, it was all very similar to my other dreams, but this one had just enough of a difference that it has bothered me tremendously.


The difference between this and my other dreams, was in my other dreams, I was in the stage of life that I am now, meaning, yes I was a 30 year old (or whatever age I was at the time) playing on a high school team (I told you my dreams are weird!) In this dream, I was a freshman, and I was diagnosed with Scleroderma, and unable to play my high school and college years of volleyball.The one thing I could think about was that my Heavenly Father knew that I would not be able to handle being sick as well back then, as I am able to now.

I know that sounds silly, but he knew how much I loved the game (basketball included), and that I needed those experiences in my life. I know He knew what playing sports mean to me. I had never thought about how my life would have been so incredibly different had I been diagnosed a lot earlier in life. I would never have had the chance to play at State, or on the All-star team, make All-state, or play in college, win our region, and travel to Missouri for Nationals.

I am grateful for this disease, but even more grateful for the Lord's timing in it.




Monday, February 20, 2017

I Believe in Laughter

For some reason all my papers for my English class have been related to Scleroderma. This one we were asked to write about something we believe in. I may have been in a hurry writing this, so it doesn't really emulate how I truly feel about laughter. Seriously, nothing is better than laughing, especially when it is quiet around, and you are the only one laughing, remembering something someone said. Being able to laugh about anything, from sharks, to One Direction, to Dr. Pepper, to pretty much the most random thing that you can think of. It truly is the "best medicine". Thank you to all the people in my life who make me laugh. I love you all.

Now to the paper...

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. One minute you can feel like you are on top of the highest mountain, and the next you feel as though someone shoved you from your perch atop that glorious peak. Not only do you fall, but it seems as though you hit every rock and tree on the way down. When this happens, you have two choices: you can laugh, or you can cry. I think Marjorie Pay Hinckley said it best when she said, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”

Laughter comes in all forms. There is the deep belly laugh, the cackle, the chuckle, the giggle, even the silent laughter. Whatever form it comes in, it tends to bring with it a feeling of satisfaction. I don’t think you can laugh and not feel some sense of happiness, even in the toughest times. No matter how bad your day may be, I can guarantee if you can take just a minute to laugh, you will feel a little better.

About four years ago I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that took away a lot of my mobility. No longer was I able to dress myself, do my hair, pick things up off the ground, and I grew quite uncoordinated. Throughout the years, I have had many embarrassing things happen, from taking a fall as I was leaving work, to trying to clean something off the floor and face-planting with no one around to help me. As I experienced some of these unfortunate events, I quickly learned that it is best to be able to have a sense of humor, and be able laugh when you are laying on the ground staring up at the ceiling. Without it, one can fall into a depressed state.

We do not have a lot of control over what happens in our lives, but we can choose how we react. I have seen the effects of both crying and laughing. Sometimes it is okay to cry. Sometimes we need to cry, but it is always okay to laugh. We always NEED to laugh. A good laugh will always help you feel better, and that is why I believe in laughter.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dear Scleroderma...

For my English class this semester, we were asked to write a "love letter." Not to a person, but to something. The clear topic would have been One Direction, but instead I chose a topic a little closer to me. Scleroderma. I thought I would share it here.

Dear Scleroderma,
            I have had a hard time deciding how to address this. For many, it may seem silly for me to not hate you. I guess it isn’t exactly true that I haven’t had those moments when I would like to be done with you, but in reality, you have done so much for me that I can’t help but love you.
            Four years ago is when you started to make your appearance, though at the time I didn’t realize it was you. All I felt was pain and discomfort, fear and anxiety. It wasn’t until I learned your name, Scleroderma, that I felt any comfort at all. Finally being able to put a name to what I was going through helped tremendously.
            I spent a lot of time researching you, trying to figure you out. Words I had never heard before kept showing up, like systemic, sclerosis, Raynaud’s, CREST, and auto-immune disease, to name a few. It almost seemed like anytime I discovered something new about you, it brought up more questions. At the same time, though, I was able to learn how to best manage you.
            It took a while for me to warm up to you. You completely changed my life. You took things from me that I had worked hard for. It was not easy having you part of my life. You frustrated me, and you hurt me, however, the more you hurt me, the more I learned to love you.
            I think I learned more from you in 4 years than I have learned from the other 26 years. You gave me a strength I never knew I had. You taught me things about myself that I never even imagined. Because of you, I have grown tremendously. You have helped shape me into the person that I am today, and I will be forever grateful. Thank you for choosing me. I love you and look forward to the rest of our lives together.
Love,
Bre