Choices and Faith

This post is very close to my heart. I didn't want to post it because it's so personal, but my heart tells me I need to share this experience.
When I reached adulthood, I made a lot of choices. Good and bad documented in detail through this blog. I made some choices based on my gut and what I felt like doing. Some decisions I made with serious thought and sincere prayers with Heavenly Father. He answered my prayers with "yes" or "no" or "not right now". 
Years later I come back to these decisions and I don't understand them. I think about them and I feel a lot of doubt. Why did He tell me "yes", this is really hard and I don't know what I am doing. Or why did he say "no", things would be better if it was that way now. Or why did he say "not now", I was ready then and now I'll never be ready.
While showering or getting ready for the day, I think about these internal fights of mine with old decisions. If I should change them now. It's never too late to change. Being human means you can change and fix your life to become something you want. 
Saturday while straitening my hair, I was thinking about this and getting very mad. Fighting with yourself in a schizophrenic like way can feel so frustrating. Then it hits me like a hammer. "Those answers aren't wrong. They are right and eternally correct. Your choice here is to follow Heavenly Father's plan or not. It may be hard and lonely sometimes, but His answer for you is right. He'll take care of the situation. He'll take care of you. You just need to "go where He wants you to go" and it will be fine. 
Timeline doesn't matter to Heavenly Father when there is eternity. It's forever. In the spiritual plane, it's only seconds of life. Everything follows His will and plan. 
I'm 30 years old and I'm still learning about faith. Cami and I were reading the illustrated scriptures the other day and Alma is talking about faith. To illustrate it, I covered her eyes and I said something like, "Can you see me? You know I'm here because you can hear me and you can see me. You don't know what I'm doing, but you know I'll keep you safe and I'll take care of you because I'm your mom and I love you."
Well, I need to switch those words around a big and remember. Heavenly Father's got my back. I don't need to understand the plan, timeline, or His answers. I need to act on those answers with faith. It will work out. 


Vulnerable and Inadequate

One of my biggest weaknesses is self doubt. When I was a kid, I remember feeling hurt because I knew they would rather play with someone else besides me.
When I turned 12, it grew worse. Puberty worked a bad number on me and my appearance. I broke out in the worst way and I was tall and bigger boned. I felt ugly and stupid. I had really bad depression that year. I think the only thing that gave me peace that year was my English teacher. She embraced and encouraged me. 
In high school, it didn't go any better. I had a few acquaintances in different circles, but I didn't really feel at home in any of those groups. I liked rock music, but I didn't love heavy metal-so I didn't fit in with the punks/metal heads. I was smart, but not straight A's and freaking out with A minus- so the nerds with their Advanced Trig books or AP Chemistry wasn't for me. I was definitely not a cheerleader or in the popular crowd, I wasn't pretty enough or peppy enough. I've never felt more average in my life. Guys didn't look at me, unless I spoke to them. I didn't date until my Senior year and even then, I did the asking and planning. I'm sure they were humoring me and being nice.
In college, I threw myself into activities. Intramural cross country, adventure racing, country dancing (believe it or not). I dreamed big and let loose. I developed close friendships and dated some. It was huge, but time destroys dreams and beat on a person. 
After college I fell. I fell hard into a life that wasn't for me. A life of alcohol, parties, and poor decisions. I thought it was wonderful to let go and feel release. I never felt so relaxed and comfortable in my own skin, but people take advantage of that in a lot of ways. Those choices destroyed me and it took me a long time to build up Michelle' again. I'm still working on the foundation.
I have a family now: a husband and two girls. My time as a wife and mother diminished the feelings or worthlessness and self-depracation, but they are still there. Tonight I feeling inadequate again.  
I don't have a full time job anymore (outside of being a stay at home mom). I feel that loss in a big way of the financial support I provided our family. I made decent money at my job, but laundry and dishes feel like a poor substitute to the paychecks I once received. 
These days I donate plasma. It provides a few hundred a month and they have a daycare, so it doesn't feel like a strain on my family the way my job did. I miss making money and feeling like I could indulge on clothes and toys for the girls with whims. 
Church is a hard thing to talk about on this blog. I know there are readers who don't care of about my church stories or my struggles with the gospel, but that's a whole different piece of inadequacy. 
My calling is in Activity Days, specifically with 8-9 year old girls. I work hard coming up with ideas and ways to work on their tasks for achievement, but it's starting to wear on me. The activities are only one hour, but I lose their attention so quickly and they get frustrated with the crafts or plans I make. It's so discouraging to work hard and feel like they hate it. This week I tried to think of craft that would be fun so I wouldn't be the leader that just gave boring lectures. Instead of embracing the craft, the girls said it was too hard and frustrating. I watched their frustration and it hurt. I'm trying.
The past two nights have been very hard on my family. The girls have been sick. Cami has para-influenza or some sort of flu that's deep in her chest. It's developed into a croup-like cough that could last two weeks (according to the pediatrician). Emily had a bad stomach bug and couldn't keep anything down for longer than an hour. As a result, their nights have not been great. Last night Cami coughed and woke Emily up, who decided to sing for a long time. Emily would fall asleep and Cami would start coughing again. Emily did not take a nap today. She fought me on bedtime too. I feel exhausted. I need a break. Sometimes I feel like I'm not made to be a mom. Sometimes their screams and whines are hard. 
I dream of publication of a novel. I finished one this year and I have been editing it for some time. It's not amazing and will never be the next great American novel. I haven't submitted it anywhere yet (still editing), but I already hear the rejections. Rejection is part of creation, but I worry about the complete rejection. It will break me so much that after 10 plus years on this book. This piece of me that no one wants. Isn't that the way of everything of mine?
I still hate the way I look too. I look in the mirror and I don't see anyone worthwhile. 
i workout 6-7 days a week, but the fat still shows more than my strength. I see women around me who look gorgeous and refined. I feel so frumpy, like my body hangs loose around me like a deflated balloon, with lumps and stretched parts. Then there's my face with such wonderful skin prone to breakouts. I thought I would grow out of these things, but there they are staring me in the face. 
I guess I can't get rid of myself. If only my life was a slate that I could reset and recreate with more precision. This person I created in 30 years is someone so weak and broken. 


Surprising Bonus from a Skip Step

Sometimes when I'm walking downstairs I miss a step. You know that moment when your foot skims a step and you feel like you are going to die. I may be 30 years old and in decent health, but missing a step makes your life flash before your eyes and for a second you think, "This is how I go."

A month ago I made a huge, purposeful skip step in my life.  I quit my job to stay home, to be....a stay at home mom. The choice was a long time coming and quite a few things lined up that both forced and made it possible. This post is not about those things. 

I had a few expectations that came from quitting: organization, cleaner house, less madness and peace of mind. I found something that I didn't expect and something so priceless. I would never trade this outcome for a million dollars.

Cami, my oldest, is different. Many posts talk about her differences from other children in practically every way.  She doesn't show love in the typical child way.  Even as a baby, she would rather kick her legs on the couch or floor than cuddled. When she was in her toddler years, she didn't say 'I love you' often and hugs were rare. 

Within the first week home, I noticed a change in Cami. In one week, she came up to me 3 times for a hug (and not because she was hurt or sad). As a mom who worked so hard for her the last five years (almost six), that expression is something I've missed her whole life. A hug can say so much more than words.  

I didn't expect or plan on hugs, but it's better than all the money in the world.


Thinking out loud

I don't think I ever understood true faith until I stopped going to church and started to come back.
If you are born and raised in the church, I don't think you get it entirely.
Around nine years ago I started coming back. What they don't tell you is how much more faith you will need and how much you have to really want it to come back.
I know the other side. I know it's easy. I know that buzz and release that comes with a few drinks. All of that is a lot faster and sometimes I could almost tell myself that it felt better.
Real faith is coming to church not out of habit or because you have to. It's praying when your body feels beyond tired/broken.
It's paying tithing, even if it's only partial because you don't know how you will survive without that 10%.
Or sitting through countless Relief Society and Sunday School lessons where they tell you that your life was wrong. Where you feel different and rejected. Your voice is the voice of sin.
Faith is doing everything you can to feel the spirit, when your natural man constantly reminds you otherwise.
Faith is moving forward against opposition.


The Future in 12 months or less

Day 28 of 2017 and it's already been a year with some wonderful big changes. Like every year, I like I to "predict" what the future holds for the Hunt family.
This year looks a lot shorter, but I think that's a good thing. Less trouble to get into. ;)

1. Kindergarten- Cameron starts kindergarten this year. In fact, I'm pretty sure registration is next month.  What a weird stage to be in with a kid in elementary school.

2. Community Sports- I would love to get Cameron more involved in community sports, especially swimming before we go to Bear Lake again. She's had a small fear of water that I think some classes at the community center could help. With a little confidence, she will do so much better.

3. Emily will chat it up- Emily already talks a lot, but every week she seems to pick up more words and she's started to actually converse. Useful words she picked up recently include: Need help, poop, more, milk (which sounds more like mewt). More words will make it so much easier to take care of her.

4. Dave- Hard to say what's in store for Dave careerwise.  He feels like he's where he needs to be right now, but he's always looking for new opportunities. Not necessarily a promotion, either, but somewhere that he can learn more and be more valuable to the company.
He's been really active for the past two months and we've been trying to make healthier choices. He's starting to see some great things in his health. I hope this year he feel better and it continues in the way he hopes/wants.

5. Let's Go Out-  My biggest goal this year has nothing to do with losing weight or running a marathon. This year I really want to focus on my marriage. Not that we're struggling or fighting. It's hard when you both work full-time, especially when your schedules are split and you have young children, to maintain a connection.
We rely on babysitters during the week while we work, so it's sometimes hard to find a babysitter for weekend nights too. I've started to check in with the Young Women in the ward to start paying for babysitters. It's early stages. I haven't found anyone yet, but I'm optimistic. If we can get out more than once a month, I'll be thrilled.

6. Friends- 2016 was good and bad for friends, but 2017 looks really good. Reach out a little and it comes back around. It's all about action too. I learned that last year. You can't expect people to just show up and want to be your friend. If you want a relationship/friendship, you need to put the effort into it. I have great hopes. I believe in friendships both old/new. It's important to have community/tribe in your life. Especially when things go South, it's important to have people there to help/support you.

7. Finish It-  Here it is again. I'm pretty sure I've had this on my prediction post three years in a row to finish the book. This year I can do it for real.  I only have 1.5 point of view characters left. That's nothing. Last year I did 2.5 point of view characters, so really 2017 is mine for Project Torrent.
8. College Debt Be-Gone- Dave's college debt is almost gone and our financial goal this year is to finish it off. When we first were married, we had tons of debt between the two of us and six years later we're almost free of the big ones. Quick, knock on wood before one of our cars breaks down.

9. Work Venture- I see something new and/or different for me this year.  I constantly talk about how much I love my job.  I love the relationships I've built with the providers in my territory and making a difference with cancer research (even if it is kind of indirectly). It's given me a lot of purpose and joy to solve some of the insurance problems I run into.  Helping people is so important to do every day and I'm lucky I get paid to do it.  It's really wonderful and I have a hard time seeing myself doing anything else, but 2017 brought some unexpected changes in the past few weeks. Changes in our family needs (*cough* not pregnant) mean that my job may change.

10. Temple- Oh ya, I saved this church one for last so you can skip it if you aren't into it. Almost ten years ago, I made some less than stellar choices for a boy, a boy who dumped me pretty fast. I stepped away from the LDS church for a while and was pretty unhappy. I'm not going  to tell anyone what's right or wrong, I started going back to church because it made me happy. Man, it was hard. That's another topic for another time. I've been going to church pretty solid for about 8 years. Every year I say this is the year I make it to the temple. Saying and doing are different hings.  It's so terrifying after you have made very poor choices. It's frightening to sacrifice. It's terrifying to go alone. Even with repentance, those things helped me become who I am-even as a member and they aren't going to disappear. So even though I'm crazy scared and I feel super unworthy, I'm going to do my best to go inside this year.

2017 looks pretty scary in a couple of ways. There are a lot of uncertainties about the future, that I'll try to blog about as I go. I don't really know where my family or me will be at the end of the year. I hope the changes that look so scary bring more joy. I hope more than anything that I will feel happier this year. Isn't that the greatest hope for 2017?  More joy.


Ground Zero: 2017 Day One

It's 7:30 am on January 1st, 2017 and I have to write.
Yesterday Kevin Smith of "Clerks", "Saving Amy", etc. posted something really powerful to me. You can find it on his  here.
He notes that when he was 19 he received a note from someone who told him he would never be successful writing.
He kept the note as a reminder and one day he wrote a manuscript that changed his life.
At the end of the post he said that "no one can write your story but you".
Today, at ground zero, no one writes my story-but more than that. Inanimate objects don't write my story.
In this age of addiction and depression, I'm not alone when I say that sometimes it's easier to let someone or something write your story.
Drugs or alcohol don't write my story anymore. It doesn't control what I do every day or how I respond to my life.
Today I think of technology as my story writer (hypocritically of course). I think smart phones can control the way we connect to each other - or not connect. Text messages or Facebook posts instead of seeing people or having a real conversation.
Today and this year I'm putting the phone down more. My life needs to be more than browsing Facebook and Instagram. My kids need to see what's important and how to write their own story.
At the start of 2017, let's find our writer and replace it with the one who calls the shots.
Only you can write your story.


If 2016 Had A Michelle Hunt Newsletter

It's New Year's Eve Day at the Hunt household and right this minute it's quiet.
Emily is napping, Dave's playing a video game, Cami's playing on my phone and I'm browsing Facebook-I mean writing this blog.
2016 felt really hard. I don't mean hard in the way you are all thinking: lost celebrities, politics gone wrong, murder, crime or any of that.  I mean hard in the way that you are stretched thin and working so hard you feel like you are going to explode.  I didn't explode in 2016 so I say it's a win.
Even though it felt hard, 2016 wasn't all bad. It has a lot more family time and love. Isn't that more important than all that other stuff that the internet wants to tell you is important?
Here's what's important to me from 2016:
1. Cam-Balam is amazing.
For such a hard baby, she's made up for in everything these days.  She's crazy smart and she still has such a big heart.
I unintentionally signed her up for two pre-schools this year. One locally and one on-line.  She's rocking it at both.  Her teacher at the local pre-school says she's the best reader in class and I believe it. She reads better than I did in first grade. She reads books-real books with short form words.
Beyond smarts, she's a great sister to Emily.  The age difference may be evident in a lot of areas, but Cami loves to read to Emily and have her chase her around the house.

2. Hurricane Emily swirleth.
Speaking of the local storm-presence-Emily turned a year old.  She is our cuddly little crazy.
She loves cuddling more than almost anything.  She will take her "bankie" and snuggle up on your lap or next to you to watch a show, videos on your phone or read a story.  She doesn't hold back from hugs or kisses.
Along with cuddly, she is your standard toddler and loves to pull everything off the shelves and cubbies. Toy-carnage follows in her wake.
This year she picked up walking like a champ and runs more than walks. She also talks lot, only a few understandable words at this point-mostly animals and noises.
This year we weaned off the precious binky too. Dave and I loved her in her little binky and blanky cuddle kit, but it was time to grow a little and let it go before it became awful.  The first day was rough, but she took to naps and night-time okay. During the day she had a little attitude to remind us of her resentment.

3. Surgery
Emily was born with a decent tosis in her left eye.  Her eyelid drooped pretty bad. It was so bad we were a little nervous that it would affect her vision.
After a consult with an Ophthalmologist, who agreed surgery was a good idea to correct her tosis by pulling the eyelid tighter.
It was a rough surgery for baby girl, but we made it and the tosis is better. It's not perfect, but it looks better.
We also had a follow up last month, only this time the eye sight actually seemed to be affected in the tosis eye.
We've been doing "pirate baby" practices with eye bandages for a few hours every day to encourage her to use it.

4. Dave's Promoted.  
It's no secret that Dave works hard.  He's really good at his job and management notices.
He got a promotion this year working as a Help Desk Supervisor.  The hours didn't change too much, but he is doing great work with a good team of employees who know what they are doing and aren't too bad at it. ;)
Just a month or so, his department switched the schedule for two supervisors, including Dave. He finally has weekends off.
As long as we have been together, I can't think of more than a few weeks with both of us Mon-Fri. It's been both weird and awesome.
It's opened up so much more family time and even a few more date nights than usual.

5. Friends.
My favorite part of this year by far is my new, updated friends.
I've had a really hard time making friends since I had kids.  When you work full time with kids, it can either make it hard to meet up with other women, working moms or be hard to relate to stay-at-home moms.
I took some scary steps this year and reached out to some women.  It was terrifying and made me feel so stupid and vulnerable.  I'm so grateful that they met me half-way even though I'm kinda weird and made me feel valuable and cared about. My year was so much better from their love, advice and care.

6. Genetics is hard and rewarding.
It's my second year on the Genetics team at Myriad. Working with Genetic Counselors can be so hard sometimes.
The stress level at work is much higher and I took most of the year adjusting to the different personalities.
During this time, I feel like I've made some great working relationships with some of the providers.
I love my job a lot. It's nice to have great working relationships while I'm working at helping with cancer research.  Cancer touches everyone's lives in some way and I love being able to do something about it.

7. Active and stuff with Dave.
Last year I made a goal to just be more active. No race goals, weight goals or strength goals. It was a goal I felt is achievable.
Bam! This year was better than I expected. I have been doing T25 since April and I love Shaun T with all of my aching muscles and pumping heart.  The workouts are only 25 minutes (especially since I usually skip the cool-down-but don't tell anyone) and I can do it anywhere without day care or extra costs.
I've lost weight, clothing sizes or whatever, but that doesn't matter. To me, it's always about how I feel and strong feels good.
One super great thing about T25 in the last month Dave has been doing T25 too. Being a working parent, it's hard to find the time and the energy but he's been consistent about getting up and doing it even when he's sick. I love that we are becoming an active family.

8. Disneyland
We planned our Disneyland trip more last minute than most people plan it. In July we planned an October trip to Disneyland for Cami's 5th birthday.
Disneyland made me feel so crazy though. It is both one of the greatest places on earth and the most frustrating place on earth.
I could talk about it for ages, the pros and cons.
Cami loved it though and that's what matters. Every time she met a princess, she was in a literal Disney Land-a place where only happiness, princesses and villains exist.  It's a place where Jafar isn't a bad guy, he's the greatest and the favorite next to Rapunzel.
I think it was a prefect way to spend her birthday.

9.  Book Writing
Last year I really wanted to finish my book, but I didn't. Life happens.
In case your curious. I'm writing an urban fantasy book about super heroes and genetics. Like "Heroes" with less of a soap opera. (You don't need to give me a "nerd card", I've got a few already.) ;)
I did write a lot in 2016, more than I have in the last ten years.. I finished at least half of my first draft-2 1/2 full character points of view with only 1 1/2 full characters points of view left.

That's 2016 for me, as a person. I said in a previous post that 2016 may have seemed hard, but for me, the good far surpassed the bad. I love my family so much and I love what we became in 2016.  We loved more and laughed more. 2016 will be hard to beat.