• InNote to Self

    Note to Self: A Life I Feel Good About

    If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s that humans love to give advice. Which is equal parts “Okay, enough! I’ve heard “sleep when the baby sleeps” from two hundred people now.” and “Isn’t it great that we’re all so connected in mutual experiences that we can share advice and empathy with each other?”

    Yesterday morning, I was thinking about marriage and some general advice I’ve heard and suddenly, my brain felt like a tumbling Bingo cage that has been going on for years came to a stop and someone called out “B twenty-three!” and I got it. Bingo.

    For years, I’ve been trying to rationalize my people-pleasing nature with a desperate need for peace of mind. I’ve had advice (of course) from friends, family, and my therapist tumbling around my metaphorical Bingo cage as I’ve tried to figure out what is valuable and how this actually all fits together in a life I feel good about. And that, right there, that’s the thing: a life I feel good about. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to figure out all this time and it turns out, I’ve been defining a life I feel good about using other people’s advice and expectations.

    Am I a good spouse? Well, let me use the advice I heard at so-and-so’s wedding luncheon as my benchmark. “Fight naked”, “Never go to bed angry”, “Go to bed angry”, and on, and on. Besides the obvious issue that a lot of the advice contradicts other advice, it’s a huge problem for me to make this advice my benchmark without first determining that the advice is, in fact, useful to me.

    Am I a good mom? 270 blog posts later, I never feel like it. It’s not that there isn’t valuable information found online. It’s not that there isn’t great connection in knowing that someone, somewhere has been there before (thank goodness for the healing power of that). The issue is that no blog post, nobody else’s experience, and no baby milestone tracking app can define what being “a good mother” means to you or me or our children.

    The Bingo moment is this: I define what it means to live a life I feel good about. I choose how to be a mother. My husband and I have created a partnership that allows us to define what a “good marriage” looks like to us – what we want it to be.

    A couple years ago, I spent a lot of time talking to my therapist about what my “job” is. He helped me to see that I was living a lot of my life thinking that I had to meet other people’s (real or arbitrary) expectations for me. I was living a life of “shoulds” and he explained that I was going to “should myself to death” if I didn’t figure out what my real job is. We spent quite a few appointments talking about what my job is not: fixing other people’s problems, doing things simply because I know or think they’re expected of me, and making other people happy… just to name a few.

    Then, he asked me what my job is. I asked some close friends what they thought and we all came up with an answer along the lines of “to be a good person”. And my therapist shot that down fast. Eventually, he helped me understand that my job is to live by my own, personal code of conduct. If I’m going to feel like I’m a good person – if that’s my desire, I have to define for myself what that means. My therapist taught me that the only true way to be happy and to feel free is to know that you are living your personal code of conduct. Because when you’ve decided what your code of conduct is, you get the freedom of living only by your own standards. And that feels so good.

    So, I mean, I got that. We worked hard for me to get that. And I’ve been working on defining my personal code of conduct ever since. But the people pleaser in me has been fighting back and trying to make my personal code of conduct look like what I think other people think my personal code of conduct should look like – which, you know, completely defeats the purpose. And that’s what I’ve been wrestling until the Bingo moment yesterday where I felt like things started settling into place. My job is not to meet other’s expectations or accept all advice. To create a truly freeing personal code of conduct, I need to sort through the advice I’ve heard, the beliefs I have, and anything expected of me to decide what truly fits in a life I want to live.

    For me, I value kindness. I find joy in my relationship with God. I heard once that making your spouse a priority is an important part of being a good parent – and I’ve decided that that’s advice I agree with and want to include in my life. These are all elements of my personal code of conduct, which I’m refining all the time.

    Bear with me while I milk the Bingo metaphor just a little bit more. I really like it. Picture those balls rolling around in the Bingo cage as advice from other people. They all have a place, they all belong somewhere, but only some of them have a place on your card. It’s up to you to decide what has a place in your life. Even this post. If it’s not a Bingo for you, please consider this simply a fun flashback to elementary school Bingo days (or a flash forward to life in a retirement home, perhaps. 😉 ) But, if you’ve found any value in this, leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to hear your perspective.

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  • InDesign, Free

    Choose Happy – Free Printable!

    I recently made these cute tags for a Birthday Brunch and I loved them so much, I wanted to turn them into an 8×10 print. So, because everyone needs a little more happy in their lives, here are some free printables! They are available in 4 colors and 2 sizes – 8×10 and 5×7 for you to print and use in your home.

    Enjoy!

    8×10: Choose Happy_Yellow Choose Happy_Pink Choose Happy_Orange Choose Happy_Green

    5×7: Choose Happy_Yellow_sm Choose Happy_Pink_sm Choose Happy_Orange_sm Choose Happy_Green_sm

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  • InLove Story, Malise Love, True Stories

    Malise Love Story Part 9: The Proposal

    A week after I told Matt my “secret” about how I was pretty sure I wanted to marry him someday (read that part of the story here), he brought it up while we were saying goodnight on my porch. He said “remember that secret you told me last week? Yeah, me too.”

    Earlier that day, I’d had a heart-to-heart with my friend Heather where she said “I think you know you’re going to marry him, and I think the fact that you haven’t told your dad yet means that you know but you’re scared to say it out loud.” And then I’d called my dad intending to talk about everything but Matt and ended up talking about only Matt and how my dad knew he was the one before I even brought him home.

    So, Matt and I talked about potential times to get married and how that would work and when to get engaged. We planned on getting married in October which quickly turned into to August, and getting engaged in June or July which quickly turned into ASAP. I had been “almost engaged” twice before and although this felt different, I was still a little apprehensive. I knew things were really going to happen the day that Matt canceled his annual, beloved fishing trip to Alaska so we could have that money for our honeymoon. We went ring shopping a few days later and visited the temple together for our date night – which was a really special experience for me and just really confirmed everything I already knew and felt.

    We picked out the ring on April 25th and I tried oh so hard to not spend all my time speculating on when and how he was going to propose, but also, it was pretty much always on my mind. I limited myself to telling two friends a day that I was getting married because I was so excited and couldn’t wait to tell them, but I also wanted a chance to make it official before I told the entire world. One night, Matt and I drove up to our favorite park and he told me that he’d picked up the ring a few days before, had plans to propose, and realized that they had given him the wrong ring! As I cried about how I just wanted to be engaged already, he told me about how they’d put our stone in the wrong model and they’d used the last ring they had in the correct model. There was one more in Washington and they were going to overnight it for him the next week, but it would still take a while before they could set the stone. Which meant we’d get it the following Friday.

    On Mother’s Day, May 10th, 2015 (still a solid 6 days before we were expecting the ring to be finished) we had gone out to his mom’s house for lunch and as we finished eating, he asked me what I wanted to do that afternoon. I suggested a drive through Logan canyon and he said “Do you want to go to Bear Lake?” So we headed off to check both of those items off of our “dating bucket list” we had created a few weeks prior.

    We drove all around the North part of Bear Lake, up into Idaho, and around to the east side. As we drove, I was telling him all about how I was so happy I knew when the ring was coming so I didn’t have to wonder any more. And how I loved surprises, but maybe they’re silly for engagements when you really do know you’re about to be proposed to, so you’re suspicious of everything anyway… (I blabbed about this for the entire drive.)

    Matt played along and kept driving until we found a place to park on the east shore of the lake. We walked down to the water and hugged each other, talked, and just enjoyed the scenery. As we stood there, I thought “It’s really a shame that the ring won’t be here until next weekend, this would be such a perfect time to propose!” I wondered if he’d propose with a fake ring, but decided that wasn’t his style and focused on the conversation again. Then, he turned me around to face Logan Canyon off in the distance and asked me which spot in the mountains was the canyon. I thought “Too bad he doesn’t have the ring, this would be the perfect distraction for him to get it out of his pocket, but there’s no way he has it, so really we’re just talking about the dumb canyon.”

    I turned around to hug him again and he got down on one knee and held out the ring box as I said “Are you serious???” I was shocked. He opened the box and I saw that it was the real ring and I said “Where did you get that!?” He smiled and asked me to marry him. I nodded, said yes before he could even finish his sentence, and started to cry.

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  • InBowling Ball Day, True Stories

    Bowling Ball Day: The Ten Year Anniversary

    Today is a pretty special day for me. If you’ve never heard of Bowling Ball Day, welcome. 🙂 It’s likely that that means we’re new friends. Here’s the short version: 10 years ago today, a bowling ball fell off the top of a flag pole on my head. And I’ve celebrated this day ever since.

    It was March of 2007, my second semester of college. I was visiting some friends in Tremonton for spring break. My friend, Christina had suggested that we go to a privately owned park called “Marble Park”. She insisted the barbed wire collection was a must-see. So, we went. The park is a sculpture park featuring a lot of cool things:  swings made from old tractor seats, chairs made from barrels and wheels, and the infamous barbed wire collection. We decided to gather the group together for some pictures. We all climbed up onto three platforms. My friends Ashli, Mac, and I stood on the middle platform which had a flag pole coming out of it and was about 5 feet tall.

    Ashli and I on the platform with the flagpole.

    While taking the pictures, we noticed that the flagpole was kind of wobbly. It had been cemented into the platform, but looked as though it had come loose over the years. Mac started pushing on it, and just as I said (teasing, of course) “wouldn’t it be funny if I fell off?” a bowling ball fell from it’s perch on the top of the flag pole and onto my head.

    If you look at the top of the flagpole in the background, you can see the bowling ball in its prongs.

    I was knocked unconscious and fell off the platform. (This is a good thing because otherwise, it’s likely that I would have tried to catch myself and could have broken my arms.) Once on the ground, I regained consciousness, had a seizure, and threw up. (Lime green throw up, because I’d had Jones Green Apple Soda. TMI? Sorry.) My friends called 911 and explained that I had been hit on the head. “By what?” the operator asked. After looking around to find the culprit, Ashli eventually said “Um, a bowling ball.”

    I was taken in an ambulance to the Bear River Hospital where they were worried about my spinal fluid leaking into my brain, so I was then lifeflighted to the University of Utah Neuro Care Clinic. One of the few moments of all of this that I actually remember happened in the helicopter. I remember watching the propellers start to spin, and one of the paramedics closed the door on my arm – so my arm was trapped between the door and my stretcher. I looked up at him and said “um, my arm…” and they quickly opened the door again and placed my arm on top of me.

    The physicians at the Neuro Care Clinic determined that I had a severe concussion and my skull was fractured from front to back. You know how babies’ skulls are in two parts when they’re born and that’s why they have a soft-spot? I essentially just broke that open again. After four days in the hospital and eight staples in my head, I got to go home. I was on Loritab for a week, and then I went back to school. A few weeks later, I went to have my staples removed and the doctor told me I was doing surprisingly great and the concussion was gone. To this day, the only lasting damage is the quarter-sized scar on top of my head.

    So, that’s the story of Bowling Ball Day. I love celebrating this day because it makes me feel special. Knowing how many people came to visit me in the hospital, prayed for me, took pictures with posters and sippy cups (long story) for me really just warms my heart. And knowing that, by some miracle, I didn’t die – that’s something that makes me feel things I’ve never been able to truly explain. Some of it is simply gratitude for the blessing of being alive and for feeling like I have a purpose for still being here. And also, in many sacred ways, this experience brought me closer to God. I believe in angels. The ones here on earth and the unseen angels that I believe were there 10 years ago.

    Oh, and also, it’s pretty funny. I mean, who does this even happen to?

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  • InCricut, Design, Free

    January Calendar – Free Print + Cricut/Silhouette Cut File

    Do any of you associate months with colors? Just me? I recently realized that this is something I do. December is easy: red & green. November is a maroon and burnt orange kind of month, April is lime green and lemon yellow, and January is my favorite shade of blue and a soft white. (Which the sky matches quite nicely when it’s not just grey and blah.)

    I’ve always been a little iffy on the idea of January. Where I live, it’s especially cold in January and I really just miss the sunshine. But I’m a huge fan of fresh starts, so January fits that bill quite well.

    January seemed like a great time to transition into this blog. It’s a fresh start and a bit of a brave leap for me. That’s what new year’s resolutions are all about, right? Creating, in general, is often a brave leap. The idea of taking something you’ve thought of and turning it into something tangible and worthwhile is a beautiful and terrifying thing. But I love it. So, I’m planning on spending my 2017 doing a whole lot more of just that – creating brave things.

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    To start off, I created my first big project on my new Cricut – and I’m really happy with how it turned out! I created a calendar with a fun, handlettered element to help us all start the year off right. I left it pretty blank so you can use it for meal planning, event scheduling, daily mini-doodles, or whatever you want. If you’re like me – it’ll probably turn into a messy to-do list within the first week.

    Here’s the calendar portion for print on 8×10 cardstock: januarycal_print

    And here’s the cut file to use on a Cricut or Silhouette machine: januarycal_cut
    *It should be formatted correctly to line it up at the very top of your canvas.

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  • InLove Story, Malise Love

    Malise Love Story Part 8: The Murder Scene

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We continued to spend every day together, Matt came to a wedding reception with me and met some of my best friends as well as my family, and we spent many nights staying up way past my 9:30 bedtime and silently staring into each others eyes or just talking about how much we liked each other. My journal entries around this time are scattered with comments of “everything is so good” along with “sometimes I feel scared – what if this ends?” But ultimately, we just kept talking all day, seeing each other every night, and making more plans for future dates and to-do list items.

    Near the middle of April, I spent the day in Salt Lake at a baby shower, bridal shower, my little brother’s basketball game, and with my cousin Abby as she went to the Temple for her first time. Which meant I got a lot of questions from a lot of family and friends about this guy I kept posting about on Instagram. As I drove back from Salt Lake that afternoon, I thought about how happy I was and everyone’s little hinted questions of “So… will there be a ring?”

    I often like to pray in the car when I’m alone. It’s my favorite place to just share all my thoughts with Heavenly Father and talk to him more openly than I sometimes do in my daily prayers. My conversation this day started with “So, I’m not going to ask you if it’s okay if I marry Matt because I feel like it’s way too soon and we only started dating like five minutes ago. So, I’m just going to tell you how much I like him. Unless it’s not too soon to ask?” and ended with me feeling pretty certain that marrying Matt was exactly what I wanted and that wanting that was a really good thing.

    That night, I introduced Matt to the show Alias. The first episode is pretty intense and includes a scene where the main character finds a man murdered in a bathtub. (Sorry for the icky details, but it adds to the humor of this moment.) Through the whole episode, I kept telling myself that even though I was really excited about how much I liked the idea of marrying Matt – I was not allowed to tell him yet. Then, suddenly right at the moment that Sydney Bristow is screaming at the murder scene, I turned to Matt and asked him if I could tell him a secret. It just burst out of my mouth!

    He agreed and I instantly panicked. “Tell him you have six toes… Anything else, you can’t tell him this!” Since the six toes thing wasn’t true and I couldn’t control myself I said “I’m pretty sure I want to marry you someday.” Followed quickly by “and I’m going to pause this episode for a moment.”

    We talked about how the same thought had crossed his mind and that things just “felt right”, but decided that we didn’t need to make a decision about anything quite yet. He later told me that I freaked him out a little bit by saying that so soon/being the one to say it first. But clearly it wasn’t enough to scare him off. 😉

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  • InLove Story, Malise Love

    Malise Love Story Part 7: So This is Love

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    “I love you too! But, can we make that kind of a ‘special’ thing?”

    Matt looked kind of confused and said “Sure… what does that mean?” I then explained that I thought maybe we should only say it on special occasions and when we were really feeling it and not just as part of our every day conversation – the whole time saying “because I’m panicking that talking about marriage comes next and I’m not ready for that to happen tomorrow, so I’m hoping this will slow things down!” He seemed a little skeptical, but agreed to go along with my plan.

    Within 24 hours, I told Matt that we could say “I love you” all the time and I was (mostly) not worried about how fast we were moving anymore. I wrote in my journal that I felt awkward being so happy. Like I’d never believed it was possible and I almost felt guilty finding something so good. As much as this new, wonderful relationship was bliss, it also took a fair amount of work for me to settle in to the idea of someone actually loving me as much as Matt did (does 🙂 and wanting to spend time with me the way he did.

    A few days later, I met his family and fell completely in love with them and with Matt all over again. One of my favorite memories is remembering those first times I saw Matt with his family and how much I loved that side of him.

    Later that week, we made a to-do list of all the things we wanted to do together. The list included things like: get dole whip, drive through Logan Canyon, see the new Star Wars, visit Bear Lake, and go to Disneyland, Hawaii, and Alaska. As we made the list, we pretended that things like the (then) far-off Star Wars release date and California trips were casual things that didn’t imply that we were planning on things lasting a while and that traveling together and sharing a hotel room would be an appropriate thing in our future. We’ve since discussed that we both thought about having a future together while making the list. The closest thing to admitting those thoughts was when I said “I guess you can’t break up with me for a long time. We’ve got a lot to do!” and he told me he wasn’t planning on ever breaking up with me.

    That same week, while driving to work and listening to a Disney playlist on Spotify, the song “So This is Love” came on and I absentmindedly sang along until the line “So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of.” As those lyrics played, tears came to my eyes and I realized that the way Matt treats me, the love he has for me, and the way I felt about him were all part of the miracle I’d been looking for and what I had been praying for, hoping for, and aching for for years. It was such a peaceful moment of resolution and probably the first time I consciously admitted that I really could see myself actually marrying Matt.

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