yearofbeautiful

Grit and authenticity #yearofbeautiful


The culture of the Carlquists is grit.

Carl Arvid Carlquist was born in Sweden in 1857. He moved to Utah, raised his family here, had a son, Carl, who had a daughter, Edith, and she is my Grandma DeeDee.

I am a Carlquist.

From Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, she says the following. “If you want to be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it.”

Or be born into it. I was born into the gritty, Carlquist culture.

It’s about the team you are on. Duckworth explained further in her book that excelling athletes need talent, hours, and correct practicing to become the best. But they also needed one more thing: they needed to be on a great team.

I tried out for my first competition soccer team when I was in elementary school. I think most of the girls there made the team. It wasn’t very hard to be a girl playing soccer in the late ’80s. I remember my freshman basketball tryouts and how we were running drills and it was packed, getting all of those girls, hoping for maybe 20 spots on the team, to line up together and start sprinting up and down the court. The coach had a lot of people to cut.

Great teams have tryouts. They cut people that won’t excel in their culture.

And the great players that make it, are what make the team great.

The sociologist, Dan Chambliss said it this way: “There’s a hard way to get grit and an easy way. The hard way is to do it by yourself. The easy way is to use conformity–the basic human drive to fit in–because if you’re around a lot of people who are gritty, you’re going to act grittier.”

Now, let me bring this back around to the Carlquists. As I said, Grandma DeeDee is a Carlquist. A few weeks ago, after finishing up a piano lesson with Dom, she started telling me about the recent projects she had finished in her garden and what was next on her list. Then she told me that she has a very specific goal lately: “to have more grit.”

MORE grit.

She’s 99. She has about 20 piano students each week. She puts in hour after hour of hard work in her garden each week. She plays the piano for the children in church. She does the crossword. She hosted a dinner with friends at her home recently and made several wreaths and decorations from flowers she’d picked from her garden and carefully dried. She’s doing all this while she’s going blind and has lost much of her hearing. And she feels crippled by arthritis.

She wants to have more grit.

She exudes grit. I have grown up around her and the Carlquist culture. It’s the grittiest. I have heard family stories of grit and witnessed it myself.

With that said, and with that history of a PART of my family history that is gritty (I have so many examples), here are three ways that I could work to be more gritty, myself:

  1. Have a growth mindset. This one is included in Duckworth’s TED talk and it “is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed… can change with your effort.” Failure doesn’t stop you. Grandma DeeDee calls her backyard the garden of her mistakes. I told her, once, that I’ve had a lot of failures figuring out how to garden. She laughed. She has failures every year. “That plant just doesn’t like that spot,” she said. “So you move it or you pull it out and throw the dead thing away.” You do something different next time.
  2. Pursue your passion. Lots of things I’ve read online have impressed on me that having grit doesn’t just mean that you’re tough. It means that you push through and hold true to your end goal. So you have to have an end goal to begin with. And then, you need to have the passion to get there if you’re going to overcome the potholes on the way. Grandma didn’t marry young. She finished her degree at the University of Utah and went on to Columbia Teacher’s College for her master’s. She lived in New York then went to San Francisco to serve an LDS mission. When she did marry, she was passionate about raising a family, fighting through eight pregnancies where she was sick the entire time. I have had two pregnancies, sick the entire time through both, and it felt eternal to me. With both pregnancies, I reached a point where I hit a wall of depression and unfounded realization that I would feel like this for the rest of my life. I couldn’t convince myself that it was temporary even though I knew it would be gone once the baby was born. I could never imagine doing that eight times. Grandma was passionate about having children. She pursued it and raised bright, talented, loving, and gritty kids.
  3. Authenticity matters. This is the part that brings me to my #yearofbeautiful initiative. How can I live more authentically? How does this tie to grit? Well, let’s imagine that you’re pursuing a goal and you’re determined to stick with it, no matter what. Because grit. But, as you get further along, you realize that your goal does not align with your inner values. Do you then keep your rigid determination to follow through? Do you ignore at what cost you must do that? That doesn’t sound fulfilling for me and I’ve found an article that lists many studies that found that it matters MORE if you can be both persistent, and authentic when creating your goals. From that article, they defined a three-part measure for authenticity: living in accordance with your values and beliefs; staying in touch with the ‘real you’; and not feeling the need to always do what others expect of you. My Grandaddy was in a hospital when my Grandma was younger and taking care of her little kids. He was in a hospital for mental instabilities. And he wasn’t getting out. So Grandma went down there and brought him home, determined to help him and take care of him, in addition to caring for her own small kids and her two step kids. She didn’t care what others thought about her going and doing this. She wanted her husband around. And she believed that she could help and take care of him. And she did. He got better. They worked hard. They raised their family. This story is authentic.

Understanding both grit and authenticity feels like understanding the entirety of an iceberg to me. I have a glimpse of the surface. I haven’t even walked on it yet, let alone, been beneath the icy waters to see the full size of it.

Tell me, please: have you found podcasts, blogs, books, or TED talks that have given you more insight into both grit and authenticity? What are they?

 

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Connecting with others by asking, “How do you spend most of your time?” #yearofbeautiful


I thrive off of connecting with people so a big part of my #yearofbeautiful initiative is doing this better. It’s my third item (of 3) on my list: “I will strengthen my connection with others.”

I find, often (especially since joining the SAHM world), that I don’t know how to ask if a new person works, stays home with kids, or what. Do you tend to fall back on the question… “What do you do?”

And have you always had good responses to that question?

Here’s how my conversation sometimes goes down (and down and down, depending):

“Hey, new person,” I say. “So, what do you do?”

New woman stares at me. She stares at her feet.

I am awkward. It’s not a feeling. It’s a state. I am in the state of awkward.

It’s like that time I asked a coworker if he was feeling okay and he was and then he wanted to know why I thought he was sick.

New person finally answers. “Well,” she says, “I’m just…”

And there it is.

The “JUST”.

She’s just doing something that she doesn’t think will impress me. She’s just at home. She’s just working a lot. She’s just putting her kids in daycare. She’s just home cleaning up toys. She’s just in school. She’s just trying to find a job. She’s just not in school without a job. She’s just homeschooling. She’s just on the school board, running her own business, and driving her high-achieving kids to all of their activities.

Back in the day–before I had kiddos, before I met my husband, before I had a titanium toe–I listened to an audio book. I would go on audio-book kicks, see. I’d check them out from the library and then, while driving to and from work, it was me and the audio book. I always picked nonfiction. It was a great way to learn tidbits about new things. I learned about Yellowstone, Buddhism, Outliers, and being “normal” in social situations, from the book, How to Talk to Anyone.

I wonder how well I learned that last one. (Me and my awkward states of being.)

In that book, there was a section that talked about saying something different, something better, than “So what do you do?”

BUT I COULDN’T REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS!

I blame children.

Memory… post babies… what’s that?

I kept thinking that I would need to revisit that audio book to recall what I should say to people. But then… this week, guess what I found?

A YOUTUBE VIDEO!

I know. I’m shouting.

But guess what? Some kind soul summarized the points from this book and made it visually appealing. Three cheers for that YouTube great. Woot woot woot.

After all of these years, I finally have the “better” question to ask.

Ready for it?

Here it is. (In case you didn’t already realize that IT’S IN THE POST TITLE.)

“How do you spend most of your time?”

Want to know how I would answer?

I spend most of my time doing so many things, from potty training my daughter, to pushing my son on the big ol’ backyard tree swing, to filming them both perform their bedtime ballet tonight, to throwing dinner in the crockpot in the morning so it was waiting when we came home from piano followed by a gym class, to helping put kids to bed, to ending the night with writing work and watching some random TV show.

What about you?

How do you spend most of your time?

daily habit tracker to feel more confident – #yearofbeautiful


daily-habit-tracker

It’s time to get back on track with my #yearofbeautiful initiative, and this time, I’m working on my goal of FEELING more confident. To do this, I wanted a visual that shows areas where I rock. It will also show areas where I am skipping out so I’m hoping that means if I’m not feeling confident, I’ll get an idea of areas where I could spend a little more time. The visual I drew up today is in my bullet journal (a recent trend in organizing your life and journaling based on this website): Larrie’s daily habit tracker. There are many versions online of something similar or with varying ways to draw it up. In fact, you can even hit up Etsy and purchase designs done by really professional folks. Mine is simply sketched in my little journal with a number of things that I’d like to work on for myself. You can see them all on my rad picture above. I know. So rad. My items fall into four categories:

  1. Personal health: yoga, sleep, water, less sugar, and exercise
  2. Spiritual health: gratitude (#3goodthings tweets), reading, prayers, and temple
  3. Work: monthly projects, freelance projects
  4. Fun: instagram posts, sending birthday cards, doodling, and piano (is that fun?!)

I’m hoping that by the end of the month, there will be a good amount of the squares filled in, but I’m not demanding it. Certainly, some of those items are not daily necessities, though some, I really would like to become such. Maybe, by the end, it will be a gradient going from blank to lots and lots of turquoise. Bring on the turquoise!

How it works (for those that would like a brief explanation):

  1. I have one page in my bullet journal dedicated to September’s daily habits and I’ve entered it on my index page.
  2. I have a list, going down the page, of the items from each of my four areas above.
  3. I have the numbers going across the page for each day of the month.
  4. Using a ruler (let’s look neat here, folks), I drew the outline of my grid.
  5. The dots in my journal create the rest of the grid.
  6. I fill in each square for the item I did on the corresponding day of the month.

What items would you put on your daily habits list? Would you feel motivated by something like this, or overwhelmed?

And as a reminder, here are the past thoughts and posts about my #yearofbeautiful efforts:

Developing a family narrative (#yearofbeautiful idea)


Part of my #yearofbeautiful is to strengthen my connection with others. I’ve been thinking today about my connections within my own family and came across this article from The New York Times: “The Stories that Bind Us”.

Here’s the bathroom break version of the article: If you want to create strong, lasting family relationships, develop a strong, lasting family narrative.

That was a short bathroom break.

You are faster than my husband and my four-year old son in the bathroom. *Grin*

Teasing aside…

What IS a family narrative and how do you create it?

Family strain could create dark narratives: money, arguments, name calling, loss, etc. Maybe your family strain is because you made jokes about how long it takes somebody to poop and you posted it for all of the internet to read. Seriously. That’s rude. Don’t do that. Keep poop time-frames personal, people.

I read something in a Reader’s Digest years ago. I was sitting in the bathroom but I won’t tell you WHAT I was doing or for HOW long. Let’s just say that what I read was a simple, short paragraph about how kids are more resilient when they know the story of their family. My memory instantly took me to the basement of my Grumma Campbell’s house where the walls were brown and wood, the carpet was dark, the couches lining the walls also dark, and we were crowded down there with cousins, aunts, and uncles, listening to Grumma tell the history of one of our ancestors. I hope it was either Aquila Nebeker or Christopher Columbus Kearl. They have such great names.

Is that part of my family narrative? Where I come from? Men like Aquila and Christopher? And does it matter that I don’t know the stories of my husband’s ancestors? Or even their names, really?

From the NYTimes article, here are some of the questions that might make up part of your family narrative (none of them are about pooping so take note):

  1. Do you know where your grandparents grew up?
  2. Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school?
  3. Do you know where your parents met?
  4. Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family?
  5. Do you know the story of your birth?

I wonder: can my four-year old answer any of these questions? I asked him.

Do you know where Grandma Alicia grew up? “No. Where’d she grow up? In Texas, mom?”

Do you know where Grandmere grew up? “In Salt Lake?”

Do you know where Dad and I went to high school? “In Salt Lake? And then did Dad go in Texas? So did I guess it?”

Do you know where Dad and I met? “Um, at the temple? At Dad’s house?”

Do you know about an illness that happened in our family? “What’s an illness? No. I don’t. Did Grumma Campbell get sick? Her heart stopped pumping.”

Do you know what happened when you were born? “I came out of your tummy.”

According to the article, if kids know these types of things about their families, it’s the “best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.”

How do you teach your kid to have a strong “intergenerational self”?

Have you done any of the following (which are suggestions from the article):

  1. Create a family mission statement identifying core values
  2. Build up identity through communal activities
  3. Create hokey family traditions
  4. Tell positive stories about your family
  5. Create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones

And if you’ve done #3, I want to know what it is!

3 new things I’ve learned to live authentically


live-authentically

The second item on my #yearofbeautiful list is to live authentically.

Something that I did for that was for a life coach session with the fabulous Julie de Azevedo Hanks. I have an entire page of thoughts and notes from Skyping with her. If you want your own page of notes, I think you should chat with her, too. We had an excellent hour. From all of it, there is a gem that I would like to share with you.

Also, my session sparked conversations with both a good neighbor of mine and also my husband. I have something to share with you from each of those, as well. Ready? Here my three things I have to help me live authentically. As a mom and as a woman.

Do something every day where you feel alive

This came from Julie.

Kids need to see you alive.

I spend a lot of energy caring for my kids. It feels exhausting day in and day out. I lose myself in their demands. I often forget to do something so that ME, MOM, THE MOTHER, feels alive, in FRONT OF THEM. My kids notice when I’m frustrated, exhausted, running low, or short-tempered. So, of course, it makes sense that they will notice when I am feeling happy, accomplished, and ALIVE.

What do you love to do? What are you good at?

By answering those questions, you can make a good list of things to do where you kids can see you alive. My list includes writing, doodling, and playing the piano.

You create their world

This came from Nathan.

So many days it feels mundane to make meals and snacks, clean up after meals and snacks, go through the routine of trying to keep naptimes consistent, struggle through the bedtime routines, and do all of the in-between things like potty training, cleaning up ALL THE TOYS, and consistently discovering new walls, furniture, or lamp shades with Sharpie on them.

This matters, though. My kids feel safe. They feel secure.

Kids that don’t have stability in their lives are forced to live in survival mode. Nathan has seen this a lot working at many of the schools he’s been in. When kids live that way their brain is on hyper alert, their world is a scary place, and they cannot thrive.

At the end of MY  day, I may not feel like I’ve realized any quantifiable accomplishments, but if I’m able to step back and see the day-to-day stability and predictability through the eyes of my toddler and preschooler, then I can see the environment I am creating for them wherein they can be well-nourished.

Your service models the life of our Savior

This came from my neighbor, Nora.

On the morning of my life coaching session, I told her about how I was really looking forward to my appointment and what kinds of things I might talk about it. She told me that she really wanted to hear how it went and I said, deal. Later that day, she emailed me with some of her thoughts. One of these was on how similar the role of a mom is to the life of Jesus Christ. I had not thought of this before. Or at least, not in a concrete way, so reading her thoughts was a big a-ha moment for me.

The Savior cares of each one of us.

I care for each one of my children.

He fed the 5000.

I feed my family.

He washed the feet of His disciples.

I wash hands, faces, snotty noses, and bathe my children.

He healed the sick.

Just last week, I was up in the night with sick kids, holding them, giving them medicine, and praying for their health.

He taught constantly.

I teach my kids constantly.

He gave His life for each one of us.

In a small way, I give my life as I sacrifice my sleep, time, and energy.

So this month, I feel I am doing better at living authentically because I better understand my divine role as a mom, how I’m creating a safe and nurturing world for my kids, and that it is important for them to see me doing things that make me feel alive.

So what things would you put on your “I’m Alive!” list?

The meaningful work of being a mom


meaningful-mom-job

Now hiring: no pay, no quarterly bonus, no promotion, work long hours, no vacations, and difficult working conditions (cleaning the poop out of cloth diapers, yes!). Who would apply for such a job? And yet.

And yet, in spite of the conditions, I chose to be a mom.

And yet, I chose to have a second kid.

And yet, I chose to quit my career and stay home.

And yet, I still choose to be home after doing this for over a year.

And yet, I choose to put my babe in cloth diapers. Because poop.

What makes The Mom a meaningful job?

In my search for ways to be more authentic, I read an article from MIT, “What makes work meaningful — or meaningless” (sorry for the paywall). They came up with five unexpected features of meaningful work after interviewing 135 people in 10 different occupations. When you think of your job (or jobs), do they hit all the right feels for you in these five areas: self-transcendent, poignant, episodic, reflective, personal. Let’s discuss these in list style. Because lists.

  1. Self-Transcendent: Do you feel that your work matters to others more just to yourself?

Being The Mom requires massive amounts of unselfishness. Amounts I didn’t have before and it took time for me to learn to make enough. My kids need The Mom. I try to show them they are loved. I tried to teach them values so they will make a positive impact on our community. If I do good work, I make a big impact on my kids and on how they treat others.

  1. Poignant: Does your work affect you both painfully and deeply?

As The Mom, I am overwhelmed by the array of emotions I experience every single day. When I’m in a moment of negative emotions, I obviously don’t feel appreciative. But turns out, if all I ever experienced was positive experiences, that would steal the rich and challenging times from me. I need those. The experience of fighting through these times creates a sense of meaningfulness.

  1. Episodic: Does your work sometimes feel meaningful, but many times not?

Being The Mom is the most episodic job I’ve ever had. There is nothing emotionally steady about it. It’s not even keel. Not monotonous. Many times, I can only describe it as The Struggle. Meaningful feelings don’t exist for me in those moments. Instead, I feel exasperated and in need of a break. But the ups, man, those are pretty incredible, right? They just come and go. And sometimes, it doesn’t feel like there’s been anything meaningful for days or weeks or maybe months (like the months and months where Gabbi cried from 6pm-midnight, with brief spouts of quiet when we lulled her into scanty sleep). I may work for years and years to try and teach my kids kindness before I finally see one of them take the initiative to reach out to the injured kid in a group. I can’t force them to want to be kind. I can’t force meaningful moments to happen.

  1. Reflective: Do you realize that you’ve experienced meaningful moments after the fact?

It’s often not until we look back on experiences that we realize they were meaningful, so states MIT. So in this area, as The Mom, I am missing out on something that would help me in my job (because I clearly need to add another area of responsibility to my job description!); I am forgetting to reflect on my day. Sometimes I do it, a little bit, when I tell Nathan about some of the things that happened while he was at work. I accompany this with flipping through my phone to show him any pictures or videos I took at the time. But this is only brief reflection. I should improve in this area. Suggestions? When we did chores as kids, my parents would often have us look back at the difference we made when we were done and it was rewarding to see the weeded garden, the clean bedroom, or the folded clothes. Reflecting on The Mom work is more abstract. How do you find time to retrospect on your Mom work?

  1. Personal: Does your work matter to more than just you, but also to the important people in your life?

Yes. It matters to me that what I do matters to the people closest to me. So I think, in this area, I’d like to improve on how I recognize the other parents in my life and the work that they do because I know how much it affects me when somebody tells me, with specificity, about the times that I done good. It’s more than stating: “you’re a good mom.” That’s nice. Now add a phrase full of something meaningful. I’m going to work on this. And I can probably tell myself these things because I want to FEEL more competent.

I’m The Mom. I do things. I do transcendent things. I rock.

Motherhood might smother your authentic self


authentic-momMotherhood can be the overpowering job title that defines you. It’s constantly demanding: breakfast, naptime, middle of the night, when you need to take a poop. Children don’t let you clock out. You have to force yourself to step outside of the role, to take a break, to ask for help and focus on yourself. That’s hard to do.

So at times, I’ve lost myself in motherhood, but not in a good way. Not because I’m enveloped in the smell of a newborn and the rest of the world melts away. Not because I cherish the little hugs from my polite little preschooler. I’ve lost myself in motherhood from exhaustion and sleep deprivation, lack of patience after answering “why?” after “why?” after “why?”, or anxiety from a baby who won’t nap and won’t stop crying. I’ve lost myself in motherhood because I lose track of my personal hopes and dreams.

Motherhood is beautiful, but there’s more to me than raising two small kids.

One of my goals this year is to make it a point to live authentically. I’m on a mission, right now, to figure out HOW.

Any suggestions?

I’ve been asking the internet and I’m on a search for some good books. One book in particular, I’m going to revisit, and that’s Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly: “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Okay. Authenticity ties into self-acceptance.

Which is another goal this year: FEELING more competent at what I do. My goal isn’t to BE more competent. It’s to FEEL more competent. And that comes back to how I talk to myself.

I’m curious: what do you call yourself when you talk to yourself?

I call myself Larrie.

I don’t know why. I can’t remember when it started. Obviously, not prior to high school, since that’s when my nickname was born (thanks, Jarv). For some reason, when I talk to myself (usually in my head), it’s in the third-person and I talk to Larrie.

I’m typically upset with Larrie. I’m telling her that she’s not competent. I’m reminding her of her mistakes. I’m verbally berating her. Poor Larrie.

Be nice to Larrie.

Larrie is beautiful.

This month:

  1. I will be nice to Larrie.
  2. I will also reread Daring Greatly.
  3. I will research how to live authentically.

Living authentically and feeling competent = beautiful. #yearofbeautiful yo.

If you happen to have any good articles on this, please, send them my way!