Monday, June 30, 2014

A Beautiful but Frustrating Hike - and a Metaphor for Motherhood

Last Friday's hike was sort of a metaphor for motherhood.

We'd planned all week to do a big hike on Friday. We ate a quick breakfast, packed up water and snacks, found everyone's socks and shoes, hopped in the car, and headed down the street. But then it started raining. Hard. Really hard. And there was lots of thunder and lightening.

We hadn't gone far when the rain started up so we just looped around and ended up back in our driveway. It was raining so hard that we figured we'd listen to an audio book for a while (we're listening to Maze Runner and the kids are so into it) rather than getting soaked trying to dash into the house (yes, it was really raining hard enough that we'd have been drenched to the skin if we'd tried to run the 10 yards from the car to the house). Our thwarted plans made into a pleasant experience - listening to the rain beat on the roof in our cozy car while listening to a good story. Not half-bad.

When the rain let up after a half hour or so, the blue sky peeked through and a quick check of the weather on my phone said the rain should be done so we headed out of the driveway again, parked at the trailhead nearby and headed up the mountain.

It was gorgeous - perfectly cool hiking weather, lovely droplets on bright green rain-soaked leaves, wildflowers, cloud-capped peaks, the deepened colors and clear air of after-rain.

Isaac and the twins wanted to go ahead, as is often the case. That was fine. Eliza, Ashton and I hiked together at a brisk but slightly slower pace. As the gap between our two groups widened, I worried about the younger boys getting too far ahead of us, especially since I tried calling Isaac and found that he wasn't answering his phone - he must have left it in the car or at home. Darn. I really really don't like it when I don't know where my kids are and they might be in danger and I can't see or reach them.

I tried to hurry my little group along so we could catch up with the others. But the hurrying wasn't sitting well with certain people. I ended up by myself in the middle of two groups and sort of frustrated and worried. I had high hopes involving enjoying the beauty together and having some good talks while hiking. But there I was, yelling to the group in front (and not getting an answer and getting increasingly concerned) and feeling increasingly frustrated with those lagging behind (despite repeated explanations and pleas from me regarding the need to catch up with the advance group). I wasn't having fun. The laggers weren't having fun.

Turns out the advance group was having lots of fun - but on the wrong path. They'd decided to follow a lovely stream for a bit, then thought they saw a "short cut" and wandered far enough off track that they were lost. Thanks to a switch-back, they finally ended up in shouting distance from me and were able to make their way back to me, full of appologies about leaving the path (they KNOW the rules . . .). In the end, the laggers made it to the top quite a bit ahead of me and the youngers boys. And when we all made it to the top, I was ball of nerves and things just weren't very happy.

We had a good talk up at that summit about staying together on hikes, making sure we had our phones with us, staying on the path, that sort of thing. And then we had a really fun and lovely hike down, waiting for each other, staying together, laughing and talking. So the hike ended on a happy note.

Isn't motherhood a lot like the story of this hike of ours?

We go into things with great and happy anticipation. And even when there are false starts and "weather" that gets in the way, we're often good at keeping a positive outlook and pushing on ahead. Our plans may be solid, the scenery may be lovely, and joy may seem to be well within our reach. But more stuff happens. The weather holds, but new challenges come up. Some of the people involved in our plan (our kids, other family members) inevitably want to take their own path. And some people (yep, it's usually the mom . . .) are overly focused on keeping everyone moving along at a good clip. It's hard to really see the beauty of it all while we're trying to keep everyone safe and moving forward on the right track. Everyone wants to go their own pace and do their own thing in their own way - but we often have to stick together. So people get grumpy. And sometimes there's yelling.

But in the end, we have good talks and realize some things we should do better next time. And we can get some pretty spectacular views even in the midst of hard times if we remember to really look around us. Plus there are plenty of beautiful moments to be enjoyed if we can tuck away our frustrations and trust a little more and worry a little less.

Monday, June 16, 2014

On Thinking and Worrying Too Much - and building in more time to just be

It's been a good summer so far. We've been busy and productive and we've had a lot of fun. For the most part, the kids are doing a good job with their "must-do's" every day (reading, writing, doing a job around the house, working on one of their summer goals for their "practice" point, that sort of thing - they have a chart to check off this stuff every day). It's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me to see my kids lazing around in front of a screen unless they've accomplished a few things that feel somewhat productive first so these daily must-do's not only help the kids to get some good stuff done each day but they also help me relax as they enjoy a bit of recreational screen time and a whole lot of just playing with friends and jumping on the trampoline and that sort of thing once the "must-do's" have been accomplished.

But I'm feeling pretty frazzled way too often. Between running kids around to the few things we've signed them up for this summer, helping them set and work on the goals they've set for the summer, overseeing those "must-do's," trying to keep on top of the added laundry and grocery needs that summer brings, and dealing with unanticipated needs of our ward (I'm in the primary presidency and Jared is the Bishop), I've only had a hour or two (taken in haphazard 5-15-minute snatches) to work on Power of Moms stuff. I've been able to get to the most urgent things. And I've felt good about letting non-urgent stuff wait in the interest of focusing on motherhood. But every couple days, I get super overwhelmed as I realized how much I'm putting off with Power of Moms and wonder how I'll ever catch up. Plus I keep noticing new things I need to do sooner or later - the paint on our windowsills that we did just last fall is already chipping off and needs attention. Our neighbors are getting some work done on thir house that we also need done on our house but the company working on their house that gave us bids simply won't call me back and it would be so nice and easy and perhaps less expensive if we could get him to do some of the same work on our house while he's doing work on the house next door.

Right now, Eliza is sitting by me doing some artwork after getting back from basketball camp and the twins are jumping with a friend on the trampoline after finishing all their "must-do's" but the older boys are likely lounging around a bit and I've asked them to do some stuff that I don't think they've done but I'm so tired of trying so hard to keep everyone happy and productive. I'm also tired of having so many "must-do's" in my own mind all the time and feeling like I'm always running and never arriving.

Anyway, some days things seem great and I know I need to take the way I feel today with a grain of salt. It might just be the time of the month or the fact that my jeans are feeling too tight and it makes me feel grumpy to be reminded that I've been eating a bit too much lately and should change that. But I've definitely realized that I've kept up an un-sustainable pace for many years and that I crave more opportunities to really enjoy motherhood and less responsibilities related to running a website that helps other people enjoy motherhood. It's a fine balance. I love Power of Moms and know it really does help me be a better mom and person. But I've got to do a better job of compartmentalizing my life, planning what is most important to do, doing those things, and leaving a lot more margin in my life where real living can happen.

I loved this article on Power of Moms:

It helped me realize how simple motherhood can be. I need to simply be present sometimes. I don't have to have a big activity planned or be actively teaching the kids something wonderful. I just need to be there. I bet if I just go sit out there and read a book (the book the twins are reading and that they really want me to read with them - Mysterious Benedict Society - I do love reading but always feel like I've got too much to do to sit and read - but they say kids really need to see their parents' reading to be great readers themselves...) while the kids' jump on the tramoline, they'll want to show me some cool new tricks and I'll enjoy looking up from my book to watch. I bet if I ask my daughter if she wants to play duets together, she'll enjoy her practicing time and I'll get a chance to play the violin myself - something I do way too seldom. I bet if I go find Ashton and just sit by him, we'll end up talking about something interesting. I bet if I go tell Isaac he did a great job vacuuming out the car and ask him what he feels like doing this afternoon, we'll nave a nice talk (and we can bury the bad feelings that we had towards each other as he was being super grumpy about vacuuming out the car and I was feeling angry that he felt so put-upon to do this small job when I do so much...).

I realize I've been over-thinking and over-worrying. I need to think more about what needs to happen in the present moment and less about the things things on my to-do list that are looming large and feeling overwhelming. I've got to come to terms with the fact that I'm just not going to get a whole lot of new things done as far as Power of Moms stuff this summer. I'll keep up on basic things - but my ideas for new things and my hopes of doing the projects on the list will just have to wait. I need to be here - really be here - with these kids - for their sake, and for mine.

So there are my rambling thoughts for today... I'm off to hang out with my kids and follow their lead for a while.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Inspiration for the Week

I stumbled across this quote today and it put into words an important truth that I already knew in my heart - but that I don't really do much about.

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes that weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspirations; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming. 

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What power we have as mothers! For good and for ill. We determine the atmosphere in our homes to a great extent. And the more we focus on being that durably calm, kind, patient, loving and inspirting mother that we want to be, the more beautiful our home life can be. It's so hard to be in a good mood when we are tired and everyone wants something at the same time and there are worries in our minds. But we can set ourselves up for success as we prioritize our sleep and personal time, say "no" to things our heart tells us we should say no to, build in one-on-one time with our children, and fill our lives with beauty and peace in place of hurry and worry.

Monday, June 09, 2014

First Week of Summer Break - and Instagram Info

I'm realizing that Instagram is a great way to record our family's daily adventures this summer. I can do it right in the moment and I don't have to find a good-sized chunk of time to compose and upload pictures like I do with this blog. I'll still be posting here about once a week when I have something to record and share that goes beyond some fun pictures and thoughts. But if you'd like to keep up with the non-particularly-thought-provoking goings on of our family this summer, feel free to follow us on Instagram.

You can check out all my Instagram posts by clicking here anytime:
When you get to that page, click on any picture you want to know more about and the description will come up along with a larger photo.

Or you can follow me on Instagram - if you've got Instagram on your phone, just go into "Explore" (it's the icon that looks like a star or a compass or something like that) and click on the search icon at the top (looks like a magnifying glass) and type in "sarenloosli" then you can find me and follow me.

I've got lots of pictures there of our first action-packed week out of school. We got into our summer routines, did a major clean-out of kids' bedrooms as part of moving the twins into the same room together and the big boys into a shared room (for years, we've had Silas and Isaac in one room and Oliver and Ashton in another and everyone was ready for a change), helped out with a lot of random little and big ward needs, went on a beautiful hike, got all the kids' school projects stored in digital photos or tucked away in binders, went to a water park, researched, bought and built a beautiful new pergola plus a new outdoor table for the backyard (we love a good family project and these kids are really helpful these days!), and enjoyed a fabulous neighborhood party (plus had 1/2 the neighborhood in our backyard for a good part of almost every day - so grateful for wonderful neighbors).

Plus I had a chance to conduct a training for our Power of Moms trainers on Saturday and enjoyed a lovely few hours with some great ladies who'll be putting on some really meaningful trainings this year. And since I had to be in SLC first thing Saturday morning for that training and we were there Friday night for the water park, I stayed overnight with my mom and we had a great slumber party - talked and laughed until almost 2am. I sure love my mom.

And sure, there were some hard times and bumps as we adjusted to our new schedule and dealt with lots of unexpected stuff. Plus I'm way behind on Power of Moms work. But life is good.

Here's a glimpse of some of that from the collage Instagram made for me:

Go to to make the photos above clickable . . .


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