≡ Menu

I continue to be impressed with how important it is that we share our stories with each other and am grateful for people who are willing to share their stories. I watched both of these videos today and felt like I should share them. I hope that Olivia’s story might be helpful to someone who is also battling perfectionism or simply just trying to figure out what they are feeling.

I know that when I was really sick, it was one of the hardest things I did to keep going to church–not because I didn’t know that God was real, because I did, but because I felt so much social anxiety, and because I felt like I could not feel the Spirit no matter how hard I tried. But I kept going, not because of compulsion, like Olivia felt, but because I love going to church, and because it has helped me so much before that point, and I believed the promises that had been made to me, that I would be healed. It was my act of faith in Christ. I am really grateful that I didn’t give up, I’m really grateful that God keeps His promises, and I am convinced that I rely day to day upon His beautiful grace.

I love this verse I just read after writing this post: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day” (Acts 26:22, Paul speaking to King Agrippa).


Dear Daisy (no.2)

The Memory of Light

Dear Daisy,

I just finished a book I was reading for some graduate credit I hope to earn this month. The timing is ironic: just after wondering how I could help a person to find words to describe what they are experiencing when they are feeling or thinking, I read this book!

Isn’t that just how life works sometimes?

Because I need to write a review of this book for my assignment, I decided to place sticky notes each time I read something I would have underlined if I owned the book (it was a library copy). You can see that I felt there were a LOT of parts that I understood, appreciated, or liked. There were many places in which the characters–young adults in a psychiatric ward of a hospital–both learn to express their feelings and help each other learn to express their feelings.

I remember not being able to put my words into feelings. Growing up with a dad who had anger management issues, I don’t recall expressing many contrary feelings. I was not only a private person, I also wanted to be a peacemaker. If there was anger happening, I wanted to help it stop and to have peace as soon as possible. I wasn’t confrontational.

I’ve heard that depression is anger turned inward. I think that could be true. I think it can also be holding on to fear or feeling powerless to change what you feel like you have no control over what is happening in your life. I have noticed over the years that when something is happening in my life that I don’t want to happen or can’t seem to make happen, I sometimes have crawled into the shell of depression and stayed there until I feel like I can (or have to) come out.

In my last letter, I talked about the first time I really felt depressed. While I had a very happy childhood, I also felt a great deal of sadness, such as when my dad left our family and my foundation felt pulled out from under my feet. But I’m not sure you have to have traumatic life events to be depressed. I think not having tools to communicate your feelings (or not know what to do with them) can equate to a big mess of feelings that are all jam-packed into a mental drawer. You just keep closed because you don’t want anyone to see the mess. It’s too embarrassing, it seems, to not be able to figure out your own problems, right? (I say “You” but I mean “me” and “I,” you know? 😉)

And if you open the drawer, who would you feel safe sharing your feelings with who wouldn’t judge you or correct you or tell you that’s not the way you are actually feeling?

The second time I recall being depressed was the summer after my junior year at college. I was home. I had just finished another challenging semester and done well, by the grace of God! (I did still have to finish reading the unabridged Les Misérables that my wonderfully kind French history professor allowed me an extension on. I was a very slow reader–especially in French.) I was home, 20 years old, preparing to serve a mission at the end of the summer.

It just got harder and harder to get up everyday. I don’t know what triggered it: lack of sleep from my semester? Health problems? Family problems? That familiar weight, that heaviness, like life is just too exhausting, started to catch up with me. The overwhelmingness of everyday interactions, the closeness of tears to the surface–all of this was so hard to deal with. Again, my mom and step-dad arranged for me to meet with a counselor. Again, I don’t recall going more than once, but this time, I do remember what she said. In fact, I kept the paper the counselor wrote her notes on for years. I just looked for it and still have it! (Now I can throw it away, since I’m sharing it.)

I messages You messages

What did my counselor say? What I remember about the “I” and “You” messages is that communicating with people is important when trying to sort out all the feelings that we have inside my our mind and heart.

I had a lot of feelings in my mind and heart that I hadn’t expressed and didn’t know how to express, all mixed up like a big bowl of spaghetti. She told me to see if I could “pull” one strand of spaghetti out at a time and put some words to the feelings I had. It seems that the “I and You messages” meant that when describing how I feel, I need to remember that how I feel is how I feel. It doesn’t mean that someone else feels that way. They may see a situation differently than I do. That is OK. My goal is simply to try to describe how I am feeling.

I feel...

She also tried to help me learn to communicate using this pattern: “I feel ______ (feeling word, such as “mad” or “happy,” but not “that…” or “like…”) because ______________ and what I need or want is ________________.”

I think communicating was hard in my families (with my mother remarrying once and my father remarrying twice, I had several)–especially with the personalities that were each a part of our equation. Reading “The Memory of Light,” I could relate to the main character Vicky, when she came home and was struggling to convey her real feelings to her dad and step-mom. That’s a real circumstance in probably most families, I imagine! It takes a lot of courage to say what you really feel or think! We all are trying to learn to communicate with each other in a way that doesn’t hurt and yet is honest and allows each person to say how they really feel. I’m still working on helping create that kind of environment in my own home!

I had priesthood blessings from my step-dad during that depressive episode that summer that brought me even more comfort and reassurance than that counseling session did. Both were gifts, though. It was enough to help me move forward and feel ready to go on my mission.

Heaven provided me with just enough help for that time. Just what I needed.

I hope you are getting any help you need.

Love, Liz

P.S. In terms of a book review of The Memory of Light, I loved it! That being said, here are my red flags:

  1. There are at least 10 instances of using the Lord’s name in vain or what some people define as “mild profanities” (damn, hell). (I don’t like any profanity, “mild” or otherwise.)
  2. There is violence, drug use, anger, sexual behavior (kissing between teenagers that wasn’t consensual), and other references that are definitely for an older audience. Because of the content about emotionally-charged topics, I would be considerate of who I gave this book to.
  3. In discussing the voice that the character Gabriel was hearing, I think it would important to mention that when any thought or voice tells you to do something hurtful, that is not from God. In the book, that is exactly what Vicky tries to do.

I would recommend this to book to my children and would want to discuss this book with them if they read it.


Dear Daisy (no.1)

Dear Daisy,

I have a confession to make: once upon a time I got married and had children. At one shower (Bridal? Baby?), I got a gift from a loved one: a book that I took one look at and threw away (after the shower!).

I still remember the title: I’m a Day Late and a Dollar Short…and It’s Okay!

What an irony, right? Since I give books for wedding and baby shower gifts? Haha! The joke’s on me!

My sincerest apologies to both the giver and to the author! (If either of you ever read this, please forgive me.) I just took one look at the drawing of the lady on the front and did not want to be like her. I had other plans. I was NOT going to be the lady in the bathrobe with curlers in her hair looking utterly frazzled. Nope. Not me.

What is that saying again? Life happens while you’re busy making other plans?

Well, when I started experiencing clinical depression shortly after starting our family, I did feel like my life was not going the direction I wanted. Sometimes over the years, I have indeed felt–at least inside–like the lady on the cover of that book.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I just wanted to start out, Daisy, saying that I hope you’ll give these letters more than a second’s glance. I hope you will read them. I know if you do, we will be closer because you will know me better. That’s what sharing does–builds a bridge between two people that we can cross and be better friends on. And someday, if you want, you can share your story with me.

I would love that.

OK, so on to my story. (Well, the beginning part.)

The first time I really remember dealing with mental illness was when I had an episode of depression my first year at college. That semester was overwhelming: I had enrolled in an Honors Colloquium (multi-disciplinary seminar) and was in over my head with a shelf full of reading that I couldn’t keep up with. That constant feeling of being overwhelmed may have had something to do with the depression I felt.

One morning, I woke up and felt like I couldn’t get out of bed. Literally. And I just felt like crying. I felt completely out of sorts, not myself. It kind of felt like an “out of body experience” because it was so foreign and hard. I am sure I prayed for help, because I always have, but I don’t specifically remember doing that. I do remember calling my mom and crying over the phone something like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” After talking with my mom and step-dad, I went to the counseling center at BYU and met with a counselor. I don’t recall going more than once. Maybe I did. And I don’t remember what the counselor said. But that was the beginning–an awakening that I was dealing with a new and foreign challenge: depression.

I don’t remember feeling the effects of depression again to the same degree until 3 years later when I was getting ready to go on my mission. And that’s a story for my next letter.

Me and my beautiful mom in my freshman dorm room.

It’s interesting to me, as I look back more than 31 years, that when I started on this journey, I was blessed to get some help–enough to keep going. Overall, my life was happy: I worked hard, did well in school, made friends, and grew in my other endeavors. I’m grateful for the support Heaven provided me and for the love my parents showed.

And that book I threw away? I ordered it today from Amazon.com. 😅

Love, Liz


Dear Daisy: My story in letters

Did you know that suicide is “a leading cause of death” in the United States, and that suicide rates are rising? (See https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/) Mental health is a topic of our day, and for good reason. We need to reduce negative stigmas through the sharing of our own experiences and helpful education efforts.

Last week, I taught a lesson to a group of adults and youth at church (not my own church congregation) on this topic. In preparation for my lesson, I spent several weeks studying about, listening to, discussing, and thinking about mental health. I also reviewed the past thirty+ years of my personal experience with mental health. I felt a growing desire to share my story with a dear friend of mine, and I thought perhaps the best way I could do that would be in letters.

And so this is the beginning of “Dear Daisy” posts, which will be my thoughts, musings, impressions and experiences with mental health and related topics. I am NOT a mental health professional. These letters aren’t meant to replace any medical professional advice given to the reader. They are simply an expression of my love. I hope that these letters will be a blessing to someone, somewhere, so that they might know they are not alone.


Go far together

AF Canyon Run for Cancer starting area

2:30 am came fast yesterday morning. I was hoping I’d make it until 3 am, since I needed to wake up at 3:15, but I didn’t. So I listened to Alma as I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep…which didn’t work but spoke peace to my mind.

I think an early rise was inevitable. Once I committed (again) Friday to running the half marathon, the possibility of actually being able to run it made me so excited. I could feel that nervous energy begin to grow within me, the adrenaline kicking in. I was excited and terrified!

Maybe I should rewind a little. Last year, Sarah, Rebecca, Eliza and I all ran in the American Fork Canyon Run Against Cancer together. We loved it! We loved the cause. We loved the feeling of it. We loved running next to survivors, current cancer warriors, and loved ones of those who had passed away from it. We loved knowing we could help the fight just by being a part. We decided we would run again.

Little did I know that my dad would pass away from brain cancer before the next AFCRAC.

In the fall, I started with my focus on swimming. I have really come to enjoy lap swimming even though I still struggle to get my breathing to a place where it feels easy. Someday! I had a hard time with sleep and our swim schedule, so I didn’t get in as much swimming as I had hoped. I only ran periodically–hardly ever!

Then January came and my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer. We also had Julia returning from her mission and Rebecca leaving. I had the flu that lasted for a couple weeks and really wiped me out for what felt like a month after that. I also got sick with a virus that left me feeling nearly unable to exercise for almost a month right when my dad passed and had his funeral. Lane’s dad also not doing well! Between trips to visit my dad, illness, our missionary prep, and what felt like an inability to catch back up to my normal energy and stamina levels, I got very discouraged about exercise. Add to that some extra waves of depression and anxiety, I really struggled to keep up a consistent schedule of rigorous workouts, let alone stick to a training schedule.

I was really excited when we decided in January (before this all began) to do the half marathon at the AFRAC, considering I would get my groove back from the fall once I got over the flu.

But life happens!

I was encouraged when I was able to get into some training for the race (after getting back from Europe from picking up Julia from her mission), but as the weeks passed, my energy levels started to drop. And depression and anxiety levels rose.

Considering that I had only run about 18 miles first 2 1/2 weeks of June, I felt utterly unprepared. I’d been off my training schedule for over a month! I started having little panic attacks when I be in my first mile of a run. One run broke the camel’s back for me. I only ran 1.22 miles at a 12:35/mi pace, and I just turned around, went home. I was crying on my run and cried when I got home. I decided that I was just going to forget my goal and focus on doing what would make for peace and calm in my heart and not generate so much anxiety. I told Lane and our daughters about my decision, and they were completely loving, understanding, and supportive.

As the race approached, I simply decided that I would run the 5K or the 10K. I went to the temple yesterday morning and then was going to head to the race site to pick up our race packets. I left the temple remembering something I had been told in a blessing that Lane had given me in the recent weeks. It made me wonder about which race to run.

When I was picking up the packets, I asked if I could change races. I had emailed the race headquarters back around June 8 to ask about it but hadn’t seen a reply. The woman who checked on it said I could, but they were sold out of both races and wouldn’t be able to give me a medal for the one I chose.

I had a few minutes to consider which race I wanted to run. I wanted to run the half marathon. I wanted to run with my daughers. Would I be able to finish based on the little training I had done? I left the packet pickup with the thought that I had from the temple and a desire to go for it, even if it wasn’t pretty.

I went to eat lunch with a friend and told her my plans. She thought for sure I could do it, and since this friend is a runner and has been such a great cheerleader from the start of my last few years of exercise goals/race endeavors, I took that for something.

Then I told Lane, and he said he was sure I could do it.

I told Sarah, Julia, and Eliza, who all said to go for it.

Lane and I went out to eat, and I ordered pasta. I mean, classic carbo load, right? Twisted breadstick (YUM), whole wheat linguini, marinara sauce.

And three small chocolate chip cookies when we got home from our date (Jenny’s recipe, of course, made by Sarah, of course!)

Right before we were going to sleep, I started to feel fearful about my decision. Was I crazy? Was this even wise? Was I going to come out with an injury? I asked Lane for a priesthood blessing after I knelt down to pray about it.

The blessing was very reassuring. Afterwards, I felt certain that God would support me in my efforts and that things would turn out in such a way that I would feel very happy. I just needed to listen for His help as I ran.

So that four hours of sleep from 10:30 pm-2:30 am went fast! I got up around 3:20 am, and we all climbed into the car. We listened to three great songs to get ourselves pumped up: “Extraordinary Magic” (Ben Rector); “Don’t Miss the Bus” (Tom Chapin)–we were trying to get on the 4:15 am bus so we could get entered into the raffle; and “Life is a Highway” (Rascal Flatts). We got parked by 4:08 am, and then discovered we had to walk to the bus, which took longer than 4:15 am. Oh well!

Our dark drive up the canyon included the smell of freshly sprayed skunk, and I hoped no runner would get a replay on that!

Climbing out into the parking lot at the top of canyon, even in the dark we could see how beautiful our mountain vista beginning spot was. It was so cold, and we followed suit with the rest of the runners, putting the foil emergency blankets on. I had brought a down coat and was swearing sweats over my running leggings, had a hat and gloves, so I was pretty warm. We listened to the MC and joined in the pre-race yoga stretching. I liked that! And then it was time to put our stuff into our bags: jackets, water bottles, sweats, and put our bags into the trailer before the starting gun fired off. Eliza and Julia took off in a wave ahead of me and Sarah, who started back with the 2:30 (as in 2 hours and 30 minutes goal time) wave.

It was a gorgeous run down the canyon, with the sun just beginning to rise a few minutes before our race began. It was the perfect temperature for a run, and I didn’t take my gloves off for a couple of miles. I didn’t toss them (they were the $1 kind) until mile 6, I think. I had worn a lightweight running shirt on top of my running jersey, and soon it was too warm for that. Sarah stuck it into the back of my running vest. We ran in tandem, side by side, for the first 6 miles. Then I felt like I should push ahead a little, taking advantage of the downhill momentum, so that I could use the bathroom and not lose too much time. We both got ahead of the next pacer (2:20) before stopping after mile 9 (I think) to use the porta potties. Then we headed into the flatter portion of the run, and things started feeling a little harder for me: not bad, just more effort than a downhill run!

AF Canyon Run for Cancer race path

I felt super blessed that I didn’t start really feeling like it was really getting harder until mile 11. I knew I just needed to go one more mile and then pick up the pace a little until the last half mile sprint.

I had to walk here and there when we had little uphill rises in our race path, because I didn’t want my heart rate to get ahead of me. I knew from my triathlon last summer, that if I could keep my heart rate steady enough, I would be able to sprint at the end.

And I did!

AF Canyon Run for Cancer finishers

I can’t even describe how triumphant I felt sprinting through the finish line!

The last maybe 50 yards were the hardest, but Lane, Peter, Eliza, Julia, and Anna were all there on the sidelines cheering me on! Sarah had crossed in the minute before me–I told her after mile 11 to just go at whatever pace she wanted. I really wanted to cross with her since we did in our first half marathon two years ago, but she had also trained better than I, and I wanted her to be able to finish however she wanted. So I felt blessed just to be able to run so close to her at the end!

And she was right there to embrace me again, just like last year’s triathlon. It was AWESOME!

Words don’t really describe the elation I felt–not only having had such heavenly support and being able to run so comfortably and smoothly, but to have Eliza and Julia run so well, and to have been able to run right there the whole time so joyfully with Sarah! I can’t describe it!

I learned from that race that God really cares about our goals. It meant something to Him to help me. He filled in all the gaps when I had truly given my best and my best just wasn’t even close to enough. Talk about grace!

When we got home, I read the rest of an article I had started the night before in the June 2019 Ensign magazine, called “Go Together.” Neill F. Marriott, the author, finishes her article with a quote from an African mural in Johannesburg: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This race day experience really helped me feel the joy of doing something hand in hand with family and the Lord’s help. I couldn’t have done it otherwise, literally. If my family and friends had discouraged me or not believed in me, I wouldn’t have run it. If I hadn’t known that God would help me in my race, I wouldn’t have run it. I wouldn’t have believe I could do it. But they were all supportive and helped me.

What a gift!

Go far together.



I took calligraphy at BYU one semester, which I loved. This quote was one of my projects. I have always loved this thought. I’m going to need to remember this tomorrow!


Awaken the Possibility in Others

I really liked this today.

To read more posts about children and music, go here.


Silent Souls Weeping

“Depression thrives in secrecy but shrinks in empathy.” (Seth, as quoted in Silent Souls Weeping)

I finished listening to Jane Clayson Johnson’s Silent Souls Weeping: Depression–Sharing stories, Finding Hope. I LOVED IT. At first, it felt a little heavy, since I could relate to it so much, and I was looking for lighter reading. It wasn’t light reading! But as I went along, I felt comforted hearing other people’s stories. I especially was interested to read those of some people I really admired!

I actually didn’t finish reading the book after starting it, because I felt (hopefully!) inspired to give it away. Then last week when I was asked to speak to a group of adults in a church congregation about depression, the memory of this book came to my mind, and I remembered that I owned an audio version of it. I started listening right away! I really loved the audio version read by the author, who has suffered from clinical depression.

I think one of the most important messages from this book is how important it is that we share our stories. We need to know that we are not alone, and by sharing our stories, we can give hope to others who feel like they are struggling in darkness, feeling too weak to reach out or too embarrassed. We empower others when we ask for help or admit that we struggle with mental illness, just as anyone who is physically ill and needs help can only used get it if they ask for help.

I was visiting with a friend this week and mentioned how I have struggled with anxiety at times. She looked so surprised and mentioned how she had similarly struggled. We are both cheerful people, and I recognized how easy it is to assume that people who look happy on the outside are possibly fighting a real inner battle to be cheerful in that moment or to have showed up at a church meeting or social event.

I’m excited to be preparing to discuss depression and anxiety with this church group. I am eager to learn more, to hear other people’s stories, to gather stories from those I know and love already who suffer from mental illness. Together, we are stronger and can float back up to the top like corks as we strengthen and comfort one another.

Have you read this book? What was your favorite quote? Which story helped you? Do you have a story that you feel could help someone else?

Note: This book is part of our Raising Amazing Children Friendship Library Project. To learn more about this project, click here.


Who loves you?

Last Sunday (26 May 2019), a young woman who was about to graduate from high school addressed our church congregation. Her talk was so beautiful and wise, I asked her permission to share it with you. I think it illustrates how such small and simple questions that we ask our children and principles that we teach them can have a very big impact in their lives for years to come.

My name is Hailey, and I am a graduating senior this year. It’s hard to choose just one thing that I have learned throughout these 18 years, but one thing that I believe is important is something I want to talk about today: Who loves you? A possible simple question that I hope everyone here can have multiple answers to. But who truly loves you? Who loves you with an infinite and perfect love?

When I was young, I can remember fighting with a sibling (it was probably Natalie) and me crying and ending up in my dad’s lap. He would then hug me and say, “Who loves you?” Being young, my response was of course, “You love me, Dad.” There was no question or doubt ever in my mind that would make me question if my parents loved me. The question “Who loves you?” was the most asked question in my home and probably still is. I learned at a young age that my parents loved me. Every day I was told I was loved and especially when life was really hard.

It was a little bit later in life when I came to truly understand and comprehend the love that my Heavenly Father has for me and the love my Savior Jesus Christ has for me. It happened gradually and I can’t tell you an exact day or time when I came to know that, but I know that today.

I want to share an experience with you that helped me come to know of this love. A lot of you know, but for those who don’t, I have had the opportunity to play soccer since I was little. As I got older, I joined a club soccer team and loved playing with them. Each year we had tryouts, and it was something that came and went without a second thought until the end of my sophomore year of high school.

Normally, you get a call from the coach congratulating you on making the team and offering you a spot. But that phone call didn’t go quite how I was expecting. My coach called me and offered me the 19th spot on an 18 spot roster–which meant I would practice and travel with the team but not play in any of the games. I hung up with that coach and cried. I didn’t know what else to do. This sport that I loved felt like it was being ripped from my fingers. It wouldn’t be the same as the eight years before with this team. I was frustrated and sad, and I didn’t understand. I asked my Heavenly Father, “Why now?” Why was this thing I loved to do and my Heavenly Father knew I loved being taken from me? I didn’t see the eternal perspective. But in the moment, I had a decision to make. Neither was wrong but which one was more right? I sat down with my dad a few days later, and I told him my fear of the answer that I had received. I felt like I should stop playing on this club team. But it scared me so much. I didn’t want to be done, yet that was the answer I was receiving.

I decided to not continue playing with that team. Looking back on that experience, I can see why my Heavenly Father needed me to stop playing club soccer. I still got to play soccer with the high school team, but it opened new opportunities for me. I got to serve in church callings and fulfill my callings more than I could have if I were still playing club. I also started taking piano lessons again and have found a love of playing the piano again. This is just one experience that I have had that has shown the love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has for me.  

President Ballard said, “Brothers and sisters, do the best you can do day after day, and before you know it, you will come to realize that your Heavenly Father knows you and that He loves you. And when you know that—really know it—your life will have real purpose and meaning and you will be filled with joy and peace” (“The True, Pure, and Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ,” April 2019 general conference).

I found a purpose after I made the decision to stop playing club soccer. I tried my best to be who Heavenly Father needed me to be. As I mentioned before, I was able to participate in church callings I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. I was able to understand on a deeper level the love I felt.  

I have come to know that my earthly father and mother love me with an unconditional love, and I am grateful for all of their support in everything I do. I also know that my Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ truly love me. They can see the whole picture while I am sometimes just looking at a piece. And because of this love, Christ suffered for my sins and my mistakes in the Garden of Gethsemane. He died on the cross in Calvary and that is why He lives today. I hope that each of you come to truly know who loves you. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.


Grandma Livingston’s Lemon Bars

Grandma’s lemon bars are legendary, especially when made with Meyer lemons (which she used to mail to us freshly picked from her tree!). Lane made some for us tonight after calling his mom for the recipe. We used to make these a lot but haven’t for a while. Hers is the BEST recipe around!

Click here for the printable recipe of the recipe image below.