Yesterday I received a very kind gift from my dad and his wife called You Are Loved by Kyle Sydney Powell. The book is a treasure trove of photographs that the author took during a difficult time. To help during this time of her life, she…
Month: February 2017
Life without emotions?
“Can you imagine life without emotions?” An ad that I saw today on BYU Magazine (online) asked this question. “Emotions create texture and richness that illuminate our everyday lives and punctuate our mortal experience.”
The exhibit is at BYU in the Joseph F. Smith building and is called “Jesus Wept: Emotions in the Scriptures.” The ad explains that the exhibit teaches “about the wide range of emotions found in the scriptures, universal emotions across time and cultures, and emotional coping tools. Enjoy several interactive displays, too.”
I want to go! The exhibit runs through November of 2018.
Jesus wept, and sometimes we do, too. Holidays such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day–when there may be unmet expectations or disappointments–can stir up negative emotions. How do we handle those moments?
I’m grateful to know that we can draw upon the atonement of Christ, not only to ask for comfort when someone disappoints or hurts us, but also to forgive and to feel understood. So prayer has been one way that I have tried to learn to manage intense negative emotions. But I also have felt grateful knowing that Christ knows every pain I could feel. He wept. He weeps. He knows what we are feeling.
Learning to manage intense negative emotions
Learning to manage emotions–particularly intense negative emotions–can be challenging! I appreciated an article I read today by Peggy Worthen, wife of BYU President Kevin Worthen (who, interestingly enough, used to home teach my mom before she moved. My mom said he was a good home teacher. Kudos to a university president who takes time to visit a widow in his neighborhood with his companion every month.)
Mrs. Worthen’s touching article discussed the power of a “soft answer” in helping her to deal with strong emotions. I was particularly impressed by the story she told of a student in a class she took who handled an angry outburst with complete calm and patience. He told the other student who burst in upon him, “I am sorry that I have upset you. What can I do to make this right?”
Wow. I love that.
Deciding to ignite or squelch the fuse
I also love her closing paragraph, which I am finding more and more is key to practicing patience and speaking good instead of ill to a family member who may not have acted their best:
“In every situation—even those that are packed with high emotion—we all have our agency to choose how to act. Someone observed that “between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response” (unknown author quoted by Stephen R. Covey, Living the 7 Habits: Stories of Courage and Inspiration [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999], p. 21). In other words, there is always an instant in which we decide whether we will put out the fire or ignite the fuse.”
My husband has taught me a lot about self-control in dealing with strong emotions. If I am super stressed out or upset, he listens. He wants to understand and help me calm down. Calming down allows me to then be open to feeling the Spirit. He doesn’t yell at me. He may have been frustrated with me at times, but he doesn’t get angry in a way that is out of control. He doesn’t use angry words or actions. He has never called me an unkind name. He expresses love and encouragement. I have watched him exercise great patience and at times long-suffering as we have worked through disagreements. I have learned so much from him. I am so grateful for that example. Over the years, it has taught me more about how to respond calmly and with control in situations that were difficult emotionally.
I am still learning.
Jenny and the Mop
I remember another person whose example in one moment taught me about handling frustrating situations. Over 10 years ago we had a nanny named Jenny who helped our family while I healed from illness. There was a child who spilled something on the floor–was it after she had just mopped it?–and instead of getting mad at that child, she turned it into something funny. I don’t remember what she sang, but she made up a little song on the spot and did a little dance with the mop, as I recall. We all laughed! And we all loved her more in that moment for the way she handled that tense moment. I awed at how she turned a frown into a smile. I love Jenny so much for so many things she taught me while she was helping us, but I will always be grateful for that wonderful moment when she modeled how you can respond to a challenge with humor.
I have been doing some family history research on familysearch.org, simply to learn about my ancestors. Primarily I have been looking for the women of my family who left their homelands to come to America. So far, all I can say is I have HUGE…
Yesterday was Eliza’s Christmas Book Date with me and Lane. We had a wonderful day! (More about that later this week.) We headed first to RootsTech 2017. (We went to the free part called “Family Discovery Day.”) As soon as we arrived, we walked into…
February is naturally the time for a good romance book, right? This classic, Mrs. Mike, tells the story of “the Boston girl who married a rugged Canadian mountie” (cover). I read it as a young woman, I believe pulling it from the shelf of a woman for whom I babysat (which I did often after her adorable and rambunctious children were finally in bed).
I loved the story then, and I having re-read not too many years ago, loved it again. I set it out on the bookshelf when I was putting out other February books on display at our house. I did not expect my 11-year old to pick it up and read it! (NOTE: This romance is not simply a romance. It has a LOT of real-world content in it written somewhat like the scriptures–where some of it might go over an unintentional reader’s head. It also has quite a bit of language that trappers and gold rush men used. Still, I would not recommend this to an 11 year old.) She had it mostly read before I knew it.
But what do you expect from a child who read the first 200 pages of War and Peace for her book report last month? “Anything is exciting after reading that!” she reported to me this week. LOL.
Based on two real stories
What I didn’t know about Mrs. Mike until today was that it was written by a husband and wife who, in the 1940’s] met “the real Kathy Flannigan, [now] widowed. They were drawn to her story about the restorative power of love because they felt it mirrored their own.
“Mr. Freedman had met and fallen in love with his wife, then Nancy Mars, in 1939. A young actress, she was suffering a serious relapse of childhood rheumatic fever. When Mr. Freedman asked for her hand, her father, a doctor, tried to dissuade him: his daughter was expected to live only a few months more.
“He married her anyway, in 1941. They were married until Mrs. Freedman’s death in 2010” (Margalit Fox, “Benedict Freedman, Author of ‘Mrs. Mike’, dies at 92.” NY Times, 8 March 2012).
Mrs. Mike is such a charming tale of this 16 year old girl who heads by 30-day train ride to Alberta, and then by 2-day horse ride in a cutter with coon skin coats and buffalo robes on, to his ranch. She was the only other white woman in the area for miles around.
What is it like to be in love?
When she meets Mike Flannigan, a Canadian mountie, she is taken back by his good looks but does not appreciate his sense of humor. It makes an impression on her, and later she asks the only other young woman around,
” ‘How do you have to feel about someone, to marry him? I mean, do you think about him all the time and try to remember how he looks and what he’s said…?’ I stopped. Mildred was looking at me in a strange way.
” ‘Are you in love?’ she asked.
” I felt my cheeks getting hot. ‘Of course I’m not in love. Why, I don’t even know what it feels like. That’s why I asked you.’
” ‘Well, you gave a pretty good description of it.’ “
Plenty of adventure
Lest you think this book is all love and gush, it’s not. Plenty of adventure and depictions of the raw realities of living in the west. Hunting, death, injury, swearing (some), Indians. You get a story of a man who froze to death within the first 13 pages. There is a reason it’s a classic and sold millions of copies. It’s chock full of good storytelling, delightful characters, and adventure to keep you turning the pages.
Not in the mood to read?
Here’s a favorite movie of ours that Lane and I watched (again) last weekend.
But be ready with the Kleenex. This is where the good cry comes in.
Again, the story is based on the life of a real person, Beatrix Potter. The movie is named after her: Miss Potter.
You wouldn’t expect a story about the author and illustrator of one of the world’s most famous farm animals to be so compelling, but it is.
I don’t think I should say any more. Don’t want to spoil it!
The scenery is GORGEOUS, of course. I’ve been to the Lake District. Can’t wait to go back someday!
And the casting is so well done. Love the acting. I give this movie two thumbs up! 👍🏻👍🏻
After watching the movie, Lane and I had to take a trip down memory lane… (no pun intended…):
I started listening to this book today, the selection of another book club that I have only gotten to go to once before in the past year. But I love simplicity, I love Mother Teresa, and I love the people in this book club. So I decided that I would give it a listen. It is less than 3 hours long, so that’s only a couple of days of housework! I think I can do it.
I already heard a great quote that I texted to some of my children today:
Good stuff, Maynard. I’m excited to hear more.