Say what you mean and mean what you say, or maybe just keep your mouth and keyboard shut. That is what I have learned this week. The meaning of words can often More »
In 2016, I went missing in action when I deserted my Monday school blogposts.
This was not only due to PTSD (post-polygamy traumatic stress disorder), I was trying to find employment, and transition into the workforce.
The past year has been both interesting and insightfully challenging.
As my daughter recently wrote: “It is a wonderful time to reflect on all of our individual and shared accomplishments from 2016 . . .”
After graduating from college, I tried several jobs trying to figure out how to make a sustainable living. For a while, I was a delivery-person, Uber driver for a short period, tried being a service-provider to elderly, and then decided it would be best to create a band and sing at retirement homes. I recruited family members to help. I never imagined, for a moment, that elderly folks with hearing aids could detect I was tone-deaf. I had no clue that I was not on pitch, until my daughter told me. That venture only lasted one night.
By some strange fate or coincidence, at the beginning of last year, I was hired as a behavior interventionist working with autistic children. Something I never imagined doing.
The results: I absolutely love my job. I work with individuals who have difficulty verbally communicating learn to communicate. In many ways, this experience has been a life-changer for me.
To work with autistic children, I had to learn ABA (applied behavior analysis). Although it was relatively easy to learn, so many changes were occurring during the same period. The first month I got shingles, most likely due from the stress. It was tough.
I continued to work, and never gave up.
Most days I suffer from anxiety, and I don’t know if I can physically go to work or not, but I do. I never allow the tricks, dark force, temptation, negative energy, or what a behaviorist calls an “aversion” to control me. Every work day, (yep, every one), I experience dread or a foreboding sensation in my gut, my heart races, and if I know my supervisors are going to be there watching me, I often hyper-ventilate before leaving my home.
Logically, I know if I do not work, I will lose. So, I simply put on my shoes, whether they match or not, and walk out the door. When I get to work, I love it and wonder why I was ever anxious in the first place. I wonder why I dislike my bosses watching me when I am happy to see them and receive their support. (It is the strangest phenomenon, and it could be related to knowing how much energy it takes to do my job right).
I don’t know why I brought all this up, except to explain that not only have I been busy making changes in my life—a change has occurred in me. Not only have I touched the lives of others, and have truly participated in communication miracles, my clients and ABA have given me the gift of communication.
We are all unique
Nearly twenty years ago, after leaving polygamy, I was told by a psychologist for vocational rehab that I was intelligent enough to go to a University. But, in the back of my mind, after leaving his office, I kept wondering if I was so intelligent then why did he help me put the puzzles together that tested my intelligence level.
After polygamy, I tried several times to go back to school, yet my path was never linear; it was a squiggly ride. It took many more years than I anticipated before getting a degree in sociology and finding a career path.
There were times when taking cognitive psychology, I wondered why a class of over 200 students would see an image or concept one way, while I saw it the opposite way. After talking to one professor, the only consolation I received was that my experiences validated the exact point she was trying to make — most often our brain and the way we process information is similar—again, most often. All brains are unique. No two are the same.
Our individual path
I am so grateful for the path that has been provided, the one I have helped create, so that I can share some recent experiences, and my wild (and brilliant) mind. I believe in the gift of being healed because I am continually healing.
I was recently explaining to a loved one that my future writings might make some people uncomfortable, especially Mormons. But, nobody is forced to read them. My purpose is not to change or hurt people; it is to support people who believe differently.
I write for myself (the same way I sing to myself), and I post them because I know it helps validate others.
January 21, 2017 at the Sacramento Capitol in California (source unknown)
I received a random Skype message on Martin Luther King Day from an old Facebook group (friends of a friend).
The female voice was robotic-sounding, and full of surprises: “. . . God has seen you struggling with some things and God says it’s over. A blessing is coming your way. . ..”
“I love blessings wherever they come from!” I thought to myself.
But there was a string-attached. If I wanted the blessing, I had to send the message out to fourteen friends who would not consider it a joke.
That would be tough.
The angel (who described herself as a “strawberry smile angel with a strawberry”) said it was not a joke. Yet, all I could think about was the angel’s description and a half-dozen perfume-smelling little dolls I once owned as a child. I don’t know the connection; none of the little dolls were angels or smelled of strawberry fragrance. But there was a reddish one I liked best, and she could have been an angel. The thought of strawberry angel, a little invisible genie-in-a-bottle doll, was funny.
The voice also told me that if I got five replies that meant someone would “quietly surprise me.”
“I like quiet surprises!” — sometimes, I thought.
The weird message got uncomfortable when it mentioned being “tested” (ultimatums, again) and the promise that God would soon be “fixing two big things” if I followed the message.
Since I don’t do well on tests, I started for bed.
But, there was redemption.
The last part of the message said that if I believed in God, and dropped everything to pass it on (no minimum requirement), then I would receive a promise: “TOMORROW WILL BE THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.”
I didn’t pass it along. Instead, I quickly removed myself from the group in order not to hear more pings, and then went to sleep.
Today I am sick; a flu bug that I must have caught from my daughter. No unconditional love from a messenger when I need it the most. That’s okay, gifts generally don’t happen that way.
I believe in the blessing of reaping what I sow. (The learning-from-our-mistakes blessing). I could have done more to protect myself from getting sick.
What this little experience has taught me most, in a roundabout way, is NOW is the TIME for action. Time to grow up. Time to stop pretending that not planning and easy approaches work. For some people, who don’t have obligations, like I have, the more cavalier lifestyle works.
For me, because I have what some might describe as “a lot of baggage” (a past) and the rug is literally being pulled from beneath me, I must be strong(er).
Time to Take Charge
This new year, I want to keep my priorities straight, let go of the excess, and manage myself better. I want to be just as faithful to myself and true principles, as I was to my former religion, and following a husband. Instead of religion or a man leading me, I want to lead and manage my own life.
(Many women are happy following their husband–I spend time with happy well-taken care of monogamist wives everyday. This last weekend I went to a beautiful Lutheran wedding last where the man was made the “head of the woman” as “Christ is to his church.” I don’t doubt that many men are good husband-leaders. I also don’t doubt that many religions help people).
Due to who I am, my different and yet valid experiences, I doubt I will ever get married or baptized into a church again. My PTSD would not allow me to go to church or get married, if I wanted.
Since the days ahead look dark for this nation, especially for the working poor, and anyone who can’t find a hole to live in, I want to control what I can. (It gives me at least the illusion that there is hope). I want to exemplify “hope” not “defeat”.
And, if we REALLY are living in “the last days” and I am to care for my family, let’s hope I do not have to take hold of a man with seven wives. I would never pass the reference check.
I am more powerful than a strawberry angel
I have been constructing a personal action plan that I believe has the power to help me take more control of my life. This will be more than an experiment, it is a life-style change. (Actually, at this stage, it is an experiment).
I am quite certain none of this makes sense, it hardly makes sense to me. However, it goes back to my earlier post about how our brains are wired differently. For example, for the last week or two, my daughter and I have been trying to work together learning a song from the play “Hamilton”. I have never seen her get so angry; she takes it personally, as if I am being sacrilegious. During her frustration, and scolding me to “practice it the right way,” alone in my bedroom without distractions, I acquiesce. I try singing in my bedroom, in the car, everywhere I go. I even bribe her with money to help. I tell her a story about a bus, and the importance when working together of “getting on and off the bus together.” I keep reminding her “Don’t get off the bus! We are not done. We are can do it!”
Then, after hours of listening to the music, and me trying to sing my part, she tells me I have absolutely no timing (I have already been told I am tone-deaf), and clearly cannot be helped. In a last effort, she tells me to look at the sheet music. I sit down and it only takes moments to hear what is seen on the paper. Whereas, she has learned to play the song by ear, I can only read it.
I am hoping what I see in my head can be transformed into writing. I believe this personal action plan is necessary for who I am, and will increase faith in myself (give me self-confidence), and make me stronger.
But, first there are a few blog posts, I must write.
The title “Angel for Sale or Rent” is a takeoff from the song “King of the Road” – a reminder that living with less is more. This hobo faith cannot be learned from church, or a book. It cannot be taught anywhere, but it can be learned.
Life is too short not to appreciate it, and take advantage of our precious time here.
It’s been awhile since I last wrote a blogpost. A few days ago, I mentioned on Facebook that I might be writing a blogpost for “Vickie’s Grin,” but nothing came to mind. Before going to bed last night, I decided no blogpost. My motto is: If it is not here (inside me), it is not there. I cannot manufacture something from nothing.
Right now, the only person I can possibly help is myself, and family. (And, often I am reminded that I can’t even do that). That is not entirely true — for the last year I have been working with autistic children, giving with love. After work, I am exhausted.
Today the alarm went off at 6:00, and I wanted to sleep more (is there a saying “mind over mattress”?) — just a few more minutes — wrapped up inside my nice warm flannel sheets — please.
I decided to get up anyways. That’s when I decided to write a blogpost. Individuals with anxiety do so much better when they live in the moment. However, that is not how life works when there are bills to pay, appointments to keep, tummies to be fed, and a car that needs an oil change.
Discipline versus Self-discipline
Many years ago when I worked in child-care at a county facility, I read in a parenting magazine that the purpose of disciplining children (setting boundaries and expecting obedience) is to create self-discipline. I liked that notion, and always remembered it.
However, as I have learned more, my ideas about changing behavior have changed.
I read a book a few years ago (that I would recommend to any parent of an adolescent daughter) entitled Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher. The author states that “low in control and high in acceptance (indulgent parents) have teenagers with high impulsivity, low responsibility and low-independence.”
However, in Reviving Ophelia, there was the other extreme of a highly controlled environment. Lucy, a teenager in the book said, ” All I think is what I am supposed to.”
I am uncomfortable with both of these extremes — permissive or authoritarian.
I spent most of my life disciplined by religion, coaches, teachers, a husband, or some other male authority figure where I became co-dependent and never learned how to to govern myself. After leaving religion, and raising my children on my own, I realized how undisciplined I really was. I was left to my own devices/learning to lead my own life. Generally, I was a good follower but not a good leader.
Nobody followed my rules, or took me seriously — not my children, myself, or even our dog.
Somewhere down the line, after meeting my boyfriend, I decided to live and enjoy life instead of going through the motions. I was tired of working full-time and going to school full-time. Then, cancer set in (I have been cancer-fee since 2011). Again, in many ways, I took a co-dependent role in my relationship.
In many ways, the last few years since leaving Utah have been a wonderful journey of self-discovery. I am learning to feel, laugh, love myself, and not “sweat the small stuff”. It’s been a learning curve.
I have also picked up (more) bad habits along the way. My children, who are full of love, have been more than patient. So, when my adult daughter wanted to get together last week to go over goals, I decided “Oh-kay.”
I am looking forward to more sessions with my daughters; maybe my sons.
Soon, after the holidays, I will be operationalizing my goals, and writing about my journey. The purpose of writing goals down are to reinforce the intended behavior. I am excited.
Lately, I have been busy studying for a test that I need to take for my career (another goal), so I have made miniature study cards. I put my cards in a water-proof wallet that my sister made for me — so very cute. Somehow the little sloth on the material is fitting. (Smiley emoticon).
As far as my blog, I am uncertain. I always seem to find my way back home to my writing spot.
Last blog post, which was posted on February 8th, I excused myself for having a “Monday Meltdown”. Something occurred that left me unable to write, and I was like a deer caught in headlights. No longer able to fight and no longer able to run, my words came out in mish-mash sentences. Other times I was hitting the delete button.
So, here I am, no matter what time it is on Monday, I am breaking a
10 several week non-post fast and writing for my Monday School. (Actually, this blog post was first published into cyberspace on April 19th 12:01 AM Tuesday, yet I never posted it on Vickie’s Grin Facebook because it wasn’t quite finished. It still isn’t.)
Similar to all my blog posts, I reserve the right to add content and make changes, as I see fit. This is a work in progress — not a work “engraved in stone.” I will add more detail later and post these updates onto my FB page.
Have you noticed that Monday School Blog is starting to resemble something more like a pilot program? I have.
In the world of Mormonism, if I was a Sunday School teacher, I would have been released from my calling for not being prepared and coming to class. In the business world, I would have been fired by my boss for not showing up. In my world of healing from Mormonism and polygamy, I am learning to take it easy and forgive myself.
For several weeks. I thought about simply telling my story in one-line sentences on pieces of paper, like others do in social media who believe they have been wronged. That way I would be done with it.
After re-thinking, Mormonism and polygamy deserve an entire website of their very own. Polygamy is not only a Utah problem, the majority of the world practices polygamy.
A very good case can be made against polygamy. And, what better time to write (this will be a learning experience for me, as well) when Kody Brown & plural wives have just announced that they are taking their polygamy case to the Supreme Court.
The only exception: No Monday School blog days will occur whenever my health, or the health of a family member, needs attention. (That could mean physical or mental health). It could also mean that I am on vacation, and doing preventative care.
Now what led up to “Monday Meltdown” and why did I disappear from my calling as Monday School teacher?
(to be continued . . .)
No lesson this week.
It’s been a rough week. It started out like this—“It’s nearly midnight and I am too angry to sleep. I even cried today, which I rarely cry, especially in a public place. I told my boyfriend, ‘I haven’t been so angry since I left Utah,’ and then I cried more.”
Women are often stigmatized for getting emotional. I am finally learning to embrace everything about myself—yes, swear words, and all.
It’s easy for me to get angry and slip into a depression because I tend to keep my emotions, and what I am really thinking, inside.
Last week my daughter, who does comedy, called me up and said, “A man in a suit came up to me after my performance last night, and asked if he could make a suggestion. I told him ‘of course’ thinking that maybe he was a producer, or the microphone needed readjusting. His advice was ‘You know you really don’t need to mention ‘Utah’ in your joke.’”
“Utah was the punchline,” she said. “Without the punchline the joke would have gone nowhere.”
F-you! All the men who have tried to control me, and my daughters.
We live in California, and I have no idea if this man was a Mormon, or not. Or, if he is from Utah. His comment clearly came at the wrong time; due to earlier readings and conversations in the week, my emotions were triggered.
In order for me to stay true to myself, and these blogposts, I have decided to start with a social problem that is important to me as a woman– gender inequality. I believe one tactic men use to control women is religion, and I believe this is occurring more in Utah than any other state in our nation.
I once believed that “anger” was evil, and a “natural enemy” to god —many women from the FLDS polygamous group have been told to “keep sweet” by their religious leaders. I was told by my husband to never voice my opinion, if it was contrary to his, unless he asked. Now I realize that anger is an emotion that is often caused by frustration—it helps protect us, kicks us in the butt, and motivates us to make changes in our life (if we don’t do anything about our situation, it can lead to anxiety and depression).
If there was a God would he care more about anger and using profanity, or allowing human rights to be violated?
After a dozen attempts at trying to suppress my emotions, I could not prepare for Monday School lesson. I was too angry. Later in the morning, I went to my Facebook page to look at my posts, thinking that maybe if I read my personal Facebook page, and revisited some of the inspirational quotes, I would be more likely to follow my own advice.
It took awhile.
Eventually, after reading a quote from Hermann Hesse, and turning it around a bit, I was reminded that my anger is part of me. In order to find that stillness, that sanctuary that we all deserve, it means accepting ourselves.
I have been able to let go of the recent anger (and I am certain it will come back again, and then I will let it go…).
As soon as I get home, I will try to write again.
Hopefully, I will be more prepared for next week.
Welcome to Monday School! This is where you don’t have to dress up or get out of bed.
Besides being a self-ordained female teacher and believing that females can also lead, there are several other reasons I encourage Monday school.
My lessons will provide:
1) Reasons why you should never put your trust in a Sunday school lesson or any religion that purports to have all the answers—or anyone who says they have all the answers 2) Emphasis on the here and now with earthly rewards and 3) Free-thought.
If there is a heaven, I would like a GPS navigating me. There are too many religions that believe they have the “true” “one and only” “perfect” map to heaven. I refuse to put my life on hold while I study every religion and set of scriptures out there. Have you ever had a library of the Journal of Discourses? Read the entire Bible, Torah, Quran? These scriptures are about men, men, men. Where are the women?
If I had not grown up in a Mormon family, I could have been a Catholic, Baptist, Jehovah Witness, Scientologist, Christian, Islamic, or a member of any number of religions. I could have spent my life worshipping a false God and bickering with other people because I thought my religion was best. Or, I could have remained silent and smug.
Although religion is not for me—it is for some people. The truth is I get anxious making certain I get to work on time, let alone trying to get to heaven on time or navigating the right path to get there.
As I go through life, I choose and pick teachings from various sources that work for me (last week I picked Weight Watchers). Much of my ethics and lifestyle comes from my Mormon background, and much of my wisdom comes from experience. Mistakes and all.
I remember as a kid in Sunday school learning the importance of scriptures, and how following the word of God was supposed to guide me to heaven.
My Sunday school teacher compared the scriptures and modern day teachings to a roadmap and signs, and asked her class, “Can you imagine what would happen if we didn’t have a map or use stop lights?”
All I could imagine was an intersection of colliding cars. I never considered that the stop signs and lights (hateful scriptures I was reading about minorities—including the subjugation of women) were old, and needed replacing. I never considered that each driver was unique, and may have wanted to use a different route.
As a child, I never contemplated that individuals choose different places to visit and live, and it was perfectly okay to be different.
In early morning family scripture reading, I also remember reading about another journey using the Liahona. This story in the “Book of Mormon” was about Lehi’s family who traveled through the wilderness together with brass plates (important history), so they could reach the Promised Land. The Liahona was a compass given to Lehi from God, which if faithful and obedient guided his family. Some of the family members, the brothers Laman and Lemuel, often acted out and were disobedient. In this particular story, at least the part I remember, one bad apple or unfaithful family member spoiled the rest. There were treacherous times at sea because when the brothers were rebellious the waters became thrashing waves, nearly drowning the family. After being humbled and repenting, the sea became calm. (Finally man was separated by skin color).
As a young child, the compass story helped reinforce family togetherness, and the importance of God’s chosen sticking together. At a tender age, I never considered that scripture stories could be made-up stories to produce a certain controlled behavior. I never realized that someday many Mormons, including myself, would walk the plank for asking questions, and not sharing the same testimony.
I can understand—sometimes paths are not the same. Sometimes forks are in the road, but the path you chose is the right path no matter how hard or difficult. (I will write about free-agency later). Regardless, we can still be kind and loving.
The straight and narrow path leading to the tree of life was another map story in the Book of Mormon. As a child, I believed there was only one way to get to heaven. I never thought about how my religious leaders, who were telling me how to get to heaven, had never been there themselves. (Btw: Who hires a tour guide who hasn’t ever been to the spot they advertise?)
I had always trusted the person leading me. I never considered that the map my teachers were using, the scriptures, were older than a scene from the “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. I never considered that my religious leaders, who were supposed to be an updated version of a map, were really caught between two worlds—the old and the new. Plus, they were men holding onto the same archaic ideologies they had been taught.
Though the world is filled with people committing horrific human rights violations—I believe we are not going backwards. I believe we are continually evolving.
This week I watched this You Tube video from a father who composed a song for his daughters. I love this because it represents moving forwards—not only do we have technology to create music videos for the world to see, which can support cultural diversity and send positive messages to our children, it represents the power we each have to make a difference in this world.
Mormon Sunday school taught a message of loving your neighbor as yourself, yet the people we really need to love are often the non-neighbor – “those over there” (poor, homeless, needy, people that are different, etc..).
There are many contradictions in life.
Last week I started Weight Watchers and I am not a fan of Oprah Winfrey. In fact, I believe she has been very irresponsible when it involves educating the public about polygamy. No biggie— I will still go to my WW meetings, and look at the Oprah poster on the wall. (Self-talk) I will separate my personal biases because I don’t have to believe or love everything about Oprah to go to Weight Watchers. I know the program works.
Likewise, although I am not a Christian, many individuals and families find inspiration from attending church. I went to church a couple weeks ago to listen to some jazz music. I was grateful for the religious leaders hosting an important event for children, and providing a beautiful venue. Next month, I am working alongside a church that helps the homeless because I believe in volunteerism and clergy-community action.
There are so many options and choices.
Interesting articles & images this week (topics of future blogposts):
Choices and Consequences…..
I believe that direction and guidance are very important; part of our human nature is following others. Unlike many of our non-human friends, we are able to use our cognitive abilities. That is what Monday School is about—learning to control our own life, and not be controlled by others.
Have a nice week!
Come Join Me!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PVal8Fy7CM&sns=em (I love this!)
As a former Mormon & ex-sister-wife, today was a special day, I appointed myself “Monday School teacher”. I am very excited about this new calling — it coincides with me joining Weight Watchers, and a recent career change. What a terrific week!
As comedian Shawn Rapier said in his Latter-day Night Live (this is a comedy imitating an LDS Sacrament Meeting talk) — “I realize I need this comedy more than any of you.” The truth is, I need my Monday blogposts more than anyone else. I hope to re-inforce some of my prior education, and share with others, anyone interested, some of the fascinating things I learned in sociology and psychology.
The first blogpost lesson will begin next week.
The purpose of Monday School Blogpost, besides making use of my schooling, is to provide readers with a different perspective about issues relating to religion and social psychology; family, collective behavior, social self, social movements, symbolic interactionalism, cultural psychology, shared meaning, general psychology, abnormal psychology, and some social theory.
Why do humans think and behave the way they do? When does religion become harmful? What role should social policy have protecting freedom of religion? What about protecting children from religion? Where do we draw the line?
I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord.
I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord.
I’ll be what you want me to be.
I have a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in psychology. I am also a member of Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society. My favorite subject in college was social psychology, and my worst area was writing research papers (I generally turned my papers in one minute before the deadline–just like tonight). I am presently working in the field of behavioral psychology hoping to modify some of my own behavior.
Much of my education comes from the school of hard knocks. On my days off, I can surf the web pretty well, so what I don’t know I can find. This is what I love most–not needing any credentials to create a website and write a blogpost!
I consider myself an agnostic since I don’t “know” what exists outside of mortality. If being an atheist is not having enough evidence to support a belief in God, then I am an atheist. The truth is I really don’t care. I am grateful for being a skeptic, and having an open-mind.
Look forward to Monday!