Friday, July 8, 2011

Time Out For Women recap: Saturday

Here, finally, is Saturday's recap of Time Out For Women!  I mean, it was only 3 months ago!  No biggie, right?  Be warned that this is probably the longest post I've ever written.  It is also filled with spiritual goodies, so read it if you will, or just take a quick gander.  Friday's recap can be found here.

{left to right: Brittney, me, Kendra, Tina and Jenna}

Saturday's speakers included Mariama Kallon, DeAnne Flynn, Laurel Christensen, Wendy Ulrich and Mary Ellen Edmunds.  And Hilary Weeks provided the music.  I fell in love with Hilary instantly.  Not only is she pretty to look at with a voice that will blow your socks off, but she is also eloquent, thoughtful, down to earth and very funny!  In between the speakers she would get up and share a thought, then conclude it with a song or two.  It became more and more evident to me as I listened to her that behind each song she has written, there is a story, a purpose and plenty of inspiration to be found.  Hilary has four daughters and talked a lot about her adventures in motherhood.  She definitely spoke to my heart and I look at her in a whole new light now.


For Mother's Day, my mom got me Hilary's recent book, Bedtime and Naptime... and Naptime and Bedtime, which I read in its entirety the very day I received it.  It contains words of wisdom, inspiring scriptures and quotes, a few of Hilary's favorite recipes, and countless pick me ups that will lift any mom's spirits.  There's also a bonus CD containing a handful of famous songs to which she's changed the lyrics to reflect some of her own thoughts on motherhood.  She's hilarious.  Here's a preview:

Chloe just watched this video and said, "Mommy, she sounds like Maria!  Is it her with long hair?"

Hilary touched on a few topics, but two in particular stood out to me, and that's what I'd like to share with you.  She started off with this:

"Extraordinary moments can happen in the middle of ordinary days."
I love this!  But wait until you hear this sweet story, which she shared with us, and which can also be found on page 69 of her book:

"I was on a mother-daughter dinner date with Calli, who was nine at the time.  Through a mouthful of macaroni and cheese, Calli giggled as she recounted a game of freeze tag she played during recess that day.

Then it hit me...

I will spend eternity knowing Calli as an adult.  But tonight, right here, right now, and for the next few precious years, I have the rare privilege of knowing her as a child.

What a gift to experience the children in our lives as children!

For a brief moment during the journey of mortality, we get to watch them laugh, learn, experience and grow.

Yes, in the middle of an ordinary day it was an extraordinary moment."

I Loooo-ooooo-ooooove this concept!  And isn't it true that the moments we tend to remember and cherish most are the simple, ordinary ones?

Hilary also talked about the power of thoughts.  She had heard at a recent Relief Society dinner that the average person has 300 negative thoughts each day, and she wanted to put it to the test.  So she purchased a clicker to record the number of negative thoughts she had over the course of several days.  She shares the story on her blog, and you can read Part I of III here.  Her number of negative thoughts varied a bit day by day, but mostly remained consistent until day six, when they shot way up.  In Hilary's own words:

"After almost a week of clicking, I woke up one morning and felt really, really down. I was outright depressed. I felt sad and discouraged – and I had absolutely no reason to feel that way. Then it dawned on me… It was the experiment. By simply “clicking” the negative thoughts I was giving them enough attention and consequently enough power to effect my mood. John Kehoe, author of Mind Power said, “Although a single unaided thought hasn’t much power, through repetition the thought can become concentrated and directed, and its force can be magnified many times. The more the thought is repeated the more energy and power it generates, and the more readily it is able to manifest itself.”

Unexpected. Truly. I had no idea that paying even the slightest bit of attention to those negative thoughts could have that kind of effect on me. It wasn’t as if I dwelled on them once they came into my mind – NO, not at all. I actually tried to chase them away. But the click. The click acknowledged them enough to give the negative thoughts the ability to change my mood and outlook.  So…I decided to go a new direction with my experiment."

So she goes on... (Read all of Part II here)

"I was really surprised by the effect that simple, tiny act of “clicking” each negative thought had on my mood. I guess that is why King Benjamin told us in the Book of Mormon to “watch ourselves and our thoughts.” And maybe that is why we are told in the Doctrine and Covenants to “let virtue (or power) garnish our thoughts unceasingly.”

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “How could a person possibly become what he is not thinking? Nor is any thought, when persistently entertained, too small to have its effect. The divinity that shapes our ends is indeed in ourselves.”

The first day, I counted 321 clicks! By Day four…(I was totally shocked when I saw this) One thousand, two hundred and sixty two!! That’s…1,262! My spirit seemed to soar – I felt so happy. My circumstances hadn’t changed one bit, only the focus of my thoughts had. I loved creating positive thoughts. That is much more fun than trying to block or chase away the negative ones."

Sorry I'm not paraphrasing very well.  Hilary made it too easy to just quote her since she documented the whole story in her blog.  And between her eloquent writing skills and the scriptures and quotes she shares along the way, there really is no alternative.  :)

Part III, which can be found here, goes a little something like this:

"Ironically, last week, I was eating chips, salsa and a smothered burrito at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants while simultaneously thinking about running six miles. I like to run. But only two or three miles. Not six. But I did it recently – I RAN SIX MILES. As I took a sip from my strawberry colada, I tried to figure out how on Earth I did that? And then it hit me. I ran six miles during the height of “clicking” my positive thoughts. I’m telling the truth.

That is exactly when it happened. I was seriously able to run six miles on my treadmill and I am pretty dang sure it was a side-effect of my positive thinking. The last time I ran that far was…um…let me think…oh ya, High School. I don’t run six miles. I’m not a six-miler. I’m not. But during that week, during the flow of positive thoughts, my body, lungs, heart and muscles were strengthened and empowered just as much as my mind was. 
It was quite a realization."

In her closing remarks, Hilary shared these two quotes:

"We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day."  - Elder Richard G. Scott (from The Transforming Power of Faith and Character, Ensign, Nov. 2010)

"Our mind wants to do everything we tell it to do.”
- Jana Call well as this scripture: Philippians 4:8, concluding that when we think about those things (ie, things that are true, honest, just, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy), we become those things.

Okay, okay.  Enough about Hilary.  Sheesh, I've probably already exhausted you, and I'm only getting started!

Saturday's first speaker was Mariama Kallon, a women from Africa, and a survivor of an atrocious war in Sierra Leon who endured a terrifying childhood.  She shared the story of witnessing the violent murders of her parents and siblings, and talked about her journey to overcoming the heartaches and finding joy.  To say both her presence and messages were powerful would be a huge understatement.  She was endearing on all levels, and by the end of her talk I wanted to hug her!  And, I did, in fact, during the next break!  I couldn't help myself!

Look at her!  She's radiant!  Don't mind my swollen, puffy eyes.  Lots of tears were shed this day.

Mariama, who was first introduced to the church when she received a hygiene kit - something she'd forever hold onto as a symbol of hope, soon thereafter was baptized and called to serve in the Salt Lake City Temple Square mission.  She shared a few tender stories about her experiences as a missionary.  In one she recounts how it made her sad when the other sister missionaries received letters and packages from their families.  Mariama, after all, had no family, and no one to receive a letter or package from!  The other sister missionaries felt terrible for Mariama and wrote home to their own mothers requesting that they send something to her.  It wasn't long before Mariama was receiving more packages than anyone else!  Rightfully so.  I loved that.

She shared a second story about her mission, where she, one morning, snuck into a closet at the Visitor's center on Temple Square.  She had been yearning to teach someone from Africa the gospel, and that morning in particular she was praying extra hard.  A video was then played where in her Mission President shares the rest of the story.  He explained that he was on Temple Square that same day, and suddenly saw Mariama running towards the South Gate.  Confused, he asked what she was doing, to which she explained she was going to meet someone.  It turns out, during her prayer, she felt strongly compelled to stand up right then and run to the South gate.  She knew in her heart someone would be there, and within five minutes, a black man, who turned out to be from Ghana, a West African village not far from where she grew up, walked by.  Right there her prayer was answered.  She was able to share the gospel with him, and gosh, if I remember right, he later joined the church.

In conclusion to this story, Mariama said, "Sometimes you have to get up and run.  You can't just wait for the blessings to come."  As this was true in her situation with meeting the Ghana man at the South Gate, so it is true in our own lives.  I loved this message, and her.  I actually ran into her in the bathroom at the Salt Lake Temple (of all places) when I was there last month for Jared and Lori's sealing.  I hugged her again, and told her how much she inspired me at TOFW.  She's a sweet, sweet lady.

DeAnne Flynn was the next speaker.  The theme of her talk was the "Mother's Mite", also the title of her recent book.  She likened a mother's mite to the widow's mite, found in Mark 12:42-44, explaining that just as this widow cast 2 mites (which is all that she had) into the treasury, we as mothers selflessly contribute whatever it is that we have.  And while our humble, little offerings may not seem significant at the time, they undeniably make a difference in the lives of those we love.

Some other thoughts she shared are as follows:

"Choose to become more aware of the small things that make a large difference.  Paying attention costs nothing but it pays off."

"When we hurry less, we notice more.  When we talk less, we hear more.  When we expect less, we learn more."

"Choose to become less complicated."

"Home is just a place where you an practice for Heaven."

"Overlook greater proficiency for even greater potential."

And finally, she concluded with a story from her childhood involving her mother and a vacuum cleaner.  DeAnne's mother was vacuuming the floor one day when DeAnne decided to climb on and enjoy a little ride.  Now where many mothers (including myself), would normally discourage this (hey, when I'm in the middle of an unpleasant task such as vacuuming, I want to get it over with as quickly as possible), DeAnne's mother welcomed her and continued pushing the vacuum carrying little DeAnne along with her right to the end.  What a sweet image.  While DeAnne described her mother as being "efficient and ambitious", she further stated that "Her top priority wasn't speed and efficiency, it was me!"  I love the gentle message this story conveys of taking the time for the more important things.

Probably my favorite speaker of the day was Laurel Christensen, who spoke about faith, and living with faith.  She started off be sharing a story about Florence Chadwick, who was the first women to swim the English Channel.  A couple years later she attempted to swim from the Southern California coast to Catalina Island, which was a 21 mile stretch.  The water was 48 degrees and the fog was thick.  She eventually gave up out of exhaustion and frustration, only to learn, as she was pulled into the support boat, that she was at mile 20.5 - a HALF MILE from the finish line!  She swam 20.5 miles of her 21 mile journey, and then quit, because she couldn't see the shoreline. 

A similar thing had almost happened on her earlier attempt to swim the English Channel. The fog was too much and Florence became discouraged. But this time, when she wanted to be pulled into the boat, it was her father who pointed out how close she was to shore. Florence lifted her head, saw land, and finished what she started.

Laurel likened Florence Chadwick's father, who coached Florence along, especially near the end when she wanted to give up, to our Father in Heaven, who coaches us through life.  He knows how close to shore we are, even if we can't see it ourselves.  And even though we can't see it ourselves, we know it's there because we trust Him, and we trust that He will help get us there.  So often in life we want to just give up.  But who's to say, at that very moment, we're not at mile 20.5?

I loved Laurel's message of relying on the Lord and never giving up.  She shared a handful of other thoughts that I'd like to share:

"Pray with faith.  Think with faith.  Live with faith."

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

...but not without faith or the reliance of the Lord! 

"Rely on what the Lord knows you can do, not what you don't think you can do." (Ephesians 3:20)

"Hope is about wanting what I want.  Faith is about wanting what God wants."

"Instead of continually praying for something, ask the Lord if that's what you should be praying for."

I love these concepts she shared, and how true it is that we need to accept God's will, even when it's sometimes inconvenient for us.  After all, He knows much better than we do how close we are to the shoreline.  He will guide us there if we let Him.

In closing, Laurel shared a story about Joseph and Emma Smith.  Emma wanted a blessing, but Joseph was headed to Carthage jail and couldn't be there to give her one.  So he told her to write out the blessing she'd hoped to receive and send it to him.  He said he would then sign it, and it would be so.  You can read what she wrote here.  Pretty incredible story of faith on both ends - Joseph, for trusting that the desires of his wife's heart would be consistent with that of the Lord's; and Emma, for trusting her husband's Priesthood power and closeness to the Spirit.

Laurel then challenged us to write the blessing we would each hope to receive and then take it to the Lord and ask him if it be right, and if it be okay to ask for it.  Love it.

Are you asleep yet?  I'm almost finished, I promise!

Mary Ellen was a hoot! I adored this woman right from the start, and think she was definitely right up there with Laurel among my faves of the day. She spoke on identify theft, in a spiritual sense, and not forgetting who we are. Her ideas were cleverly executed, and she captivated me with her quirkiness and wit.

Here are some of things she shared:

In talking about Satan, she referred to him as, "stupid-what's-his-face", and then said, "I like to call him that. I think it annoys him."  (tee heeee)

"You really are a child a God!" 

"One of the greatest ways to guard against identity theft is to talk to your Father. Ask Him if He knows you and tell Him what's in your heart."

Mary Ellen also touched on the comfort and guidance a Patriarchal blessing can provide, concluding, "It's amazing to see how relevant things remain even as time passes by."

"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." - Doctrine and Covenants 6:36

Here's a video that I found on YouTube of Mary Ellen reciting my absolute favorite quote of the day.

"God has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with him as if you were the only being he had ever created. When Christ died, he died for you individually, just as much as if you had been the only person in the world." - C.S. Lewis

Wow! Just, wow! What an incomprehensibly beautiful way to describe our worth.  And I love Mary Ellen's remarks after sharing this quote: "Don't try to figure out how He does that, just know that He does."   What a comfort to know we are not responsible for understanding, only accepting and enjoying.

"Today you are you. That is true-er than true. There is no one alive that is you-er than you!" - Dr. Seuss

In closing, Mary shared the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, explaining that we are like that rabbit.  And no matter what imperfections we may possess, we are still unique, special and real. We are children of God, and He loves us.

Wendy Ulrich was the final speaker.  Her talk was different from everyone else's in that it was very structured, more like a lecture.  In it she touched on seven different ideas that should give us hope in our lives.  They are as follows:

1 - Stop worrying about your weaknesses.  Build on your strengths.  Wendy served a mission at age twenty one, and said it was one of the worst eighteen months of her life.  During that time she realized many of her weaknesses, and felt they held her back from fulfilling many of her missionary responsibilites.  Years later, her husband was called as a Mission President for the Canada Montreal mission.  Wendy initially thought this was her opportunity to redeem herself, until she realized she still carried with her many of those same weaknesses from several years prior.  Then, in a "moment of absolute clarity", she felt a voice say, "I did not call you on a mission for your weaknesses. I called you on a mission for your strengths. Serve with your strengths."

2 - Don't try to get motivated to exercise.  Wendy talked about how motivation follows action.  She'd recently read an article in Runner's magazine about how one runner generally tricked himself into running each day.  He would start by putting on his running clothes,  not because he was going running, but because they were comfortable. Then, he would go to the door, not because he was going running, but because he wanted to see what it was like outside. Then, he would start walking down the street, not because he was going running, but because he wanted to see if his neighbor was outside.  Before he knew it, he was running.  And such is life.  Sometimes we need to trick ourselves into doing the things that are good for us.  In the end, we'll be glad we did.

3 - Stop trying to find friends.  Instead develop the skills of friendship.  Try to have at least one meaningful conversation each day.  The friendships will come.

4 - Don't try to feel happy.  Try to feel grateful.  Does wonders on our mood.  Wendy challenged us to write down 3 good things that happened each day, then write down why those things happened.  Wendy explained that by reflecting not only on the good things but why those good things happened, we are reminded of reasons to be grateful, which, in turn, should make us feel happy.

5 - Celebrate failure.  "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."  It is, after all, through our mistakes that we often learn the greatest lessons.

6 - Don't get help with your problems.  Instead, help someone else.  After all, Science has found it to be the single most reliable way to better our mood!  And in the words of Gordon B. Hinckley's father, "Forget yourself and go to work."  It is often in our deepest, darkest hours, that we must give our problems to the Lord, and turn to others and serve.

7 - Don't endure to the end.  She shared President Gordon B Hinckley's famous quote, "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured."  Savour everyday delights.  Brainstorm five different tiny pleasures you can do that can bring you more joy.

All in all, Wendy had an unlifting message of hope and how we can achieve hope and happiness in our lives.

I left Fresno Saturday afternoon feeling rekindled, reassured, renewed, and ready to face the inevitable real life that was awaiting me at home.  It was an awesome experience, and I hope to go to TOFW again someday.


Cristi said...

so glad you got to go! i went a few years ago in Sac and I need to again!

stephschmidt said...

What a great recap! I was introduced to Hilary Weeks on my mission... roughly 13 years ago. I've loved her ever since! I'd love to hear her speak sometime.

Nells-Bells said...

1) i LOVE your friend brittney's hair. LOVE it!
2) i copied and pasted much of this post and printed it out. so so great!
3) i need to get hilary week's book. it sounds like the thing i need at this moment in time
4) thanks for sharing!! i had no idea about emma smith writing down her blessing. i learned mucho!!

Wendy said...

What a great opportunity you had to attend this! I loved reading the summary of all the talks, but my favorite was Hilary's ~ specifically the part about having the privilege to know her children as just that! I love that concept! Makes me want to cherish these moments with my kids even more now. Before I know it they are going to be all grown up.

I'm so glad you took the time to take notes on all these speakers and share their messages. I felt like they were reminders I needed right now.