It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry If I Want To!

“It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to …cry if I want to …cry if I want to”.  Okay I know the real lyrics are “It’s my PARTY and I’ll cry if I want to …”  If you have no idea what I am talking about – that’s proof I AM old!  Truthfully, if I cry it’s tears of JOY,  GRATITUDE and APPRECIATION for life’s experiences.

Birthday

At 51 years “young” I don’t feel much older than I did in high school, it’s only when I pass a mirror that I am reminded of my age. I decided to make a list of all the things I have been fortunate to experience throughout the past half-a-century as a reminder how precious life truly is ….

  • Born on ranch in Montana to the best family ever!
  • Rode horses everyday…. okay not everyday, but a lot
  • Met my future husband at age 8
  • My mother saw that I was kept busy so I didn’t have time to get into trouble; Dance, Piano, Guitar, Voice Lessons, Gymnastics and played in the Band – alto saxophone
  • Grew up with 6 living grandparents
  • Kept busy in High School: Senior Class President, Vice-President of Ski Club, Gymnastics team-Captain, Seminary Council, Choir Secretary – these roles landed me a Leadership Scholarship to BYU!
  • Skier – favorite resort: Alta
  • Loved the College life – BYU and BYU-Hawaii
  • Learned to Surf and Snorkel. (hate snorkeling – claustrophobic)
  • Married my secret High School crush – Scott Mackintosh
  • Mother of 7 AMAZING kids
  • Natural childbirth
  • One C-Section
  • Milked goats for 12 years
  • Community Service “Door Knocker” Award
  • 4H Horsemanship Leader – 17 years
  • England and Scotland – Twice
  • I’m a Cruise-a-holic – 8 Cruises
  • Para-Sailing- Twice (hated it – scared to death of heights)
  • India – Twice (loved, loved, loved my experience in India and the priceless friendships made)
  • Dubai
  • Rode a Camel and an Elephant
  • Camping with my family – love roasting marshmellows around a camp fire
  • Worked for two AMAZING Speaker/Authors: Kevin Hall and Chad Hymas which led to meeting….
  • Inspiring people: Immaculée Ilibagiza, Emmanuel Kelly, Rolanda Watts, Sean Stevenson, Dave Winfield, Mark Sandborn, Bridget Cook, Rebecca Musser, Lisa Nichols, Allison Byrd, Thurl Bailey, Mark Eaton, Jason Hewlett and the master of words Arthur Watkins.  ….and so many others through the National Speakers Association.
  • Gone Viral – Met Rachael Ray and Regis Philbin
  • Wrote a book “My Husband Wears The Short Shorts In THIS Family!”
  • Met and conversed with the LDS Prophet Thomas S. Monson for 20 minutes – a highlight of my life!
  • and the BESTEST of all  ….I am a GRANDMA!

I am truly indebted to God, my Heavenly Father, who has deeply blessed me, carried me through dark times when I wanted to give up, wiped away my tears when my heart was breaking, allowed me to experience and grow through trials and challenges and has not let a day go by that he didn’t tell me or show me how much he loves me.  I see it in my children’s faces, in my husband’s hug, in the flowers, the birds and the many wonderful friends that contribute to who I am. I am a child of God, a wife, mother and friend ….what more could a person ask for?  I can’t think of a dang thing, except for perhaps a big piece of  strawberry short cake.  HaPpY Birthday to me!

 

 

The Big Dark Elephant In The Room: Dealing with Depression and Mental Illness

The Big Dark Elephant In The Room:  Dealing with Depression and Mental Illness

There is an elephant in the room that no one likes to talk about. It’s called mental illness.  It comes in all shapes and sizes.  It doesn’t care if you are male or female, old or young.

elephantI’m a positive, see the glass half full type of person, but three years ago I was blinded sided by a flood of darkness that was so heavy I didn’t know if life was worth living.  The simplest of tasks became a great effort. THANK goodness I didn’t give in to the brutal lie and fought through it.  The bits of depression that I experience off and on have given me a small glimpse of what too many experience on a daily basis, and I can’t imagine dealing with it on a deeper level. I have had days I wanted to stay in bed curled up in a ball with the covers over my head and shut out the world until everything was all well.  I know there are too many people that experience this in various degrees EVERYDAY.

I was somewhat surprised when I read the comments under a recent Facebook status that I had posted about back to back funerals of two very good friends. The comments quickly turned to the topic of depression and mental illness after someone posted about a loved one who had taken their life to end their fight with mental illness.  It was clear to see there were a lot of people hurting from the effects of this ugly dark disease either directly or from it’s ripple effects.

I reached out privately to those who openly expressed they battled mental illness, I asked one mother if I could share her story.  She bravely agreed in hopes her story might help others.  Thank you for being honest and real.

Life with depression

“My life is very different from others. I have a problem, or you could call it a disease it is called DEPRESSION. I am really good at masking it so that people don’t know what I go through however some days it isn’t that easy. Some days everything I do takes a huge effort; getting out of bed, making sure the kids are ready for school, going to work. It is truly very hard. Then I come home from my day and realize my job is still not done and I must fight to finish the day.

Depression comes and goes, some days it is really strong, and other days it is mild. The hardest thing with depression is the feeling of having to do this alone. If I talk about it then I fear people will stop being my friend because they don’t understand depression and don’t dare ask what it is like. I hesitate to tell people because I have been judged so many times because of it. I don’t want pity, or people to think I am crazy. You learn to keep it to yourself and stay in survival mode.

I am a strong person who struggles with feeling like I am not of worth and that I will not amount or do any good in my lifetime. The lowest time in my life was when my children were 21 months and I also had a newborn. I lay on the floor of my home curled into a ball sobbing and feeling that I am not worthy to be on this earth and nobody needs me. I cried as the thoughts hit me that I should just kill myself, I then thought I can’t leave my beautiful children. Then the thought was kill them and take them with you. How could someone that loves and adores children have a thought like that? I am grateful every day that I didn’t listen or do what the depression was trying to tell me was okay. My poor husband didn’t know how to help me. He had always been told that depression is all in your head GET OVER IT, It’s not that hard!

ONE DAY my husband and I were driving to his parents and he turned to me and said;

“I don’t know how to help you; we need to have you talk to the doctor.”

He FINALLY understood that I can’t control this. After seeing the doctor and determining that I have the same chemical imbalance as my mom, alas I needed to be on medication.  This is not what I wanted to inherit from my mother,  I wanted the gene that makes her an excellent baker not the depression gene!  It was very hard for me to tell my other doctors that I was on meds for depression, until one doctor made the difference. He told me never be ashamed to say I have depression and need medication to help, just like someone who is diabetic needs insulin. I am grateful every day that he helped me see it that way.

I hope if anything comes out of sharing my story that it will be not to  judge because you never know what someone else maybe dealing with. I am grateful for my children because they are what has kept me alive. I look forward to the day when I get to see my them get married and I become a grandma. My children are the positive in my life that helps me get through the darkness of depression. I am stronger because of this bump in my mortal life. Even with all the bumps in my life that I have faced and made it through I am thankful every day that my Heavenly Father sent me to earth with a 4-wheel drive so I can muddle over the bumps and come out on the other side.” ~an anonymous friend

I love hearing there is HOPE …

Dozens reported they had received help from medication, others from diet, exercise and supplements.  Several were excited to tell me about a product that had helped them or someone they loved, called “EMPowerplus Q96″, a natural remedy found by a father, desperate to find a solution for his children who have mental illness, and not wanting to lose them to suicide like their mother and Grandmother.  I was so intrigued by the article that I ordered the product!  I am eager to try it,  who doesn’t want greater mental clarity?

I would like to do several follow-up blog posts featuring YOUR story of over-coming, or successfully dealing with depression, mental illness, bipolar, etc….  By being open you help others.   And in doing so, you discover life is good.

Autumn Stringham shares her experience with bi-polar disorder

On the Serious Side. by Scott Mackintosh

My husband Scott posted something serious as his Facebook status, it caught me by surprise, because he likes to keep things on the lighter side.  When I read it, I knew it needed to be my next blog post ….so HERE IT IS …

On The Serious Side.  by Scott Mackintosh

OK, I am weird, I admit that, but let me explain. I dread every funeral that comes my way. I dread them because of the obvious reasons of death and finality. I have been attending too many funerals as of late, and in nearly every instance it was someone that I considered too young.

Now let me explain why I might be different than most, because so far I am most likely on track with the norm. …

Funerals 

I feel that they are the BEST church meetings that one can attend. (Weird huh?) I have held on to every word that has been spoken. I have seen more love and compassion from loved ones than I could fathom. I have enjoyed these services beyond my dreams. Bottom line is that I have learned so much.

What I have learned …

First, is to never judge. Jesus Christ is the judge and my job is to love. I can never fully know what trials others are asked to bear.

Second, is that its not up to me to decide what is too young. My trust in God tells me that the presence of God and passed loved ones has to be better than the pains associated with mortal life, although there is MUCH joy in this life. I should be happy for those who pass the test and get to live with God again. My mortal mind tells me something different than that.

Third, I feel a closer presence of loved ones past whom I really get the impression that they send promptings to help me succeed. At funerals I stop my busy life long enough to feel those impressions while the veil of forgetfulness becomes somewhat thin.

Fourth, I become more vulnerable on those sacred days. I hug more. I say the words “I Love You” more and the best part is that I truly mean it.

Fifth, is that I appreciate life so much more and am reminded to not take loved ones for granted. I treasure the re-acquaintances of family and friends.

Sixth, is that its OK to CRY. Quit fighting it and let it go. It’s a great relief and others wont be able to see you through their own tears anyway.

Seventh, and final item, is that God teaches me on those sacred days.  Because of the words spoken and even the unspoken words, I ALWAYS walk away with a deeper desire and commitment to be a BETTER person.

I am sorry and ashamed that it takes those types of reminders to recommit, but that is what funerals do for me. I attended two yesterday, of beautiful people who did much good in this world, that is why I am a bit sensitive today. I am sorry if this is not my normal funny me, but dang it, this is my way to heal.

Now having said all this, I pray that it’s quite a while before the next one.

 

One Word Can Make All The Difference!

Rich and his son Cole

Have you ever said something that didn’t quite come out right?  Boy I have, more than once!

The other day a friend, who was not afraid to be blunt and honest, sent me the following message:

“You mentioned in your video (A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction) that ‘LIFE IS TO BE ENJOYED, NOT ENDURED’. While I like the concept and wish it were true all the time, I disagree with that, at least in part.”

FINALLY someone called me out on the one line that had bothered me from the very first time I viewed the video of my son Sean and me.  We started filming at 10:30pm without a script – we spoke from our heart.  It was late, we were tired, and it was our last night to get it done. My daughter Kelsey, who filmed the 35-minute interview, was visiting for Christmas and heading back to her home the following morning.  After hours of editing to condense the message, Kelsey sent us the now 6-minute video.   As I watched it, I felt good about the message; the only line that I was hesitant with was;

“Life is to be enjoyed, not endured”

What I thought I had said and what had actually come out, were two different things.  The option for a “do-over” was gone. I KNOW everyone has challenges both big and small and YES we are often asked to endure HARD things.  It’s what builds our character and makes us who we are.  Our option was to take the whole line out or leave it in. Obviously we opted to leave it in.  The blog article which accompanied the video got it right:

“Life is to be enJOYed, not JUST endured!”  

One word makes all the difference!

The friend who called me out on the line in the video, is my friend Rich, he’s someone who KNOWS the meaning of enduring hard things, he also know the sweet JOYS of life.

I replied to Rich’s email thanking him for his honesty and asked him to read my blog where I had adding the word “just” to my plea.  He immediately replied:

“OK, I definitely can get behind the “Life should be enjoyed not JUST endured.  That makes sense to me.  In fact, it’s been my experience that the traumas and challenges in life, are what give the enjoy part of life a much sweeter taste!  Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced personal growth sitting on a white sandy beach, sipping on a drink.  Instead, it’s been life’s traumas that have been the catalyst to growth and what has molded my character.  There are parts of life that we all must endure.”

You see, Rich survived a solo plane crash; this is the account in his own words:

“On September 14, 1987, I was piloting a Piper Supercub (a bush plane), looking for stray cows for my brother Pete.  Pete is a cattle rancher and had cows turned out in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area in Eastern Oregon.  Shortly after take off during my last flight of the day, the airplane developed engine problems and I crashed at the base of the mountain.  When the plane hit, the wing tanks burst (I had just fueled the airplane) and aviation fuel flooded the cockpit, soaking me and then exploded.  I was trapped in the airplane.  My father and brother were on horseback, saw the airplane go down, rode to the crash site and saw how bad it was.  To this day I do not know how I got out of the airplane, but I honestly suspect some kind of divine intervention.  My dad rode down the hill to a road, was able to flag down a car who took him to a house, and the people happened to be home.  He called the emergency number and an ambulance happened to be a few minutes away from me servicing a logging accident.  They got to me in record time, and took me to the a little hospital about 45 minutes away.  The last thing I remember is one of the doctors cutting off my wedding ring with a little saw of some kind. I remained in a coma for 10 days.  I was 30 years old.  My son was 9 months old.”

The results of the accident were as follows:

  • 3rd degree burns to 75% of my body

  • 47 days in critical condition

  • Major infection – cheated death twice

  • 90 days in intensive care

  • 18 months in a pressure suit

  • 2 years at the hospital

  • 33 major surgeries over 6 1/2 years

  • My wife left after 3 months (leaving my son with me)

The blessings of the accident have been many, and I almost do not have room to write about all of them.  Some of the highlights are:

  • I got to experience what it’s like to totally depend on God.

  • My priorities were instantly correct, I care deeply about people and not so much about things anymore.

  • I got to experience the deepest love, sacrifice and dedication of my family.

  • I got to spend 24/7/365 with my son for many years.  What father get’s to do that?  And because of this, my son and I are closer than any other father and son I know.  We have a tight bond between us.

  • I tend to enjoy life, including the simplest of things much more than people who have not endured a life threatening trauma.

  • I got to experience more pain than most people have.

  • I enjoyed additional depth of typical life challenges, including financial, physical, spiritual social (like how to get a date).

  • My faith in God increased, as did my confidence that even life’s biggest obstacles can be overcome.

  • I know I can get through almost anything.

  • I became very passionate about health.

  • I now have the opportunity to help others going through similar trauma’s.

Rich goes on to say:

“Today, 27 years later, my life is not without problems.  They continue to come, and I have even more great stories about the difficulties in life. However, My son, is healthy, my family is healthy, I am healthy, and I’m still very confident God is in control.  I don’t know if I would want to go through another life experience like my airplane crash again, but having already been through it, I know the benefits that came from it, it made the whole ordeal beyond worthwhile and I feel very fortunate I got to experience it.”

THANK YOU Rich for being real! Being you! And for being a living testament that “Life is to be enJOYed, not JUST endured.”

Cole_and_dadRich and his son Cole

What Happens Next?

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What Happens Next?

Sign Up for a FREE chapter from my book "My Husband Wears the short shorts in THIS family!"