Thursday, January 5, 2017

THE HOPE OF BETTER DAYS

So, it’s a new year. And it’s a powerful element of our culture to begin the new year with reflection and pondering and consideration on how we might improve our lives through the coming year, and so we set goals. I respectfully confess that I’ve come to detest the very idea of “goals,” and I’m not even terribly fond of the word. I attribute this aversion mostly to my chronic health issues and other challenges that are completely beyond my control, but the result is that no amount of self-discipline or self-motivation will give me the physical strength (or lack of depression sometimes) to do anything beyond the bare minimum requirements of life. Losing weight is not possible with so many strange food restrictions and ongoing illness. Exercise amounts to having to go up and down the stairs in my house many times a day, but that’s all my muscles can handle. Getting organized (which I want to do desperately) just isn’t possible when doing what I absolutely HAVE to do wears me out completely. Hence, my quandary. But I want to back up a little . . .
I always find the days following Christmas to be strange, but it was more strange than usual this time. I love Christmas, and in spite of my limitations I put a great deal of effort into making it nice for my loved ones. I’m grateful for the help I get from certain family members and friends that helped pull it all together. I actually had some little miracles come about this Christmas that made the experience extra special. There was one deputy elf especially whose efforts were a greater blessing than she could ever imagine. I know you’re reading this, and you know I’m talking about you. Thank you! 
Getting back on topic . . . once Christmas was over I felt some of the letdown that often happens when everything you’ve been preparing for weeks is suddenly over and done. But this was my last Christmas with a minor child, which means that in five months my youngest child will be eighteen and graduated from high school. I became a mother thirty-five years ago on New Year’s Day, and now my official mothering days are almost over—even though we never stop being a mother. So, I found myself very weepy and feeling down the week after Christmas, which wasn’t helped by the fact that my body was giving me an especially difficult time. The Christmas tree had been removed from the house due to it being completely dead in spite of our diligently giving it water every day. The lights had come down. Empty boxes are everywhere needing to get to the recycling can. And while I was hearing people talking about their plans for New Year’s Eve, I knew I couldn’t even manage to stay up until midnight. On top of that, there’s the goal thing, which brings us back to the pessimistic beginning of this missive. 
The reality is that I have set many goals over the years and they have failed miserably—not usually due to my giving up or not being committed, but rather due to circumstances beyond my control. Which brings up the question: how can I strive to move forward in a positive way when life’s experiences have mostly taught me that no matter what I do or how hard I try the challenges of health and finances and disorder continue relentlessly—among other things. I even look back at my determination a year ago to write on this blog more consistently. For those of you who have followed me here, you know well enough how the entries became less frequent and then basically stopped. I can legitimately say that I was too ill or steeped in deadlines to feel like writing a blog post, but it still made me feel like I had failed at something I had been determined to do and do well. 
Given all of this, I’ve been trying very hard to come up with a way to be more positive about beginning a new year with the hope that something will actually get better; to believe that 2017 might actually be the year that could bring the breakthrough with my health that my team of those in healing professions are assisting me with. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if 2017 could be the year when my book sales just took off and I was able to finally get out of debt and put some money away for retirement? I mean . . . the Horstberg Saga is just sitting there on amazon with great ratings, waiting to be discovered by the reading masses. I’ve put in the work, made the sacrifices, held onto my tenacity in spite of all of the challenges. It’s always my prayer that the law of the harvest might be manifested in my life—that what I have sown will bring a good harvest. 
In the spirit of new beginnings, I have been searching my soul to consider what I might do better in the coming year. First of all, I had a conversation with a friend about my distaste of goals, and it brought me to the conclusion that I’m simply going to change the idea of a goal to that of an intention. So, I will hold to the intention to become healthier, to have more order in my home, and to attract abundance into my life so that I can be more financially secure. But I have to accept the great disclaimer, and this is the hard part: sometimes life just doesn’t go the way we want it to in spite of our very best efforts, and sometimes that means God has a different plan in mind for us. I know one thing for certain: I can’t see my life from God’s perspective, and I have no idea what He’s trying to make out of me. But discovering that could be a great adventure if I choose to look at it that way. Therefore, my greatest intention for 2017 is to trust in the Lord. I love what Nephi says about trusting in the Lord, and I love the scripture that tells us we should trust in the Lord with ALL our hearts and not lean unto our own understanding. I know for a fact that my understanding is puny and shortsighted; that’s just a fact of being human. 
And so, I am drying my tears, putting away the Christmas decorations (with some help from my kids) and I’m going to take it one day at a time. I will strive to live in the present, be mindful of gratitude for all that’s good in my life, and look for moments of joy each day. I will remain committed to live in truth and be a woman with integrity. And I will focus on the intention of making life better, even if that’s only measured by incremental positive changes within my own spirit. 
There’s a song by the Goo Goo Dolls that I love dearly; it’s full of hope and it can lift my spirits when I listen to it. It’s kind of Christmas song; here are a portion of the lyrics . . .

And you asked me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
'Cause I don't need boxes wrapped in strings
And designer love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
So take these words and sing out loud
'Cause everyone is forgiven now
'Cause tonight's the night the world begins again

Happy new year, everyone. Thank you for reading what I write, and for the prayers and love and support. I would LOVE to hear about your intentions for the coming year in the comments here or on my Facebook pages, and perhaps we can help encourage each other to keep moving forward. God bless, Anita

P.S. You can follow me on Twitter under Anita Stansfield, or on Instagram as @horstbergwriter

5 comments:

The Writing Wizard said...

My intentions for this year are few because I know that in a few months I'll have a baby and that will change everything. One thing I do know is that I have it in me to finish my manuscript draft before baby comes. I also want to write in my journal more. My main intentions for when baby comes are to be a good mom to him and to be a good wife to my husband.

Amy said...

Anita, despite your perceived shortcomings and circumstances in life beyond your control, you still find an eloquent manner to write about life and real human issues largely ignored by society as a whole or even by some called friends. I thank you for continuing to share your heart and thoughts because I love to read what you write. You truly have a gift and I would love to one day be able to express myself the way you do. Thank you for what your do share- your readers are never disappointed in time between posts or books, rather excited to see a new one nonetheless. I hope and pray that 2017 brings some answers and peace in your life. "Just keep swimming!"

Amanda Wilhelm said...

My dearest friend,

I learn from your every writing, both fiction and non. I know it is not a goal of yours to bless your readers in this way - you just do. And our gratitude - my gratitude- is immeasurable.

I have been one of those few people in years past who sets goals - achieve this by a certain date, work hard, contact these people, start this - such productivity I demanded of myself. It felt good when I produced. I'm not even sure why. My parents had long stopped giving gold stars. I'm not even sure they did when I needed them, but I still try.

What is life? You have clearly been given an incredible gift and one you use every year to bless thousands. I would call that success by any definition. But I would also do anything to take away your pain. I truly would. If I could conjure fairy dust and let your body wake without pain and have blessed energy all day, without worry or depression for any reason, I would give that to you. I would do whatever was in my power to give that to you.

It frustrates me that I can't. I like fixing things.

And also - I want to repay you in some small way for the hours and days of relief from the pain in my own life that your books have given me. I am att a loss because there wil never be a way to repay you

Thank you dearest friend.

Suzanne Atkinson said...

Anita,

I have only met you in person once at a fireside in West Jordan, UT. It was quite awhile ago. I am just another dedicated reader.

But somehow, you know My heart. I really don't know how you do that, but you put my thoughts and feelings into words. My learning experiences have been different than yours, but oh so very real. Just this week I asked for and received a priesthood blessing and in it I was reminded of the eternal perspective. So what you wrote about God's perspective, what he is trying to make of me, and trusting in the Lord, even realizing that life is an adventure, was and is the perfect message to my tender heart. So, Thank you does not seem like enough, perhaps the tears flowing from my eyes will stand as a testimony of your gift. Once again you have touched my heart, and I thank you. I pray that you will receive all the blessing you desire. Thank you for sharing.

Suzanne Atkinson.

Janelle Joy Craig said...

I have been feeling much the same, as far as feeling I am losing too many battles to my depression and my chronic autoimmune diseases. I have turned to your books for many years as my escape into a wonderful world, but not a fairy tale world. A real world of love and joy and peace during and despite great challenges, some of which are similar to my own. The stories draw me in and help me see the joy that is still in my own life, just as it is in the lives of those great characters I love from your stories. And seeing that you have brought those healing stories into my life even with all your own struggles, helps me believe that my life is still helpful to others no matter how little I feel I have to give to anyone. The widow's mites.

Thank you for sharing with me!!

Love,

Janelle Joy

PS my intention this year is simply to notice tiny triumphs.