Monday, February 23, 2015

Coming to know my type: Energy profiling with Dressing Your Truth

I am an Aquarius. I hate water. I almost drowned as a child. For the longest time I refused to put my face under water without holding my nose, almost believing that if I didn’t hold my nose, I would immediately suck water in and drown. Washing my face in the shower was always a very quick thing.

Last summer I finally learned how to swim without holding my nose. I’m 35. But that still doesn’t change how I feel about water with its soft and flowing and subtle—fluid—qualities. Not words that I use to describe my personality, which is what a type 2, water element, individual should be. As I child I cried a lot. I was labeled by my parents as sensitive. My father was sensitive, and I thought I was exactly like him. Now, I’d say, maybe just a little like him, but not exactly. Growing up, I was just misunderstood because I didn’t know how to express myself.

So my whole life I have been living as an introvert. Shy, afraid to speak up, doubting my self-worth and most definitely my beauty. My mother had no fashion sense and could not school me on such matters. She cut my hair until I was old enough to cut it myself and bought all my clothes at the thrift store in sizes that never fit.

Fast forward to becoming a grownup. I think I look like a mutant. I mean seriously. My face is ridiculous. Laughable. So goofy looking. Not a dynamic beauty.

Over the years, I learned to embrace my sensitivity, but as more opportunities came to me, such as being called to teach for over two years as a woman’s teacher for my church, I realized I was something else. And to top it off, after being cured of my depression (yes, cured) I now realized I have anxiety. Why? I have too much restless energy. That would be the best way to describe it. RESTLESS. I even have restless leg syndrome, and when my body is extremely stressed or fatigued will actually manifest throughout my whole body.

So how did I learn that I am a type one—air?

I have a constant, ever changing, perpetual interest in gardening. When I am sweating out in the sun, and then pause, there would be a moment—a moment when the wind rustles and breaks the sweltering intensity of the heat on my skin, or the gentle rustle of the leaves would speak to me. Those are the times I feel true peace. Wind is my favorite thing to feel, to hear, to experience. God answers my prayers through the wind. He tells me that he created this world, that moment for me.

My element is air.

So when I first listened to the energy profiling course, I immediately thought, I’m air! I’m type one!

But it took a while. After listening to all of them, and this is a type one thing, I thought, I could be all of them! I most certainly see where I manifest my personality in all of them. Especially my sensitive two nature, and my critical four nature.

It took a while to see my type in my face. After reading through the descriptions in the book and watching the videos online, I thought, Carol is bonkers. Everything that she was pointing out looked the same across the different types. My head was spinning.

Finally, and it took a while, I could see that my goofy face is actually cute and youthful. Actually a type one. Twice in one week, I was told that I looked in my twenties! My nose turns up, and I have apple cheeks. A random, crooked nose. Nothing soft, subtle, bold, angular, elegant, exotic, or stunning. People have remarked that I am cute.

I can own that.

But I was waiting for the one moment, the ah-ha. The warm confirmation. And I got it.
While reading type one’s description in Discover Your Personal Type of Beauty I came across this paragraph about Carol’s daughter, Jenny.

Jenny once again committed to be herself—her Type 1 animated, fresh, light self. At the end of our walk, she had an impulse of an idea to run into the ocean with all her clothes on and just go for a swim right then and there. She told me before she took off, “I need to follow this impulse just to honor myself right now.”

A warm feeling flooded my body. The impulse to honor myself in the moment is exactly how I feel all the time. I have so many impulses that are being squashed, and I want my energy to be free. I’m finally coming to embrace who I am, even if that includes, dancing like a crazy fool in my kitchen. Do you ever have an urge to drive down the wrong way on a one way street? Oh my gosh, I always want to do that. One time I did, by accident. But it was the greatest rush!

My energy is upward and light, and moves outward. It is the expression of an extrovert. So many people tell me I am an extrovert because of my bubbling energy. (But that’s once you get to know me.) One friend of mine once told me I was random! And I always loved that. I am random. Apparently I have too many thoughts going on in my head at once, and things pop out and don’t always make sense. And I have a hard time completing a thought because once I’ve already thought it, it’s gone. If I don’t write it down, I forget it! I stumble over my words when I speak because I am too impatient to get to the end of a sentence. That has been a challenge for writing, and often makes my words look dyslexic.

So I can stand up and no longer be a closet extrovert.

I am an extrovert!

But I also realized something else. I am an introvert too. Ooo, double-edged. And I knew I always was an introvert because I need to be alone to recharge my energy. This leads me to my secondary. Type 4.

Type fours are constant and still—the lowest energy movement. The element is earth. Type four energy is an introvert expression. I actually felt relief as I read through type four’s description. It picked up where my personality didn’t hit with all my type oneness. I was glad I didn’t have to hide the fact that I needed time to recharge my batteries. The big thing for me was their tendency toward perfection. Yeesh. That’s me to a T. And I am very CRITICAL! Oh and I love things simple. I would live the life style of a minimalist if I could. Bare rooms, with mattress on the floor. That is my secret dream—to live alone with nothing to smother and encumber me. I need freedom!

And air. I see how they fit. Two polar opposites. Hmmm, I wonder if this is where bipolar disorders come from. JK.

The next step: add some air to my life.

I look forward to a new me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What are Your Standards?

That’s what it come down to.

Debates fly about what’s appropriate to view on T.V. and in the theater. Are you going to subject yourself to graphic images of sex and violence and pierce your ears with f-bombs?

It all comes down to you. What are you going to do about your standards? How are you going to protect your mind? Do you want negative images IMPRINTED on your soul?

Cause it will happen. Oh, it will happen.

Every and I mean EVERY inappropriate image that I have ever seen has stayed with me. Like the plague. I walked in on that sickening Saw movie in MY family room. Horrified. That violent, disturbing scene will always stay with me. I thought, oh, Game of Thrones, what’s all the hype? Shut it off after the first sex scene. But too late. That image is completely stuck and only the humming of a child’s Sunday school song will chase the image away. But it always comes back. Always.

See. I’m telling you.

And I’m pretty desensitized. I can handle a degree of CW. But who’s to say that I should still be watching it? I probably shouldn’t.

As a rule I stay away from TV-MA and rated R and above. But maybe that’s not enough. The standards are slipping. Sadly some of my favorite PG-13 movies say too many swear words and have sexual scenarios.

While watching a movie with a friend, if you find yourself saying, “I didn’t remember all those inappropriate scenes and potty-mouths.”

You’re desensitized.

If you’re reading a modern retelling of a Jane Austen novel and you get turned on by a lingering touch, or sultry gaze, maybe you shouldn’t read that.

Okay, okay. Extreme example. I’m joking about Jane.

But ask yourself. Do I have one foot in Babylon and one foot in Zion?

I’ll admit, I’m straddling the line. D’oh!

That’s frustrating.

So think of this. Every moment of every day we exercise our God given agency. EVERY second. You’ve just made a choice. Now your path has shifted. What’s going to happen next? YOU have that control.

It’s hard to make some choices. But what if you make some choices beforehand? What if you are already decided?

BAM! It’s done!

I’m not going to watch rated R movies or TV-MA shows.

BAM! Done.

But the choices is yours. You have to decide what the next level is. How much can your ETERNAL spirit handle? And I mean, we’re talking about your soul.

Carefully assess those shows you watch that are below the rated R and TV-MA line.

Just wanted to share a few resources that I found and really like.

From Mormon Think. Thoughts on entertainment. I like this lengthy quote. So good.

Wendy L. Watson offered these warnings to the youth of the LDS Church:

Warning 1. To be stamped on the cover of his [Satan’s] magazines: "Contents highly addictive. Extremely corrosive-to-the-soul materials enclosed. Be prepared to have your mind twisted, your views of love ravaged, your spirit shrunk. Be aware that the Spirit of the Lord will not be with you during or after viewing. Be prepared that after an initial rush, you will experience feelings of depression, loneliness, despair, and guilt. Nevertheless, with repeated exposures over time, you can numb those feelings and enter into an almost total amnesia about who you really are and about truth itself."

Warning 2. For the beginning of Satan's coproduced movies: "The following scenes are brought to you in the hope that you will think of yourself as being an animal. Actually the dung from an animal is more pure and would harm you less when taken into your system. Extreme caution needed. This movie will make you believe that lust is really love and that all love really is—is lust. This movie will have its greatest effect if observed when you are feeling misunderstood, alone, blue, or just that you don't fit in. If you are not in any of these moods, viewing the movie will actually assist in getting you there. If you are in one of these moods, your spirit will be more vulnerable, and thus your ability to distinguish good from evil will be even more quickly extinguished.

Warning 3. For the devil's Internet connections: "Share the following with someone whose soul you would like to destroy. Complete success is ensured if you can offer it in the spirit of friendship and under the guise of love. By thinking and talking together about the content, all sweet pure feelings will be distorted into grand perversions. Pick a perversion, any perversion. That may be one of the very last choices you will get to make.
In fact, if you are tired of making choices just view the following several times—or keep immersing yourself in similar material—and your degree of freedom will be increasingly limited with each successive viewing. The irony is that you will be provided with a personalized illusion that your freedom is actually increasing. We've taken this way beyond the old smoke and mirrors tricks—and the illusions that will influence your heart and mind will be stunning. Virtual reality is here to replace virtuous living.

Warning 4. To announce the adversary's influence on prime-time viewing: "How many lies can you find in the following sitcom? If you can't find any . . . Gotcha! In the following, we are going to offer you ideas that you have never before entertained. But with repetition and humor we will slowly dilute the initial recoiling of your spirit, and you will begin to forget that there was ever a time when you didn't believe these lies to be true.

Warning 5. A lie-busting warning for rented videos: "Fantasy only allowed here. Only erotic illusions contained. No empathic love depicted. No consequences noted. No impact on your body, spirit, relationships with God, family and friends addressed. Please note that interactions will appear much more splendid than they really are. This is not real life. But it is a really great lie. We have left out the gory details that would only ruin the subtle appeal this movie will have for you.

Warning 6. For videos purchased: "Congratulations! You bought the movie this time instead of just renting it. In fact, you are buying this whole scheme—hook, line, and sinker. Let's just have this be our little secret. No one needs to know. No one will ever be able to tell. When people tell you that you are looking different, darker, or talking differently, or that you are more difficult to get along with, just get angry at them and go buy another movie or magazine with similar contents. Actually, you will soon be ready to advance to our total-destruction-of-the-senses line. You, too, will soon be past feeling.

- Wendy L. Watson, 1999 Women’s Conference, speech entitled “Personal Purity and Intimacy”
From For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet: This is an excellent resource to share with your teen and pre-teen.

You live in a day of marvelous technologies that give you easy access to a wide variety of media, including the Internet, mobile devices, video games, television, movies, music, books, and magazines. The information and entertainment provided through these media can increase your ability to learn, communicate, and become a force for good in the world. However, some information and entertainment can lead you away from righteous living. Choose wisely when using media because whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you. Select only media that uplifts you.
Satan uses media to deceive you by making what is wrong and evil look normal, humorous, or exciting. He tries to mislead you into thinking that breaking God’s commandments is acceptable and has no negative consequences for you or others. Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit.
Pornography in all forms is especially dangerous and addictive. What may begin as an unexpected exposure or a curious exploration can become a destructive habit. Use of pornography is a serious sin and can lead to other sexual transgression. Avoid pornography at all costs. It is a poison that weakens your self-control, destroys your feelings of self-worth, and changes the way you see others. It causes you to lose the guidance of the Spirit and can damage your ability to have a normal relationship with others, especially your future spouse. It limits your ability to feel true love. If you encounter pornography, turn away from it immediately.
Curious about the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings and what they mean? Take a look at this link.
So that’s it. You decide.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fighting Against Personal Rebellion

So with a wind chill of minus 15, and the surety of hypothermia and frostbite and death, I made the tough decision to stay home from church. I hate missing church, because every Sunday that I walk through the doors of that building and listen to the talks and lessons given, I come away a better person and fortified and strengthened for another week. With my baptismal covenants renewed by taking the bread and water, I am promised the guidance of the Holy Spirit to get me through the week. I come home clean and renewed.

As the wind roars, I did not make the decision lightly. And today I especially needed the cleansing power of the sacramental ordinance. Last night, I fell asleep with a heavy heart over issues that I constantly shove under the rug with the dust bunnies. But when charged with a specific task, I came up empty and realized, that once again, my denial has come back to haunt me.

I fought my demons all night. I had tortured dreams and promptings and restless legs. I suffered until I woke this morning, wanting blessed relief, but also knowing that I didn’t feel ready to go to 9 a.m. church and take those sacred emblems. Maybe it was with relief, and certainly with a bit dismay, that I looked out the window and looked at the thermostat.

I would have time.

Time to study and work through what I needed.

I was given the information, and found a fabulous talk by Elder David A. Bednar. The knowledge has been absorbed. But now the implementation. One thing I learned about gaining knowledge, you don’t truly learn it until you share it. So I am going to share it, and then every faucet will be ingrained in my head. That’s why teachers are the best students.

They learn more than their pupils.

Converted unto the Lord is the talk I used.

I have always had a strong testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ. No one could stand in front of me and tell me that he doesn’t exist in a way I would believe him. That foundation is firm. I am unshaken. I will not be moved. But what I struggle with is: I don’t want to do it. The, I am a whiny child, of which I am (a child of my Father in Heaven), and I just don’t want to do it. I want to be left alone. Pamper me. I am a baby. I want someone to change my diaper and feed me mashed baby food.

I struggle so much.

Life gets me run down, beaten up, torn to pieces. Give me serenity and just leave me to my own devices. I contemplated becoming so engrossed in my own fantasy world that the real world would just pass me by.

But do you know how much I would give up? Everything—except my selfish self.

So I laid out the facts: I have a testimony. But I don’t want to do anything because I’m lazy and selfish. I haven’t been able to get over certain hurdles that I don’t want to get into on this blog post. I don’t know if I have felt that change in my heart because if I felt that change in my heart, why would I feel so guilty and go to bed, after crying on my knees, feeling worthless.

Well, I know one thing. God heard every single one of my cries. He always does. How could I be such a lucky child and still be such a brat?

His love is amazing.

Elder Bednar’s talk walked me through the steps.

Number one: What is a testimony? “A testimony is personal knowledge of spiritual truth obtained by revelation.”

But once we have that testimony, then much is required. That is why it is so hard being a Latter-day Saint—being a Christian. We have now become accountable. “Testimony brings increased personal accountability and is a source of purpose, assurance, and joy.”

I’m not going to get into the steps of gaining a personal testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, but read the talk and it will explain everything.

Number two: What comes next? We are converted. “True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God (see Acts 3:19; 3 Nephi 9:20) and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ.”

This has me a bit worried because of my above mentioned issues. My feeling of a hardened heart for one. How conformed to the will of God am I with a seed of rebellion in my heart?

Last week I had an epiphany in relation to our agency. Rules make us want to rebel. As soon as your mother or father tells you: you can’t do that, you want to do it even more than ever. But we have rules for our safety. That’s why religion seems so restrictive. The “rules” (principles and ordinances and commandments) are for our spiritual safety. But in reality, they keep us free from the chains that Satan can bind us with. Scary, true stuff.

“Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence. Any honest seeker of truth can become converted by experiencing the mighty change of heart and being spiritually born of God (see Alma 5:12–14). As we honor the ordinances and covenants of salvation and exaltation (see D&C 20:25), “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20), and endure in faith to the end (see D&C 14:7), we become new creatures in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony.”

“Knowing by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ is important and necessary. But earnestly coming unto Him and giving our whole souls as an offering requires much more than merely knowing. Conversion requires all of our heart, all of our might, and all of our mind and strength (see D&C 4:2).”

That’s Number three: Enduring to the end. Which entails A LOT! I’m exhausted all ready. Enduring to the end is BIG time responsibility. And why do we do it? Well, if you have a testimony, then you know we do it because of the eternal promise of hope that we can be saved and live with our Father in Heaven again. So we have got to get on the ball.

So I think that if I am truly converted, I shouldn't want to do bad things. And yes I know, we all have human frailties and carnal impulses, but I am talking about a deep down spiritual, I don’t want to, and not because I am physically incapable. Consider what happened to King Benjamin’s people in the Book of Mormon. After hearing his stirring sermon, this is what they had to say. “Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).

Elder Bednar said of King Benjamin’s people, “Accepting the words spoken, gaining a testimony of their truthfulness, and exercising faith in Christ produced a mighty change of heart and a firm determination to improve and become better.”

If I accept the words of the scriptures and our prophet and apostles, have a sure testimony, and have faith in Jesus Christ, then why does my heart feel so hardened over some things? I do want to improve and become better. But I want to ignore that one major issue.

That’s a major stumbling block.

So to rub my guilt a little deeper, here’s what else Elder Bednar continued to say. “The key characteristics associated with conversion are experiencing a mighty change in our hearts, having a disposition to do good continually, going forward in the path of duty, walking circumspectly before God, keeping the commandments, and serving with unwearied diligence. Clearly, these faithful souls had become deeply devoted to the Lord and His teachings.”

I hang my head.

And fall to my knees.

Am I not deeply devoted?

I can’t do any of this on my own.

I kept reading, because Elder Bednar gives us hope and the how to.

“For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience.”

Maybe the fact that I recognize my faults, and have a desire to change my stubborn nature is a good starting place.

“Testimony is the beginning of and a prerequisite to continuing conversion. Testimony is a point of departure; it is not an ultimate destination. Strong testimony is the foundation upon which conversion is established.”

I am glad that at least I have a strong foundation. But I still have a long way to go. Luckily conversion is a life long journey.

“Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living. Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide the spiritual strength and protection we need. Some members of the Church with testimonies have wavered and fallen away. Their spiritual knowledge and commitment did not measure up to the challenges they faced.”

There is an example of a people in the Book of Mormon who buried their weapons of rebellion after they received a testimony and were converted. Here’s what Elder Bednar said about them.

They never did fall away and surrendered “the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more.” To set aside cherished “weapons of rebellion” such as selfishness, pride, and disobedience requires more than merely believing and knowing. Conviction, humility, repentance, and submissiveness precede the abandonment of our weapons of rebellion. Do you and I still possess weapons of rebellion that keep us from becoming converted unto the Lord? If so, then we need to repent now.

They set aside their weapons of rebellion—their pride, selfishness, and disobedience. We have to be humble to do this. And we have to repent.

And then we have to do everything we can to remain close to the spirit. If we looked at the example of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:4-9) we learn that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed. It is acquired one drop at a time—“line upon line [and] precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30), patiently and persistently. No shortcut is available; no last-minute flurry of preparation is possible.

“Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom” (D&C 33:17).

So what did I ultimately learn? My testimony is a sure foundation, but my conversion is ongoing. As long as I don’t stop fighting, as long as I make small incremental changes toward choosing the right and continuing to endure to the end, my heart will soften and change. I still might fight against the things I don’t want to do. But the atonement is there to relief us of our burdens, to wash away our guilt. I don’t need to feel guilty if I repent and try again. Tomorrow is always another day. God loves us, and he doesn't want us to fail in our attempts at enjoying life and being happy. And he wants us to return to him again.

I just feel so much better knowing that my testimony is a jumping off point. A new beginning. We were not meant to be perfect in this life. I am so glad that I can learn more every single day.

My stubborn nature can change.

My heart can soften.

As long as I keep trying.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Valentine's Week Kindle Countdown Sale!

Blog Day 6 for Master of Lies (Chronicles of the Half-Emrys, #1)

We are on to the sixth blog day. Tomorrow, Sunday the 8th, starts my Kindle Countdown sale. If you haven’t had a chance to read my debut novel, now you have 36 hours to down load it for 99 cents. The price will continue to rise all week until February 14th when it will be back to its regular price of $4.99.

For today’s Master of Lies tidbit:

What are the major themes in my book?

One aspect in my novels is the indifference in the immortal dragon realm of Gorlassar, a supposedly a perfect world where there is no evil. The darkness cannot dwell there or enter. When faced with the opportunity to help the mortals, a corrupt race in a world of darkness, many Emrys shirked the idea.

A lesser race should be left to their lesser fate. Right?

So there is darkness creeping around in the mortal world. This is in contrast to the light that is in the Emrys. And the Half-Emrys (beings with a mortal and immortal parent) share both traits. Thus lends to the theme of: The darkness that is in us all.

And the light.

And the fight between good and evil. (Cue Star Wars music.)

This quote from Harry Potter fits the theme of my chronicles. Sirius tells Harry: “You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” 

Agency is a huge aspect in my books and despite having darkness inside you, it is your choices that define you. (Insert Dumbledore quote: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”)

Here’s my enticing back cover blurb:

Mastering the lies is easy if you don’t have to wrestle against your own darkness . . .

Unaware of her immortal heritage, the truth concealed from her, Ahnalyn learns she’s a child of two worlds—a half-Emrys with the ability to wield the light and the dark power. Aneirin, a Son of Light, has his own reasons for leaving the immortal dragon realm. Defying the High Council, he risks exile—risks being tainted by the corrupt mortal world Ahnalyn is a part of.

As Aneirin’s life becomes entwined with Ahnalyn’s future, he is certain of one thing: Ahnalyn belongs with the immortal Emrys. But doubt and fear shroud Ahnalyn as the painful truths of her past unfold. Succumbing to the darkness lurking inside her is the easy, simple path. But under the dark power, Ahnalyn would be forbidden to enter the immortal realm and would be lost to all those she loves—forever.

Master of Lies is the first book in the Chronicles of the Half-Emrys, a high fantasy novel.