Finding Symbolism

A strange thing has been happening where I live. Trees are budding. My Rose-of-Sharon shrubs have new flowers blossoming when normally they bloom in July or August and are completely dead by now.

We had a terrible windstorm not too long ago. The worst one I’ve seen in almost ten years. Trees were knocked over, limbs were ripped off, fences, garbage cans, trampolines and swing sets were blown over and away. My shrubs looked like they were dead. The leaves turned brown and shriveled. And yet, there are new flowers blooming. And I’ve seen new buds on my neighbor’s trees.

I love symbolism, and I see it everywhere. I see these trees, shrubs and flowers reflecting the beauty and strength that can come from going through hard, hard things. The difficult things we go through—the difficult things I have gone through—don’t have to kill or maim us. They may hurt. They may, at times, make us feel weathered, shriveled, ugly. But they are also what makes us bloom and blossom. We become stronger, more resilient and beautiful through the winds that beat upon us. And we can share that beauty—beauty and light—with others around us.

Even through the hard, hard things—like this year of 2020—there is still beauty. There is still newness. There is still time and room to grow. There is still more to become.

Stronger Than You Think

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Yesterday was a rough day—or more like an accumulation of several rough days that finally just exploded in a blinding flash of lightning and deafening clap of thunder. It’s easy to want to give up when you feel like you’re making no real progress in life. But as I was chatting with a friend a bit about what was going on I realized I have made progress. I realized that I’m stronger than I once was. It used to be that when I’d get really depressed like that I would lock myself in my room or storm off in my car and force my then-husband to take care of everything. But I can’t do that anymore. I suppose I could, but I won’t, I don’t. As much as I wanted to curl up on my bed and spend the night crying, I didn’t. I got up, dusted myself off, got my kids some dinner, made cookies with them and we read scriptures together like we do every night. I have made it, I am stronger, and I am still going.

Sometimes it takes bottoming out to realize that the bottom isn’t really as low as it was last time. That means there is a point in continuing on. That means you are progressing, even if you don’t see it at first. And that makes it all worth it.

It’s Okay to Fail

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As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I think we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We have this religion we believe in, and we want to be good, we want to do the things we know we’re supposed to, so we give ourselves unrealistic expectations. The truth is, we aren’t perfect. We make mistakes. We fail. We fall. And that’s okay. It only means we have somewhere to go. I wrote a single line in a poem about it.

Wanderlust to Roam

My wanderlust to roam
like the cravings of an addict to nicotine,
living high on wind and earth and sky,
free of anchor or root to chain me down,
free to soar and fall and soar again.
My wanderlust to roam.

The poem is twofold. Obviously the main idea is about my desire to wander and explore. But the line free to soar and fall and soar again was about failing. It means that it’s okay to fail because we can succeed again. Falling isn’t the end. We fall, we get up. It reminds me of Imagine Dragon’s On Top of the World. There’s a line toward the end of the song that’s about how hard it is to fall and get up, but get up, anyway.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve fallen or failed in my life—too many to even remember. Depression is something that beats you down, anyway, makes you feel like a failure most of the time. In high school, I beat myself up anytime I didn’t get a 4.0. I felt worthless never finishing college with a Bachelor’s degree. I think women in the LDS church especially feel pressure to be perfect—to have these perfect little (or big) families with perfect children and perfect spouses, and of course we have to be perfect too. And we’re scared to show the world otherwise. Well, through this blog, I’m showing everyone how I’ve fallen, and I’m saying it’s okay.

I think going through a divorce is what has truly taught me what it means to get back up. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, the worst hell I’ve ever experienced. I feel as though divorce is still somewhat of a taboo in my religion. But it happened. I got divorced. The worst panic attacks I’ve ever had were shortly before it was final, as I thought about how my life had come to this, how much it hurt. A couple of times I ended up on my bathroom floor, crying and shaking so hard I literally couldn’t breathe and thought I was about to pass out, thought I might end up in the hospital. Those first couple of weeks after my divorce was final were extremely hard too. I felt like the most epic failure ever, felt so incredibly worthless. Suddenly becoming a single mom was so hard. Yet, I did it. As my routine fell into place I realized how strong I had become—because of the fire I had been through. I failed, and I fell, but I got back up and was stronger and more refined than I’d ever been in my life. After that, I realized I was happier than I had been in years.

Life certainly isn’t perfect. I’m still a divorced woman and a single mom. I still deal with mental illness on a daily basis, yet I’ve learned to get back up when life gets me down because I know it’s okay to get pushed down. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to fall. Falling isn’t the end. Sometimes it is a beginning—one that leads to knowledge, strength, resolve and refinement. One that can lead us closer to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.