Tuesday, August 24, 2010

how danielle does it...

this week i'm visiting an old friend. we met in college and she's one of the few i always see when i go home. i like her that much. she's a darling person. a darling mother. a darling wife. a darling friend. she always seems to have her head on straight and her focus in the right direction - even though she would probably tell you otherwise. she's one of the most capable people i know and her attitude is out of this world spectacular. she's a good cook, a great crafter and, to top it off, an incredible athlete. she won a race once. won it. and there were lots of people running. and four summers ago, when she was very pregnant, she lapped me every morning in the pool. i would have minded more if she weren't so darn fun to be around.

here's how danielle does it...

Perhaps it is in my female nature to find a little therapy in listing my woes or spilling my trials into a sympathetic ear. I am not particularly whiny, but I find a little relief in relating a little of what I have “endured” in my 18 hour days. Some of the best play dates are not those in which the children play peacefully together (ha! yeah right) but those in which we moms top one another’s horror stories of badly behaving children, bodily fluids, and/or late night hours. I rarely hesitate an opportunity to retell the dreadful details if it brings the opportunity to relate or bond with another.

Consequentially in preparation for this particular ‘assignment’ I immediately began scheming of how to put all other trials to shame. I feverishly began with: the common hardships, those obvious to others, the physically challenging, personal and specific, and finally the secret and even embarrassing ones. Ultimately anything I considered challenging or demanding earned a spot on my list. I lost my momentum when I realized Maren did not ask for a compilation of our sob stories. As I reconsidered “How do you do it?” I even felt a little deflated. It honestly took me a few weeks of consideration. In this time I found I welcomed the opportunity to swap the horror stories for a little personal inventory and in this time I even made a few many changes.


Watching my 3 year old Laneah go through 3 surgeries has been a trial. The actual physical part of this I can not claim as my own trial and this made it all the more heartbreaking. Despite this, I can specifically remember instances in which I felt an overwhelming surge of peace and calm. The understandably panicky thoughts swirling through my brain, and the worries concerning the general anesthesia and the eye muscle surgery were strong, but were calmed under the blanket of surety and clarity.

Prayer in every form was truly the source of strength in this trial. It was stressful and overwhelming in those months of eye patching and appointments all ultimately leading up to surgery but the peace and calm was stronger. I felt the power of others’ prayers, Priesthood blessings, and fasting as Laneah went through not only this eye muscle surgery, but another one a year later. One month after, Laneah had an emergency surgery to fix a badly broken arm. Ultimately I found myself on my knees often as I struggled for strength and peace. This trial, more than anything, has helped me learn the true power of prayer.


The opportunity/challenge/death sentence recently came for us to become the managers of the apartment complex we are living in. The benefit was saving money while Brandon finishes his schooling. The cons ranged from giving up our personal space and privacy, to night and day work for 100+ units, attempting communication with a high percentage of foreign refugee residents, and finally to keeping two active kids homebound from 9am-6pm everyday. And this is the short list. I won’t lie. This. Is. Really. Really. Hard.

To say this first month has been exhausting is the understatement of the year. I am a slave to the knocking door and ringing phone, am always learning from (embarrassing) trial and error and I feel like I am in constant frantic motion while I juggle mommy-ing, homemaking, and managing. After the daily chaos my nights are packed with email correspondence, filing and faxing. I dream of late rent checks, angry maintenance men, and endless ‘to-do’ lists. Through it all I find myself despairing- “how am I going to do this?”

The only way I am surviving (not quite ‘thriving’ mind you) is remembering my priorities. For me, this means daily scripture study and prayer, quality time with my kids and husband, simple house keeping and daily exercise. And that is it. When I do have a spare minute I am learning how to jump to the most important, rather than the easiest or the most convenient. Reading to my kids, really listening to my husband, truly studying my scriptures, finding things to be happy about , and squeezing in just 30 minutes of something active is not very easy some days. In between door knocks I try to read to Adelle rather than hastily scour my favorite food blog. When I do have an uninterrupted 30 minutes I want to have some ‘special time’ with Laneah even though I am mighty tempted to tackle my ramshackle closet. It isn’t easy for me. But as my time is being taxed I am realizing what is most important. I am learning how to cling to the priorities and let go of everything else.

I miss reading at night, my perfectly cleaned and organized apartment, my already meager 7 hours of sleep, the audio books on my iPod, long leisurely phone chats with my mom, structured mornings, lazy pajama days, cooking new recipes, running any errand at anytime of the day, scrapbooking, socializing with friends, going to book group and playdates, and enjoying long ‘boring’ afternoons. Of course there is always a time and a place for these things and I won’t say no to a girl’s night, or an hour at the park. But I am learning how to say ‘no’ to what can wait while I focus on what really needs attention. During the day I make a thousand teeny tiny choices and each time I give up a non-essential, I find I am stronger and more driven to my true priorities.

Although daily I am tempted to curl up under the covers and feign a coma, I know I will come out on top if I keep my priorities in order. I could be a rock star apartment manager if I wanted to. And I will still try to do a good job. But my true managerial efforts, my tap dancing energy, my singing in the shower happiness, and any positive ounce of hope I have will first be spent in strengthening my testimony, in teaching and loving my children, in learning and growing with my husband, and in taking care of my physical self so that I can continue to do these things. One of my favorite future memories will be reflecting on the times we spent here, chuckling about how we survived this and that…but I don’t want to live looking forward to ‘one day.’ I want to enjoy the here and now - trials included. I want to ‘one day’ look back and be thankful I lived for what was most important.


Brad, Debbie, and K squared said...

Danielle, you have always been such a great example to me of someone who is able to get through everything with a smile on your face. Me being a person who rarely (okay, NEVER) prioritizes correctly (hence why I am writing this comment instead of giving my kids a bath right now), it was good for me to read how you have tried to prioritize more and have been blessed for it. That is something I want to try and do better at in the future (okay, TODAY). Thank you for your words of wisdom! I think you are wonderful!

Molly said...

I love the idea of living in the here and now instead of constantly looking forward to the "better" future. I find myself thinking about when we have a house or when my husband has a job or when we can afford to go on another big vacation, etc. etc. And I forget that my life right now is wonderful! Thanks for reminding us that while some days seem like too much to handle, every day is a blessing and that we can live it to the fullest if we so choose.

ed and kelli said...

danielle. you are awesome! man i need to look at my own priorities.

Jenny said...

Ah Danielle. Yet another reason I think you're just great.

rachel said...

Thanks for this Danielle. I am grateful for you!