Thursday, March 6, 2014

How Zumba has changed my life.

I had a great conversation with a friend the last night and we were discussing friendship and how Zumba has brought some of the most amazing people and experiences into my life.

For those not in the culture or lifestyle of Zumba it looks like a sweaty party, that's fun, but not for them. They think it's about the moves (which maybe they feel they don't have), or the music (which maybe they don't know)...when in actuality, Zumba is about PEOPLE.

I have a saying that I repeat often which I heard from the CEO of Zumba, Alberto Perlman. "Zumba is not about burning calories. Zumba is about changing lives!"
No truer words have been spoken.

How is it that this "fitness craze" or "dance party" changes lives? Is it the confidence from a healthier body or a smaller waistline? What do people achieve in these classes or with this program that actually produces a change, a change for the better, a change that takes them on a different path? A better path.

I look at my life 6 years ago. I had been married 5 years (happily) and had my two wonderful kids. I would work from home making jewelry for a company just so I could do a little shopping here and there and not have my husband raise is eyebrows at me. However small the amount I made, it was mine. I worked for it. :D Bring on the shoes!!!

 I LOVE being a mom. In college I didn't even know where to begin on courses b/c I wanted to grow up and be a mom. My mom had to work and I wanted to be there when my kids got home from school and not working retail til 9:30pm many nights. I was going to be a "stay at home" mom. This was the life I had planned. My husband Brian was going to go to dental school and we were going to live the All American Dream.

I was married at 20 and had our first at 22. I had a very full life, filled with wonderful people. But somewhere in there I forgot what I like to do. What music I like, who I was at the core. I was a mom and a wife and I feel a pretty good one too---those were titles, titles I was proud to have. But WHO WAS I? If someone asked what I liked to do it revolved around motherhood (again, this I did proudly), If asked what kind of music or shows I watched, it revolved around motherhood-Sesame Street, kids songs, ABCs, Little Einsteins. I didn't realize that I forgot to look beyond the titles and more deeply into WHO I AM as a person. As a daughter of God. What's my life purpose? What mark am I going to make on this earth?

My mom always wanted me to teach group fitness. I think deep inside she knew the difference it made in her life and wanted me to experience that as well.  This was not something I was comfortable with nor did I think it was going to be a path I would take. Did I fear I'd fail? Yes. Did I fear people not wanting the "instructors daughter"? YES! I didn't take chances, I played it safe. I played small.

After my second child I was feeling "unsuccessful" as a mom. My daughter was really colicky. Making and keeping her happy was a feat I was ill prepared for. I cried daily b/c the one thing I had set out to do, the "career" I chose was one I actually knew nothing about and through lots of trial and error and more trial and error, I was constantly reassessing and coming up with a new game plan and goals to reach to try and create peace in our home and in my heart.

It was about this time that a new fitness format came out. It seemed like something I could at least fake for a while, giving me an outlet I could try to succeed in. I taught this format for about 4 months and was at a stand still. I wasn't inspired, I didn't feel inspiring. Then a path opened up, one that would change my life forever, for good. That path was Zumba.

There came a point in my teaching where I stopped looking at all I was putting into the class, all MY works, all MY efforts (which was very self centered) and took a step back to see the HUGE impact this class has made on MY life. The people I have met along the way aren't who I usually had associated with. I grew up in Utah and most of my friends were just like me. I didn't have much diversity. As I grew up in life and in this company I have met the most amazing people: different ages, different backgrounds, lifestyles, sexual preferences, sizes, religious beliefs, political opinions, languages...before Zumba I knew only a small amount of people who were not of my same faith. I love Utah. I don't see myself ever moving actually. I wouldn't still live where I do if I didn't LOVE this area and the quality of life we share with our kids. I think I am surrounded by the salt of the earth, amazing people with integrity and kindness at their core. But...you know what? Different also is good. I don't know that I understood this so much growing up and part of that is just that-growing up. You start to see the world as a whole rather than the world within your 30 mile radius.

My dad was the best at connecting with people. He didn't care where they were from, what they did in their free time, he cared about looking into their eyes and making them feel important. His motto in life was "To love ALL people, in ALL places, at ALL times." I remember a story he shared with me. He was in the restroom at his work at the Salt Lake City County Courthouse building. There was a man on the ground, distraught, upset. He looked up at my dad and asked, "Will you pray with me?" My dad got down on his knees on the bathroom floor and said a prayer with this man. When he opened his eyes the man was very moved and crying and went into telling my dad that he had just dyed his hair in this very bathroom and was going to go rob a bank. Then my dad had walked in. The prayer they said together, the love he felt. This changed his whole course of action.

While I have never been on the verge of robbing a bank or doing something dramatic like that I have had those days where you just feel yucky and in a funk, giving up on a goal, unsuccessful. It is on those days I'll receive a message from someone telling me they enjoy my class or some work I have done, that they are grateful for me through some way, or grateful for Zumba as a program and I realize just like me there are people all over the world doing the same thing day in day out. Helping others find success. Lifting each other up.

As an instructor you create ways for people to have success. Yes it is small, through a routine, song, rhythm...BUT, these little successes build. Over time the success they feel in your classes create more successful choices, making more successful and confident people, helping people have more successful lives. I have heard from many students the changes they are making in their lives b/c they have a place they feel good, confident and carefree. This gives them a place of comfort, a safety zone where they can rid their minds of negative thinking. If they have this, they begin to focus less on what others think of them and start taking charge of their lives. It happens over and over again. The students lift each other up, they feel more confident, happy, liberated that they pass that on. I'm sure you're familiar with the Butterfly Effect. Here is a quote I love that goes along with it's meaning-

"Each smallest act of kindness, reverberates across great distances and spans of time --affecting lives unknown to the one who’s generous spirit, was the source of this good echo. Because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage, years later, and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each expression of hatred, each act of evil.”

Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye The more people I have let into my life the more my life is changed for good.

This is why Zumba changes lives. Little acts of kindness, a smile, a compliment, a small success. The people who are there with you experiencing the same thing with each other create this amazing positive energy. It goes on and on and the ripple effect can be so far reaching. It starts with you, goes to your family, friends, co workers, associations. Then the banker, the grocer, the mail man, the post office employee.

I never thought of myself as an insecure person, I didn't feel my life was empty or that I needed any more friends or anyone else in my life for that matter. I was content and happy.

The change in me has been huge. I see further than what's in front of me, I have been so greatly impacted by this "workout craze" I hardly can imagine where I would be without it. My marriage is better, I am a better mom, I love more people, I am more confident, I am happier, I am no longer concerned with what anyone thinks of me. I try to be the best version of myself that I can. For those who don't like it, I am ok with that, I love people and of course would hope they see the real ME but, I will not compromise my integrity to suit the approval of those whom I do not emulate. Positive, loving, uplifting-this is who I want to be. These are the qualities I go to bed hoping to improve on the next day. I see these qualities in those I surround myself with and I am grateful for those examples.

Zumba changed my life. It still is changing my life.


-Kass
This picture was from a conference we did in London. Here I am with Alberto Perlman CEO, Beto Perez Creator, and the ever talented and beautiful Gina Grant and Tanya Beardsley. This group has inspired me more than they will ever know. What I saw in them lite a fire, I became passionate about Zumba, I wanted to make others feel the way I felt when I was around them. For me, they are the heart of the company.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dinner talk

Often times when I am just arriving home from a long trip (LA Zumba Instructor Conference and ZES meeting) my kids will want to go out and "celebrate" me being home. I love this tradition. 

As a child we never went out to dinner. I remember a few times going out to a restaurant with my siblings. My dad lived in a small apartment and didn't have much space or cooking skills so we would eat out on Fathers Day. This was exciting for us until he would recommend The Chuck A Rama or El Pollo Loco or some hole in the wall restaurant who's charm only Mike Akin could appreciate and we would complain and agonize over the meal ahead. The food ended up being pretty good but the time together was better. 

This isn't quite the experience of my kids' upbringing. We eat out much more than once a year. I quite enjoy eating out. With the crazy and demanding schedule we have it's nice to have someone else do the cooking. Through splitting meals and finding the "biggest bang for our buck" type places we are able to do it pretty affordably.

While out on our "celebration" dinner earlier this week I asked questions to get them thinking and talking about other things. A couple questions I asked were:
If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?

This brought about some funny conversations. My son wanted to be wolf. He wanted to be with a pack and to run fast. My daughter wanted to be a chimpanzee b/c they live with families. My husband wanted to be the bald eagle to be at the top of the food chain and to be able to fly. Then I asked him the things he enjoys most about our life. He answered that marriage, family and spending time together are his favorite things. So then I asked him if that's the case than why is it that he picked the animal that lives completely solo and isn't part of a pack or herd? His rebuttal to this was that an eagle doesn't realize he is alone, he is completely happy and content flying solo and has the same happiness and fulfillment families bring to us. 

 I chose to be a labradoodle. To be a family dog like Butters. Everyone quickly agreed and changed their answers, realizing that this pup we have, has it pretty dang good. :D Loved, played with, fed, washed, brushed, adored, happy, and part of a family. 

Another question I asked was, if you were a color what color would you be?

Dayne: "Red, red is like love and red is a noticeable color and is in nature."
Bridget: "I would be Pink, because pink is sweet"
Bri: "I would be blue. (in a joking tone) because I have power like the sky and the ocean"
Me: "I would be yellow b/c it's bright and happy"

Then I asked the kids what color they would describe me as:

Dayne: "I would say you are white b/c you are pure kindness"
Bridget; "I would say you are green, b/c clowns have green things and you remind me of a clown b/c you are funny"

I think these descriptions would change depending on the day but I don't mind being a "Kind Clown" in my children's eyes. 

I recently bought a game called the "Ungame" which is to be kept in the car or at the dinner table to strike up conversation with your family or friends. You draw a card and answer or discuss what's on the card. With all the busy schedules we have between school, piano, gymnastics, dance, hip hop, basketball...I often feel like I'm just taking my kids to and fro and I don't get to have those conversations near as often as I would like. I thought this game was brilliant for this purpose.

Anyway...just me and my ramblings. :D
until next time,
Kass

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Surprises you learn only when vacation with people

We just returned home from a great trip to Las Vegas and California with our friends the Bates family. This was the first time vacationing with another family that wasn't our own relatives and it was AWESOME!!!

The Bates family is much like mine. Mom, Dad, son and daughter. Son is older, daughters younger. Our kids met while we were all in Miami this past summer. Loretta and I (along with other Zumba friends :D) were filming DVDs for the new consumer DVDs for Zumba. There was an instant connection between not only the kids but with the husbands, which isn't always the case that all members of the family get along well. 

The guys starting talking about taking a family cruise sometime and how much fun that would be. Loretta and I couldn't agree more! We assigned Morgan (Loretta's husband) to finding a great deal. The great deal ended up coming at a weekend I was already booked and our timing just never seemed to work out. Brian and I have never been on a cruise, this trip is still on the bucket list.

We finally got together on a date, it was very last minute and a darned near miracle that Loretta and I didn't have trainings that weekend. The stars seemed to align. :D

We started the party in Vegas the "city of sin", an unlikely place for two young families. We stayed off the strip at a casino, smoke and gambling free hotel, but the best part of this hotel was the amazing breakfast buffet!!! We ate like kings every morning! I love a loaded egg white omelet. Give me every veggie you can find, dump it in, grill it up, throw pico on there and I am in heaven! Not to mention the family favorites of: french toast, oatmeal, pancakes, cereal, bagels...you get it. I am a "more bang for your buck' kind of gal so this started every morning on the right foot.

We went to Michael Jackson One which was an INCREDIBLE show!!! This was so nostalgic for me-I listened to MJs records (yes records) day in day out growing up. I even listened to Weird Al Yankovich's renditions...this was how much I loved those songs- I'm Bad vs. I'm Fat or even Beat It vs Eat It! As a kid I would often say that aside from my religious leaders Michael Jackson was going to be one of the first people I would want to meet in heaven. Forget George Washington, Albert Einstein it was straight to the King Of Pop. Every person in that theater was singing, clapping, dancing (ok maybe that was just me and Loretta) and having a great time. The dancers and performers were so so so good. I was an incredible tribute. My kids have me playing his songs over and over, all day, every day and my son has officially mastered  the moonwalk.

We did the Vegas staples-Cheesecake Factory, fountain shows at Bellagio (Brian and my favorite stop), In n Out, kids play area at the outdoor mall...and of course the standard talk with the kids, "DO NOT look at the people handing out cards...eyes forward!!, buddy system, stay together, DO NOT take pictures with the creepy characters bc they WILL want our money" they followed the rules perfectly. We even got to share the stage while in Vegas-Zumba style! We had a master class together at the Zspot which has such a great energy and ambiance. Eva Brammer, our friend we met at the DVD shoot in Miami hosted us and put on a party!! It was great to workout too, being that our attempts at this point had fallen fat, oh did I say fat! I meant flat. ;)

From Vegas we rented an 11 passenger van and with Brian at the wheel, made our way to California. I felt like a spectacle. This took my van experience to an entirely different level as I am used to a mini van and not one that can fit a small village. It was AWESOME!!! We sang Disney songs the whole way there. Loretta knew every word, I was amazed actually as I usually mumble through lyrics she could re-sight with such speed and accuracy. It was impressive to say the least, I realized at that moment that Disneyland may in fact be more of an activity for her than her kids. :D

A have known Loretta for a few years now. Being that this was the first time we were together for an extended amount of time and not work related I felt like I could really get to know her, the mom, the wife, the woman, the kid at heart. I can see why she is so successful. I can see why she is adored not only at work but at home. I can see why she is so happy. I can see why I loved her from the start.

The first time I met Loretta was via skype while preparing for the Rush DVD in Exhilarate- Zumba's consumer DVD collection which was in 2010 (I think). She and I would practice our songs together which always made me laugh b/c with the time delay we were always off and out of synch.  Then we were roommates during the shoot. She and I would talk and talk. She has always been encouraging and helped me get on my feet while starting out as a ZES. I had loads of questions for her and she is a task and detail oriented person so I counted on that strength for my lack there of.  I love working with her.

Even after knowing her for these past few years here are some things I learned while we vacationed together:
The girl loves candy-Hot Tamales and Red Hots are at the top of the list.
She has an answer for evertyhing-if she didn't know it off the top of her head, she will quickly look it up and give you the answer.
She loves Mexican food
She is a roller coaster junkie
She walks at a much slower pace than I. When there was a ride we wanted to hurry to (which seemed to always be my plan) I would say "Come on! Let's walk MARTIN style!" Everyone would pick up the pace and then ultimately a kids would say "Let's walk BATES style!!!"

We did three days at Disneyland and California Adventure. We hit every ride, every snack station, every Disney character we could find for autographs. My feet burned for 72 hours straight. My voice hoarse from screaming on the roller coasters. My cheeks ached from smiling. We learned clapping games and songs to keep us and the kids entertained during longer lines as well as lyrics to the Pirates song, we watched the parades, the fireworks, light shows. I dare say we did it ALL!

Coming home from all the adventures is always bitter sweet.  I love pulling into the driveway and having that feeling of Home Sweet Home. I love the comfort of my neighborhood, the stores I frequent, my "second kitchen" Cafe Rio :D but I love being away from the typical distractions and responsibilities for just concentrated, fun loving time with my three favorite people in the world, and for this trip in particular, the added "sprinkles on top" of the Bates family.

Until next trip!!! Which is already being planned. ;D


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Health changes for Mrs Martin

Whelp the time has come for me to give up a few of my favorite things. Yes, you have probably heard me say this before and yes I usually do this every Monday aka rededication day, but this time it's different...It's doctors orders.

You see, I am a forever foodie. I remember as a kid my mom would take me out to get a treat, I loved going out for a treat. I could have a stressful day, bad grades, bad boyfriend whatever, you add in a treat and all that stuff went away. Magical treats is what they should have been called.

Among some of my favorite treats were:
Frozen yogurt from Golden Spoon-strawberry with gummi bears on top  YES PLEASE
Skittles-original flavor YUM!
Alpine White-can you say AHHHH!? Have you ever tried an Alpine White??? If you haven't you have missed out. I would say you're missing out but no, you really did miss out b/c they are no longer on the market, at least from what I have seen in the past 15 years. Believe me, I have been looking. It is a delicious, smooth, white chocolate bar with little pieces of almond and nougat... are you drooling? :D White chocolate is a weakness for me-or should I call it a strength as it always seems to make things better?  I could go on...I won't.

I recently got my blood work done. It has been something that has been looming over me for a while for many reasons. When you get your blood analyzed it can tell you a whole lot about what's going on in your body. After all, we are what we eat...turns out I am just a pile of gluten and my body HATES it!

First words out of my doctor's mouth when I saw him for my "results"? "Kass, you are going to hate me." (no-"Hey Kass, how are you, good to see you???" Maybe he did say those things but I forgot them right away with his next line) "you have to go gluten free"  I think he was prepping me for the worst so Gluten Free seemed like a notch above. I more than anything felt like "Good! that's actually fine, at least there are answers in these results as to why I haven't been feeing 100%"

I like to eat healthy. My husband often says I am the best eater in the world until I am the worst! He is right. I can eat salads, veggies, fruits, lean proteins and my favorite homemade yogurt parfaits all month (ok, week) long and then I will literally have more cookies in one day/sitting than I care to admit. haha.

I would have whole wheat/low carb tortillas every morning with my egg whites and Fiber One cereal on top of those beloved parfaits...If you know me well, you know these are "Kass staples" and these "staples" were doing me NO FAVORS!! I thought I was being Miss Healthy and now I realize my body is not ok with these foods at all!!!

So here's to a new me with new eating habits. Along with the gluten free diet I am now committed to, I am not drinking soda. I am not making promises on this one for the long haul but for now I get SOME soda once a week and that's it! I will savor that Diet Mt Dew like it's my last breath of air. You health nuts are saying to yourself "DIET SODA IS SO BAD FOR YOU!" YES, I know! I know!! but come on now, we all have our vices. I don't judge if you don't judge. And for Pete's sake, I'm working on it.

This no soda kick will officially end on Halloween where I will reward myself with a pair of cool shoes as I decided for some reason to challenge myself to NOT BUY SHOES!!! til the end of the year. In actuality it was more of Brian saying "you seriously have a shoe problem" I then said "no way! I. Do. Not. I will show you!! In fact, I won't buy shoes til the end of the year! HA! shoe problem??? Pah-leez!"

Turns out I think I have a shoe problem. :D I really do love getting cool shoes and with my work I feel like it's all about the shoes! They can make me feel for an hour that I'm not a mini van driving mama but rather one cool chick! and that my friend, shows you the power behind the high tops. That being said-this little soda challenge brought some mercy out of Mr Martin and he said I could relapse and then jump back in til Christmas. I sure love that man. He gets me. He really does.

I really am a mini van fan. Yesterday Brian and I were driving to Ikea. We drove separately so Brian could continue onto a work appt. As I passed by him I asked "You think that girl is hot in her mini van?"(referring to myself jokingly) and he said "absolutely! I look at this woman driving that red mini van and say to myself "now that woman is sensible! and there is NOTHING sexier than a SENSIBLE woman" Oh Bri. Again, he gets me.

Back to gluten. Enough about my love of Diet Dew, mini vans and shoes. Turns out gluten is in a lot more things that I thought but, and this is a BIG BUTT, this day and age there are so many people with gluten allergies that there is a huge supply of gluten free foods... you just gotta know where to find them.

I'll be posting some of my favorite survival foods and snacks here on the blog for anyone who thinks they may wanna give gluten free a try. I am on the prowl for tasty treats and tips. Just to clarify, I do not have ciliacs disease, that has far more restrictions and limitations, but I am (as of a week ago) gluten free. Yikes! did I just say that? I did. I really did.

Here's to me feeling better the gluten free way.

-Kass
 Me and McDonalds are going to be taking a break...it's ok...I know there are others who drive through just for the Diet Coke and they'll be keeping the sales up til I'm back.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Feeding ducks

I was driving home from the airport yesterday from my trip to Montana for a Zumba training and master class. I usually would have been on the phone with my dad. He was the one who I called when I was driving for a long time and we would "shoot the breeze" as he would say.

He always answered my calls and was never in a hurry to get off the phone. Oddly enough, I am pretty sure everyone felt this same way. Mike Akin had time for you, that's one thing you knew for sure.

I let my mind drift for a moment about my dad. I think about him all the time but I don't always let myself get too deep, as this is when the tears come. We are sneaking up on two years since his death. He was exceptional. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that that man was my King.

I remember going to my dads apartment as a little girl. I remember the book shelves-avid reader, ever learning, I remember the chandelier-always letting me take home a "crystal", and I remember feeding the ducks. This is where my mind drifted as I drove home.

The pond was just down the street from my dad's apartment. We would grab bread and walk down. Slowly, never in a hurry but to enjoy the moment. He would let me feed the ducks at whatever pace I wanted, whole slices?? sure! little by little? no problem. He would sit and watch me and giggle. He would really laugh when the geese would come. These were no ordinary geese. They were larger than life and fueled with anger. They seemed to be the protectors of this pond and they saw me as a threat. I would start to run and scream and my dad would just laugh and swoop me up and we would walk to another area. He was always so calm. I remember two times my dad ever raising his voice at me.

I think of when my kids are irrational and Brian and I get the giggles because we understand the reality of the situation where as our children don't. I am sure this is what brought about my dad's laughter when these geese would have me seeing my life flash before my very eyes.

As a parent, I am constantly analyzing, comparing, studying my kids upbringing in comparison to my own. I want to create those memories where they can look back and think of the times spent together with happiness. I know I am not always the parent I want to be. Everyday I rethink my focus, my strategy (if you can call it that) and try new things the next day to improve. Being a parent isn't about what I can teach them but rather what they can teach me. They make sure I am always learning. Ha! Thanks for that. ;)

This morning there were very little tears as I brushed the tangles out of my daughter's hair. Bonus morning for us! Kids got to school on time and with a smile. Another bonus. I am now heading to the school to read with my son's class. Bonus.

If I can slow my pace, laugh at the little things in life and realize that this too shall pass-to enjoy it while it's here. I think I'm on the right track....now I just gotta stay put!




Monday, August 26, 2013

Convention Highlights





This years Zumba Instructor Convention was extra special to me. I love what I do...I love being with my family...once in a while I get to work and have family right by my side.

This year's convention held both of these. I teach two sessions-Dancin Thru The Decades and Crazy Country. I do a class, break down choreography, teach steps, put it all together in another class. Hoping to help instructors think outside of the box for variety they can offer their students, inspire, connect, sweat, dance, and most of all have fun!

My sister Emily has been my biggest fan. She pushed me to dream big. She is an amazing dancer and instructor and she assists me on both my sessions. I joke with her that although she is my big sister and she has been able to boss me around all these years holding seniority...I can change that choreography on her so fast on that stage if she thinks she's gonna boss me around there she's got another thing coming. lol. totally joking!!! She comes so prepared and is always my point of information when my brains decides to poop out on me.

This year my cousin Heather also assisted me. What a treat this was. Heather is my mom's sister's daughter. She is awesome. She grew up in Florida and would come to family reunions in Park City Utah. We got to know each other some as kids at these reunions but once she graduated high school she came to live in Utah and this is where our friendship really began. She is a riot. She's got a body of steel and knows so much about health and nutrition.

Her sister Shelly also came to the convention. She is a Zumba instructor in Arizona and with Heather, Emily and even my mom all going to be there we insister Shelly come too! It wasn't easy for her to leave her six kids to come but what a difference it made!

There is something about the ease of family. It was so fun to share the stage, share the excitement, share the fun, the exhaustion, the aches, the laughter with these awesome ladies. I don't know if I have ever laughed so hard. I was so proud introducing them to all my coworkers and marveled at their beauty inside and out as they connected with everyone. I don't think it's too common to have sisters, mom, cousins all passionate about the same thing and to be able to sneak away and share this time together.

I also had amazing friends come:
Mekette Ford
Dori Child
Ula Inouye

There were some of my girls from last year missing and it's never the same without the whole ten person entourage but we sure had a great time.

I think as I get more accustom to my job, the highs and lows of it all, I worry less, enjoy more, relax more, live in the moment more. I like this more. :D

I know that LA conference coming up in the end of January will hold many of the fun adventures this year's convention did. I sure love my job and the people I have met who have changed my life for the better because of it. What a life this is. :D

The pic above is from last years Dancin Thru the Decades. It's a blast! I get to choreograph routines to all my favorite songs from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. It's a trip down memory lane and one to remember. :D




Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blogging...love it...not my strong suit!






So as it turns out I am a really sucky blogger. I LOVE to blog. I love to write down my feelings, memories, thoughts. Yet I always find myself saying "I'll get to that later" "I'll write that down later" Does it boil down to not caring enough? Or getting side tracked with the more shallow and time consuming activities? IE: Facebook, Instagram, Zumba.com?? Do I overbook my day with work, tasks, ideas, when really all I wanna do is kick my feet up with the fam bam and hang out so blogging gets pushed further and further down the list of things to do??? I really don't know. BUT...here's an entry just because.

Brian and I are were asked to put on a fireside tonight for the youth in our church/ward. The Bishop of our ward said that we can pretty much talk on whatever topic we want. I was toying with the idea of marriage, happiness, being proud to be a Mormon...Brian was really impressed to speak on Gratitude. Once he suggested it, I was totally onboard.

Here are a few of the things I am going to share.

You cannot be happy in life without gratitude. Being grateful for your blessings, your life, even being grateful for your trials will make you HAPPY! And don't we all want to be happy?

So how can we be grateful and happy when things aren't going quite the way we want them to go or when we feel our lives are turned upside down?

I remember when my dad was told he had cancer. He never complained, not once. He wasn't scared, he wasn't disappointed, he wasn't mad, you want to know what he was? Grateful. Grateful for cancer??? How would you even begin to think that having cancer is something to be grateful for? You see, my dad was always a step ahead of the rest, and he understood that with trials you are refined to a much better version of yourself. How can we progress, how can we be strong when we don't have trails to strengthen us?

My dad attended church with a very well known leader in the Mormon LDS faith, Neal A Maxwell. He held a very high calling in our church and was one of the best men my dad had ever had the privilege of meeting, let alone calling friend. Neal had cancer and died from cancer. My dad saw the spiritual growth that occurred in Neal as he and his family were going through this. (I also believe our own personal trials are chances for growth for our friends, family, associates, co workers... ) My dad told me "How can I see Neal Maxwell in heaven and stand beside my friend without going through some major trials?"He almost looked at this trial as a badge of honor b/c he knew the Lord was testing him. He was such a great example of gratitude.

As I look back on those dark days where my eyes were swollen, red, and my heart was broken as I lost my hero I am grateful for that trial as I know that I am a stronger person because of it. I could no longer lean on my dad for those hard to answer questions, talks and lessons in church, phone calls of comfort, my listening ear, by biggest fan. I now had to lean on myself, on my own understanding, my own gut feelings. I learned to lean more on my husband. My dad's death pushed me to be a better person, more loving, more kind to others, more understanding of others downfalls and my own b/c these were the things he believed in, the things he dedicated countless hours to teaching his children and I didn't want all that to go to waste. I wanted people to look at me and think "She is like her dad"

I remember a video Brain showed me once. It's just a few minutes long and worth it.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuOyBFEAylU

There is an article I found. 5 steps to a happy life with a positive attitude. Here's a little recap of each step.
1. Believe happiness is a choice
"Sure this isn't always easy, but it is always, always an option. Teaching myself to see that happiness is a choice has been one of the greatest things I've ever done for myself. Now if I find myself in a bad situation, I know that it's up to me to find the good, to be happy regardless of what's happening around me.
2. Rid your life of negativity 
"If you want to live a positive, joyful and happy life, you cannot-absolutely CANNOT- be surrounded my negative people."
3. Look for the positive in life
"There is the positive aspect in everything. In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time it's not all that obvious. We have to look. And sometimes we have to look hard. Everything good and bad is a learning experience. So at the very least you can learn from bad experiences. However, there's usually even more to it than that. If you really take the time to look, you will usually find something good, something really positive, about every person or situation."
4. Reinforce positivity in yourself
"Yes, you can practice being positive. The best and easiest way to do this is to be positive when it comes to who you are. Tell yourself you're awesome. Tell yourself you look good. Tell yourself that you love and accept yourself completely. Tell yourself you did an awesome job at work or raising your kids or whatever it is you do."
5. Share happiness with others
"Share your wealth of positivity with the world. The best way: BE NICE.  Tell someone they look nice today, tell someone they did a great job on that presentation. Tell your parents/children (or both) how much you love them and how great they are.

To wrap this up, because I need to see what the heck is going on in the kitchen with my kids who are fighting (which I am going to find the good in right?? :D)

Attitude of Grattitude.

"You cannot be both angry and grateful at the same time. Start counting your blessings and miracles in your life, start looking for them and you shall find more. What's there not to be grateful? You are alive and breathing! Realize how lucky you are and all the abundance in your life"

As all things in life---I'm working on it.

I have so much to be grateful for. I feel very blessed to have the life I have. And to have my dad as such a visual, tangible, example of gratitude...even when you can't imagine being grateful...how can I not try to emulate this so hopefully my kids can say the same about me.

Talk to you soon!

Hopefully real soon!!!
Kass