December 23, 2014

Remembering 2014

As a year ends and a new one begins we start to reminisce over all the experiences we've had over the past year. Good ones, bad ones, exciting ones, lessons we learned, etc.

Looking back over the past year, we've had some amazing and challenging experiences in our family. 

We started out the year 2014 by moving to Panajachel, Guatemala where we learned a new language, a new culture and helped build and open a hotel. What an adventure that was moving to a place where we had no idea what to expect from the moment we decided to pick up and leave our comfort zone.

Emree loved doing laundry by hand
 One thing I miss most about beautiful Panajachel, is walking down the main drag.  You can't beat that feeling of walking up and down the streets with people, shops and fruit carts all along the way. I loved that no matter who you saw down the road, they would always make sure to say "Buenos Dias," "Buenos Tardes" or "Buenos Noches" (depending on the time of day of course). There were so many friendly faces which always made my day whether I knew what they were saying or not.

This was also the place where we found out we would be welcoming a new baby into our home. This also gave us an opportunity to learn a little bit about the health care in Guatemala, which was...interesting. ;)

Guatemala will always have a special place in my heart and I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to live there and learn first hand what it's like to live in a third world country. :)  I learned things there that I would have never otherwise had the opportunity to learn if we hadn't moved there.  What a blessing it was. 

After living in Guatemala for 6 months, we decided it was time to move back to Utah. Travis started school continuing in Mechanical Engineering and we moved up to student housing at the U of U. After living in cockroach infested apartments and a cement block home with absolutely no privacy, this apartment has been by far our favorite place we've lived. It has been a great blessing to us. No matter how simple or how small our apartment may be to some, it is a special place that we love to call home.

 We have met so many wonderful people and have made some great friends. To be honest, before we got here I wasn't sure how quickly we would get to know people and I was a little worried I'd have no friends nearby, especially when I had the baby. But it's been another 6 months and we feel like we are amongst family. 

Emree turned two this year and is growing fast. She is so full of excitement and love and is very observant. When I am having a hard time and I don't think she will notice, she does and always asks "Are you okay Mom?" and runs up to me and gives me a big hug. She is such a big sweet heart and has also made some good friends here, although sometimes I'm not so sure she really cares. ;)

Emree is a beautiful little girl and is learning more and more everyday.  Her speech is coming along and she's making sense more and more everyday as well. She also learned Spanish this year and at one point was probably more fluent in it than me or Travis. She is also very polite, most of the time.  For a two year old, I'm pretty proud of her for remembering to say please and thank you.

Miles was a little miracle to us. We weren't planning on having another child for a while, but I guess he just couldn't wait and I am so glad he didn't. He has been a huge blessing to us and I am so grateful to have him in our family.

Miles was born  on November 9th and is just a sweet heart. He is smiling like c
razy and is a pretty laid back little guy.  He has a tickle spot on his tummy where he gets a little uncomfortable and is sleeping 5 to 7 hours a night now. Woo Hoo!
Miles is definitely a Mama's boy.  If he's frustrated or upset Daddy doesn't do as well of a job calming him down, but put him in his Mommy's arms and he will fall right to sleep (which makes me feel good). :)

Our family has grown from 3 to 4 and although it may take us a little longer to get out of the house and go places, I love it.  We are growing and learning together and love being a family.

 It's been an amazing year full of ups and downs, but overall it has been a great year! I'm grateful for the wonderful adventures I have had and for the things I have learned.  It's been a year full of blessings and I'm excited for 2015 and for the many new adventures ahead.



December 22, 2014

Remembering My Savior

I watched an old video the other day called "Mr. Krueger's Christmas." I love this short film, because it expresses just how beautiful the atonement really is through the life of this sweet man.  It's a simple message,  but its very special. In it there is a scene where Mr. Krueger is there with Christ after his birth.  He talks to him as if he is his old and dearest friend, expressing gratitude and love for him and for all that he has done for him throughout his life.

Often times we think of the atonement as something to be used mainly when we mess up or make a mistake (at least I have), but often we forget that this is not all the atonement is for.  It is for any pain, any hurt, any struggle.  It is for anything that disconnects us from God.  The atonement is for any affliction and any trial.

 I think the atonement is something so powerful that it takes a lifetime to understand. But I do know this, that I know that he loves me.  Even when I struggle to remember that, he reminds me.  I know that he is there no matter the heartache or struggle I am facing.  Even just with juggling two kids and trying to be the best Mom for them, is something he helps me with daily. 

Christ already suffered for me and you, the question is will we let him into our hearts.  I think that letting him in is the first step to understanding more of the atonement. When we let him in he will reach out with open arms and lead us along. 

I love the photo of Christ's coming where he is surrounded by clouds, blue sky and angels, with his arms open wide.  It makes me think that those arms are open for me.  What a beautiful thing to know that he is the one person who will always be there. Who will never let you down. Who will be there to pick you up when you fall and will be the support you need.  He's there when you need to talk.  He's there to give you that hug when you've had a bad day. How special it is to know that he loves you?

I am filled with so much gratitude for my Savior.  I don't know where I would be without him.  The struggles I am facing right now in my life, no matter how minor or major they may be, are ones that I could not get through without him.  I could not go through life without him.  He is my rock and has been there when I have felt alone and unsure.  He has been there when I've doubted myself and been afraid.  He has been there through it all.  He will never leave me no matter how rough the tide may be. 

What a special time of year it is to be able to remember our brother, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 Merry Christmas!

November 11, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Miles

We just had our little boy Miles Cameron Gowen, on November 9th. He was 8 lbs 5 oz and 21.5 inches long. He is a healthy and happy baby and just as precious as ever.

As we've been sitting in the hospital, we haven't been able to keep our eyes off of him.  He looks around with his big beautiful eyes and I can't help, but wonder what he is thinking.  It's a whole new world being born and an incredible journey growing and learning through life.  I love watching each stage of life children go through and it's so fun to think that we went through that same thing not long ago.

It's amazing to see Miles and his personality, being only a few days old, and seeing how different he and Emree are from each other.  Miles is super laid back and relaxed about life and gobbles down his food in less than 10 minutes almost every time.  He is a beautiful addition to our family and we are so excited to have him here.  He has such a sweet spirit about him. It's such a special time having a newborn in the home.  It's a time where you come to refocus your life and remember what really matters most.

Emree still isn't quite sure what is going on, but once we get home I think she will start to understand and will probably love him more than we imagined. ;) Miles is a huge blessing to us and I am feeling so blessed to have two beautiful kids who are so different, but so special.  I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for allowing us to have the opportunity to raise Emree and Miles.  It is a privilege to be to have these sweet spirits in our home. 

Welcome to the family Miles. We love you so much and are so excited to have you in our lives!

September 26, 2014

Our Bodies Are Incredible

I had the opportunity to see the "Body Worlds" exhibit at the Leonardo here in Salt Lake.  I've always been interested in the human body.  I think it is so amazing and I've enjoyed learning about our bodies and what they can do. When we first walked into the exhibit it was a little weird to think that we were looking at real people who had donated their bodies for something like this, but as we continued looking around it was a really neat experience for me.

Looking at all the different parts of the body, I was so amazed at how much detail and how complex our bodies are.  You see models of bodies all the time, but to see real models instead of plastic brought it all to life. I kept thinking about our Heavenly Father and thinking that he created our bodies and to think that everything has a purpose and works so well together.  I couldn't stop thinking "Wow! Our bodies our incredible!"

What a blessing it is to have the bodies that we have.  Being pregnant and seeing this exhibit I was amazed to see at how many organs and such are placed inside our bodies in such a way that they fit, especially when pregnant with a baby having all your organs move of the way to make room for this child.  I'm blown away by the thought that you can fit all of your vital organs and have a child inside of you at the same time.

Looking at these things and their beauty and detail, it makes you stop to think that there is so much in this world to learn.  There is so much we don't know and will constantly be learning about our whole lives as well as in the next.  Our Heavenly Father is amazing! Everything is so well put together in this life and works the way they are meant to. The trees, the flowers, the animals, the mountains, the food and so much more, but especially our bodies.

We are constantly learning about our bodies and how they work and perform and the things they can do.  I am in awe and I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me the opportunity to be on this earth and to learn about my body and to help me to see what I am capable of.  What a blessing it is to be on this earth and to be a part of God's plan. What a blessing it is to have a body!

Our bodies are incredible! 

September 18, 2014

A Lesson In Prayer

The other day Emree and I were coming home from visiting family.  On our way home Emree fell asleep in my arms on the train and then we had to wait at the bus stop for the shuttle to come.  It was later in the evening and we were both exhausted. As I stood there at the stop, I realized that I had no idea what bus we were suppose to get on to get home. We didn't have a phone and there was no way I could carry her from where we were. Sweet little Emree kept asking me "what's wrong?" and I would respond "I'm okay sweet heart, I just want to get us home." Then she would smile, get close and talk to me in her language telling me that it was going to be okay. 

After a while of not knowing what to do, I asked her "should we say a prayer?" and she said "yeah." Emree moved in close, folded her arms and bowed her head ready to pray. While we prayed she stayed very still and at the end said Amen. Then she gave me a big hug and continued smiling and waving at the people who drove by.  After a few minutes the bus we needed came around the corner and we were able to make it home.

This was a very special moment for me. Emree has such a sweet spirit and is so open to the things of the spirit. After our prayer I thought about the faith of a child, her faith and how precious and strong it is. Children our so close to our Heavenly Father. They are filled with the spirit and filled with his love. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to teach Emree the importance of prayer, especially in a situation where you need help and are not sure what to do. 

Little children have a sense of the importance of the gospel and the importance of talking to our Heavenly Father.  They were there in the premortal life more recently than we were so why wouldn't we take the time to watch and listen to them.  I am so grateful to be a Mom to sweet Emree and our little boy on the way. What a blessing it is to have these sweet spirits in our lives who teach and remind us of Heavenly Father's love each and everyday.

September 2, 2014

A Beautiful Journey

What would life be like if we could just look at ourselves in the mirror and say "I am beautiful," "I am talented," "I have great potential," "My hair looks good!," and so on?  What if we looked at ourselves the way that our father in Heaven sees us... as children of God.  What if we could see ourselves the way God sees us?

I've been trying to understand who I am and my worth for quite sometime. This isn't a recent thing. It's been something I've been working on since maybe 6th grade, maybe even longer. I've been trying to learn to love and accept myself.  Looking at this and seeing that I'm not the only one in the world who feels this way and struggles with loving themselves, I want to share with you a few things I've learned over the past few months.

 I've learned that in taking time to ponder and be with the lord I am able to see more clearly and see myself as my Father in Heaven sees me.  Doing things such as studying the scriptures, praying, writing in my journal or just going out to find a quiet place to watch the sunset is time with the Lord.  In making time to be with the Lord and come closer to him we come to understand our true worth. Instead of looking at ourselves in a way that is demeaning and hurtful, we come to see ourselves the way God sees us as we come to him.

Accepting yourself isn't a chore, it's not something that is going to happen right away (as much as you would like it to).  It takes practice, patience with yourself and lot's of prayer. Over time as you come to recognize your beauty you will come to understand more of who you are as a person and see that your beauty is so much deeper than what you have been seeing in the mirror.

Another thing I've learned is that looking at the small, tender mercies the Lord has given me each and everyday, helps me to come and understand how much my Heavenly Father loves me.  By taking time to recognize these tender mercies I've grown more and more in ways that I could never have imagined.

There is something so pure and sweet about recognizing the blessings the Lord has given you.  When you see the small and simple things he does for you each day, that's where you begin to see just how much he really loves you and in turn you come to see how special and important you are and come to love and accept yourself for who you are, because of his love for you.

I've had many experiences this year that have helped me to see how much Heavenly Father loves me.  For example, when we came back from Guatemala we didn't have any furniture... literally nothing.  But over time we have gathered together furniture that is exactly what we needed and wanted and most of it was free.  This has been a great tender mercy to me, because sometimes I feel like these things I want are so small and not really that important, but that's not how the Lord sees it.  I've learned that what means a lot to me, means a lot to him.

 I've also come to truly understand how important it is to think of others. In serving others we become less focused on ourselves and in doing so we come to see ourselves more clearly.  Even recognizing and praying for the people around you who have come into your life and touched your life in someway each day, can help you to come to be more selfless and more compassionate and loving. Thinking of others helps you to feel good and brings the spirit into your heart.

Last, I've learned that it's important to be your own best friend.  You wouldn't go out and say hurtful words to a close friend or loved one, you would try to build them up and help them the best you can.  So why wouldn't you do that for yourself? 

These are just a few things I've learned and have been thinking a lot about lately. It has made all the difference in my life and on my journey in coming to love myself.  They may be things that I've known my whole life, but in coming to understand these things, it helps me to see more clearly. 

It's a process, coming to love yourself and I have come a long way from where I was.  I still have a ways to go, but it's part of learning and growing. I'm so grateful to be learning more and more about myself everyday. I'm grateful that I have a loving Heavenly Father who watches out for me and knows my potential and helps me to see for myself who I truly am.  I love this beautiful journey I'm on in my life and I hope you find that your journey is just as beautiful!

August 29, 2014

Thank You Mr. Gardner, For Loving Me Enough To Cut Me Down

One of my favorite Mormon Messages is called "The Will of God."  This is a powerful message each time I watch it.  It is a good reminder to me that Heavenly Father knows and understands me.  He loves me so much that sometimes it may even mean cutting me down so that I can grow in the way that will be best for me. 

I feel like I've had so many experiences over the past few years to where the lord has helped me to understand lessons that have brought me to where I am today.

When we moved to Guatemala I struggled with my self-esteem, but I learned how to love myself better, because I stood out and there was no way I was ever going to be like the people around me.  So I had to learn to embrace it.  But in coming back to Utah, I didn't think I would struggle as much as I did with my self-esteem.  I have never felt so low and horrible about myself in my life, but the time that we've been here I've come to understand why I've felt the way I have and have come to love myself more and more every day. 

You see the Lord had to show me that even though I learned a great deal about loving myself in a different country, I only understood a piece of it.  He had to cut me down in order for me to see and understand the things that I need to do to become who I want to be and truly love myself.

 I've still got a ways to go, but I've never felt happier.  It's a blessing to have those moments where the Lord takes a hard thing and turns it into a great learning and growing experience. 

I know that our Father in Heaven wants us to love ourselves.  He wants us to come to understand those things that are bothering us and he wants us to be happy.  It may not seem like it at times, but he does want us to be happy.  It doesn't mean that it will happen the way we would want or expect, but in cutting us down we become better, stronger and happier than ever before.  We will find ourselves saying "Thank You Mr. Gardner, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me."

August 5, 2014

One Adventure To Another

This is what it means to be excited for the adventures of life. ;) 
Well, our adventure in Guatemala has come to an end, for the time being at least.  It's a new chapter in our lives and so the journey continues.

I still have all my previous posts about our adventures in Guatemala here, but have just re-titled this blog to "Little Moments."  The reason I chose this title is, because no matter what the adventure is that we go on in our lives, there are so many precious moments that happen that are worth remembering.  Often times it's the little things that matter the most.  So, our adventure hasn't really ended, we are just adding on to it.  I hope you will still enjoy reading about our adventures where ever we go.  Living in another country is awesome, but no matter where we live there is always something awesome happening in our lives. :)

My husband and I had a thought the other day that I'd like to share with you. This was written by my husband, Travis and he said it so perfectly:

"So often people ask us what we miss most about Guatemala.  There are so many things that we can't really express and so a lot of the time we just say "the people," but that isn't 100% true.  Yesterday, however, I think we finally got into words what we miss most.

There is something so different about that land.  You can look at the moon and the stars here and you feel an appreciation for the beauty of the earth and the majesty of God.  But when you stand outside at night there and stare up at the heavens, you feel a deep and abiding reverence.  You see the mountains covered in mist as you go to Guatemala City and can't deny feelings of sacredness and ancient untold history.  I think most people that come for vacations would pass it off as a novelty of being in a new place and on vacation.  And those that stay for a while and notice that those feelings don't go away call it "breathtaking beauty."  But those of us familiar with things of the spirit recognize that it is so much more.  Perhaps Lake Atitlan is the Waters of Mormon, or maybe it is the place where the Savior appeared after His resurrection.  Maybe it is completely unrelated, but it can't be denied that the Spirit of God rests over that area and you can almost hear the voices of the worlds greatest civilizations (4 Nephi 1:16;Ether*) whispering from the dust (Moroni 10:27) and hissing forth (2 Nephi 29:2).

So, there. That is what we miss most about Guatemala..." -Travis Gowen

Yes, that is what I miss most.

Moving back to Utah has been a tough change.  Surprisingly it was much more difficult than I would have expected.  You would have thought that moving to Guatemala would be the hardest part, but it was actually quite a culture shock and some days I still feel a little out of place.  I can't really express how I feel about Guatemala to people here the way that I wish I could, but those experiences I had will always be in my heart and has given me a new perspective on life.

I have to be honest, the hardest part about being back in this American/Utah culture is all the expectations that are put upon you.  The pressures of being a good Mom, of looking nice wherever you go, having nice clothes, comparing yourself to other people, etc.  These pressures were there before I left for Guatemala, but it's overwhelming when you get all that handed back to you all at once right after being in a culture where those things really didn't seem to matter.

While in Guatemala I was able to look at things with a new perspective.  I was looking at what was happening from the sidelines, what my friends and family were doing and going through, what they were seeing as important, etc.  It was refreshing to be away from the grind of it all having different challenges to worry about, but being back and seeing things from this perspective's almost harder than just before I left.

I can't tell you or even describe to you the feelings I've had being back, but I can tell you that going from one perspective to hard.  I have felt Satan pressing down on me, I've felt heavy, I've felt fearful, doubtful, I've looked at myself in a way that I never thought I could possibly fall into.  My greatest fear leaving Guatemala was that I would forget some of the greatest lessons that I learned, but that has not been the case.  I feel like those lessons were lessons I learned to prepare me for what's ahead in this new chapter of my life.

The Lord always has a plan, you just gotta' go with it.  He knows me better than anyone.  Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the big picture.  Although, we may not be able to see it perfectly clear, it helps us to be able to pick ourselves back up and keep moving forward.  I feel I have come closer to my Savior through all my many "adventures," so far in my life.  I'm so grateful for the challenges that I have been faced with, because I know that that is what helps me to become what my Heavenly Father knows I can become.

What's in store in this new chapter of life?  I have no idea, but there are so many fun surprises along the way.  We are expecting a new little one into our family in November and although is has been part of the crazy roller coaster of experiences and trials we have been facing since our return, I know that this little one is coming at the time he/she needs to be.  Children have a way of making the adventures of life that much more fun and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

What an exciting time it is! Life is exciting and is not to be feared, it's a time to live, a time to love, a time to serve and is a fun adventure! :)

June 26, 2014

Guatemala Is Home

Today I am feeling very humbled. Not for any particular reason, but my heart is full.  I am filled with so much love for Guatemala, for the people, the culture, for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we prepare to end our beautiful adventure in this country,  my thoughts have been turned to the things that I have learned here.  I've learned some incredible lessons that will forever be with me for the rest of my life. 

I will be leaving Guatemala a completely different person. I have grown in ways that I could not have otherwise have grown if I had not come here.  I have learned a lot about myself and about being happy with what I have and with where I am.  I've learned what it truly means to live simply and to work with what you have.

I've been able to see the world with new eyes, from a different perspective. A perspective in which I've been able to take a step back from the worries, fears and insecurities that I had previously before arriving in Guatemala, and have been able to see what truly matters most. 

I've been able to slow down and ponder on the beautiful creations the lord has given to us, able to grow from experiences in talking with others in another language and I've learned to have a great love for the people and especially for my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I've learned so many things and have had so many special and precious experiences.  I feel so blessed and so grateful to have lived here... to have truly LIVED here.  My heart belongs to Guatemala and these great lessons and experiences I have had here will stay with me throughout my whole life. 

Looking back on the time before we arrived in this beautiful land, I remember the discouragement and fears people would try to put into our hearts, but from the first moment we decided to pick up and move to this foreign land I knew we would call it home.

Now that we have lived here for an extended amount of time, have learned some incredible things, have had some precious experiences and have developed a great love for the people and the land...

Guatemala is home.

June 17, 2014

Facebook and Me

I noticed that I was often feeling frustrated and stressed out about little things that sometimes didn't even apply to my life here. I found myself being angry with people and with the things that were being said online. I started noticing people complaining about the size of their kitchen or their cell phones when I have neither of those really. I started feeling a lot of anxiety and it bothered me.  I couldn't figure out why this was and then I realized that all this anxiety that had built up over time came from Facebook.

So I decided do something about it and I did a test.  I got off Facebook for a while and I wanted to see how it affected the way my day-to-day life went and how I felt.  I found that when I would check Facebook non-stop throughout the day , that my anxiety and frustration carried not only through the day, but through the week.  I was feeling very unhappy and it was weird, because the reason I was on Facebook so often was because I was looking for a way to communicate with people who spoke my language, but instead I found myself feeling lonely and I found myself feeling terrible about who I am as a person. 

During this test I dropped Facebook completely.  At first is was hard, because I automatically wanted to check it every time I got on the computer, but everyday I did it, it got easier and easier. I couldn't believe how much happier I felt letting go of the world. There is so much crap in this world that it makes it hard sometimes to think there is any good.

On this journey that I have taken to see the affects of Facebook in my life I have learned an important lesson that I am so excited to apply to my life.  Facebook to me is a place where people go looking for validation, looking for someone who cares and will not just respond and like their comment, but rather maybe looking for a friend to talk to... in person or a hug... in person.  I decided to use Facebook in a different way then what I have used in for in the past, which is.. nothing.  I have decided that instead of commenting all the time or just liking a post, I'm going to read those posts and see what it is that they are looking for and see if I can do my very best to show them or give them what they need or just let them know that they are loved in some way.

 I wanted to share this thought with you, because I think it is an important thing to think about.  To think that Facebook can be so much more than a way to share your troubles and worries. Facebook can be used for good. Anything on the internet can, but instead of spending endless hours scrolling through countless status's and posts and doing nothing, why not see what you can do for someone else and then do it. It will not only help that person, but you as well.

 It's amazing how a little act of kindness can bring so much happiness to not only the person you serve, but to you as well. :)

June 16, 2014

The World Cup

The world cup isn't like anything I've ever seen before. I'm not talking about the game itself, I'm talking about all the excitement and craze it brings. Everyday you'll walk down the streets of Panajachel and find the streets empty wondering "where is everyone" and as you continue down the street you will find restaurants and stores packed with people trying to watch the game. Everywhere you go there is T.V on showing the games.

During the game you see kids rush in and out of their homes, checking the score to see who's winning and then rushing back out to practice their soccer skills and dream of being a pro soccer player one day. When someone scores a goal you hear: "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL!"
(I can't do it justice by writing it, but it's pretty exciting). :)  Then you see everyone running to watch the replay of what just happened and blasting fireworks on every street corner.

It's so fun being in Guatemala during the world cup to watch snippets of the games as well as watch and feel all the excitement of it all.  I've never seen anything like it and it's so fun!  I don't think I've ever seen us American's get so excited about something like this before.  But of course with not much excitement going on any other time during the year here, this is pretty much the icing on the cake. ;)

June 14, 2014

When It Rains It Pours

Everyday we wake up and the sun is shining bright beautiful.  Life is good, your going about your day doing some shopping, cleaning etc. and then between 2-4 pm you will find dark clouds hovering over your head. Suddenly you find yourself in a down pour with water running along the streets clearing out anything and everything in it's path. If you get caught in it there's no use trying to fight not getting wet. One way or another you will be drenched by the time you reach home. 

The farther we get into the rainy season the harder the rain falls. This week was probably the hardest rain we've had so far. The streets have so much water that it's like your walking through a river. We've also had a few mudslides up on the sides of the mountains.  Thankfully we have a home that is farther from the mountain sides and is higher up so no water rushes in, but for others, there not so lucky water climbs through every nook and cranny.

But after the rain subsides for the day you will find rolling green hills, people out and about still on the streets selling their merchandise and fireworks being set off, because hey there's always something to celebrate. ;)

May 15, 2014

Stop Signs and Green Lights

Over the past year I have gotten into a program called "Dressing Your Truth"(DYT). Along with Stress Management, it has helped me to come to really understand myself. But it's not to say that this isn't an ongoing process. Over the past few months I have learned some important things about myself that I'd like to share with you.

When we first arrived in Guatemala, I thought I was understanding who I was, but little did I know I would face some challenges that would turn me to find the opposite.  In the DYT program there is a lot taught about coming to understand your true nature as an individual as well as your dress to go along with it. I had been doing all of this, or so I thought, until just recently. I found myself wondering a lot about my self worth and wondering if I am important or special. This is a constant battle of mine coming to understand and feel of my worth as I'm sure it is with many men and women. In trying to understand these things I have learned over the past few days, something that has already made a huge impact on me and will continue to help me through my journey through life. 

I was talking with my sister-in-law Liesel the other day and we started talking about stop signs. Weird huh? Well, let me explain. Liesel was talking about how she has noticed that she has put up some stop signs in her own life and was working to correct those stops signs and turn them into green lights. I started wondering what are the stop signs I have put up in my own life?  Then I started to recognize that I have put up stop signs EVERYWHERE. A stop sign with money. Thinking we will never have enough. Recently, a stop sign in making friends with the Mayan people. Thinking I can't trust anyone. There are many more signs that I have put up and I'm still finding them, but the biggest stop sign I noticed that has been really affecting me, is the stop sign of my self worth.

These stop signs are core beliefs that I have about myself and about life.  This core belief that I have found is, that I believe that I don't deserve anything. I don't believe that I am important or that I have worth. When I realized this I decided that it was time to make a change. It's just a simple change that I've made, but it's been a way that has been very effective in other areas of my life and has already helped me to understand what I really believe.

In my study with stress management I have found that the biggest stress management technique and one of the most effective ways to manage your stress, is through forgiveness.  So, one morning I took the time to just forgive. To say out loud that "I forgive myself for believing that I am of no worth. I forgive myself for thinking I have to prove myself to others.  For thinking that other people know me better then I know myself.".

I spent the early hours of the morning forgiving and expressing gratitude out loud for myself and for the blessings in my life and I found that I had more confidence and I felt better about myself.  Now, I do this often it's not like my life changed dramatically and will stay that way after one morning, but by telling myself out loud everyday that I am of worth, that I forgive myself for thinking these things and I express gratitude for myself, things got better and are continuing everyday to get better. 

I am finding that not only is dressing your truth a great step, but understanding my nature is one of the most important things as well as letting go and expressing love to myself.  My hope in sharing this experience with you is that you come to find that you are special and you are unique. That you are important and that you can be the kind of person that you've always wanted to be. It's amazing what the power of forgiveness and gratitude can bring and by eliminating those stop signs one at a time, those green lights come into play and there's a little more light shining throughout the day.