Surround yourself with positivity

Hi friends, and welcome to pointing toward hope. I am your host, Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to follow and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 43 and Chapter 6 of my book Keep up the pace. Surround yourself with positive energy.

Chapter 6

” Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits.”

One of my all time favorite movies is Forest Gump. If you have seen the movie, you will recall the statement that his mother taught him to help him overcome the teasing and bullying that he endured throughout his childhood. “Stupid is as stupid does.” She taught him very plainly that people will become what they repeatedly do.

For a period of time, I had a quote hanging on my refrigerator that I wanted to instill in myself as well as my children, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I’d like to put those two concepts together and give you a mantra that is super easy to remember and will change your life if you choose to believe it. “Positive is as positive does.”

When I decided to compete in the Mrs. Utah International pageant, I needed positive thinking more than ever. I had been a stay-at-home mom for almost 12 years. After spending my days changing diapers, reading children’s books, and watching Sesame Street and Barney with my little ones, I was badly in need of something to get me out of my comfort zone. My youngest child had recently started school, so I found myself with a few extra hours to myself.

When I first heard about the competition I was still learning how to live with and manage depression. I knew that if I didn’t find something constructive to do during those hours, I could easily fall into some old negative habits, such as sleeping in instead of working out, eating when I became bored, and the worst habit of all, negative self-talk. So the pageant became a vehicle to motivate me to stay on top of my depression, while at the same time, work on some skills that needed to be dusted off a little. If you spend your days talking to toddlers and building bird nests out of play dough, you will understand what I am talking about. Not exactly the best interview techniques!

I am a great believer in mentoring and being mentored, so I sought out previous pageant winners and asked them to share their secrets with me. The positive energy and motivation that I came away with was incredible! Consequently, I had the tools I needed to achieve my goal. I just needed to learn how to put those tools into action. My first task was to post positive quotes on little post-it notes all throughout my home. As I was working out I would read, “Think lean and strong!”. As I applied my make-up, “Believe in yourself” was instilled in my mind from it’s position on my mirror. When I fixed breakfast, cleaned the house, turned on the television or got into the car, there was one positive message after another. Though the changes weren’t immediate, I did find that slowly I was evolving and changing into a more confident woman! Not only were the changes happening on the inside, but on the outside as well. Of course some of the physical changes could be attributed to eating better and exercising. But for changes to become permanent, they must happen from the inside out.

The most remarkable change was what began to happen in my home with my children and husband. They were visibly happier, more confident, and a lot more willing to help out whenever asked. Instead of the usual “Do I have to?” or “I don’t want to!” statements, their answers became “Sure! No problem.” As a family we were constantly surrounding ourselves with positive sources, people, places, things, and habits. Obviously, we all still had our moments, but for the most part our home life became a much richer and enjoyable place to be.

Surrounding yourself with positive energy can be one of the most powerful steps you can take to gain a happier more fulfilling life. Again, there are times when we can not control the experiences that happen to us, but we can control the attitude with which we choose to face those experiences.

The following are a few ideas that can increase the positive energy in your life.

1. Cleanse your inner spirit. If you have things in your life that are bringing you down or have left you with feelings of guilt or resentment, take care of it! Nothing can lift you higher than offering an apology where one is warranted. Let by gones be by gones. Forgive those who have wronged you, even if they won’t accept your forgiveness. Holding on to grudges only brings you and others down. Start living in the present and let go of the past. I know it is easier said than done, but taking that risk will greatly improve your quality of life.

2. Simplify your life! In the world that we now live it is so easy to fill your life with unnecessary clutter. I was talking to my little sister the other day and she made a comment that reminded me of how my parents had raised us. She said, “It just wasn’t a necessary expense.” How many times do we spend “unnecessary expense” on trivial, unimportant things? It’s easy to do. I’m not just talking about spending expenses. Gaining the discipline to free yourself from “unnecessary expenses” whether it be material items, or time-wasting activities, will make your load lighter and your life much more enjoyable.

3. Consistently avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits. If you can steer clear of negativity in all forms you will find a change taking place in your life that is very noticeable. You will become more positive, more confident and a lot more attractive (both physically and mentally) to those around you.

4. Laugh often! Zig Ziglar once said “Laughter is the best medicine.” I can’t think of a better way to remove negativity than to laugh.

Laugh at yourself when you do silly things. Laugh with your friends and family and become closer together. My daughter Saydie, was born with an innate ability to make people laugh. She would be practicing her many faces in the mirror behind us as her Dad and I were reprimanding her for something that she had done. We could never keep a straight face and by the end of our speech we would be laughing so hard we would have tears in our eyes. No matter what is happening, if Saydie senses sadness she will do whatever it takes to make you laugh. Laughter definitely creates positive energy!

“Positive is as positive does.” I challenge you to try it!

Your assignment: Get on the internet or go through books of quotes and positive affirmations. Pick out your favorite and make post-its that you can place in conspicuous places throughout your home, car, office, etc. Read them and re-read them until they are ingrained in your brain and have become a part of your life! You are welcome to use the ones that I have used in this book if you like (they are some of my favorite).

Choose to find joy

One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2: 24-25 

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

In Dallin H. Oakes’ talk “Opposition in all things”  he says

“Our mortal life…. was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father … knows that we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows, and difficult choices. Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure.”

When sore trials come upon us we are faced with all kinds of new and difficult choices. And many times these decisions and choices that we have to make seem impossible to end up with a happy result.    However, the Lord wants us to have joy in this life.  That is why we were sent here. The choice that Eve made when she chose to partake of the fruit, provided the opportunity for life to begin for us.  In the midst of what Adam and Eve believed was a big failure, God turned into something beautiful and joyful.  

Was that the end of their trials?  Of course not, they had only just begun to learn the answers to the questions that they did not even know they had.

 In order for us to progress and be able to make choices and have agency, opposition has an essential role.  In 2 Nephi 2:11  We read: For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, …. righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one;

Elder Oakes continues: “From the beginning, agency and opposition were central to the Father’s plan and to Satan’s rebellion against it. As the Lord revealed to Moses, in the council of heaven Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3). That destruction was inherent in the terms of Satan’s offer. He came before the Father and said, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1).

And while that may have seemed like a great plan on the outside, without agency there could have been no joy, because we would have never known sadness there could be no growth because our choices would be taken away from us.  So you can see the importance of our Savior’s plan to give us the opportunity to choose for ourselves.  

Choosing joy is not to say that you are happy every minute of every day.  It is an overarching feeling of peace and gladness that will sustain us through our weaknesses and difficulties.

In today’s changing world we are taught to believe that everything is about equality and to a certain extent that is true.  We are equally all of God’s children, and He equally loves us all. But unfortunately, we are not equally born or raised in the same situations.  God is no respecter of persons.  He loves us all regardless of where we come from or what we do.  In contrast, the adversary is the one that wants to control us.  He has a great hold upon the hearts of people in this world.  He wants us to believe that our choices do not have consequences.  That we can do anything we want that makes us happy, regardless of how it may affect others.   

And that is just not God’s way.  In order for us to learn how to have a joyful heart, we have to make the tough choices and take responsibility for whatever the consequences may be.

When you pondered upon the questions that we talked about yesterday, who am I?  Why am I here? Where am I going? What did you learn about yourself?  Did you get down on your knees and pray to understand?  Those really are some deep questions that many of us struggle with all the time. Finding true joy is a journey but once we find it, we will know.  It will sustain us when things become difficult.

 I believe that there is a difference in being happy and having joy.  There are definitely ways that we can be happy and have fun in our lives.  But happiness is fleeting.  It is not something that we can have consistently with us just because of the nature of how our lives were created.

Joy, on the other hand, is a sustaining feeling.  It can be with us even in the sad times and difficult trials.  But we still have to choose it.  

And the truth of the matter is, we must learn how to discover deep and abiding joy by trying. By making difficult decisions and choices for ourselves.  God will not live our lives for us because he wants us to know for ourselves. And once we know for ourselves where that peace and joy comes from, we will strive harder to make the choices that will ensure that we do live a joyful life.  Even during the hard.  

Have a great day my friends!  Talk to you again tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Cast thy burden upon the Lord

I am going to tell you about my very first real experience with true grace in my life.  I was around 27-28 years old.  And had a growing, flourishing family.  I had 4 children that were under the age of around 8.  

I had struggled with depression for some time at this point and quite frankly,I just needed a break from all the chaos just for a little while. It was a beautiful Sunday morning  And so I did something that I really never did at that time.  I faked sick and had my husband take the children to church.  

I really didn’t fake it totally.  Depression is most definitely a sickness.  But on this particular day, I just felt like if I didn’t get a break, I wasn’t going to make it one more day.  Just to be clear, I was not suicidal, I just needed time to regroup.  And 3 glorious hours to myself, sounded heavenly!  At that time in the history of our church we spent 3 hours on the sabbath worshipping our Savior in the church building.

I  was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints, and so I’d had many experiences learning about repentance, forgiveness and grace.  But had only applied it to my life in a few instances.  I thought that repentance was for the really wrong things that you had done in your life, not something that I needed to do on a continual basis.  I know, pretty naive. 

Now I feel like repentance, forgiveness, and grace, are kind of like learning to ride a bike.  At first it might be difficult and you may be a little wobbly and require trainging wheels to begin with.  But once you learn, and those training wheels come off, you never forget the feeling of freedom you have,  I know that because I was a bit of a slow learner.  

I didn’t learn to ride a bike without training wheels until I was about 7 and all my friends had already learned.  It was one of my best friends in the neighborhood who taught me how on her little red bike.  I had gotten a cool shwinn with a basket for Christmas but it was a bit big for me still, which I think is why it took me longer.  My friend Shelly, was so patient. She taught me how to balance and get my footing.  She would walk with me each time we tried.  And when I fell, she would get on the bike and show me the way again.  

It wasn’t long before she was running beside me to catch me if I fell.  But I had it down now, I was so proud!  It was an exhilarating feeling, the wind in my hair and the gratitude that comes with accomplishment of something difficult.

Now let’s go back to Sunday that I faked sick.  Just to give a little context, I had been a bit of a wild teenager.  I had some rebellious years where I made a lot of stupid choices, as teenagers sometimes do.  But by this time I had already taken care of those experiences through the repentance process.  But I had a hard time forgiving myself for the stupid choices that I made during that time in my life.  It seemed it would crop up and make me feel like I didn’t take care of it properly, or that I somehow wasn’t worthy to have the grace promised by the Savior.  

Of course now I know, that all of that was just the adversary trying to keep me from moving forward and progressing.  He really does that!  He will try everything, especially when you are being obedient to the covenants that you have made with the Lord.  His greatest joy is to have power over you. 

On that Sunday morning, I happened to be feeling especially unworthy, I had just skipped church for no good reason. And made my husband take on that responsibility, knowing that it would be difficult to keep all 4 children under control and get them to where they needed to be, when it was time to go to Sunday school and primary.  That’s what we call the worship for all our little children in our faith.

The longer it went the more guilty I felt.  Even though it was a small thing, Satan began to work on me bringing up all the mistakes of the past and my mistakes and failings as a young parent.  

Finally I opened up my scriptures and in the front of it, nicely folded from age.  Was a blessing that in my church we receive at some point in our lives that we feel is given for direction and to help guide us here in our life on this side of the veil.  It is something that we hold very sacred, specifically given to us, and not to be shared lightly with others.  I hadn’t read mine in quite some time.  I picked up the worn piece of paper and began to read.  The words on the page seemed to jump out at me.  Even though I’d read it dozens of times.  Nuggets of wisdom and strength poured into my worn out mind and even my physical body.  I began to highlight specific phrases and was guided to the parts that made me realize that though I had made all of those mistakes years ago and had taken care of it with the Lord.  I never forgot about it. 

In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18, we read, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” 

Again, in the fifty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 42, which came with great force to my mind, we read, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”

That scripture came into my mind with such force and I knew that the Lord was telling me, it’s time to forget those things.  I have forgotten them, now it’s your turn to forgive yourself.  He promises us that through the holy ghost He will bring all things to our remembrance.  And at that time I needed to remember that his grace will always be there to catch me when I fall.

I don’t need the training wheels anymore, once I’ve taken them off and released that burden, I can fly forward and go as far and as fast as I want, as long as I remember that His grace will always be with me.  His grace is sufficient. 

Forgiving ourselves for the stupid choices that we make is one of the most glorious parts of grace that the Savior gives us. Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Today my invitation to you is to take that thing that’s holding you back and like the training wheels, throw it out. It is of no use to you anymore. You are His, and He is yours!

Have a great weekend my friends and I will catch you all again next week!

XO, Wendy 

Courage to Forgive

Today I want to talk to you about something that is really, really, difficult to do.  Especially when you feel like you’ve been wronged or betrayed in some way.  But if you can “just let that go” your life will be so much better!

President Gordan B. Hinckley once said A spirit of forgiveness and an attitude of love and compassion toward those who may have wronged us is of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us has need of this spirit. The whole world has need of it. The Lord taught it. He exemplified it as none other has exemplified it.”

I’m going to be real and share a story with you about my own experience with forgiveness.  It is an experience that affected my life in a much larger way than it needed to and one that I’m not proud of.   It took me nearly 15 years to forgive someone who I felt had wronged me in a deep and personal way. And sadly, it all happened because of gossip!

It involved a very dear and loved friend of mine.  She was actually like a sister to me.  We talked everyday on the phone, we were partners in a great “adventure”, and spent time with eachother’s families.  We were nearly inseparable. She meant the world to me.  But, sadly, I chose to walk away from her over something someone told me that she had been doing behind my back for years.  

I was devastated!  I was heartsick, but most of all I just felt betrayed.  How could she do such a thing?  But at the time puzzle pieces began to fall into place of why others had treated me in such a negative way.  I was told she had twisted my words and turned them into lies so that others would think poorly of me. This person went so far as to give me specific experiences, people, places, and things that had happened.  How could I not believe them?  They had proof, or so it seemed.  I immediately confronted her with it over the phone.  She had no explanation.  She denied it all, sobbing uncontrollably that she would never do such a thing.  But it all made so much sense to me about the way I had been treated through our little joint “adventure”, that I didn’t even give her a chance.  I was so hurt and so angry. So I did the worst thing anyone can ever do to someone they love.  I walked away. 

I cried for days over our lost friendship.  And the lies grew easier to believe. Our adventure had ended and I moved on with my life.  Or so I thought. 

For years and years I would play the scene in my head.  How could she hurt me that way?  She was so dear to me.  Why would she do it?  She was my friend.  How did I not see it?  Night after night I would think of how much I missed her friendship.  Over the years the pain faded but I would think about it often and would grieve again for the loss of such a dear friend.

Then years later, when I was returning to the fold of Christ I realized that it was time. Truth is, it was way past time.  It was time for me to just let it all go.  It was the only way to move forward and be free of the pain.  So one night I mustered up all the courage in the world and I sent her a heartfelt plea to forgive me for not giving her the chance to explain.  I told her how sorry I was. And that I was wrong for behaving the way that I did.  And that I hoped someday she could forgive me for behaving in that way. It certainly was not Christlike.  I told her how much I missed our friendship and that I hoped she was doing good.  And then I pressed send, not expecting to hear anything in return.

When I hit that button I felt peace flood over me for the first time in all those years.  No matter what had really happened I was no longer going to let it hold space in my life going forward.  It is not God’s way to carry such feelings in our hearts.  The only place that comes from is the adversary.  He wants nothing more than for us to live with regrets, remorse, anger, and hurt.  Because then, he wins.  Don’t let him win!  You may not be able to control other’s agency to act in the way that they do, but you can control your agency! Have the courage to use your agency to forgive and move on with your life. There are bright things awaiting you.

Do you want to know the craziest part of this whole experience.  A couple of days later, I received a message back from my long lost friend.  I was afraid to open it.  

But I think her words are the best way to end this podcast.  (I hope she won’t mind).  The message read:

“I too am sorry for the way things ended up between us. I do apologize from the bottom of my heart for the heartache I caused you. I NEVER, EVER would have done anything to intentionally cause you harm or heartache. In fact to this day… I’m not even sure what the whole-what’s, when’s or how’s this situation all happened?!?! What I do know is we all made mistakes and then our friendship was over. It broke my heart too. 

As for forgiving you…I pray you can forgive me of the heartache I caused you?! I am so deeply sorry! All I know is… life is too short to hold on to any grudges. We need to put our arms around each other and push forward. Just so you know… I’ve always held you in high regard and have always considered you my friend. Even though we’ve had this little “hiccup” I let it go along time ago. You will always be considered a friend and my heart and door are always open to you. ….There’s no need to ask for forgiveness or worry about this anymore. You have always been good in my book.”

How’s that for Christ like behavior?!  She definitely is great women in the body of Christ! She taught me the true meaning of forgiveness that day.  It’s all about love!

So today my invitation to you is to muster up the courage to use your agency to forgive someone that has hurt you.  It may not end the way that mine did.  But I promise you that if you will just let go, and let God take the wheel.  It will bring a peace to your soul that can not be matched!

Have a great day my friends.  Talk to you all again tomorrow!

XO Wendy