I was looking back on some of my posts from this year and boy oh boy, did I NOT see all of this coming in 2020. I’m sure that we can all say that, unfortunately.
But I am an eternal optimist, and although this year started off with a bang, I am determined to make sure that the experiences that we’ve all been through this year don’t end up without a lesson learned.
So tell me what lessons have you learned this year? Here are a few of mine (in no particular order).
- If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. I believe this has been a tough one for all of us to learn. Especially if we may not have heeded the warnings over the years from our leaders. We have been exhorted to keep several months worth of food storage. To have a 72 hour preparedness kit on hand should the need arise. Unfortunately the need has arisen this past year. Not only have we needed to be physically prepared, this year has given us great cause to be spiritually prepared as places of worship have been unable to operate and social distancing has precluded us from spending time with our fellowshipping communities. We have been counseled to be spiritually prepared in probably the most often quoted passage from President Russell M. Nelson this year. He strongly admonished us to be ready. He said, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” I trust that we have all learned this great lesson to be prepared both physically and spiritually.
- Family and friendships should be first on the priority list, ALWAYS. We have really learned this lesson the hard way! Around the world we were/are all asked to social distance to keep Covid-19 from spreading. So no more hugging, shaking hands, going to lunch and just plain hanging out with friends. We have been limited to spending time in our homes with our immediate family members with limited resources for entertainment. With schools and entertainment venues being closed, we have had to go back to a former time when riding bikes, doing puzzles, playing games and being bored sometimes, were the norm. I think we have realized that all of those things have great value and importance in building and strengthening our relationships as we slowly return back to a new normal.
- Human life is fragile and can change in the blink of an eye. So many of us (if not all) have been forever changed by tragedy this year. From tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and floods, to sickness, depression, loss of life, and loss of celebration of our most precious moments. I think it’s safe to say that we have all been affected in some way or another. Not being able to be with someone in the hospital and them having to shoulder something horrible all by themselves, has been one of the most heart wrenching experiences to witness. The importance of being with our loved ones in hard times and in times of great joy have new meaning now. Leaving this Earth, coming into this world, and loving while here on this Earth have hopefully been deeply ingrained as the most important elements of our life here on Earth. That lesson has been deep and hard in so many ways. May we be forever grateful for all the life we have been given, and not take another single minute for granted. It can all be taken away from us without a moment’s notice.
- Stillness is a practice to be appreciated. For the Bertagnolli household, all of the craziness of life, work, school, running kids to and from activities and practices, all came to a screeching halt when the tornado hit us on March 2-3rd (in the middle of the night). The boys’ school was destroyed. So the focus became, where and how are the boys going to have school? The first 2 weeks of March (approximately) that was our primary focus. Thank goodness we did not sustain damage to our home but many, many of our friends did. Not only did they have to worry about school, but how and where they were going to return to normal life? And then, within days of decisions being made as to where the boys would be going to school and cleanup and repairs being made to homes and businesses, BOOM, shut down the world! And suddenly life how we knew became very still. Most of us are not used to being still, running around crazy all the time from one activity to the next. And suddenly we are completely compelled to “be still”. If ever there was a time that God spoke to us, “Be still and know that I am God”- psalms 46:10, it has been in the year 2020. We have had to turn our hearts to God to merely survive all of the craziness that has been thrown at us this year. And if you haven’t learned that lesson yourself, I highly encourage you to make the time to be still, to meditate, to pray and then listen. God knows you, He hears you, and trust me when I say you are never ever alone. Be still and know!
- Good health is everything. Being a self proclaimed expert in the field of mental illness (joking), I have been reminded over and over again of how important it is to stay mentally, physically and spiritually healthy. I am so grateful that 2019 was year of improved mental health for me. I think had it not been, I may have been one that succumbed to the pressures and stresses of living with mental illness create. I sincerely hope not, but you just don’t know do you? I am torn apart to hear about friends and family that have not been able to cope with the sudden changes that have taken place. I am heartbroken to hear of illness and loss of physical health due to the effects that this year has brought on. I am distressed by the number of people that have walked away from God during this time when we should be seeking Him for deliverance. . I will be forever changed (hopefully for the better) because of the events of 2020. And I know you will too. How can we have a year like this and not be changed for life? Only time will tell if these lessons will be ingrained within us. I fear that as time goes on and life returns to somewhat normal, hatred, fear, and anger will return with a vengeance (as we have already seen politically speaking). It is Satan’s way. But as I said in the beginning, I am and will always be an optimist and I choose to remember and retain the good lessons that I have learned. And I will more wholey choose hope and joy every day of the week. I hope you will too. Let me know in the comments what lessons you have learned this year.
P.S. Pointing toward hope is now on podcast! Just search for Pointing toward hope on most podcasting platforms. Instagram, and Facebook. I hope you come and follow me in pointing toward hope every day. If you or someone you know has an inspiring story to share that will lift others in meeting life’s challenges, please contact me. I would LOVE to reach out and have them on the show for an episode. Choose joy!
When I was fifteen years old, my dad and I bought an old beat up 1976 Camaro from the high school auto shop. I was going to be driving soon, and if things worked out I’d have my own wheels and freedom! I was so excited.
If memory serves me right, we paid about $300 for it. It was in fair condition. It could be driven. But there were several things wrong with it, including it was in bad need of a paint job. Of course I only noticed what it looked like on the outside and I wasn’t so sure that the $300 was well spent. But it had good “bones”. And the interior was still pretty nice, although stained a bit. But my dad could see something in her that I couldn’t.
My dad and I spent the better part of a summer working on that Camaro, and bringing her back to life. He on the mechanics of it, and me helping with the stains on the interior and the frame. I remember spending hours sanding the metal down by dipping the sandpaper in water and then removing every bit of remaining paint left. We rubbed putty (or something of the sort) in every dent and then sanded that down. It was a grueling process that required attention to every detail. But that was the process that was required to make her new again. To repair the damage that had been done and make it whole once again.
Then finally… one day she was ready to paint and get the finishing touches put on. I had saved all summer long to be able to pay for the parts and the paint job that went into her (candy apple red!). And I couldn’t have been more proud of the work that we had done.
The day that we put “Old Red” on the road was one of the most exciting days of my life! All of our hard work had finally garnered the result that I craved. She wasn’t perfect, but she was mine, and that’s all that really mattered to me.
As I reflected on that restoration process these past few months, I have been reminded of all the processes of restoration that we all have to go through during our lives on this earth. We are all broken down, with a few stains here and there, in bad need of repair or “restoration”. And although we may feel like we are barely getting by, the Lord sees our “good bones”. He sees what the outcome can be with a little sanding here and a little putty there, and maybe a shiny new coat of paint.
I have spent a lot of time pondering and asking the Lord why? Why do I have to live with a bipolar diagnosis? Why is it that my body is broken down, stained and dented? What good is meant to come out of this? What’s the purpose?
And then I remembered the story of the Old Camaro and it came to me with perfect clarity. We come to Him (our Lord Jesus Christ), broken, beaten down, full of sorrow and He “restores” us.
When I was diagnosed bipolar, my life as I knew it ended. Everything changed. I went from feeling like nothing could stop me. To feeling like a broken shell of a person. I was struggling with finding the right medications, the right Dr., the right plan for recovery.
It was only when I laid all my fears at the feet of my Savior that true restoration began. Where I saw a broken shell, He saw the good bones. It has not been easy. It’s a long grueling process. From waiting for 6 weeks just to get into see the right Dr. and then ending up in the hospital again right before that appointment. Then waiting another 6 weeks to finally get in again. Then trying different medications, behaviors and habits that work for me and my body chemistry. A little sanding here and a little putty there. He truly has been my source of restoration.
Elder Holland, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, once said, “I think of that night when Christ rushed to the aid of His frightened disciples, walking as He did on the water to get to them, calling out, “It is I; be not afraid.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Christ’s answer to him was as it always is every time: “Come,” He said. Instantly, as was his nature, Peter sprang over the vessel’s side and into the troubled waters. While his eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind could toss his hair and the spray could drench his robes, but all was well—he was coming to Christ. It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea. In newer terror he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Undoubtedly with some sadness, the Master over every problem and fear, He who is the solution to every discouragement and disappointment, stretched out His hand and grasped the drowning disciple with the gentle rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:27–31
If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.” (May 2006 General Conference address).
We just need to reach out to Him and then keep our eyes fixed upon Him. He can restore us. He can bring us hope and peace and comfort. If we will let him. Because He loves us. Because He broke the bands of death. Because we are His!
We need not be fearful of the changes and trials that come into our lives. We need only to believe. Believe that He will come to us in His infinite power to restore us to our former state. Believe that He will bring us back to a state of health, soundness and vigor. It may not happen now, it may not happen in this lifetime. But it will happen. One day we will be restored in all our glory. Just like my dad and I restored Old Red. Our Savior will restore us, and He will take us out for a spin on the road and we will be His because that’s all that really matters to Him.
Being stuck in your house is not really fun for anyone. The recent self isolation or stay at home orders have really wreaked havoc on our routines and daily living. If we aren’t practicing intentional self care, our mental health can deteriorate rapidly. It’s only been around a month for most of the country, but seems more like a year, lol!
So here are some practices that you can implement that might help alleviate feelings of depression, isolation, and mindlessness.
- Stay in a routine. So your specific routine has changed drastically over the last month or two but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have A routine. Start by getting out of bed at a specific time each day. While working at home is great and being home with kids more, it does tend to allow you to sleep a few extra winks. And while that may sound like a good idea in the groggy early morning hours, it will ultimately lead to being more tired throughout the day. Setting a specific time to rise and shine is always a good practice and specifically in times like these! So up and at ’em with a smile. Ready to face your day!
- Make your bed! It’s been said that making your bed daily is one of the best practices that you can get into and will start your day out right. Just ask U.S. Naval Officer William McCraven. This is such a good watch that is well worth your time. And will get you super motivated, not just to make your bed, but to make your life!
3. Get out of your pajamas and leggings, take a shower and get dressed! Sitting around in your pajamas or leggings all day just makes you feel lazy. This time spent in isolation or “quarantine” can be a time that you can be super productive or it can be a time that you choose to make a temporary vacation. And while vacations can be a lot of fun and very relaxing, it’s always good to come home! So as you establish your routine, make sure that it includes getting out of those p.j.’s and into something suitable for your day. Treat it as if you were not in isolation. Dress in nice clothes as if you were going to see people other than your family during the day. Put your make up on, fix your hair and definitely brush your teeth! Oh and wash your hands…again ;)!
4. Get Moving. Moving your body will not only produce the feel good endorphins that help your brain, but will also help you to stay healthy physically during this down time. When we are stuck in one place for long periods of time it can cause mental deterioration if we aren’t intentional with our health. We can also find ourselves in periods of boredom which can cause overeating and overindulgence in other areas such as Netflix binging. I’m always up for a good episode of Grey’s anatomy. But don’t get in the habit of making a day out of it.
5. Find and learn a new hobby or read that book that you’ve been too busy to find the time for. Taking up something new, reading a book or learning something new is good for brain health and growth and can also help decrease the chances of Alzheimer’s disease, believe it or not. Here is a great presentation by Noelle Pikus-Pace that gives us some ideas of what we can do and how to make learning something new fun and rewarding. This is also a fun watch and very motivating in getting you excited to do something you’ve never done before.
6. Take up meditation or yoga. Learning how to stay grounded can be so significant in surviving this “Stay home, Stay safe” order. One of the most important aspects of learning how to meditate or participate in yoga is to stick with it. It may be difficult at first to feel like you are getting anything out of it. But the more that you can make a practice out of it, the better at it you will become. It will quiet your mind and bring your anxiety and stress to a controllable level. And you can do it almost anywhere. So when we do get back to our stressful, busy lives, it will be a tool we can use effectively.
Let’s face this head on and make the most out of the time that we have on our hands now. It’s not going to last forever. It will come to an end. And when it does, let’s be ready to jump back into our lives, healthy, happy and hopefully not (Covid) 19 pounds heavier!
Have a wonderful weekend all. Keep your distance, stay at home, and stay healthy!
We are living in a world that is going to have a “new normal”. As the events of the past few months have unfolded before us, we’ve felt many emotions. Fear, Shock, disappointment, loss, suffering, helplessness, hopelessness, and many more.
For some that are single or live alone, loneliness and isolation have been a big part of the past month. As well as those who have had to isolate because of infection by the virus. Or people who have been otherwise hospitalized, who have had to do so without the support of loved ones by their side.
Whether for a sickness, or lingering illness, or the joyous event of delivering a baby. Which has been bittersweet, both joyful and heartbreaking to not be able to share that experience in person with friends and family
At the same time, as we have practiced social distancing and followed the “stay safe, stay at home” orders that have been implemented in many states, we’ve felt a closeness to our families that may have been lost. We’ve been comforted by the fact that we are experiencing the same feelings as people all over the world. We’ve felt joy, compassion, love, tenderness, empathy for those working on the front lines and those who are ill. We’ve mourned for those who have lost their jobs and livelihood and those that have had to give up dreams that they’ve worked their whole life for.
Many of us have developed a great love for our leaders. Whether they be government, church, educators, scientists, healthcare workers, or even company owners who have come forward to help in the face of tragedy.
We’ve felt a renewed love for our Lord and Savior and his atonement and suffering for all of us. We have realized that we can not carry this burden alone. That nobody should carry these burdens alone. And so we have become united in purpose to eliminate and eradicate this awful virus that has infected not only our bodies, but our lives.
It has been incredible to witness the heroics of so many in our communities as we have faced the pandemic and world calamities (earthquakes and tornados, etc.). Our hearts fill with gratitude as we see a world come together through something that can’t be seen but only felt.
As someone who already suffers from mental illness and the effects of isolation that it can bring, I feel a deep compassion for those who have never experienced those feelings who now will find themselves in deep depressions. Whether from loss, unemployment, isolation, financial struggles or family dysfunction which may have become front and center. Or those who will suffer PTSD from witnessing the most horrible experiences one can imagine.
But I will forever be an optimist. I know that we CAN come together as a nation and as a world to fight this horrible disease. We can make our world whole again by the kindness and love and the attitude with which we choose to move forward.
Will it be easy? Absolutely not. We have all experienced something that will forever be implanted in our very souls. Something horrendous. But out of the ashes rises the Phoenix! We can rise as a nation/world. We can rebuild our world and each other instead of tearing each other down.
We can spread love and kindness and come together in a way that no one anticipated a few short months ago. We can find that “new normal” together. We can build a new world from the love and common ground that we’ve found through the most tragic of events.
We have been told that it may be much longer than anyone thought that we will be in this situation. Both fighting for our lives and fighting to stay healthy. But through this time there are still ways that we can reach out. There are still ways that we can stay healthy and maintain a good attitude. And with the Lord’s help we will conquer this pandemic while simultaneously building stronger families, friendships and communities.
Revelation Chapter 21
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new…
A new normal? Yes. But possibly a better way of life? Most definitely!
All my love,