Work Hard

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 44 and Chapter 7 of my book Keep up the pace.

Chapter 7 Work Hard

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

(Tiffany wiley, Mckayla Carter, Mallory Hamblin)

 Being involved in the pageant industry for six years brought many new experiences into my life. Some were difficult to handle and others were simply beautiful to be of a part of. But if there is one thing that I have learned, whether it be winning a pageant, getting a job, losing weight, or raising children, if you put in the work you will definitely reap the benefits! I saw work in action happen time again in the pageant industry.

As my daughter set out to compete for the title of Miss Teen Utah International, she was not afraid to work hard. As soon as she came up with her goals of what she wanted to achieve and how she wanted to make difference she started working hard by getting more involved in her community.

She wrote a children’s book about her platform, “Kindness Counts”, that she could take into elementary schools to help the children learn how to be more kind. She worked on her walk, her speaking skills, and her physical appearance and when it came time to compete she was able to win the title even though she was the youngest girl competing.

As her mother, I seen her go from a shy, quiet, very reserved little girl, to a confident young woman not afraid to express her ideas and share herself with others.

My first year Directing the teen pageant, I had a contestant enter the competition that wanted to learn how to overcome her shyness, and fear of public speaking. Having never competed in a pageant before, she really didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare. Though we had workshops and appearances to help all of the contestants prepare, she really didn’t put a lot of effort into the competition. When the big night came and she walked out on stage, she was scared to death. She even had to run off the stage at one point because she felt as if she might pass out. She had a fair experience that year, but had she worked a little harder and put a little more effort into it she may have had an even more positive experience.

The following year, I was shocked when she decided to compete again. I figured that as painful as it had been for her to be in front of people on stage, that she would probably never try it again. However, she had seen the growth in herself and knew that if she put more effort into it she could conquer her fear of being on stage and speaking in front of people. I don’t think I have ever witnessed anyone work as hard as she did that year. She literally blossomed into a more confident young lady. With the help of her mother, she was able to set up seminars and gain some experience in public speaking. She went to every appearance and workshop that we held and even scheduled extra time so that she felt strong and ready to compete.

She worked on every area of the competition because she understood the importance of being well-rounded, and she practiced hard. She was committed to finding the perfect wardrobe. One that complimented her physically, and radiated her personal style. When it came time for the competition she felt more confident and ready for the event than she had for anything else in her life.

The competition started out with personal interview. She had practiced and prepared and she was ready. She looked amazing in the suit that she had chosen to compliment her personality. When the interview ended, she felt positive that she had done well. She even commented that she had fun! What a difference she had made in herself and her attitude by committing to put her full effort into this.

I wish that I could say that she went on to win the competition, however after the interview ended, tragedy struck. She was contacted and told that her grandfather had suffered a heart attack and it didn’t look good. How could she continue the competition? It all seemed so trivial now. She decided that even after all her hard work and effort that she needed to withdraw from the competition. I fully supported her in that decision. That decision, in and of itself, proved to me how much she had grown throughout the past year.

A few hours later as rehearsals were being held, this strong, beautiful young lady returned to the competition. Her grandfather had passed away and after much deliberation, tears, and heartache, she and her family felt that it was the right thing to do. The competition took place and she was able to complete every area with ease and confidence. She was able to show commitment, dedication, and drive in a time when it seemed her world had come crashing down. It would have been so easy for her to give up. But because of what she had learned through her hard work she was able to overcome an obstacle in her life that was very difficult.

I found out a few weeks later that she had actually volunteered to speak at her High School graduation! I was so glad to hear that she was continuing to set goals for herself and that she had not let hardship defeat her.

An important concept I have learned through being involved with pageants, is that it is imperative that we continue to set and achieve goals. When I competed in the State, as well as, the National competition I seen contestants who would invest all of their time and effort in to the competition with the expectation of winning. When it was all over and the title was awarded to someone else, they would have such a hard time accepting it and moving on with their lives. I believe that it was because they hadn’t looked beyond the mark.

What happens when you put everything you have into achieving a goal and through your hard work you are finally able to achieve it, or possibly fall short? Is that the end? It absolutely is not. We have to remain in a constant state of setting and achieving goals in order to progress in life. If we give up after one failure we never truly learn what it is to work hard and be successful.

One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased.”

I have always been one to believe that everything happens for a reason or put another way, there are no coincidences. We may never know what the lesson is that we are supposed to learn from a given situation. Especially, when that situation is emotionally and physically difficult to endure.

Life is full of lessons to be learned. Never ever give up! Keep pressing forward, working hard, and setting new goals and you will become stronger and more capable of maintaining a positive attitude in all areas of your life, regardless of the circumstances.

Your assignment: Read over your list of goals again from chapter 1 and make sure that you are putting in the work to have to the outcome you desire. If not, make some short-term goals that will help you get back on track and get your head back in the game!

XO Wendy

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).

Strength through adversity

Hi friends, Welcome to the Pointing Toward Hope podcast. 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 subscribe 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 42 and Chapter 5 of my book Keep up the pace.

Strength through adversity

You never really lose until you quit trying.Anonymous

I would like to tell you about an experience I had that tested my ability to maintain a positive attitude. My husband and I had just given birth to our fourth child.

Because my three previous children had been born with the help of a physician through induction, I had prayed long and hard that I would be able to give birth to my last child on my own. I also dreamed, as every woman does, that I would have this child a little early.

I am sure you have heard the statement, “Be careful what you pray for because you just might get it”, well, I was about to find new meaning to that statement. Two weeks before my due date I awoke to a lower back ache. Having been through the process of child birth three times I knew right away that something was different and so I called my doctor’s office. My Doctor had gone on vacation but his nurse encouraged me to come in and be checked. Upon arrival at the office, the nurse checked me and determined that indeed I was going to deliver a child sometime soon.

After a long day of walking the malls and the halls in the hospital, I was finally admitted into the hospital that was filled to capacity with women waiting to deliver (12 to be exact!). Our baby boy was born at about 5:30 p.m. that evening. Things went relatively smooth with the birthing process considering I had a Doctor that I had just met. But, within minutes the nurse noticed that Cody was not breathing properly.

He was quickly whisked away to the nursery where they began a series of x-rays and tests. There were twelve babies born that night and only two nurses were on duty. The hospital was sorely understaffed, especially with an infant that required minute-to-minute monitoring. Consequently, my Doctor chose to have Cody transported to Primary Children’s Medical Center where he would be able to get the intensive care that he needed.

X-rays had revealed that his lungs were clouded and they seemed to be getting worse instead of better. Before transporting, a breathing tube was inserted and Cody was put on a ventilator. I was actually so relieved to see him breathing normally and finally sleeping, even if it was with the help of this machine. My husband checked me out of the hospital early the next morning and we drove straight to Primary Children’s Hospital.

The doctors and nurses had held a conference and decided to treat our son’s condition as a virus and had already started him on antibiotics. They also determined that because he was a little early, his lungs were not quite developed enough to fight off the infection, so they began giving him a drug called Cerfactin to help his lungs develop more quickly. He was showing improvement and the staff encouraged us to go home and get some sleep. I figured that would be a good idea since we had three other children who were still young and needed our attention.

That evening I received a distressing phone call from the hospital. They informed me that our little boy had taken a turn of the worse and that things did not look good. They felt that we should know that they had tried nearly everything and were not receiving a response. They encouraged us to come to the hospital in case the unthinkable were to occur. I did not feel strong enough to endure the possibility of losing him. I just couldn’t do it. So my husband went with a very dear friend who also happened to be our bishop.

While at the hospital they were able to administer a special healing blessing. They called upon God to heal his little body if it be His will. After standing helplessly by for a little while they decided to return home and hope and pray for the best. As my husband and I cried together that night we felt sure that our son would not make it through the night.

We talked of our great love for this child who was not yet forty eight hours old. We both felt it a great privilege to have him as a part of our little family, if only in spirit, for the past nine months. At about two a.m. that morning, we had heard nothing so we decided to call and see how he was doing. The nurse explained that, as a last resort, they had removed the breathing tube and to their dismay found that the cerfactin (the medicine they were administering to help his lungs develop) was clogging the bottom of the tube. The nurse said that they rarely ever changed the ventilator tube from an infant because it was so hard to re-insert, but they were out of options.

There is no doubt in my mind that angels were watching over our son that night and the Doctors as well.

Over the next twelve days it was a roller coaster ride. One day Cody would be improving and next he would slip back. It was very discouraging but I was determined to maintain a positive attitude. I visited him as much as I could but it was very difficult to see him in that environment.

The doctors had decided to put him on a temporary paralysis drug because he was bigger than most of the infants there and he would continuously pull the monitors off as he moved around. It was very difficult to see him lying motionless in the incubator.

We were unable to hold him for seven days, it seemed like an eternity. I will never forget the first time I was able to hold him, still attached to all the monitors and wrapped in a sheepskin blanket that made it hard to feel him in my arms, but I was in Heaven! The next few days became a sort of game as we would try to get him to eat enough and improve enough so that we would be able to take him home. I felt very fortunate to be able to take him home after just two short weeks, when some of the preemies that were his roommates had been there for months.

It was heartbreaking to see the parents come and go each day looking for any sign that their nightmare would end soon. I know it was hard for them to maintain a positive attitude day in and day out as they would receive the same bleak reports. I was amazed to hear their stories and listen to their determination as they would relive their experiences. “How do you get through it”, I remember asking one couple that had spent the better part of three months living at the hospital, a day’s drive from their home. “You get through it one day at a time . . . and you hope and pray for the best!” was their reply.

Positive attitude changes everything! No, we can not change the outcome of a situation. But we can certainly change the attitude with which we choose to face it . . . one day at a time. Not one of us is exempt from adversity. Every single person, at one time or another in their life, will face an illness, the death of a loved one, a divorce, etc. Granted, some people seem to have many more hardships placed upon them than others, but from my experience these people are the most tender, caring, and sensitive individuals I know. They can relate with others on a level that many of us can not. They help many to overcome and rise above the adversity that is placed upon them.

God gives us these trials to make us stronger and to help us learn more about ourselves and others in the process. We can choose to rise above adversity and be better for it, or we can let it control us and ultimately break us down. Most importantly whatever it is that you have been through or are experiencing this very moment……never, never, never, give up! 

Your challenge this week: Write down your experiences of trial or adversity that you have had or are having in your life. Record your feelings and be blatantly honest.

If this is a past experience, reflect on the things that you learned from the experience and how you re-acted at the time, and what your feelings are now.

If it is something you are experiencing at this moment, record what you feeling and what you hope the outcome will be. Resolve to look at all of your trials as learning experiences. I have started to do that, while it is not easy to say to yourself while you are in the midst of a trial, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”, (or can I learn)it definitely helps you look at things with a new perspective.

By the way, for those of you that don’t know our son is now a thriving almost 16 year old with loads of energy and love to share. We are so grateful to have him in our lives.

Side note: he was 16 when this book was written. He is now a happily married 27 year old!

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

XO Wendy

Fighting the fear within

Hi friends, Welcome to the Pointing Toward Hope podcast. 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 subscribe 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 40.

Keep Up the PACE

Chapter 3

FIGHTING THE FEAR WITHIN 

“Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment!” Russ Quaglia

To say that I was afraid of what might lie ahead was a great understatement. I came from a long line of family members who suffer from depression. Some have been on medications with complications and some have been content to struggle with the disease on their own. And then there are some that remain in denial and are afraid to admit that something might not be right. I found it necessary to find some sort of middle ground.

At this point, I feel it is very important to address an issue that has a way of clouding one’s judgement. More specifically, one who is not thinking rationally as is. This issue is that of how people who have never suffered from depression, or have not been closely involved with a loved one who has, view depression in general. There is still quite a stigma against people who suffer from mental illness.

Just the other day I happened to mention to a colleague that I was writing a book about my experiences with depression. The comment that I received was one that I have heard on many occasions. I would be willing to bet that most sufferers have as well. “What do you have to be depressed about?” Believe me, I have asked myself that same question almost every day. This is one of the reasons most people find it difficult to seek the help of a professional. What I know now, is that depression is not a respecter of persons. It can and does affect both males and females, rich and poor, young and old.

Depression is not a reflection of one’s life, it is an inward disease without an outward appearance. Although symptoms are not physically seen, does not in any way mean that they do not exist! I was very fortunate to have a therapist who, from the beginning, explained this disease thoroughly and helped me to realize that this was not a reflection on me as a person. She gave me many options and explained each option in great detail.

Upon diagnosis is the best time for you to find a good support system. A loved one, trusted friend or counselor can help immensely. If you are not so fortunate as to have a support system at home, there are many support groups and therapists in every community that can help you.

Never give up hope, there is always a solution. As I spoke of in chapter two, I have always been a highly motivated person. I attribute much of this to the work ethic that my parents taught me. They taught me to take pride in myself and my accomplishments, and to always strive for something better. I believe that having positive role models in our lives is imperative to our success.

I remember on one occasion, I wanted to ride my bike down to the local convenience store with a group of friends. It was a sunny Saturday morning and this was a day when my siblings and I were required to help out with various chores around the yard. I must have been about ten or eleven years old. On that particular Saturday, it was my job to weed one of our many flowerbeds. It happened to be the one that was full of prickly bushes that would fill out the bed about three feet in width and grew low to the ground. The trick was to pull all the weeds that would grow up between the bushes. This was a job that was detested by me and all of my siblings, and I assumed my parents as well. Otherwise, why would they always make sure that one of my brothers or I had this job?!

Other than the scratches and cuts up and down my gloveless arms, what I remember the most was having to go back and finish my job because I had not done it to the best of my ability. This experience taught me a great lesson in taking pride in what I do and learning the importance of doing a job right the first time so I didn’t have to go back and do it over! I have to admit our trip to the convenience store was one that I felt I deserved beyond any shadow of a doubt. That candy never tasted so sweet!

As I began my road to recovery, these early lessons began to come back into my mind. I was able to realize that without risks there can be no achievement. And without working hard and lots of practice, how would I ever get better and stronger?

Starting on the medication was a huge risk for me, but one that I was willing to take in order to achieve a more fulfilling life. A better life! As the medication began to take effect, I was able to start thinking more clearly and rationally. I began to enjoy the simple moments in my life as a young mother. Bathing and feeding my young family became rituals that I relished. Even their mischievous moments became more enjoyable.

For example, the time I was overcome with panic, unable to find my four year old daughter McKayla. I had searched the house three times yelling out her name. I had sent five and half year old Chris, to scour the neighborhood homes. I had looked under the beds, just in case she had fallen asleep in one of her favorite hiding places, all to no avail. I called my husband at work in a panic. He reassured me that she would turn up and urged me to continue searching. We both knew how much she liked playing “hide and go seek”.

I hung up the phone, said a fervent prayer, and continued my hunt. As I was searching our toy room for the third time, I heard a muffled sneeze. I opened the closet door to reveal a “chicken-costume-clad” McKayla crouching ever so quietly in the corner. I scooped her into my arms and sobbed as relief swept over me. “Why wouldn’t you answer me when I called, sweetheart?” I questioned. With her innocent blue eyes, she looked up at me and said, “I thought you would get angry because I am wearing my costume, I’m sorry mommy.”

She had a dance recital coming up and I had asked her not to play in her chicken costume. As I documented this experience later on, I was able to see the improvement in my ability to stay “pulled together” at a time when previously, I would have been unable to cope. At the same time, it helped me to see how much I had missed feeling emotion. It felt so good to “feel” again.

But even though I had experiences like that one from time to time, for the most part my emotions remained on an even keel ninety percent of the time. I knew, that because of this glimpse of how good it felt to “feel”, I wanted more. I wanted something even better! I wanted to enjoy every positive moment. I wanted to feel sad when conditions called for sadness. Happy when things went well. And I started feeling as if the medication kept me from feeling some of these emotions. At times, I felt simply numb to emotion.

That is when I began to seek for something better. I have always been an avid reader. I loved to go to our local library. To this day, I have a stack of books beside my bed waiting to be read. I consider myself a “bookworm” because I rarely finish a book. I simply “worm” my way through looking for things that apply to me and my situation. I am a big fan of self-help and motivational books. So it was at this time that I made a trip to the library and returned with about eight books on depression, more specifically on alternative forms of healing.

As I read and reread I was able to see a common thread amongst most theories. Nutrition and physical exercise play a big part in maintaining our hormonal balance. But what I remember most was reading about serotonin, the brains own natural anti-depressant and tranquilizer. And I was intrigued that physical exercise played such a key role in the release of mood-enhancing substances known as endorphins. When endorphin levels become elevated so does one’s mood and vice versa. “This is it,” I thought “this is the key!”

I decided then and there that I was going to be in control of my own destiny. I had read enough and documented enough of my current patterns, to know that to go off of the medication “cold turkey” was not only dangerous, but could also set me up for an all-time low! Something I definitely did not want to have happen. I had worked so hard to come as far as I had. Instead I formulated a plan and set some goals, working with my physician. Together we devised a plan to wean me slowly off the medication. I had been working hard to exercise on a daily basis for about two years which explains the glimpses of emotion I had experienced.

Another major key in fighting depression is our diet. So I set out to find a nutrition plan that I could live with. Sifting through the wealth of information on nutrition is a job in and of itself! But as you are searching for something that will work for you here are some hints that I have found helpful. Be careful to avoid those that promise a “quick fix”. Avoid the diets that eliminate whole food groups. Make sure that whatever you choose, it is something that you can continue for the long term. If you have a hard time sticking with something for 2 weeks, you will never be able to stay with it for life. And above all, try to find a plan that works with your family as well. There is nothing harder than trying to fix yourself something different than your family. And it is just as important that they learn healthy habits too!

I have found that moderation seems to work the best. Instead of eliminating your favorite foods just try to learn how to enjoy them in moderation. Now, this is really important! Though I personally have learned how to function normally without the help of medication, and what works for me, does not mean that it will work for everyone. And it won’t always work for me, for that matter. I want to reiterate the importance of working with your personal physician and or therapist to find what works for you. There are so many options available today!

Throughout the years there have been times when I have let my priorities get out of line and I have not paid attention to what my body was trying to tell me and have had to return to medication. It’s not the end of the world! It is an option that is available to us and personally, I am so grateful for that! Whether you decide to try medication or not, definitely consider taking on an exercise program. This is where the list of priorities from chapter one begins to play in.

I hear so many people say that they cannot find the time to exercise. I agree that with a family, a husband, a job and all of our household duties, it is difficult. But if you make it a priority, even if it means getting up an hour earlier than everyone else, or giving up on your afternoon nap when your children are sleeping, you do it for one reason; Until you start taking care of yourself you really can not effectively care for anyone else.

Once you realize this you will be on your way to making some very positive changes!

Your assignment: Look back on your list of priorities that you made in chapter one and make sure that you are still working on them. If not, recommit to making this a priority! In your journal or on your calendar start to document your highs and lows and record your emotions. This will, not only help you to see and understand more about yourself and your emotions, but will also help your physician in making a correct diagnosis, should you choose to see one. Also, I highly recommend starting an exercise program. I truly believe that this is probably the key change that I made and have continued to do throughout my life that has kept me from slipping back into those major bouts of depression. Plus it keeps you young and looking great and that alone helps improve our spirits!

Thanks for reading today. I hope you are enjoying the book. Talk to you all again soon.

XO Wendy

Willing to change

Hi friends, Welcome to the Pointing Toward Hope podcast. 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 subscribe 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 39.

Chapter 2 

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up each time we fail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson —

I want you to stop and think for a minute about all of the people you know that you would define as successful. I believe that you will find, as I did, that one of the common denominators that each of these individuals have, has to do with the pace they choose to set for their lives.

It has been shown in many studies that people who lead a busy life are more efficient and more effective people in general. Why is this? Most people would tend to believe that the opposite is true. But the main reason lies in the fact that busy people don’t sit around waiting for life to happen to them, they go out and make life happen for them!

When I graduated from high school I earned a cheerleading scholarship to attend College as well as a partial academic scholarship. It was my first experience away from home. Granted, it was only an hour drive so I could go home if the need arose. However, I was determined to survive on my own merits and so I tried to go home only on special occasions and when I had free time.

Free time was a rare commodity because I also chose to work as much as I could, to ease the financial burden on my parents. So between school, cheerleading practices, games, dating, and work, there was little time for homework let alone homesickness.

But on one particular day I was feeling relatively “blue”. Had I known what I know now, I would have been able to see this as a clear symptom of depression. It was a gray, and rainy morning and it just so happened that my first class was very early (due to work and practice commitments). To tell you the honest truth, the only reason I kept attending this class was that fact that I was really hoping for a date with a cute guy in the class!

I walked into class that morning ready to sleep through most of it, as usual, but to my surprise found written vertically on the board in huge capital letters the word PACE.

My professor proceeded to ask the class if they knew what this word meant. Most of us yelled out various definitions such as, setting the progression of an event, rate of movement, distance covered by a runner, and so on. Not one of us could give him the answer that he wanted to hear. And so he began to break it down. Positive Attitude Changes Everything! You control the PACE at which you will build your life, one experience at a time. You, and you alone control your attitude. Yes, you will experience ups and downs in this life. Yes, you will have heartache and happiness in this life. And yes, you will always be in control of the attitude with which you choose to face these experiences.

You have the power to learn and grow and become better because of these experiences. You also have the power to use these experiences as a crutch or a thorn in your side. To say, “If it wasn’t for this. . . I could have been this. . .” or “If this hadn’t happened. . . I would have been a better wife, mother, father, husband, daughter, friend, etc.” It’s time to throw out the “should haves”, “would haves”, and “if only’s”!

“Wow!” I thought. The rest of the class was a blur because I knew that with that one important lesson he was talking directly to me! I began to regret the many times that I had slept through the class thinking I “should have” taken a different class, and realized for the first time in my life that I literally had the power to control my own destiny!

Mind you, this was a small glimmer of hope, for there were many events that would take place in my life that would teach me the importance of putting that thought into action. I have to give credit to my parents, because they are two of the best role models anyone could hope for. My parents did everything they could to help me to learn that it was up to me what I would make of my life.

They helped me to build a strong foundation of religious belief, a love of God and family, and strong moral values. For this I will be eternally grateful. There have been many times when I have turned to this foundation of strength and endurance.

But there comes a time in every person’s life when they have to find these truths out for themselves. Some will call this awakening, discovering your identity. I like to call it “setting the PACE”. When everything that you have experienced in your life up to this point comes together like the pieces of a puzzle that suddenly connect.

When you finally realize, “Hey! I can make a difference in this life. I have just as much right to be whomever I want to be as any other person, regardless of what I have had to endure or what I will have to endure in the future!”

But this requires more than a thought, it requires action. Now don’t suppose that after that my life became perfect, full of sunshine and happiness. In fact, this was a small awakening that I would look back on to draw strength from, in my deepest, darkest moments.

NOTE: It’s important to take a breather here and explain that as many of you know, life happens and things can change drastically over the years. In the next section I will be talking about my former husband, who remains a good friend to this day. Was that marriage a mistake? Absolutely not. It was part of my journey and helped shape me into the person I am today. And we got 4 beautiful and amazing children along the way.

Now back to the book.

Shortly after this realization, I decided it was time to set my life on a course that I had always dreamed of. More than anything I wanted to be a wife and a mother. It just so happened that my future husband, had been chasing me relentlessly. You know the statement, “Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees?”

Well, in this case that statement rang true. This boy moved into my neighborhood when I was just eight years old and he was eleven. I will never forget my Father looking me directly in the eyes one night over dinner and saying, “Now Wendy, that’s the type of family you want to marry into!” My response was that of a typical eight year old, “Daaaaaad, ewwww!” To this day I still have not figured out how he knew before I did that that boy was the one I would eventually marry.

Our courtship was not easy. To say it was bearable would be a great understatement! My future husband would probably tell you that he would prefer to be hit by lightning than to go through our courtship again! Over a period of about a year and half, I single handedly succeeded in getting him to fall hopelessly in love with me. How I managed to do this I will never know. I think I did everything I could to torture him and drive him away.

We lived just three houses apart from each other on a dead end subdivision. I lived at the top of the street and he lived near the outlet. This put him in the perfect spot to see me drive up and down the street with various dates. Over that year and a half, we dated and then broke it off half a dozen times, and it was during those times that I proceeded to torture him.

I truly did not intend to do this. I felt that we had made it clear to each other that neither of us would have a problem with seeing the other person dating someone else. So you can imagine my surprise when he proceeded to feed me a little of my own medicine. Over a period of three weeks he made sure that I saw him having a great time with three different and very beautiful girls. Little did I know that he had no particular interest in any of them. One was “just a friend”, one was his friend’s date, and only one was actually a girl that he had any interest in. This didn’t matter to me, because what you see and what you feel can be two very different things and I felt jealous!

Not just a little bit, I was extremely jealous! To make matters worse, not only was I jealous, my mother was jealous for me! I knew it was time to make my move I had to reclaim my status with him! Now this may seem egotistical and I assure you that I really had no intention of raining on anyone’s parade, but I had finally realized what I was giving up and I wasn’t going down without a fight!

Fortunately, it never came to out and out combat. Whatever I had done to get him to fall in love with me must have been the right thing because he unloaded her like a bad habit! Lucky for me, he is a patient and very tolerable man. He has been the “wind beneath my wings” so many times I have lost count. To say he brings out the best in me would be a great disservice to him. He has treated me as if I were what I ought to be thus, I have become what I am capable of being. I hope that I do the same for him.

Having related this experience, let’s get back to setting the PACE. You see, I had to tell you a little bit about my husband in order for you to understand what he had to endure for most of the first eight years of our marriage. We brought our first child into this world just ten short months after we were married. Then seventeen months later, we had our first daughter. It was at this point that I realized how hard being a mother really is and I remember looking into my husband’s eyes and saying, “If you want more children, it’s now or never because I am not going through this stage again once I am out of it.”

If you have ever had two children in diapers and on a bottle at the same time you will be able to relate. I was so not independent and I knew if I became independent again I would never want to go back to that lack of independence.

Unfortunately, I was setting myself up for a long and hard battle with depression. First of all, if you have ever had a child or you have witnessed someone who had a child, you know how hard it is to return to pre-pregnancy shape; both emotionally and physically. Following the birth of our second child, I became pregnant again within twenty two months. After eight short weeks of constant questioning of myself, “What was I thinking?”, I miscarried this pregnancy.

Instead of seeing this as a sign that maybe I wasn’t ready for another child at this point, I blamed myself for the miscarriage because of my constant questioning. Consequently, I became pregnant again and delivered a beautiful baby girl twenty seven months after our first daughter. I think at this point I had a “help me make it through this stage Lord, and everything will be ok. ” attitude.

Boy, was I ever in need of an attitude adjustment. And yes, boy number two came along twenty two months later. So if you are doing the math, I had four children under the age five! What a nightmare! Not the children themselves, but my inability to deal with the task at hand and my ever changing hormones.

Now, you can see why I call my husband a patient man! Over the space of about four years I would go in and out of deep bouts with depression. I had a hard time coping with the mundane tasks of the day such as laundry, cooking, and cleaning up after the kids. Everything seemed overwhelming and instead of tackling one task at a time I gave up. Essentially this created a vicious circle. Not following through, giving up, and then berating myself for being such a terrible mother and person. It would get to the point where all I wanted to do was go to bed and wake up when it was all over. A serious sign of Post Partum depression.

Depression comes in different forms for everyone. So it is important that you understand that my experience with depression may not be what you have experienced but that does not make yours less real. Also it is imperative to understand that Depression is a condition that there is no cure for. Except in some cases of Post Partum Depression or other situational or environmental depression. And even then it’s tricky.

If you have been diagnosed with depression then you have to learn how to manage it so that the symptoms will be at a level that you can function with. There are many great medications available today that work very well and I highly recommend seeking out a professional who is trained in working with your specific form of depression to find out what works best for you.

For me, when a bout of depression is coming on I can actually feel a dark cloud settle upon me. It is so real to me that I feel like I could reach out and try to push it away. That’s when I know that something is out of balance and I need to re-evaluate what I have been doing. For you it might be much different.

The point is that it is important to get to know your body and your emotions well enough that you can manage it when it arises. During that four year period when I really did not know what was going on with my health, and the above situation would start to improve I would think, “Hey, things are looking up!” So what else would any normal person do at that point? You guessed it, I would take on another project. “I am woman, hear me roar”, right? Slowly and steadily, I was leading myself down a path where sometimes there is no return.

I was setting a PACE that had nothing to do with positive attitude and everything to do with lack of control. Because I felt that my abilities as a mother and a woman were out of control, I was looking for anything that I could control. As I sunk deeper into depression I struggled more to look like I was on top of it all, on the outside.

I wanted anyone and everyone to know that I was in control, when I knew full well I was anything but in control. If you have ever suffered from depression or know someone who has, you may be able to relate to this scenario. At home, behind closed doors I was falling apart and yet when I was around people I was very good at concealing what was really happening inside. I would put on what I like to call the “happy face” also known to many as the “mask”.

Of course this is not always the case, a lot of how we act and react has to do with the stages of depression we are in and how many times we have hit the lows. I happened to be very fortunate to have someone who loves me finally pick me up off the floor and tell me, “This is not real life. You don’t have to live like this!” My husband helped me to realize that it was time to ask for help. This disease was bigger than me and it was dangerously out of control!

Over the next few years I began my long road to recovery. It was never easy. My first step was to visit a therapist and talk about my options. This woman helped me to see that choosing to be on medication was not surrendering to the disease, but the beginning of the fight. She helped me to realize what my pattern had been for each bout of depression that I had experienced and what I could likely expect over the coming months.

She pointed out to me the pros and cons of being on medication. This was something that I could not have done for myself because I was not thinking rationally at that point. I feel that she helped me to understand that I needed an attitude adjustment, I needed to be willing to change my lifestyle and I needed to be able to think clearly so that I could set a new PACE.

As painful as change can be there is always growth and opportunity waiting to occur. For me, this meant starting on the road to recovery with what any person should do who has a disease, and that is to take the proper steps to help your body heal.

Even with all the controversy and stigma at that time over anti-depressants and depression in general, I couldn’t justify not taking this chance. It was a badly needed light at the end of the tunnel, it gave me hope! 

Your Assignment: 

Find a notebook or buy a cute fancy journal (whatever helps you want to write), and write down your feelings and experiences. You may think that this is a waste of time but, I can’t tell you how many times I have looked back on what I wrote during those down times.

Whenever I read the words that I penned myself, it helps me to know that things did get better, even when I could see no way out. Generally, I am not one who would push people to see a therapist.

But in the case of depression or the meriad of other emotionally dysfunctioning diseases, I highly recommend talking to someone about what you are experiencing. Even if it is just to sit down and have a real “heart to heart” with your husband, mother, sister, best friend, or clergyman.

Talking things out and getting them out in the open will not only let someone else in on what you are feeling, but it also helps you to sort things out in your mind. Talking it out and admitting that you might need some outside help, that what you are doing is not working, is the first step on your road to recovery. And believe me, what lies beyond that first step is worth the risk of putting it all out there. Hiding behind the “happy face” is no way to really LIVE life!