Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Sure Way to Increase Your Happiness Level

Last week I kept having moments that brought out my insecurities.  I found myself thinking things like, "you just are NOT as cool as you used to be!" and "you're pretty much going to just be mediocre your whole life, so get used to it." I started believing those thoughts and felt slightly depressed.

I know that I'm not alone in this. Sometimes there are little seasons when our insecurities, negative self talk or basing our worth on what we think others think of us just seem to ruin our peace and happiness.

Sometimes certain people just seem to bring hurt or annoyance to our lives.

Do you have someone in your life that seems to bring out the worst in you?  Or several people who  put you in a bad mood or annoy you like crazy?  You wish that you could just love them and feel total goodness towards them, but irritation always results in your associations with those particular people.

They seriously inhibit your ability to feel happiness... or so you think.

I've  tried many times to overcome the way  I feel about these people in my life  I've mentally attempted to feel ease, peace, and happiness with them. No lasting success was apparent  until one day I stumbled upon an idea that changed me...

A lesson from Native American Sacred Clowns.
(From Happy This Year by Will Bowen)

Sacred Clowns are called Heyoka by the Lakota Indians, the Zuni tribe calls them Mudheads, the Hopi call them Hano, Apache Indians have titled them Libaye, and the Cheyenne say they are Contraries:


the Zuni tribe calls them




The purpose of a Sacred Clown is to irritate, annoy, and mess with the members of the tribe. Most importantly however, their role is truly considered sacred and divine.

The Native Americans believe that in the beginning there was chaos, and that chaos is mandatory for people to thrive and survive.  Sacred Clowns are expected to bring forth chaos or irritation, and because of this, people in their tribe become stronger and more emotionally stable.

Each summer, there is a sacred Sun Dance festival  deep in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Tribal dancers honor their ancestors as they perform for 4 days in the scorching heat while fasting (no food or water). On the third day, when the dancers are obviously bone-weary and dehydrated, the Sacred Clowns come. They whoop,  holler, wreak havoc, and strive to distract the dancers.

An outsider would assume that these Sacred Clowns are evil, and should just leave. Right?


One year, Sacred Clowns didn't attend the festival. It would seem logical that the dancers would perform better, but the opposite happened. The worst year ever resulted for the dancers, and they were actually hospitalized because of heat exhaustion.

Truly, the adversity that the Sacred Clowns bring to the festival helps the dancers fight for who they are, and accomplish what they were meant to do.

Sacred Clowns are brought out in the Native American culture to help people understand their own true selves.
Sacred Clowns poke fun at the people, often speaking opposite of the truth. They try to mirror problems directly or inversely of those they are sent to irritate. Then, the people find within themselves the parts of their soul that need healing.

One sacred clown observed that "white people"sit around complaining at how other people and life circumstances annoy them. Yet, the Native Americans sit around the campfire at night and talk about the way the sacred clowns taught them something about themselves that day.

So, how did this change me?   I can now look at those who annoy me, or even those who really hurt or bother me as if they are a Sacred Clown or a teacher sent from God.

When we see others as divine teachers rather than irritants, everything changes. It helps us gaze into our own souls to view what part of us may need to heal, forgive, or be strengthened by divine power. Seeing people as sacred teachers rather than people who bother us is ennobling to the soul.

Here is one example, I'm a bit hesitant and embarrassed to share. It's a minor one, and it may appear silly, but it's a sacred clown to me:
In the last few months I've discovered Instagram. I like it tons better than Facebook, perhaps because I like pictures and think they are a delightful way to keep in touch.  I tapped into different circles of my friends who are also on instagram. I've enjoyed it a lot, and it's a lot faster and easier for me to keep in touch than any other social media source. If I follow someone, I hope that they follow me back. Just kind of a two way friendship thing, right?

So, I hit " follow" on a few friends that I've had for over 10 years.  They were  private accounts that I had to "request".  We have lots of mutual instagram friends, and so I see the comments they make to others often. What appears to me is that they didn't accept me as a  "friend", nor did they follow me. I  let this upset me. I started to feel bad and rejected.

Then I remembered the Sacred Clowns.

I pondered how I could view these people divine teachers that are revealing to me something about myself rather than as people set out to make me feel rejected. What are they teaching me about my spirit, and how can I keep my resolve and confidence because of this experience?

The answer came to me as I looked inside myself.  I saw that I have an insecurity that cares deeply about what other people think, and want to be accepted by people (and I'm even waaaay past my teenage years). It showed me that a place in me needs healing.

Obviously, I need to work on  knowing that I'm of great worth... even if no one else acknowledges that fact. It helped me realize how important it is to be secure in the fact that God loves me, and that I love me. I concluded that perhaps I need to love myself a little more. Not in a conceited way, but to be secure with who I am, regardless of how anyone else responds to me.

 That experience taught me to make sure to be generous in making others feel important- even in little ways. Times of rejection often teach us best to be inclusive and kind.

Remembering Sacred Clowns can turn those hurtful, negative, and annoying experienced into sacred ones. I'm not saying that they will suddenly take away hurt or pain, but truly they are a tool to peace and happiness.

Next time you encounter those people who drive you crazy, annoy you, or who bring you pain... remember the Sacred Clowns. 
I've found that the best way to make this work is not just to think about it, but to write about these things:

1. Who is your Sacred Clown and why?
2. What have those people taught you about yourself?
3. What divine message are they giving you?
3. How are you going to heal the parts of your soul that need healing?
    Forgiveness? Prayer? Connecting with God? Building confidence?
  It's what you DO with this information from yourself that makes the difference.

When you feel insecure, hurt, irritated, or annoyed... remember to bring in those Sacred Clowns :)! It will increase your degree of peace and happiness.


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Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Lieu of Plain Pumpkin Pie... 25 Scrumptious Pumpkin Desserts

I've confessed before that I don't like pumpkin pie. I try it every year just HOPING things in my taste buds will change. Maybe one day I'll taste my perfect pumpkin pie recipe... at least I hope so.

I LOVE everything else about Thanksgiving... the turkey, stuffing, cranberries, jello, and especially pies. I love pumpkin desserts, and those made with sweet potatoes. This post is dedicated to fellow Thanksgiving, pumpkin lovers who need an alternative to traditional pumpkin pie. Or other kindred spirits who just love desserts....

Happy Thanksgiving Prep!

As I find amazing pumpkin desserts, I'm adding to my list:

Pumpkin Torte from Taste of Home
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Truth, Heart, and New Dierection of Potlucks on the Porch

It's a novel, but please read :)!

The Dreamy Bloggy Beginning
Right after my twins were born in 2010, I discovered the world of blogging. I knew about family blogs, but I had NO idea what creative wealth and inspiration existed in the blogoshphere! During the long hours while feeding those two babies, I read craft blogs, sewing blogs,cooking blogs and all other sorts {yeah, I know, I "should" have been looking into their eyes, singing, and teaching them the ABC's}.

I became so inspired and felt that I was already a part of the blog world world without even writing one word or posting one picture on ANY blog. I even dreamed about blogs, and I'll admit some of my favorite bloggers were literally my friends in those dreams.  I was THAT into it. Sometimes I could't sleep because I was so excited to start a blog. Yeah, I really am a nerd, I know :)! 

As soon as I got a handle on life, my sister and I started a blog... it didn't fly. Then a few months later, we rounded some of our greatest friends together and started Potlucks on the Porch. We started it because we wanted to share ideas, and  found out that bloggers can earn money. We worked hard, and even for a short time we did have a little money coming.

Our discovery, however, was that making money on a blog is hard!. We also found that simply writing a blog post takes more work than we EVER imagined! Some of us also felt that the blog just didn't fit with our life and family. Blogging takes passion or it just doesn't happen, and certainly, not everyone is cut out to be a blogger. 

We went from a post almost every day of the week when we started, to barely one post a week now :). Ya, realized that we couldn't just snap our fingers and have a blog post published. Oh the time and mental effort...!

So, what happened to our blogging team? Jenn and Maren decided that blogging was not for them... truly, life is too short to do something you don't love if it's not bringing benefits you need or want.  Lauralee is pregnant, and Jan just had a baby. They stopped blogging for a while, and they may come back. As for me... call it passion or foot stomping determination... I'm still here, and here are the reasons.

But First, a Little More History...

My little family moved from Utah county to Las Vegas in June. Moving ALWAYS tires me out. It takes a while for me to get going again with anything afterwards. Also, I'll admit that truly my first reason to join the blog world was because it inspired and lit me up inside. My second reason, however, was that I noticed that my favorite bloggers did it as a business. I thought that it sounded really great to be a stay at home mom, and earn a little extra cash through blogging! 

At the time we started Potlucks on the Porch, my family desperately needed some money. My husband and I have had major financial crashes in our married life. His business  didn't take off the way we hoped and planned, and after years of thinking it would, it never did. I know that we weren't the only ones, and other people who've gone through it know how rough and desperate those times are. 

Thankfully though, he changed his path and started nursing school just after my twins were born. Even though it was SUCH a roller coaster of a time with 4 kids under the age of 5,  my husband in school, and being dirt poor... I am so grateful.  He finished school and the hellish testing period, then landed a great job here in Las Vegas.  I never thought that an RN could earn the money he does. Again, he's and RN, so obviously it's not like millions or anything, but it's an income that meets our needs. We can pay all of our bills, we have enough to save, and we even have a little bit to spend on some fun extras.  It's a huge blessing.

He'll be really embarrassed when he know I put this picture on here :)!

Thanks to the blessing of having enough, I don't have to stress out about working. I don't have to turn this blog into a money making business. So, right now, I'm not!!! One day though, once all my kids are in school I might focus on turning it into a business again, who knows?

I do know that I really enjoy blogging. It definitely is a passion for me.   I do want to keep it up. However, I don't want it to be my "other child", or even my job. as it was this past year.

I'll admit, I felt exhilaration when some of my posts went around Pinterest.  I loved it when bloggers I  admire gave me some attention.  I realize that this blog is just one of the millions of small blogs in the blogosphere, and it felt good to get recognition from Six Sisters' Stuff and featured by Tater Tots and Jello. It's like when the most popular kid in high school gives you some attention... feels good. But, that's not what matters to me.

Getting Closer

Now for the heart of it all...  When I was a child my mom had to work. I remember just craving being around her. I missed her so much. She often needed extra naps to make up for the sleep she missed, and I would sit outside her door and just wait for her to wake up.

She drove me on my paper route, and even though I hated throwing and smelling those newspapers, I relished the time I had with her. It was more precious to me than I realized.

When I was 16 years old, she passed away in a car accident. Obviously my world was crushed, and I've never stopped missing her. It was the lack of having a mom at home that made me understand how important moms are.

 One thing I knew for sure at that time was that I wanted to be a full time stay at home mom if it was at all possible.  I know that it's not possible for every woman. Some women need work to keep sane, others need it to support their families. I'm not making judgments on anyone. This was just the path I chose when I understood what was of the most importance to me, and what I felt God wanted for me.

I am very thankful that after some serious financial troubles, we're at the point that I know my husband can provide. That makes a huge difference for me in regards to this blog.  Right now I won't be entering in all kinds of link parties, stressing about what people want me to post about, or even caring about all the stats... because I'm not focusing on making money.


My focus for this blog is things that "light me up".  I want to honor my heritage and my posterity. That's what matters most to me. I come from a line of amazing men and women who taught me so much. I want to pass their wisdom, and gems that I've gained along the way to my children, and to anyone that may benefit.

I've had so many questions during the 9 years that I've been a mom. Times when I wished so much that I could just call my mom or grandma and ask for a recipe or what to do in certain situations. I wished that I had a record of things they made for me, and activities they did with me.

I hope that one day my children will have access to those kind of things, and I feel like this blog is a tool for that.

I always wish for REAL gems that teach me how to be a mom, a wife, and just a great woman (including practical, beautiful, and spiritual). That's the stuff I'll include here.  Not that I'm an expert, I learn as I go.  I'm a very religious person, but didn't want this blog to be too religious because I want people of all faiths to relate here. I hope people of all faiths feel welcome here. I also want to share ways that help my family live our faith better.

 My major in college was family science, and I learned great things about family life. I may include some of my insights in those areas too too. My career was teaching LDS seminary to High school kids in the Church Educational System. It was a joy, and I want to include more about those most important things to me.

I do know that a mom needs something that's her own.  Time to sharpen her own saw. I feel like this blog did that for me this past year, we'll see what happens now. I still LOVE tutorials, craft, and recipes and will include them. I also have dreams of writing books, starting my own non-profit organization, and traveling the world. I'm planting the seeds of those dreams here.

So.... there's the truth and the heart of the current status of Potlucks on the Porch :)! Stay tuned, and we'll see where it goes from here.


P.S. The layout of the blog will eventually change, such as pictures and logos, but it may be a while :).

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