Usually my “word” for the year comes to me slowly.


(I take this “one word” business pretty seriously.)

But this year my word arrived quite unexpectedly before I had even started to mull over what I was aiming for.

It happened to be at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed almost to the point that I wondered if I was depressed. I was starting to wonder if “this feeling” was normal…to wake up with anxiety each morning and to feel snappy and impatient with my children and husband. I was worried because generally I am one to see life with rose-colored glasses. The glass is always half-full as far as I’m concerned and I’m quick to find the good in things. But for a while I had been feeling like I was in a dark tunnel with no light beckoning me from the other end. There was just too much on my plate and I didn’t know how to remedy it all.

I was in my closet getting ready for the day. As usual, my mind was going a million miles a minute. What did I need to accomplish that day, which girls I could reach out to in Young Women, when would I ever get around to changing that burned-out lightbulb, what would I make for dinner, how did my closet get so cluttered…and then my mind jumped suddenly out to our waitress from dinner the night before.

Dave and I had snuck away in the midst of the holiday hoopla for a quiet dinner on our own. We had scarcely seen or talked to each other and needed to re-group.

At some point in the middle of our meal we needed something (I can’t remember what…more water? more Marsala sauce?). We both looked around for our waitress and suddenly came to the realization that neither of us had the foggiest idea what she looked like. She had checked on us three times, brought us water, had told us about the specials and had taken our order.

Yet we didn’t know what she looked like. We hadn’t really “seen” her…we had just looked through her and answered and ordered like robots wrapped up only in ourselves.

As I stood there in my closet and thought about that sweet waitress we had worked on “seeing” for the rest of the meal my heart sunk again (just like it had the night before). And then my mind randomly jumped again to Lucy’s preschool holiday party the day before. All the parents had been there helping their children decorate their own foam gingerbread houses with stickers and watching the kids do the limbo. I thought about the parents of one of Lu’s friends who had been there. They are fairly recently divorced. They are obviously struggling through the trenches of the tough stuff that most inevitably comes with divorce, as were their two little girls. In my subconscious mind I had been aware of them, but had been preoccupied with those parents I knew better, (and obviously with Lucy).

But as I stood there in my closet that next morning I was overcome with an awareness that just like that waitress the night before, I hadn’t “seen” them. At this point in their journey how nice would it have been for them to have even someone they scarcely know reach out to them and just show a little extra kindness. Maybe ask them how they were doing…how their children were doing. I know how it feels when you’re going through a rough time to have someone “see” you…and do something about it.

Then my mind wandered to Dave. As much as we’ve been living in the same house and raising the same children, and discussing the same parts of life, things had been so crazy this Christmas season up to that point that I hadn’t really “seen” him. I was so wrapped up in trying to stay afloat with my own things that it hadn’t dawned on me that he (along with Heavenly Father) are the ones who actually keep me afloat. When I “see” him and his needs like he always seems to “see” mine life comes into focus and there is a clarity in things around me that brings pure happiness. When I take a moment to “see” what he is involved in and put his needs and issues first all my worries and stresses somehow fade.

And my children…I had been going through the motions of “being there” for them, and I was. But instead of the fulfilling happiness I always feel when I am “in the moment” with them, my mind had been on who I needed to text about such and such an event and what in the world would we bring to our neighbors for Christmas.

So I sat there in my closet and let tears well up in my eyes. I had let the stress of life take over and had been so wrapped up in so many “good” things that I had forgotten to “see” my family. My friends. Even random strangers. And that was what was making me feel so uneasy and pressed down on.

It seems like an oxymoron to add “really ‘seeing’ others” to balance out an already overflowing plate. Part of me had been telling my subconscious that I could “see” others better just as soon as I finished this or that task…as soon as life slowed down a bit.

But that morning in my closet I realized once again that “seeing” others (maybe it’s simple true charity I’m talking about here) if put first on the list rather than last after all the busy stuff, is the conduit to balancing an unbalanced life.

It IS life.

“Seeing” others as Christ would see them is truly the starting point.

All the mumbo-jumbo stuff can fill in after that most important part.

Sometimes it’s just so darn easy to get wrapped up in what WE are involved in that we forget to see the needs of others.

I realized right then and there that no matter how overwhelmed I am in my life, I can never let striving to “see” others as Heavenly Father would, slide away. And if I do, I better start to get my balance back quick. Which means perhaps getting rid of a few things I’m holding on to and simplifying my life. (which I’m working hard on now)

Because when I make the time to truly “see” others, I can “see” myself that much more clearly.

In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says, “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

How I hope that this year as I focus on the word “SEE” that I will be able to more fully see what the Lord sees in myself and others: not the outward appearance, but the heart. And that I will be able to balance my life in such a way that I can give of myself to build up and nurture what I see.

How I hope I can train myself to look beyond the minutia of life that keeps me running in circles and really “see” what is most important.

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  1. Shawni, you're a woman of so many talents and great faith. Your goals are inspiring. Being mindful or "really seeing" is a worthy goal.

  2. I love this! Perfect word. As usual, your thoughts amazingly closely echo mine. I've been feeling a huge need so slow down and focus on individuals more…

  3. Love this, Shawni. You're an inspiration, and I'm so glad I get to have a little bit of inspiration from you every day since I won't get to see you this year… xoxo

  4. So amazing that you write about seeing others in your post. I wrote the same thing a few weeks back during the holiday hoopla. I think this is a collective thought and word that is meant to get out there if we were both feeling it. It's time to come together and learn to get present with life not just run the race to get to the finish line. At the end of the day it's the people in our lives that make the difference and life worth living.

  5. I needed to read this morning more than you know! I am once again so thankful for your blog and how inspired you are. I was feeling so overwhelmed this morning taking care of the children, a husband who has just had surgery and needs me even more than my kids, my calling in church that is always pulling my in a different direction.
    Thank you for opening my eyes and having me "see" what I really need to focus on.
    Your favorite Oklahoman!

  6. What wonderful thoughts you've shared this morning! I've been there, and one of my main goals this year is to give. Give more time, more hugs, more friendship, give to those in need. Give. Although my word this year (after living many emotional years) is "life" I think giving and seeing is a big part of truly living. Thanks for your words today.

  7. Thank you for sharing this. I am one of those recently divorced people in the church and i'ts been hard not being seen. It's like somehow I'm not capable anymore and I have a Big D on my forehead. I'm treated differently – no calling, or friends, it's hard to be in church and feel that way. It's hard sitting alone in Sunday School. It's just hard. Just because my husband had an affair doesn't mean that something is wrong with me. I'm worthy and worthwhile, but it's almost like I don't fit in anymore. Everything changed when I became single. So your thoughts going back to that couple and their children going through a hard time, shows your Christlike heart. You felt the right things and for people like me, it would mean the world to have that type of kindness shared and to have a friend.
    I live in Gilbert. I have admired you and your family from afar. I know some of Dave's family…I lived in Virginia when I was on my mission in Washington D.C., and I lived with Robert and Virginia Pothier. Love them! My daughter Brinkley, went to elementary school with Brimley Pothier. They were best friends.
    I love your stories. I love all your smiles! I adore your little Lucy! She's a treasure with that smile and light that she has!
    You are an amazing woman!
    Thanks for sharing your life and example.
    – Kimberly

  8. have you read virginia pearce's new book, through his eyes? it is gentle and so good. there is one quote in it about president monson's "call to slow down". she says how even as we listen to him speak we slow down and sit with him as he connects and interacts with individuals. i LOVED that idea. good luck with your 2012 "seeing" and Thank YOU for sharing so much of yourself with us… i am a better person because of your example.

  9. do you want to hear something funny? when i was running the other day i couldn't help but think of you and lucy. i was thinking about all the beauty around me and how i don't ever slow down to really 'see' it all. i take for granted that it is just there and that i've 'seen' it a thousand times.

    i was thinking about lucy and how her time of 'seeing' may be limited. i was completely overwhelmed. honestly i almost had to stop running to catch my breath. but it doesn't end there. i honestly felt like i had a spiritual experience…suddenly the thought that overwhelmed me was that seeing with our eyes – although a blessing- is not what it's all about. it is seeing with our hearts.

    i know it's said that people who lose the ability to use one of their senses gain an incredible capacity to sense with the remaining 4. i'd argue that this is where the 'sixth sense' comes into play and people can become more in tune with others souls. you already have an incredible capacity 'see' people's souls, and lucy touches people's souls. i know that sense will only grow through the years. what a blessing.

    sorry for the long comment and the fact that it's not face to face. i might just have to run over and 'see' you. love you.

  10. Once again Shawni, you have totally inspired and motivated me. This post was so well written and exactly something I needed to hear right now.
    2011 was a very hard year for me because of several different reasons, but I realized as I was making my goals for 2012, that I focused too much on myself and my problems, and not enough on other people. I should have been "seeing" my husband, kids, family, and friends, and reached out to others more. I always feel so much better when I am mindful of others, but it's something that I seem to easily forget! Thank you for the great reminder!!!

  11. I adore this challenge you have set yourself. I know that if you focus on it you will SEE many amazing and glorious things.

    One thing I may add is I believe that "seeing others" begins with "see ones self". I think too often I and others have clutter, extended to do lists because of what we want to be like yet if we could see ourselves as God sees us we would realize how incredibly capable we are. We ARE children of God and when we realize THAT we treat ourselves differently and others.

    Thanks for the reminder to see:)

  12. I have been reading your blog for a year now and enjoy is so very much. I am a grandmother (more towards your mom's age than your own) but your blogs lets me remember when my children were little and helps me now with my 2 grandsons. The blog makes me smile, laugh, sometimes cry and sometimes worry for you. I see you a person who thrives on juggling many balls in the air (very much like myself) but there are times I get hints that you have way too much on your plate. So, I am offering some sage wisdom (I have been there!!!)….just give up one, just one thing and maybe you will be able to breathe just a little easier. It's not a bad thing. It may just be a very good thing and maybe you will be able to " really see" than much easier. I think you are an amazing, strong woman and wish you only the best.

  13. Point well taken and very important.
    My children made me very aware of the fact that I tend to walk around with blinders on when they turned all the framed family photos hanging on the wall upside down. I noticed them one day and said, "Hahaha, who did this?" They said, "We were wondering how long it would take you to notice or say anything, they've been like that for 5 days." SERIOUSLY!? Five days of walking around with blinders on.

  14. I love your blog. It uplifts and inspires me. Thank you so much. I had been looking for a "mothering" blog to read and found yours and it is just what I need!

  15. Your word for the year reminds me a lot about the lesson we had in Relief Society yesterday as we started discussing the life and ministry of George Albert Smith. Don't know if you've caught hold of the manual yet, being in Young Women's and all, but its worth a read! He definitely tried hard to "see" others and make them feel loved! You can do it Shawni!

  16. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you! I too need to be better at seeing.

    On an unrelated note…I have a parenting question for you. I know you have mentioned that Lucy throws some awesome tantrums. I'm wondering how you handle them? (Or, how you handled them with your previous children as well!) My 2 and 4 year old can both throw some disturbing tantrums and it's hard to know whether to ignore it or try to help them through it. Thanks!

  17. Your word goal is similar to my theme for this year, which is relationships. I'm taking the good, better, best approach to improving relationships with family, friends, and myself. I have come to know and understand that relationships are the one thing in this life that we can take with us into the eternity. This is our time to work on them and make them the best that they can be. We all need to be mindful of others not just in body but also in spirit. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Love this so much…gave me much food for thought! My word for 2012 is nourish. I am working on getting healthy and nourishing my family and those around me both physically, emotionally and spiritually.

  19. I am really trying hard to see people (especially my family) as the Lord sees them. It's so hard sometimes.

    A favorite quote came to mind while reading your post: "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities."

  20. Love it Shawni. I think one of the things that is hard with being a mother of lots of kids is that it is all too easy to find myself in "management" mode instead of "personal connection" mode. We have to switch back and forth constantly and heck that is hard sometimes when we are busy.

  21. Brilliant!! I know how you feel and I am probably ten times LESS busy than you are. You spelled it out so perfectly. It is interesting how taking the time to notice others can kind of lessen our own load.

  22. You know what's great about your word? it's not only so true and so awesome to be aware of others and SEE them, but it goes with the whole thing about Lucy and her future and it all intertwines with what you are going through also….
    I really LOVE that idea and it's soooo true, we all just get so wrapped up in living out our days, we FORGET to see, to look and care about others!
    much love!

  23. I've never commented – but it's time to! I just really want to say thank you for taking the time to share these thoughts, being so real. I am grateful for these little "boosts" from angels

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