Friday, October 30, 2015

8 months!

How is life going? Mine is good. I think back to my past and I wouldn't want to change anything about it. I want to become good at focusing on the simple things of life. It is especially hard to find those small things when life is hard. Anyone can feel happy and motivated when their bills are paid, Their jobs are good and life is going well. We know that that isn't the case though... Life is going to throw a brick at you. The race isn't given to the quick and the swift; The race is given to those that can endure. I want to get better at not only enduring but enduring it well... trust me there IS a difference. 

We taught an awesome new family this week. I have only talked to them once but it went great as far as I could tell. It is a part member family and the husband was very close to being baptized because of an awesome experience that he had with his family. We Invited him again to read the Book of Mormon and be baptized. I told him that since I have been on my mission I have never felt more shaken in my faith and felt so weak. People say that we are supposed to be out here as spiritual giants but I have never felt so small. Inst it supposed to be the other way around? I told him that that the closer you get to God the harder it will become. Those walls are there to show see how bad you want it. When those walls get rough and times get hard you are going to need something to desperately grip. What do you have to hold onto? It is going to be the things that you know from your heart that will get you through. Dont let go of those experiences that you had with your family and that you know are true. I also believe there is a redemptive power that making a choice has and the actions that follow that decision. That is because There are so many oppositions and different opinions in the world, that if you don't know where you are going then you will end up some place else; that some place might not be where you want to be if you are not careful. It is important to decide.. Just decide.. Where you want to go. That foundation of beliefs (the things you KNOW) will weather you and your family through the storms. Remember those powerful experiences.

I am at 8 months now! time flies. I have goals for before I come home. I have been amazed looking back at my past and I do not know what to expect for the next 8 months. Life is full of mysteries and experiences. I don't know what to expect but I know that I don't feel like the same person. I have a new perspective of life and how I want to react to situations. I look forward to the future and the opportunities that it holds. I received a call from Fernando this week. It meant a lot to me. It is hard to see your progress out here and has gotten me very discouraged. But he told me how much It meant to him for me being out here. He called the mission the front lines of the world. He is now clean from drinking and is planning on getting remarried with his wife since she left him earlier because of drinking. He said he is driving a bus for a church now during the week and every Sunday. He has strong faith in God and I am very happy for him.    

It has been raining a lot these past few days. I guess the cane farmers are really worried about their crops right now. Especially if a hurricane comes through then all of their crops will be lost for this year if they haven't all ready plowed yet. All that you see around here lately has been cane trucks, cane tractors and clouds of smoke from burning the fields after harvesting. It always smells like camp fire... I love that smell. I love the rain and stuff like that. 

We went to the temple the other day to do sealings for a man whose wife died. He is very happy to have the names done and we also had some names from our ward mission leaders family. I saw a huge group of people from my favorite area in the mission also. It was awesome seeing them. It was the same family that I made the knife for. 

We do a lot of things throughout the week but It is usually the same old. Let me know if you want me to write about anything specific. I love you fam and friends.

Elder Cooley

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Letting Go of What Defined Me.

Vegetarian. Runner. Shy. Marathoner. Funny. Pescatarian. Anorexic. CrossFitter. Loving. Intense. Paleo. Healthy. Crazy. Determined. Beautiful. Smart. Lazy. Tense. Gay. Tall. Short. Fat. Skinny.

Who are you, and what are you letting define you? Is it your hobbies? Perhaps it is your eating habits or the music you listen to or the way you dress? Have you ever been labeled as something, and allowed that label to become your identity? If you had a reset button, that cleared the air of everything anyone ever thought about you, the opinions that were long standing, and the labels that never seemed to wash off, would you push the button? And after the slate was cleared, how would you define yourself?

I recently returned home from an LDS mission. I've blogged in the past about my experience about returning home early due to medical conditions, more specifically, anxiety related health conditions. It has almost been a year since returning home and a lot has happened. I'be found myself amid ups and downs, hills and valleys, sorrow and bliss. I've spent a lot of time working with a counselor to challenge the anxiety triggered behavior and overcome the challenges that I face. My most recent break through came as I realized that I did not want to be define by old labels any more.

Soon after returning home from Indiana, I jumped right back in to CrossFit, a passion that I developed 2 years ago. I was going every day, sometimes spending two or more hours there each time. In the beginning, the gym was therapeutic for me. I felt myself growing stronger and it was a great distraction from my anxiety. Little did I know that eventually it would become more of the problem than the cure.

At the end of August, I thought I had a stress fracture in my foot. I didn't want to go to the Dr, because I knew they would just tell me to stay off it, or worse, put me in a boot. So I kept going to CrossFit, and the foot got worse and worse. Finally I made an appointment to get an x-ray. The morning of the x-ray came and I considered canceling it. I told Charles (my husband) that I already knew they were just going to tell me to stay off it. He kindly replied, "well, meg, don't you think you should stop doing CrossFit for awhile and stay off it?" The simple suggestion of missing a week, let alone a day's workout made anxiety swell within me. "I can't!" I replied, "I just really can't do that!"
As I went throughout that morning, I thought about that anxiety response that was so quick to jump to the surface at the mere thought of not doing CrossFit really concerned me. I knew something needed to change.

I hopped on my laptop and looked up articles and blogs about people who quit CrossFit and why. I stumbled across an article that would change my whole outlook and propel me into recovery. I found it on the, and it was titled - Quitters: What I learned quitting the thing that defined me.

I found myself crying as I read this woman's story, realizing how closely linked mine was with hers. Her words resonated within me. She had been doing this intense workout for so long, and found out that she had to have her thyroid removed. She documents her experience with realizing that she needed to quit CrossFit and listen to her body. I liked this part the best...

"I’m much softer and gentler with myself now, but I’m still mouthy and tough. Quitting CrossFit helped me remember that our identity isn’t tied up in the external stuff we do — it’s how we think: about ourselves, about the world, about the people we love. And it’s about how we treat them and ourselves. Quitting CrossFit gave me the time and space to find my compassion for myself and others, and it’s made my whole life better."

I realized after reading her article that I had most of my identity, and most of what I thought about myself tied up in external things. This made me sad, but even more so, it made me ready; ready to change, ready to actually live life in a way that creates happiness in myself and promotes happiness in others.

So I quit. That very day I cancelled my membership to my favorite CrossFit gym. It was so hard. I had all sorts of fears surface. "What if I gain weight?" "What if they all think I'm a quitter." But the worst was.."Who am I without this?"

It is so easy to get caught up in the trivial things of life. What we look like, where we exercise, what we weigh, what we eat, our jobs, our cars, our clothes. We allows such little things to define us, and often route our choices and our lives. Why do we do this to ourselves? We are made for so much more! We have a far greater purpose...we know we do.

After quitting CrossFit, I've realized that I've allowed a lot more than just exercise to define me. So little by little, I am taking small steps in defining myself in a meaningful way. I don't want to leave this earth and have people say, "Dang, she was good at the clean and jerk." or "She always ate so healthy." no. that seems like such a waste of a life.

I want to define myself with how I love others. I want to define myself with how I love God. I want to define myself with how I serve others each day. I want to define myself with how I never give up. I want to define myself by my ability to listen and empathize. I want to actually live and experience and enjoy life. I regret the trivial things I've been caught up in for the last 8 years of my life, but I have learned so much through this journey, and been changed. I've learned so much about letting go, and holding on to the things that matter most.

So ask yourself... what are you letting define you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Live a strong life

Hey fam! 
I had a good week this week. I know that I say that every week but that is because I cant complain. I say that I cant complain because I have complained in the past and I feel like an idiot after every time that I do. I want to be strong and live a strong life... That does not include complaining then haha. I know that an attitude can make all the difference in an endeavor. I hope that I can stay consistent with a good attitude. I say consistent because that is how great things come to pass. Plus I have seen missionaries in the past that are not consistent. They are VERY nice and happy to other people and during our meetings, but once they get to the apartment where no one else sees them but their companions they turn into completely different people... People that you don't want to be around. I would have to say that one of my biggest goals in life is to be MYSELF all the time and be very real. There is only one Shane Cooley and to me I believe that that is powerful.

We had transfers this week and I am staying in New Iberia with the same companion. Mom has heard that I am more shy... I don't think that is true. I just know that the more you talk the less people remember. I think that people speak sometimes just to hear themselves talk and I feel that is where most difficulties, Misconception and arguments start. People need to be more careful with their words...that includes me. Be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to contention. 

I am working on finishing the Book of Mormon. I have been doing pretty well with it. I have put into action my goal setting again. I have no clue why I haven't been doing my goal setting like I used to. I remember in school that one day I realized something needed to change with my grades, My attitude and the direction I was going. I started setting goals and took my grades from a 3.0 to a 4.0 in one term. My grades were worse than the 3.0 previously but it all changed after that 3.0 due to goals. I have started setting goals again in every walk of my life. I do a review of them every morning and night and I go over 4 strengths that I did right and one weakness to improve on out of that day. I hope to stay consistent with this- It takes willing determination. (faith)

We met with a man the other day that is in our ward. He worked for NASA and Is a brilliant genius! You would never guess it though because he had two strokes and he lives one of the most humble lives that I have ever seen. He is still very smart... scary smart haha. On my mission I have been amazed at how not to judge to quickly. this one time With some members we had a waiter that seemed very mean and impatient at first but he ended up being the BEST waiter that I have ever seen. I made a comment to my friend "well... maybe this job isn't for everybody" But I was totally wrong about him.

One step at a time we can accomplish great things. Thank y'all for your love and support. Let me know if I can do anything for you.
Elder Cooley
Live a strong life.