One of the things that has literally saved my life in the last eight months is simplifying.  In the past, I have made the conscious choice to simplify during different phases of my life, and it has been a hard, awful thing to try to do.  But this time around, I feel like I was almost forced to simplify.  I had no other choice.  I went from doing preschool every day with my daughter, going to lots of playgroups, holding 3 church callings, walking every day, teaching 5 piano students, etc. to doing almost nothing, only the very most basic things I had to do, and greatly struggling with those.  I literally couldn't do any more, and I was abruptly forced to accept that.

At first, it was really hard.  I had just finished a summer of no anti-depressants, no naps, and feeling great every day.  Transitioning from feeling like I could finally be the kind of mom I wanted to be, to being what I considered a failure (not doing the extras and only the basics with my daughter), was incredibly difficult.  And you can correctly assume that many tears were shed as I grieved the old life I had lived and had to accept this new, different, less productive life I was now living.

But one day, I went to a piano teachers meeting with some other moms/piano teachers in the area, and we talked about simplifying.  Of course, the area of simplifying we were discussing was about playing the piano, but it hit me so hard with everything I was struggling with in my own life.  We talked about how, when you are playing the piano and accompanying someone singing, the most important thing to do is to keep playing and to provide a beautiful harmony to the singing.  In this case, the piano should not be the focus of the song, and the piano is only meant to enhance the singer's performance.  So sometimes, you might be asked to accompany someone, and the song you are asked to play is very difficult-- lots of sharps and flats, difficult transitions, or simply not enough time to practice before the performance.  If, in trying to play every single note written, you messed up dozens of times, the overall performance would sound awful!  But if you simplified-- taking out some of the difficult notes to reach or playing only the top notes of the chords-- until you could play the modified song flawlessly, the performance would be beautiful, and no one would know about the notes purposely left out.

First, this hit me, because I had always done this when asked to accompany someone, and I always felt like that meant I was doing it wrong, that I wasn't the kind of piano player I should be.  So it comforted me to know that other people simplify music too.  Second, it hit me that it was okay to simplify my life, to let go of some of the "notes" that didn't matter or to find ways to make those "notes" easier to play.  I didn't have to do it all, and my life was never going to be judged on playing all the "notes," but on my overall performance, whatever that performance had to look like at this point.

So I went home and thought about how I could simplify my past life and add some of those old things back into my new life without getting too overwhelmed or feeling too discouraged.

First, I talked to my bishop and asked to be released from one of my callings, the one that was a big stressor in my life at that time.  I never thought I would do something like this, but I didn't really feel like I had a choice.  I had to simplify, and that meant taking out this calling that was making my life very difficult.

Second, I wanted to add back in preschool with my daughter, but the thought of doing just one of the things we used to do before made me feel very overwhelmed.  We used to have a library day, craft day, baking day, activity day, and service day that all related to the theme of the week.  It was so fun, but I knew I couldn't do it anymore.  Instead, after weeks of pondering how I could do some kind of preschool again, I bought some preschool workbooks, and we started doing a few pages of that every day.  It's probably not as fun as what we did before, and it definitely isn't creative in any way, but it serves the purpose of spending time with my daughter and teaching her.  So really it isn't that different after all.

Third, I really struggled with scripture study when all of this started, and I would often cry for a very long time just thinking about how I needed to read and study, but not knowing how to even start.  I tried several different things, but they were all too much, and I could only keep up for a few days before getting very overwhelmed and discouraged and stopping my scripture reading altogether.  So I finally decided to study one scripture mastery verse every day.  I read it sometime in the morning and then try to think about it at least a few times during the day.  It's nowhere near what I used to do, and I know I won't be a scriptorian anytime soon at this rate, but it's what I can handle right now, and that's okay!

Fourth, I have become proficient at saying "no."  I don't babysit often for others, and I don't sign up for every opportunity that comes along anymore.  I know that probably sounds selfish and like I should serve more, but this is what I've had to do to be able to be the best wife and mom I can be for my family.  I've had to learn that it's okay to take things slow, and that includes saying "no."

Although my grieving process is not over and I still spend some days wishing that things could be back to "normal," I am learning to find JOY in simplifying the music in my life to create something beautiful, even if it has a few less notes.


  1. You're not being selfish. You're doing enough. And this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. You are the least selfish person I know! I am proud of you being able to recognize your needs and saying no to things you just can't do. It's not just okay, it's wonderful! And your message is one that will touch all who struggle with trying to do it all.

  3. I can't imagine, I can't comprehend, I can't feel, I haven't been there, but I can cry and that I do. This is a wonderful place to blog life's tender and traumatic experiences. May the Lord hold you in his hands. I love you.