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Inside my Brain

I’ve been thinking a lot the last week about what I want from this blog. What I want for me, and what I want for those of you that tune in and read it–to get from me. I have this insatiable need to share my thoughts, share my activities, share my life. Not sure why that is. I do see life as joyful and fun, and I have hopes that some of that may rub off on those of you that read. I also see life as hard and complicated, but feel I’ve been blessed with perspective, and I want to share that, too. I love to share the recipes that my kids love because–isn’t that what you do with your buddies, share? I also get excited to share my home projects because I’ve worked hard, and it feels good to share with those that may be wanting to do something a little different, too. All the things I share, I’m doing it because I think someone else–maybe just one person–would benefit from it in some way or another. I wrote in my grateful post a few days ago that I’m grateful for the internet. For the opportunity to share in a way that my mom’s generation couldn’t do back when she was raising her family. Though the comments and validation are appreciated, it’s not as needed because my joy in sharing fulfills me.

In contrast, I have this deep down worry that people DO think I’m just an attention grabber, that I seek the limelight, and share for attention to ME.  I can see why people would think that. I mean, I am talking about myself and all that I’ve done. That’s what a blogger is, right? Someone who is seeking attention? That needs validation for something they are doing? Who thinks they are better than everybody else and is just tooting their own horns? NO WAY! Let me just say–that’s not why I do this at all, and for all the bloggers I know (and I’ve met quite a few in the past year) that isn’t what I gather from them, either. In my “real life” I hardly ever talk about the things I share on my blog, that I know off–not many people I see in my day to day life even read my blog.  I worry that those perceptions are what keep people that I interact with regularly from getting to know the real me. I’ve actually had someone say to me recently, “I can’t be friends with you, Kristen, your life is too perfect.”  It breaks my heart and is incorrect on multiple levels, (most importantly that my life is far from perfect–no such thing as superwoman) but mostly because they see me on a different level as them, when in reality I see something they have and wish I had, but can’t seem to attain.

A few months ago my sweet neighbor confided in me that she felt that way about me at first, then came by my house to the whirlwind around me, and realized I am most definitely not perfect. I never ever want anyone to feel bad about themselves because of the things I do or share, my hopes are to inspire–that we all work together in this life to build each other up.  When I hear comments or relatable stories to what I’ve shared, it brings ME joy to know my intent has been accomplished. But I also get the comparison thing–unfortunately we all seem to compare our worst to someone else’s best, when we should be comparing our yesterday to our today.

I have considered this blog my journal for the past 2 years, which has kept me from contributing often in my personal journal (which I wrote in daily for many many years), but I miss so many details of my REAL life as I share just the things I do on my blog. So I’m going to challenge myself by announcing to all of you that I want to do that on Mondays–What’s on my Mind Monday. How does that sound?!? Sundays are a great day to tap out my thoughts, and share on Monday. I feel very reflective on Sundays because it’s a day I set aside as my Sabbath to “rest from my labors” which is my day to day chaos. I generally don’t do anything with blogging that is considered “work” (though sometimes those lines are blurred), we don’t do parties, sports, shopping, etc. on Sundays. It’s a great time to recharge my battery for the coming week.  So I plan to tap it out on Sundays, and plug in a few pictures to make it a weekly journal entry of sorts. When I think about the blog that inspires me the most, it’s just reading her thoughts on parenting, her ups and downs, and getting inside her brain that fulfills me.

road trip in the car
So here are the random tidbits going in my life:

  • I chatted with my parents in Ghana a few times in the past week. Though I don’t seem to have a direct number to call them, I can text my mom on her phone (.50 cents per text, a price she doesn’t seem to care about), and she calls me. For those that don’t know, they are missionaries there for 3 years. I wrote about it HERE. It’s fascinating to hear their observations on what makes a great missionary, and the overlying tip from them to prepare my boys is: 1)Encourage them to Develop their personal faith (not piggyback on mom and dads) and 2) provide opportunities for hard work (don’t helicopter them). It’s the little things like noticing the boys picking up the chairs at the end of a meeting–service without being asked. I encouraged her to start a blog, and if you want to follow along, click here. Tell her I sent you;)
  • I’ve been tied up planning a BIG TRIP for my family the past few weeks. The kids will miss 4 days of school in January (I’ve NEVER done that before) and I’m so stinkin’ excited! The trip is funded from the inheritance my grandma left me when she passed away–when I got it, I knew I wanted to do something fun with my family to create memories. We’ll reveal it to the kids on Christmas as a gift from my grandmother. (hint: big boat!)
  • Social media–it’s a blessing and a curse, isn’t it? As we drove 5 hours to our Thanksgiving destination, and I ran out of news feed to follow, I found myself (much to my chagrin) looking at who the people I know in real life follow–a handful of them don’t follow me, but follow our other friends AND lots of my blogging friends they don’t know. So why don’t they follow me? Maybe related to something I mentioned above? Those are the things I wish I didn’t care about, but it made me sad. I also follow my kids friends on Instagram (if you don’t follow your kids friends on IG– DO IT, you will learn a LOT and gather insight into their world that opens up discussion). As if it isn’t enough to get my feelings hurt over social things I’m excluded from, I now see what my kids friends are doing that leave me feeling sad. Maybe my kids won’t notice or care, but I notice, I care. Social media makes the friend thing more complicated. I generally try to steer clear of posting when I do things with friends on social media b/c I don’t want to hurt others feelings. But sometimes, I’m feeling so low, and sharing that I have a friend to post about sometimes makes me feel better, so I do it.
  • Speaking of social media, on our long car ride, and downtime over the holiday, I stumbled upon (via Instagram) and became obsessed with a blog I’ve read occasionally over the years, but haven’t gone to in a while. It used to be known as Rockstar Diaries, now called Love TAZA. It’s just a girl blogging about her life as a newlywed at first, and now as a mom of two littles–living in New York City. I found myself engrossed in her story…all of a sudden wanting to live in a small apartment in NYC for the adventure of it all. She shares my faith, so I felt even more connected to her that way. I went to her Once Upon a Time tab, and started at the bottom/beginning and clicked through all of her favorite posts–and felt like I was part of her inner circle for a bit. It was fascinating, riveting, I love her fashion sense, though it may not be my style, she rocks it! She went to Juilliard as a dancer–now raises her little ones and has the same struggles we all do. I even read that she felt lonely without a good friend, and it reminded me that just because her life seems like perfection, she has struggles, too. She just chooses to focus on the positive.
  • Since mid July, we’ve had my husbands sister and her small family (husband, 2 year old) living with us. From the horror stories I’ve heard from others, I’ve got it pretty good. But it’s been met with its challenges, and at times I’ve really struggled. I want to have a pure heart, I want to provide this service for them in a time of need, but having that thought in my heart is not always met with happiness about it. I’ve really been reflecting lately on how I can soften my heart and show more love, and hoping my actions will meet the desire of my heart.
  • Last week, our locale church congregation got a shake-up. For those not of my faith, we are assigned to worship in what we call a ward family–depending on where we live. Our church is worldwide, with the same doctrine taught everyone–headed up by the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, so it’s not like we select our congregation based on what is taught there (as many in other faiths typically do, I hear) because the same thing is taught everywhere. Anyway, as the church grows in certain areas, the congregations get bigger, with a need to start a new congregation/ward, which often means pulling from a few congregations to make them a bit smaller, in order to form a new one. This is met with some sadness, as we don’t get to choose who goes to the knew congregation, the local leaders pray for months on how to best divide the area, based on where we live. We found out last week that 11 families from our congregation will be reassigned to the new congregation. This is met with sadness for not having them in our ward family, but happiness to know that the church is growing so much in our area. It also takes faith to sustain that decision, but our faith is not on who we worship with, it’s on our Savior and His ultimate plan for us all to draw nearer to Him.
  • I got a new iPhone! I got the iPhone 4 about 2.5 years ago, met with lots of hesitation on my part. Did I really want to have the internet access at my fingertips ALL.THE.TIME?  I try my hardest to be present, and some moments are better than others. I feel like I look at Instagram on my phone, and really only check my email when I’m waiting for something specific, and I don’t even like reading blogs on my phone b/c it’s too small. I am completely against (for myself) notifications popping up on my phone screen when someone posts or likes or comments on anything, so those are all turned off. I want to check my phone when I want to check it, not when someone posts. That means I miss a lot, and feel bad sometimes when a good friend posts something that I didn’t see for a while! I like to comment on good friends posts, and want them to know I love them. My love language is commenting—ha!  Anyway, I got the iPhone 5s. I really don’t like learning new tricks and never even updated to IOS 7 on my old phone b/c I didn’t want a change, so really hesitated to upgrade. I had that 4 for 2.5 years and dropped it many times–half with a not so protective case, and it never cracked on me!! It was going SUUUUPER slow, and wigging out on me, so I figured it was time. My new phone is SOOO fast and I love it! Especially love the new and improved camera with burst mode on it…yay for better phone pictures!
  • I think I may take up yoga. I’ve never ever done it before. It always seems so slow to me, I like a fast paced cardio workout. But lately I’ve been really wanting to tone my core, and get some of the flexibility back that I had back in the dancing days. As I get older, I notice the aches and pains in joints, and thinking that might help. Not sure where I’m going to fit it in though. I don’t want to cut out my cardio, and don’t want to take my daughter to the gym any more than 2 days a week, and I’m horrible at home DVDs. Soooo, gotta ponder that one.
  • I’m waiting to hear more details, but I found out last week that I get to take my oldest daughter on a fun little trip for a blogging opportunity. I’m SO excited! I’m dreaming up the amazing time we will have, just she and I. That sweet girl is kinda stuck in the middle of the cute baby that everyone adores and 2 older brothers that are best friends. She is a tough girl–up for the challenge of impressing her brothers, and I’ve recently been thinking about ways to make her feel special, so this comes at the perfect time! Remember our chocolate mask overnighter? That was a fun one, too. She is an amazingly fabulous big sister, teaching a “gymnastics class” to her little sister once a week at home, and making secret handshakes. Warms my heart since I didn’t get that sister thing.
  • We spent Thanksgiving with my husbands extended family in a cabin in Oklahoma. No one lives there, it was just a meeting spot for all of us this time around. My kids had fun with their cousins, my husband was in his element with his most favorite people, and I enjoyed watching both of those interactions. However, I feel like I’m just not myself in that setting. I want to be, but I feel guarded and not as open as I’d like to be. Why can’t we just do the things that we want to do? It’s less natural for me.
  • I hit 20,000 fans on my Capturing Joy Facebook page last week, yay! Now before you think I’m contradicting myself with what I said above (attention seeker et all), know that I see blogging as part sharing the joy in life, part business. It became a business two years ago, once I started putting ads on my site and getting paid per click. When I share on Facebook or instagram or twitter, it’s in part because I want people to click over to my site, which is where I get a fraction of a penny per click. So the number in fans isn’t a popularity contest as much as it is more people that will see my posts THERE, and hopefully click over HERE, which results in pennies for me…which in turn adds up and helps me keep going blogging b/c as much as I love you all, my joy in sharing is validated by the sweet words I hear from you, AND those pennies adding up.
  • My 4.5 year old is imitating her 2 year old cousin in a lot of her conversation and interactions and it drives me up the wall! I feel like her calm demeanor has transformed into 2 year old tantrums as she see’s what her cousin is doing. We are constantly reminding her to act 4, not 2. I know 4 year olds have tantrums, too, but it’s a new development.
  • Yesterday at church, in our youth lesson, we discussed gratitude. We’ve been discussing gratitude and thanksgiving all month long, haven’t we?  Today it hit me differently with a message I needed to hear. As I went to church today fasting with a prayer in my heart, with a desire for my heart to be softened, a little voice whispered to me that my heart can be softened via gratitude. Focus on the good, not the bad in the situation. Hoping I can do that better.
  • Today is the last day of the Say NO to Auto Workshop VIDEO intro sale, grab it while it’s discounted!
  • Don’t forget to send me a Christmas card and I’ll send you mine (while supplies last;) I ordered a bunch of extras for readers!

That was a lot to read! If you got through it, thank you. If not–it’s for me anyway. Moving forward they won’t be so long, as I will hopefully be sharing more often.  Can you relate to any of this? Does it make me seem more human? Ha! I have real life ups and downs just like the rest of you!  To see more of my thoughts, check out Kristen’s Ramblings under the Life As I Know It tab (for future reference).

{a few pics from our cabin adventure}

country running

cabin adventure


Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

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Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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  1. I would love to blog and share my thoughts and ideas, but we currently don’t have internet access at home (only on our phones). Something I’m considering though.
    Having a sibling or in-law live with you can be very difficult. My brother lived with me for about four months and contributed nothing. It was quite frustrating. My husband’s younger brother has stayed with us a few times. I think it’s the fact that we are thrown out of our comfort zones and regular routines, that makes this type situation most challenging.
    I, too, am a firm believer in following my children’s friend on Instagram (more so, than Facebook). There is so much to be learned. Several of my daughter’s friends text me regularly, and are very open and honest with me. The trust is important.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      SO much to be learned, indeed!! CAn’t imagine no internet at home…then again, maybe it’d be nice to be distracted less!

  2. Lots of info :) I´ll stick to a list:
    - You don’t come across as seeking attention
    - It really is easier to compare our worst to someone’s best, especially because in the internet world we tend to share only the better things. But for some reason people don’t really want to hear us talking about bad stuff all the time… it’s a conundrum…
    - Yoga is slow… but with a good teacher you’ll break a sweat fast and feel the pain of using your own body weight to tell your body what to do. I really like it :)
    Aline recently posted..On giving thanks {Thanksgiving}My Profile

  3. Love this post–I’m new to your blog (and a big fan!) and this post is a great way to get to know you better!

  4. I loooooooove that you’re doing this Kristen! The personal posts are what keep me reading blogs… along with gorgeous photography… and you have BOTH! Thanks for sharing your life!

  5. Hi Kristen!! I’m from Chile and I can say: “your blog inspire me a lot”. I’m 20 years old, I’m LDS, and someday I wish an eternal family, and your blog it’s like the “voice of experience”.
    I love photography, and now i’m planning buy a camera, so your blog it’s helpful and inspires!!
    I have a blog too and I can understand you, because it’s like my “Journal” and later I wish to share my experiences in my life, and I hope that someday i can help someone :)
    Thanks you for share with us :)

    Daniela recently posted..Pequeño Reencuentro (Riñihue)My Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hi Daniela, you are so very sweet, it makes me to happy to hear that I can inspire all the way to Chile!!Keep me posted every once in a while!

  6. Oh my gosh! I don’t see an attention seeker at all! I see someone who loves her life and loves to share it with others. I wish more people did that!! Thanks for sharing. :)

  7. I can relate to a lot of w’hat you’ve said, as a blogger and a mom, LDS, person haha
    You are one of my fav blogs to read and really an inspirationto me. I want to be like you when I grow up as a blogger;)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      THank you, Heather! I’ve come to realize that a lot of us have at the same ups and downs, we just don’t talk about the downs enough, and I think it benefits us all to do that! So I’ll take the lead!

  8. Jacqueline says:

    I always see you as a real person, Kristen. But this makes it even better! I’m looking forward to these Monday posts!
    P.S. I can relate to keeping the Sabbath each Sunday. Not sure what I would do without it!

  9. Kristen, I just wanted to comment that one of the reasons I follow your blog is that it uplifts me as a mother. I actually don’t like alot of social media because I think it is hard to stay on your path when you can look at others who look like they’re doing everything easy. But I don’t feel that way about your site. Just wanted to share.

  10. I love your thoughts and I think you are amazing. your thoughts about gratitude made me smile. I am a firm believer that it isnt’ the happy people that are grateful, but the grateful people that are happy.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!!! I want you to know that I never think bloggers are perfect, but i appreciate that they can teach me/show me how to do something that I couldn’t do myself nor that I would have ever thought of doing. I’m looking forward to Whats on my Mind Mondays!! Thanks for being so real!! Love your blog!!

  12. Lots of down time can be good for soul searching, but don’t let it drag you into worrying about social media. I honestly think most people don’t really know who they are and aren’t following. When you are following hundreds of people, you don’t know what you ate missing…does that make any sense?
    Lorie recently posted..Christmas IdeasMy Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I’m pretty sure that some of them do it intentionally, but I’m a big girl, I purge my frustration, then aim to let it roll off!

  13. Beautiful post Kristen! I love your willingness to share what you’ve learned with others. Your generosity is a gift and your blog is one of my favorites!

  14. What a great post! Your blog is great and I know you are genuine in your desire to share joy and uplift others. Thanks for being a good friend…I really like you!

  15. I love your blog. I love your tips and recipes and well, all of it! You are such a great mom and I love seeing what’s happening in your world. I appreciate that you are willing to share it with all of us! Don’t let the insecure, and often jealous people get you down. One thing that helped me recently was discovering that even NieNie has haters. There’s always going to be someone that has something mean to say no matter who you are! Anyone who knows you knows that you are a kind, sincere and wonderful person. It’s a sad world we live in but your blog makes me happy.

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  1. […] it ironic that last week I declared I want to share what’s on my mind each week, then have kind of a crazy week, of which I […]