6.) Cold weather allows for the appreciation of warmth. And, oh, how I appreciate warmth!
7.) The air tastes cold and refreshing after it snows and breath hangs in a cloud of dense vapor.
9.) Snow means it's time for hot chocolate and oven s'mores. Mmmm, oven s'mores.
10.) Standing still and watching the snow fall in crazy dance spirals back-lit by a yellow street lamp as all the world sleeps and a person can be alone but far from lonely wrapped in a thick blanket of water. Magic.
Here are a few photos I took today. I was positively giddy with delight all morning!
Driving through the snow from one activity to another, I got to participate in many things that make me happy.
Our ward choir's Christmas program is coming along nicely. It's the most beautiful program I've participated in for years. I'm really excited to hammer out the bits and pieces and perform in a few weeks. The altos actually have good parts! I love when that happens.
We got to feed and entertain a group of family friends who are as near and dear to us as blood relatives. A feast of Autumn harvest goodies was enjoyed on our fancy dining room set -- picnic tables set in our new dining room. It was a lot of fun, actually. A nod to Victorian era dinner parties, "...we dine with four-and-twenty families." Next time I'll make seating arrangements to be sure that the group is mixed up and no spouses are sitting next to one another.
I had to dash from dinner early for a YSA meeting that found out I had missed. However, things just sort of worked out anyway.
None of the people I invited to this evening's activity showed up. Probably because it was snowing like mad outside and quite chilly. I don't blame them for staying wrapped up in the bosom of their families.
But, the people who did show up ended up being just the people I needed to talk to. I was able to get a lot off my chest that needed to be told to someone, good and bad. I was encouraged and uplifted in just the way I needed.
The group ended up consisting of two ward representative couples and myself. We went over my list of activities that I'd like to see happen with our stake YSA. We also discussed the current dating trends and why young people don't really date anymore. My ego was stoked when my personal dating history was divulged and all four members of my audience were appropriately taken aback by my lack of opportunity because, by all means, I seem to be a catch.
I left feeling like a 1+.
The snow was heavy and my car slipped a little on our temporary gravel drive but my heart was warm and my spirits high. I have a lot of work ahead of me for the next few months, but I'm excited and willing to take it all on.
Sometimes it's ok when things just don't work out.
All week I have been looking forward to getting together with friends from this summer. Planning was going really slowly because no one would commit to a meeting place, time, or activity. I offered literally dozens of possible choices but no one wanted to hazard any input.
I really wanted it to happen.
By Wednesday we were in a "hot mess." No plans were finalized and most of the people who said they were coming probably wouldn't be able to check Facebook for updates. I kept on, though, feeling that if were just able to figure out a time and place to meet, everything else would fall into place.
Nothing was falling into place.
Sometimes it's better to just accept that something is a little off and no matter the effort, it can't work anyway so it's better to just stop trying.
Everyone always has their own plans that must coordinate just right in order for everything to work .
I have thrown a lot of parties in the past. Playing the role of hostess is a lot of fun for me -- I love seeing other people having a great time -- it makes me feel good. However, if an event is scheduled at the same time or the same day as another event, then it forces people to make a choice between the two things. This can be really difficult.
When I was 17 my siblings and I began planning an awesome Halloween party at the beginning of September. We portioned off bits of the family budget and began stockpiling decorations and party food for the event weeks in advance. I hand made invitations with detailed monsters on the front -- each one unique. In order to host the party at all my mom made sure that the little kids got a party too. So, we scheduled the kid party in the early afternoon and the teen party for the evening.
I really wanted the party to happen and to be a success.
By the time the kids party was over, I was a wreck. Exhausted from entertaining a bunch of elementary kids all afternoon with pin the organ on the zombie and other such games I had made up, I was not in a very good mood.
When the teens began to arrive, my spirits rose. I really wanted to impress my friends and have a good time.
Only two of my invited guests arrived.
You see, there were several other activities going on the same night. While my siblings' friends were all free to attend our party, my friends were busy.
I ended up spending most of the evening a grumpy mess and my two friends left early because I was not being a very good hostess.
In short, it was a disaster.
Since then, I have learned to feel things out before planning an event. Quite often, a little communication goes a long way in making something work out to suit everyone involved. However, everyone must be willing to put their two cents in and not simply assume that someone else will speak up.
I've also learned to enjoy the party, even when things don't turn out as expected. That's part of the fun.
So, tonight I took a nice little drive into Salt Lake by myself and a nice little drive back. All by myself the whole time.
The city is beautiful at Christmas time. Gateway is one of my very favorite places with the trees all lit, colorful displays in every window, and the fountain splashing in time to music piped through speakers strategically placed around the plaza.
While it may have been more fun to walk through the street with friends, it was pretty darn great just walking at my own pace and watching all of the other people who may or may not have showed up anyway.
Sometimes it really is ok when things just don't work out.
Hopefully we can plan something else in the future. If we do, maybe I'll be free to attend but maybe I won't. We'll have to see. If that is the case, you be I'll be offering alternate plans that suit mine better or rearranging things to make it happen.
I'd really like for it to happen.
To be completely honest, it's not the event that makes me want it all to happen, or even most of the people. I really want this all to work out so I can see a few specific people. One in particular. But sometimes it's ok when things just don't work out.
So, I was compelled to work Black Friday at the local Radio Shack.
We were supposed to be there at 5:30am but arrived late because Mom's truck had to be pushed onto the shoulder and towed home. RIP.
The thing that really made this Black Friday memorable was not the four year old who won the XBox 360 in a raffel. It was not the child who wanted to touch everything and nearly broke my Prime8 display unit. It was not the free hot dogs that made the store smell like a crazy cat lady's apartment.
No. Those things will fade from my memory, sure enough, with time.
What really made this Black Friday memorable to me was the reminder of how awesome I am at selling things.
I know that I lack humility in saying this, but I can push product!
When I was a kid my sister and I split a paper route. We mainly delivered papers to a community of elderly citizens who lived a few blocks away from our house. Sunday papers were always massively bloated with ads and the double front/back pockets would bulge with a weight comparable to my own at eleven years old. In the summer it was hot and tiring work. Putting up with the crazy dogs and particular -- and peculiar -- residents. By the time winter rolled around, with the icy wind that penetrated even the most carefully insulated costume of thermals and snow gear, we had just about had enough.
We were paid about 50 cents per paper delivered per day. With 53 papers to deliver on our route we made only 53 dollars every two weeks. Then we split it.
At Christmas time the Quincy Herold Whig gave us calenders for the upcoming year to "sell" to the residents on our route. This was to be our Christmas bonus.
I knocked on doors as I delivered papers and explained to the residents that I was selling the calenders and would appreciate anything they chose to pay after the cost of printing.
From this I learned a few things: Most people's houses smell funny. Some old people collect dolls -- the ones that look remarkably like toddlers are really creepy. Scary dogs are even more scary up close -- even if they have had their teeth removed. The crankiest person on the route is probably just lonely and really does have a good reason for insisting that their paper is placed in a very particular place. I can sell things.
Of those who were home and chose to open their door to cold little girl, I collected a pretty penny -- much more per house than I got for leaving their daily paper. Halfway through the route I started feeling bad and chose to put off the beg-a-thon. The people were nice and everything, but stepping into one more house that smelled of soup was not on my to-do list that evening. Plus, I was worried about being murdered, but that's a story for another day.
Working the candy counter for the local drive in movie theater I was very adept at getting customers to splurge on the combo deal for two large drinks, a medium popcorn and a candy -- it's like getting the candy for free. I'd also suggest that you get a sno cone for only $1, or perhaps you'd like a licorice whip for the kids to share. Feeling like more than just a bag of popcorn, but don't want to get a hot dog for each person? How about splitting a pizza? It's made fresh (frozen pizza baked real fast in a pizza oven) and I'll deliver it straight to you if you want to go out and enjoy the movie while it's cooking!
If the chips were going stale we would suddenly have a lot of call for nachos -- I'd also make sure to pack them with all of the chips I could shove in one container. If I'd just popped a fresh batch of popcorn, you'd better bet that I was going to get rid of it by pointing out how hot and fresh it was!
For a girl who had a hard time looking people in the eye and was relearning how to smile at the age of 16, I could really push product.
I generally use my talent to sell things that also help people feel like they have performed their good deed for the day. Charity races. Sugar cookies with proceeds going to charity. Coupon books with proceeds going toward sending the orchestra to an out of state competition. Girl Scout cookies with proceeds going to the local troop -- oh, wait, I didn't do so hot on that one because someone usurped my territory. Who needs to be a Girl Scout, anyway?
Today I helped sell toys. Toys for greedy children who don't really need more toys. Toys from Santa/MomandDad. Toys with cool names that do fun things and have expansion packs sold separately and require batteries that are not included.
I love toys.
It's easy to sell something that you love because the customer can sense when someone is lying about how awesome something really is -- it's like evolution has equipped consumers with a 6th sense for being cheated.
But I don't cheat people. I point out the amazing deals and get them to buy really cool stuff that will keep their kids entertained for at least the remainder of Christmas break -- after opening presents and before shuffling off to school again.
I did it to help my parent's store. I did it because I was bored of dusting shelves. I did it because I attended the Radio Shack expo this summer and got the play with the products first hand. I did it because it was fun.
Demonstrating the Hexbug Nano and Habitat was by far my favorite thing of the day. Hexbugs are just plain cool. The Nano is about an inch long and just vibrates on tiny rubber feet that propel the bug in one direction with the single-minded purpose of doing one thing: going forward. When multiple Nanos are put in the Habitat to maneuver the tight corridors and little rooms it's really fun to watch them and see which one has enough umph to push the others around. It's mesmerizing. I got kids and adults hooked on the little gizmos. At 50% off, you really can't beat the price of a Habitat set which includes two Nanos. Particularly when the sale price is less than the cost of two Nanos on their own -- it's like getting the Habitat for free.
Too bad the sale ended today.
You should have bought one in Tooele.
I would have sold it to you and not felt bad at all.
1.) If you are skyping with two different groups of people on two different computers and face those two computers toward one another, the two parties can skype one another too.
2.) I make a mean turkey gravy. Mmmm.
3.) Creme brulee is a cinch. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
4.) 4am is the armpit of the day: it's damp and it smells. Radio Shack is opening its doors at 5:30 and guess who has to be there to help bag people's treasures? I really, really don't want to get up that early particularly because I will not be paid to do so. Ah well, duty calls. Wanna take bets on how quickly I can get out of there? I'm hoping to leave by 7.
5.) The sound of snow crunching under foot is like joy trapped under a boot that is released with every step. I happen to love sound of joy escaping heavy boots.
6.) I played my violin tonight for the first time in a while and although my fingers were really cold and stiff, it somehow sounded pretty good. Huh.
7.) Looking forward to turkey turnovers. Definitely a favorite holiday food. Mmmmm.
8.) I sang Christmas songs today. I am not ashamed.
9.) My mom and I made Thanksgiving dinner, as we generally do on Thanksgiving, and not once did either of us consult a recipe. I've even memorized the recipes for creme brulee and cranberry sauce.
10.) We saw a big red fox/wolf/coyote (not sure which) in our neighbor's field. All I could think of was the score to Peter and the Wolf.
Thanks: things for which I am grateful
1.) Being warm is a taken for granted far too often. Especially by me.
3.) Good people do exist in the world. I'm related to a bunch of them and I am friends with a bunch more.
5.) Motorized transportation. I can't even imagine relying on either my feet or an animal to get me where I want to go -- I zip around too much to be so limited.
6.) Good food. Just having food at all is a blessing, but going beyond nourishment and really enjoying everything consumed in a day is a wonderful blessing that many people all over the world miss out on. What a shame.
7.) Modern technology and health care. Two thousand years ago if someone broke their leg it was very likely that they could either die from it or become lame for the rest of their lives. Depression, cancer, and diabetes have existed, essentially, forever. What did people do about them even just 200 years ago?
8.) Limitations. Because they teach me about my freedoms.
9.) The internet. So much information, all available to satisfy any whim or fancy.
This article from the 2008 Ensign has been on my mind quite a bit over the last few days. I found the magazine in a pile of forgotten rubble and pulled it out because of this cover story. In reading the four pages I repeatedly stated, "That's me!" to several of the scenarios and unfortunate realities.
An interesting tid-bit: the most popular posts on this site are the ones in which the word "dating" appears in the title. From that I surmise that my very small group of readers is interested in dating, or at least what pretend to be, so I'll give you all a peek into my head on this topic once again.
LDS singles have been taught to look forward to being married and having a family as the most significant feature of adult life. Progression, happiness, temple blessings, and the very path to exaltation all seem dependent on the attainment of a marriage relationship. When years pass and marriage does not occur, some singles may feel an expanding sense of intangible loss. Family members, friends, Church leaders, and singles themselves may worry that feelings of loss are a reflection of insufficient faith or righteousness. They may also be concerned that adjusting beliefs about roles and life status will challenge testimony or reduce future prospects for marriage.
There really is a sense of loss very similar to the grieving process after losing a loved one, only, the loved one is someone who hasn't been introduced to your life just yet. There are times when I am perfectly happy with the successes in my life until the thought hits me: when my mom was my age she had been married for four years and was pregnant with me, her third child. Although it is an irrational thought, the idea that I should be on the same path should have accomplished so much more on the social front can be very disheartening. It was made worse when spiritual progression was tacked onto social progression by church leaders, friends, and family. One of my BYU stakes refused to talk to any single young lady seeking to receive the temple endowment if she was not A.) engaged, B.) preparing to serve a mission, or C.) over the age of 25. With a strong desire to progress in that way but not meeting any of the arbitrary criteria (there is no such rule within the church in general, it was just in that particular stake) I felt damned in my spiritual progress.
This led to feelings of unworthiness and a lack of righteousness -- feelings that were false and only served to bring me down. I got to the point where I had to seriously consider my testimony of the temple and of church leadership. I asked many questions, prayed, searched church doctrine, and eventually found solace. Most of this testimony building occurred after moving back to my home ward where my bishop was more than happy to discuss the prospect of my attending the temple for myself.
I had many talks with my father who did not understand why I would want to go through the temple before marriage. He told me out right that he did not support my choice. When I confronted him with this statement he didn't have a good answer for why he felt that way. This was very hard for me to accept and led to many hours of study and prayer to discover if my dad's reasons held any merit and whether I ought to consider postponing my temple preparations for a time that suited the church's social norm.
It wasn't until after I had completely separated temple readiness from all social aspects that I was able to feel confident in my choice to pursue further covenants with my Savior through temple ordinances.
I'm very glad that it happened not in connection to other big events in my life but as a separate action. This is what works for me and may not work for everyone.
The normal sadness with which people acknowledge feelings of loss can lead to appropriate expressions such as praying, journal writing, requesting priesthood blessings, and asking for empathy, validation, and support. When friends or family send messages to singles that they should “try harder,” that they aren’t doing enough to promote dating opportunities, or that they should think about happier things, singles may feel blocked rather than helped in their efforts to move forward to positive goals and interests.
There is a difference between accepting a feeling as legitimate and real and being defined by that feeling. Often, real feelings deepen and expand when they are minimized or ignored. When singles experience feelings of loss, if they and those close to them will acknowledge and accept the feelings as simply real, singles can more readily transcend the pain and avoid defining themselves by their marital status or their feelings. They can then start to feel more confident, get their emotional bearings, and begin to consider healthy questions and options. For instance, singles might ask themselves, “What exactly am I feeling right now?” rather than imagining what they might feel if their singleness persists.
Prayerfully assessing which aspects of being single are particularly difficult at this time can keep the hurt from becoming overpowering. In this process it is important to separate what genuinely hurts at the moment from messages of fear singles may give themselves about the future. For example, when attending her sister’s wedding, a single woman may feel hurt at not having found a husband yet, but she can resist thinking she will never have an eternal marriage. It can be difficult to restrain those feelings, but working to do so is helpful.
When I'm upset about something my habit is to talk it out. Talking gives me a way to sort, express, and validate my ideas and feelings based on the ideas and feelings of another person. I will often change my mind several times before figuring out how I really feel about a particular subject -- and that is given to change based on new information.
I've noticed that nearly every conversation I have with a close friend near my age eventually turns to the dating topic. All of my journals from college are littered with pontifications on the dating topic. When I pray, my discussions with the Lord will almost always contain some reference to the dating topic.
This is a big deal in my life and in the lives of thousands of single members in the church. If you are a YSA and have not had the your dating life thoroughly examined by well-meaning married members of homewards or singles ward bishoprics, then you probably haven't been a YSA for long.
Ever since dating became something attractive to me I have been told that I'm not trying hard enough to make it happen. If I wore more make up, flirted more aggressively, acted like a ditz, or simply chose a boy to actively pursue then it all ought to fall into place. The trouble is: I like the fact that I don't have to wear a lot of make up because my skin is good on its own. Flirting is personal thing and cannot be faked without becoming a fake. Ditzes may get dates, but no one really wants to hang around with someone with a brain the size of a walnut -- pretty only gets you so far. I've tried pursuing guys and have only become jaded and disheartened by the experiences. While it is true that everyone needs to be encouraged in building the foundation for a relationship, one-sided interest always fails.
For my entire student career at BYU I felt as though my lack of dating success singled me out as a failure. During the application process I had to meet with my stake president for ecclesiastical endorsement. We talked about my educational goals and how I wanted to plow on through my undergrad and attend medical school as soon as possible. My stake president told me to reconsider and put more emphasis on dating and searching for a spouse.
I felt as though I had just failed an important exam -- the test of life.
When my parents dropped me off for school my freshman year my date told me two things: There is a fine line between love and hate -- sometimes the people we love most become those we hate most when the relationship is over. And, I wasn't allowed to get engaged the first semester.
My parents and my church leaders expected me to date.
Dating is a huge part of the social scene at BYU. We are encouraged during every stake conference and from ward leadership nearly every week to get out there and date one another.
By the end of my freshman year I had suffered a horrible heartache caused by an attempt to pursue a very nice boy simply wasn't interested. This drama, stretched out over many agonizing months, put me in a slump that affected my physical, mental, and academic health. Of course other factors such as the strenuous university curriculum, being away from home for the first time ever, feelings of loneliness, and unresolved issues of my past also played a huge role in my mindset and ultimate emotional crash. Unable to identify why I felt so crummy all the time, but with every intention to live up to the standards and expectations of my family, church, and school I continued to press on for the remainder of my time at BYU in a horrible depression that snowballed as each semester brought new stresses and no resolution to any of my worries. It wasn't until after I left school, did something completely on my own for the first time ever, and came to terms with childhood demons that I finally pulled out of my own pit of despair and saw life for what it is: good.
However, while in that slump my attention always seemed to pulled to my lack of dating experience. Dating was the monster I on which I blamed all of my problems.
During a particularly bad summer I was spending all of my time watching movies rather than studying for my organic chemistry classes. At what felt like an all time low, a book in the bookstore caught my eye. It was written by a BYU professor who taught LDS Marriage and Family -- a class I had taken a few semesters previous. Intrigued by way in which the book targeted single girls at BYU and offered advice specific to this category, I purchased it and poured over the pages until each one had been thoroughly examined.
One chapter suggests an exercise in which the reader takes a few moments to make a list of things she does well and to acknowledge how wonderful she is on her own. I stared at that page in disbelief. How could I do something so impossible as complimenting myself? There was nothing of merit that I could note. That's when I realized that I didn't love myself. If I couldn't love myself, how could I expect someone else?
I wasn't pretty enough, tall enough, thin enough, my boobs were too big, I was too short, awkward, dumb, or unrefined to be attractive. I wasn't worth dating so that's why I could never get dates. Since I could never get dates I was a failure at life and would never amount to anything. Since I would never amount to anything I shouldn't try. If I wasn't trying then I would never get dates and would never amount to anything. . . This mode of thought was an endless cycle of venom that ran my nerves ragged.
I could never pinpoint why I felt so terrible because I was always assessing the wrong thing and putting blame on a related, but less significant aspect of life. The real culprit lay in the fact that I didn't like myself very much. Once I realized this it was much easier to find things that helped me to forgive my shortcomings and find merit in things that may be of little significance over all.
I can honestly say that I do love who I am and I look forward to becoming who I will be.
Prayerfully assessing which aspects of being single are particularly difficult at this time can keep the hurt from becoming overpowering. In this process it is important to separate what genuinely hurts at the moment from messages of fear singles may give themselves about the future. For example, when attending her sister’s wedding, a single woman may feel hurt at not having found a husband yet, but she can resist thinking she will never have an eternal marriage. It can be difficult to restrain those feelings, but working to do so is helpful.
There have been so many times that I have walked campus and noted the googly-eyed couples with disgust. A strong desire to break apart couple's expressions of affection via interdigitation red-rover style would nearly over come me when they were spotted in my path. I'd sneer at love birds engaging in any form of public displays of affection and gleefully hope that it wouldn't work out so that we could all be in the same heartbroken boat together.
When I started getting wedding invitations and then baby announcements for girls younger than myself, feelings of inadequacy would stop me in my tracks. Why is she able to progress in this way? Is she really ready for the commitment of marriage? Will she really make a good mother? What does she have that I lack?
There have been long stretches during which I didn't even try to reign in my cynicism and I would voice critiques of other people's characters, unkindly pointing out their shortcomings to mutual friends and promoting the sharing of similar stories.
This was a poisonous addiction I held. While I could see that dwelling on such things and voicing them over and over again only made me unhappy, I would often note with horror that the word vomit was about to spew and it could not be stopped. Only a masochistic satisfaction resided in the hollowness I felt after such an expectoration.
I never hated the happy couples. I never really wanted them to break up -- that would be sad. I never really understood why one girl who seemed quite naive could get a husband when I couldn't even get a date.
I envied all of them.
It wasn't so much that I wanted that particular guy or that particular situation, in fact, I can honestly say that I never wanted someone else's man or the exact circumstances that led to their relationship for myself. I envied their happiness. I was jealous of everyone else's apparent confidence and love for themselves. This isn't something that can be given to you; it must be learned and earned through hard work, perseverance and positive thinking.
In some cases, singles might make things worse by interpreting what their singleness says about them. For instance, dateless evenings mean only that one is not currently seeing someone. They do not mean one is unlovable, will never have a meaningful life, or must not be very righteous. Singles and their loved ones can acknowledge painful feelings and fears as a genuine experience while moving toward more hopeful and objective thinking.
I worried constantly over what it meant to be single still. How do people see me because I'm 23 and have never been part of a real relationship? What will people think if they find out that I'm nearly 24 and have never been kissed? First kisses are, like, dating 101 -- they ought to happen during the teen years, not mid twenties!
I still worry about these things. I'd hate to disappoint someone by not being good enough at something in which the average teenager is proficient.
Whenever I'm asked about my dating status, I answer, "Oh, I'm not currently seeing anyone in particular," so as to throw them off the scent of my lameness at dating and open the assumption that I may have been dating someone recently.
I used to think that if I prayed hard enough social blessings would come. After praying every day for years and still not getting the hang of interpersonal relationships I began to wonder whether it was my lack of righteousness that prevented the answers I wanted from reaching me.
The truth is: answers to prayers nearly always come about in relation to specific actions on the part of the asker/questioner. God does not simply "make" something happen because we ask for it to be. The truth is: I was getting my answers -- just not in the way I anticipated.
The truth is: The Lord has showed me in many ways that my offerings are acceptable.
The truth is: Connections with other people take time, hard work, and a whole lot of luck paired with an eye fixed to spot every day miracles.
While it is difficult to hear that I'm not working hard enough to progress toward marriage and a family of my own, recent lessons have opened my eyes to just how far I have come already. I need to work on my sense of patience and compassion to play the waiting game.
I'm ready for it whenever things seem right.
I'll get there.
If you are in the same boat, I have full confidence that you can make it too.
I've resisted and stayed the lone wolf long enough.
But with threat of being stranded all alone during the "blizzard" that was supposed to hit tonight (the jury is still out on whether or not it has/will) I gave in.
I've moved into the new house with everyone else.
The last few days at the old house have felt strange. Ever since we took the big round table out of the kitchen, home has felt somewhat less than home. Without pictures on the walls or people in the rooms it feels like just another building. A building where memories, good and bad, exist only to flit briefly across my vision but lack the substance that make a house a home. It is empty and I cannot stay there any more.
It is strange how familiar the new house feels already. I've watched as the walls have gone up around me and become a functional work of art. I poured over plans that have become reality. I faintly see my fingerprint in design choices made in conjunction with my mom. This is our house. This is our home. This is where my family resides. This is where I belong.
For the time being.
Like most things in life, this house is a product of patience and process. There is a set order in which everything must happen before the final result may be realized. Shortcuts can be dangerous. Quality ought not to be sacrificed in the name of instant gratification.
At church on Sunday both of my parents were all too eager to share my poor dating history with anyone who would listen for five seconds. They pointed out my status as an old maid and wondered, loudly, why I am not dating and getting on with my life and out of their house.
It's not that I don't want to date, I do. But, there isn't exactly a large dating pool to choose from in Tooele valley. Not only that, but I have it on good authority that YSA in Tooele don't date. They hang out and resist dating based on the idea that dating is synonymous to steady dating or courting.
While I like to chill with friends and have a great time, that's not always the most ideal way to get to know another person.
Dating is a process. It teaches two people whether or not they can be friends. There is very little commitment and one person can easily date multiple people at once to expand their friend base. A date is not a promise to consider marriage. A date, or a few dates, simply outlines the blue print for what a relationship could become. That relationship can be revised and changed based on new knowledge of the dating partner or scraped all together before anymore hours are dedicated to a plan that cannot be managed.
Steady dating puts the loose plans into action. It builds a friendship base rooted in shared thoughts and experiences analogous to the strong foundation on which a house is built. Similar to building a house, there are times while dating when the nature of a person must be dug into a little to build a sure foundation. Sometimes this goes well and the earth is ready to be moved for concrete to be poured or boulders lain on which the rest of the building will stand and rely. These sorts of people are ready to be in a relationship and are willing to submit to one another and work together in order to build one another up.
But sometimes the earth is rocky or the soil loose; a hole dug for the foundation collapses on itself and nothing will sit evenly on the disrupted ground. It think this is where I fall into traps in relationships. It's like a part of me comes along at night and kicks the sides of the retaining walls over to make more work in the morning or discourage continuation all together.
Once the foundation has had time to set in place, the real building can begin -- just as courtship builds on the friendship base steady dating brings to a relationship. Shared experience and work put up walls that can withstand the hot wind that is blown in by nay-sayers. Understanding, respect, and genuine caring put a roof overhead to block out the elements of doubt. Continued interest and support of one another put up walls.
Engagement is like planning out what each room will become and how each space will be finished to best serve the overall purpose. This is when fresh paint and final touches are added. It is very exciting to look back and see how much hard work it took two bring the building to this point and know how each decision was made and each mistake was changed or patched up.
Marriage is for couples who choose to turn the building into a home. They acquire memories to fill each wall with photos. They stash laughter, and sometimes tears, in each drawer. They put the purpose into each room and then rearrange a little if things get monotonous. Marriage is like moving in and finally living in the grand creation the relationship has become.
Shortcuts can be dangerous. Sometimes building supplies are scarce. Sometimes compromises must be struck based on time, budget, and willingness to put in the hours of hard work required to make something good or amazing. Quality ought not to be sacrificed in the name of instant gratification.
I'm going to keep working on my blue prints. If anyone wants to suggest a few ideas with me, I'd be happy to discuss matters over supper...or ice skating...or a trip to IKEA to pretend like the show houses are real.
Today was icy cold. The kind that bites under your skin and settles there until combated by a roaring fire and electric blanket.
When I was small I never wore pants. In fact, I don't think I owned a pair of blue jeans until the first grade -- and I didn't wear them unless coerced. I always wore skirts or dresses and only sometimes wore leggings.
I got in trouble once in Kindergarten and had to be separated from two boys in my class because of my fashion sense. You see, at least once during the course of the day my teacher would have all of us kids sit on the big rug for story time. When we sat down these two little boys would fight with each other over who got to sit directly behind me.
It would get physical and someone would almost always get hurt.
They each wanted to be the one directly behind me for the opportunity to sneak a peek up my skirt.
I was always mortified and hated that these boys wanted to see my panties. It didn't make any sense to me. I would get upset and probably cry a little.
Eventually, my teacher caught on and separated the three of us so that no one was peeking at panties or having their panties peeked on.
Well, my need to express myself via fashion was not limited to warm, sunny weather absent of breezes. Oh, no, I wore skirts and dresses nearly every single day. When temperatures dipped below 0 F and wind chill sent them plummeting even lower, I could still be seen in a dainty little skirt paired with Mary Janes or saddle shoes.
Today's icy winds and crunchy snow reminded me of a day much worse when I was about five.
My family lived within walking distance of my elementary school so I walked home from school with my older brother and sister every day. Sometimes my mom would pick us up but we got used to walking more often than not. This particular day, as I recall, was no different than any other.
The wind blew around us, cutting our faces with tiny shards of ice; so cold it burned. We were about 1/3 of the way home, having reached the edge of the factory parking lot where we bounded over low-lying parking separators like mini hurdles. The three of us had just reached the bottom of the tall hill on which the parking lot sat. We were crossing the railroad tracks at the base of the hill when we heard a car honking it's horn up in the parking lot. I was so cold with wind whipping up my skirt and biting at my cheeks that I didn't notice. It wasn't until my mom had come down and picked me up to carry me back up the long stair case that I realized she had come for us.
Mom began worrying as soon as she saw me. I was so cold from the icy winter weather that my skin had replaced it's normal rosy color for bluish tones. I just remember being very tired and glad to be spared the remainder of the walk home.
My mother knew just what to do. She hurried me home and put me in a lukewarm bath. Even the cold water felt hot and I protested but trusted my mom to take care of me. Eventually my temperature rose and I lost the blue tints to my skin. No lasting damage was done.
I still wore skirts or dresses nearly every day -- but I'd add a pair of thick tights on cold days.
My mom still knows how to take care of me. She listens to me and pampers my ego. I trust her opinion, even when I don't really like it much. She's my angel who saves me when I really need help.
Everything is going right today. Not only that, but things look fun and busy for the next two weeks. My favorite combination!
However, I can't help but feel as though I should expect the other shoe to drop. Whenever my life has seemed to be going someplace good, there is always the inevitable set back that negates whatever joy I have just experienced and causes me to doubt whether I deserve to be happy.
Times that ought to be enjoyed are generally spent attempting to glimpse the niggling feeling of certain demise that tickles the back of my conscious mind. Simply stated: I have a hard time enjoying myself when things seem too perfect.
I also can't sleep in a completely tidy room -- I throw laundry on the floor just to upset things a little.
But, perhaps the brakes can be applied early in this case; perhaps the ride can be enjoyed without predicting a steep cliff that ends in sharp rocks and angry waves.
A recent conversation with a close friend brought to mind something I had told her several weeks ago: I can choose not to play the victim.
I said that?
It's true, though. If my wandering eye is only seeking to find loose threads with which I can unravel my life and then pity myself while wringing helpless hands, then of course that's all I will see. If, however, I choose to turn the view toward an endless horizon of possibility, then all I can possibly find is rising sun and new wonders just waiting to be discovered. It's a matter of perspective.
Perspective seems to be on my mind a lot lately. Probably because it seems to be a new thing that I'm starting to "get." Tunnel vision usually prevents seeing anything but the totally obvious, and even then really big things can be missed or mistaken as only part of the whole.
I've ruined a lot of opportunities with amazing potential by not seeing them for what they were. I can't turn back time. I can't rewrite the pitiful script of self doubt that is my life to this point. But I can start acting the role of leading lady in my own life. I can choose to be the heroine, not the victim.
This is going to take some practice.
Now, where did I place that sense of adventure?
It's time to cut the strings that suspend a heavy shoe over my happiness.
I wore the definition of "early riser" as a child.
To complete the couplet, I also enjoyed going to bed early.
Early to bed, early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
Actually, I'm not a man so I don't really know if the second half of the couplet is accurate in my case after all...
Nonetheless, I liked to go to bed early and wake up early.
Early morning was the only time of day I could really be by myself in a busy house with kids crawling on every surface. In the summer I would wake up before the sun, dress in the half dark, and sit out on the small hill in our front yard to watch the sun rise and hear the birds wake. I loved to see the fiery dawn reflected in our neighbor's second story windows. I loved the taste of fresh, cool air before the sun boiled it into a permanently humidified mass that was better sliced up and chewed than inhaled.
I loved being alone for a few minutes in the morning to sort socks -- I was a weird child -- and sort myself out. Those few minutes were my communion with God. The only time in my day when my head was still and my heart was clear. The rest of my time was spent getting my feelings hurt repeatedly -- I was a very sensitive child -- and hiding from my problems by sneaking away to be alone.
When evening fell I was always the first to want to go to bed. In order to do that, we needed to have a family prayer.
Family prayers are something my family has never missed. I can probably count on my fingers how many times we have let a family prayer slip aside and just not done it that day. We enjoy joking and making an event of every prayer because it's our family time. Even when we don't like each other very much there's a little bit of conversation before or after. Some of my happiest memories involve crowding everyone onto Mom and Dad's bed for a family prayer in the evening. We demand stories from my dad's youth, discuss current events, laugh about things that happened years ago, and do pretty much everything we can to stretch it out as long as possible before bowing our heads to check in with the Divine.
This is part of my bed time ritual. I can't sleep without at least muttering a little prayer on my own.
It was through our family prayers that I learned to pray. I learned the importance of checking in several times a day because it will help life run a little more smoothly and keep tempers controlled a tiny bit or soften a hard heart just a smidge.
After Adam died, our prayers had more purpose. We prayed for him and hoped that he was praying for us in return. Can the dead pray? I think they must be able to: they are so much closer to the Listener.
During that period we had dozens of families praying for us. I know because I could feel their prayers. I felt loved. I felt comforted. I felt the power of the soul.
Today I also felt loved, comforted; I felt prayed for.
So, thank you. Thanks to whoever was praying for me today. I will pray for you too.
The Holiday Season is upon us. As soon as the first of November rolls around local radio stations turn the dial to Christmas 24/7. Santa's Workshop/Ski Lodge/Fantasy Island/Tower of Doom is erected in one form or another in every mall across the USA. Little Debbie puts out with frosted gingerbread men and fruitcake can be spied at the entrance of your local super-center/grocery store. And let's not forget the inflatable lawn ornaments that also light up, sing songs, and dance for the neighbors.
Ahhh, The Holidays!
The Holidays is the commercial way of saying "Time for Greed and the Giving of Unnecessary Trinkets."
Last year at a work party my parents were each given Eddie Bower mittens with holes in the top to host a windshield scraper handle so that while wearing such an accessory they could de-ice their car windshields whilst keeping their hands toasty warm and fashionable.
Forget about being thankful, promoting peace on earth, or even stuffing your face for Thanksgiving, it's all about Black Friday and Christmas wish lists! Time to map out your fail-safes on how to get loot without getting trampled on the day after Thanksgiving.
This is serious, folks!
It seems like every year we hear stories of how people actually die in pursuit of amazing deals on Black Friday.
*shakes head slowly*
What a waste.
But, no matter how you look at it The Holidays also bring us an undeniable joy that millions revel in every year: the ugly sweaters.
One of the benefits of moving house while my parents are away is that I get to go through all of the "treasures" (trash) that have accumulated around the place and find "new homes in the country" (anyplace but our house) for the most "special" (hoarder nightmare-inducing) items. (I've filled an entire trash can with outdated magazines and other such things that should never have been kept past the month printed on the outside in the first place. Yeesh!)
I'm sorely tempted to go through my parents' wardrobes and find "new homes in the country" (like DI) for some of the more "special" (hideous) items of apparel.
Off the top of my head I can recall at least five holiday/snow themed sweaters with little bits and pieces sewed in place to create a 3-D diorama of holiday cheer to be show-cased on one's body. There is even a snowman sweater vest with pom-poms.
Dad, you're off the hook: they all belong to Mom.
Her favorites are the sweaters featuring bright red male cardinals in snowy tree-tops. The scenes of whimsy woven into synthetic montages of winter will truly bring a tear to your eye.
No, really, they will make you cry.
Either with horrible shame of acknowledging that such an item of apparel exists or the I-am-going-to-pee-my-pants-any-second tears of blindly searching for the nearest restroom before dissolving on the floor type of tear which brings a different flavor of shame.
Thisplace(www.buyuglysweaters.com) is a haven for the ugly sweaters of the world. They help find "new homes in the country" (um...or city) for the closet out casts that take form of over-the-head, button up, zippered, turtle-necked, cowl-necked, sweater vests, or any other types of sweaters representing The Holidays.
Now, how to send in a few "donations" (things I'd rather not see my mom wear this holiday season) without her noticing...
I'm not sure that it can be done. She will simply replace anything that goes missing with something new to add to the collection.
Once my mind is set, I want to go about making everything happen in the order that suits my logic. No room for deviation because everything must happen -- Bam! Bam! Bam! -- in order and on time.
When I was 18 it dawned on me that patience is one of my weak points.
So, I prayed for lessons to teach me how to strengthen this shortcoming; knowing full well that my prayers would be answered and also knowing that I wouldn't like it very much.
Looking back over the five years gone passed since I bowed my head, squeezed my eyes shut and muttered that prayer, I can see many instances when my patience has been tried. Most of the time I became frustrated and stamped my little foot declaring, "Unfair, world!" In fact, I became quite sick and depressed over many of the roadblocks that inhibited progression on my chosen paths, unable to see the trail made clear by a simple change in perspective.
Lacking the ability to trust myself enough go with my heart and trust the Lord, I thought that I was failing Him by my apparent lack of ability to accomplish things which seemed simple for other people. I blamed others for my faults and picked at their motes while simultaneously smacking them around with my beam. It's all related to an impatient attitude.
These last few months have given me knew perspective on waiting.
There are so many things that I want but the timing is all wrong. Whether the distance between where I am and where I want to be is geographical, social, monetary, or related to time and experience the truth is that I'm not there yet and cannot be there right now. I must set up foundations on which I can accomplish my goals and now is the time to make sure those foundations are strong and sure.
The foundation is me.
The foundation is my perspective.
The foundation is the way in which I treat others.
The foundation is the way in which I react to situations.
The foundation is my relationship with Jesus Christ.
Looking back at times when I got hung up on road blocks that didn't need to exist I am devastated to note the people who were hurt by my shortsightedness; my need to fulfill goals immediately despite impossibility.
Since I cannot go back and apologize for every instance in which I was a disappointment, made a brash exclamation, or somehow failed, the only thing I can offer is to wait for new opportunities and then attempt to patiently wait for understanding before acting.
Maybe I'll have such an opportunity tomorrow! ... Or maybe I will wait for my chance to come to me and pray that I will recognize it when it does come.
My first name is an adaptation of the name of an ancient city. It was sometimes a very good and prosperous city. It was sometimes a very wicked and tumultuous city.
My first name suits me very well.
My middle name is a family heirloom. I am the fifth generation to carry the name and I will pass it on to my second daughter. It is old and traditional. It is lovely, in it's way.
I love the history it tells.
My last name is often misspelled and mispronounced. It is simple and straight-forward with a flair of tradition that makes it unique. No extra fuss necessary, however, its simplicity is what often gets it into trouble with those who attempt to see more than what is actually there or fail to see it for what it is.
It is a good name with sturdy foundations.
I am ZAM. A collection of my names; my names which suit me, define me, and will someday change me. I hope to change gracefully into whatever combination of the alphabet my last name becomes. However, for the time being, I am still ZAM.
1.) I bought yellow flowers the other day for $5. I think they must be the most lovely Fall flowers I've ever seen. Especially in a small cobalt blue vase. 2.) My hands swell up when I touch dust. Then then turn red and itchy when I try to wash the dust off, becoming angry in warm soapy water. My anterior appendages have been quite unhappy this week. Lots of dust and lots of washing up. 3.) It's amazing what a person can accumulate over an extended period of time. For instance: how many rolls of scotch tape are necessary for one household? 4.) I love listening to movie scores. Probably because most of them are strings heavy. :-) 5.) I'd like to take music lessons to improve my voice. 6.) One of the best parts of cold weather is watching your breath curl and dance on the chilled air. 7.) There is a great sense of achievement after having completed a trying task. 8.) I have a sample sized Wee Bru from when I was in Edinburgh this Spring. It has not been in two countries and has yet to be opened and tasted. There's no telling when or if it will be sampled. 9.) I can't remember the last time I dusted my room. That needs to change. 10.) Creme brulee is really easy to make. Come over and I just may make some for you! :-)
After work on summer days when the sun-warmed air retained heat for hours after dark, I would drive up to the cemetery, kill the engine, and crawl onto the prickly grass over Adam's grave. I'd host little conversations in my mind and imagine what he would say if I had the power to hear his responses. Then I would close my eyes for an early evening nap. Totally at peace. Totally content.
Sometimes, after waking, I would take a stroll to visit the new neighbors. I would sigh over the babies who only lived a few short days or hours. I would rejoice for the elderly couple reunited in the next life. I would go searching for the oldest marker on the grounds.
Several of the graves date back to more than 100 years with the lettering nearly washed away by time. A few immortalize works of art as well as the deceased. Some tote symbols from forgotten eras.
Right in the middle of the cemetery stands a large monolith pointing to the eternities. On it are inscribed the names of our county's solders who fought wars long past. Proudly, it reminds visitors of those who secured liberty during trying times. Each name inscribed on the memorial is the name of a hero; a soldier.
Let us support the soldiers of today who will, hopefully, become the veterans of tomorrow. It is so easy to go about life and forget the men and women who build the training, education, commitment, courage, and valor that is required to be a soldier. It is very difficult on a physical level, but also in spirit, and can break a person lacking firm commitment.
There is no telling whether the world will ever be at peace. Until the quota has been met of beauty queens who give up birthday wishes to fulfill that lofty aspiration, worthy people will be asked to take up arms in its pursuit.
What a paradox it is that in order to establish peace, the only plan we have is to fight it out. It's the same plan man-kind has been using since who knows when. Why hasn't it worked yet?
So, please dedicate a little prayer in your heart, mind, or aloud to the soldiers of the world. Those who fight for the right to live tomorrow. Those who fight for your right to live tomorrow.
For the last few weeks I've been doing some job shadowing at a local clinic. On Monday I got to follow one of my neighbors who is also my family's general care provider and a good friend.
While shadowing I like to take a seat whenever possible so as to be at the same level as the everyone else in the room. I sit near the door with my legs crossed and hands folded in my lap. As the patient begins talking to their doctor I become invisible; silently intent. My body beings to lean close and I sit at the edge of the seat soaking it all in -- I have to force myself to relax coiled muscles and slide back in the chair during nearly every visit. It truly is thrilling. As I watch, a bubble of trust forms around the patient and their doctor. There's an ownership that is unlike anything I've ever seen. A place for everyone involved. It's like magic born from knowledge. And I can't seem to get enough of it -- every new case is fascinating and I love discussing procedures and prescriptions with the doctor afterward.
I want to know how to do that! I want to form little trust bubbles with good people and give them advice on how to feel better. I want to have the answers, or best guess as the case may be.
But, I digress.
One of the last patients on Monday was a mother who also brought her young daughter. The mother was very sweet and humbly described her symptoms to the best of her ability. She listened to what the good doctor had to say and kept an open mind. Occasionally she would glance over at me, as if to invite me into the special little bubble. I listened intently, all the while my mind was going crazy as I thought about what could be making her feel the way she described. As I leaned forward in my seat, a pair of eyes caught mine. The daughter was staring at me. I smiled at her and she shyly smiled back. I trained my eyes back at the mother and tried to pay attention but the little girl kept sneaking looks at me.
All of a sudden she states, "You look pretty," before shyly turning away again.
My mind took instant inventory of what I was wearing, how I had done my hair and face that morning. My brain calculated it all in a fraction of a moment and informed me that I looked decent that day. But it was too late. The compliment had sunk in. I chose to accept and believe. It was decided: I looked pretty!
It felt . . . good. Something clicked for me in that moment. Something that has long been broken was suddenly healed a little bit. It's been a while since I've even tried to believe such a compliment from anyone.
In fact, only one other person has accomplished something similar and I never had the chance to let him know what an impact it has had. Without him, this child's assessment and positive judgement of me would have rolled off my skin just as similar statements have my whole life. Instead, it sunk in and I can't stop smiling at her candid remark whenever it crosses my memory.
This little girl continued stealing my attention for the remainder of the short visit. She was shy and sweet. She liked my earrings. She thought I was nice. She stared right at me as the doctor examined her itchy rash and smiled the whole time.
I was sorry to see this mother and daughter leave the clinic. I wanted to chat and know everything about them. I wanted to have new best friends. But, I think I already do -- at the heartstrings level.
That's the real magic in medicine: the ability to connect to other souls via mutual respect and reverence for knowledge and the human body. A doctor has no power to help if he does not respect his patient enough to listen, empathize, and offer good advice. A patient has no power to be healed by a doctor if she does not speak honestly about symptoms and take his advice.
I watched this little message today and it made me think.
I've been in a rut lately. An ornery rut. Nothing seems to have worked out the way I anticipated. I vacillate between depression, optimism, and stubborn orneriness. I take out my orneriness on anyone who will listen. And if they won't listen, I make them!
I just want to get all of the coiled up useless energy out of my system so I can start feeling normal and happy again. But, like one of those devious little under-the-skin pimples that refuses to come to head and be purged once and for all, this ornery attitude I have is proving to be very difficult to ignore much less remove.
This is not a foreign feeling. When I was about 14 this is how I felt all the time. I took it out on my brothers and sisters because I didn't know any other way to blow off some steam. I felt powerful when I knew they were afraid of my temper. But power like that is hollow. There is very little actual satisfaction in watching another human being break in front of you. I grew to hate myself for my temper and how weak I felt when I let it get the best of me, so I lashed out and completed the circuit of destruction.
At 14 I participated in a Young Women's lesson at church that has forever changed my perspective on how I treat my siblings. Our leader pointed out that our family helps us prepare to begin families of our own some day and the way we treat siblings is the same way we will one day treat our own children.
This really hit me in the gut.
I never want to be the kind of mom who intimidates her children and uses that power to get her way. I want to be the kind of mom who loves her children and teaches them why they ought to do certain things. The kind of mom who helps and shows instead of orders and punishes; who loves instead of shouting.
The lesson stayed at the forefront of my mind for a long time. I plead with my Heavenly Father to help me change, to become gentle and meek as I was as a little child. I plead for the sake of my future children to help me be a good big sister on whom her siblings could rely instead of act the part of disappointment.
Not long after I made this resolution my older brother decided to pick a fight. We were always at one another's throats and it usually ended with me in tears of frustrated rage. As I chased him through the house, ready to really rip into him, I remembered the lesson.
Then I did something I had never done before.
I smoothed the snarl off of my face.
I turned around.
And walked away.
It was the most freeing moment of my entire life at that point.
Since then I have slipped up more times than I can count and let my temper get the best of me more often than I'd like to admit. But more and more often I am able to will my behavior into being as it ought, even if I'm ornery.
Tonight I was planning on going to a meeting for volunteers looking to give their time to a particular aid organization that does amazing things around the world. I want to get involved and use my extensive free time to promote good causes.
However, tonight was a night of my little sister's Young Women's in Excellence meeting at church. Each young lady gets to spot light something she has been working on for her personal progress through a church-run program to promote the eight Young Women's values found in the YW's Theme:
We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.
We will "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things,
and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live
the Young Women values, which are:
Choice and Accountability
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values,
we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants,
receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.
Since my parents couldn't make it tonight, I chose to attend the event with my sister. There will be other volunteer meetings but only one opportunity a year to support my sister in this way. And that matters most.
I could easily have been selfish and pursued my own plans for the evening, but my attendance mattered to my little sister. I really didn't want to go and once we got there it was kind of boring but being there with her was lovely. Every time I turned my head to her general direction she smiled and showed her appreciation for my attendance. Her eyes reflected adoration, not fear, and that is a powerful thing. She's the same age I was when I realized how important family relationships are to a future in a strong home and family. Simply being there, sitting beside her, mattered. Despite my orneriness, even I could see that very clearly.