Category: friends

New Friends Makes Me Happy!

Hey guys! Sorry it has been a bit since I have written. Make sure you are following my other blog to get all of my movie posts and my youtube channel for daily videos. This blog is more for my personal experiences and I haven’t had a lot going on lately. Work has been pretty normal. I haven’t been reading a ton and I haven’t even gotten to the pool that often 😦  However, there is one exciting development I wanted to share with you- I have friends!

I don’t know if you were aware but for the last 3 years or so I haven’t had many friends. Yes I have friends online but most of my Utah friends moved away in 2013-2014. The few remaining friends in Utah are very busy with their jobs and family and I find it very difficult to get together with them. I love them dearly but sometimes it takes many months to plan a get together. That is why I am so excited to have made 2 new friends in recent months.

Through twitter I came in contact with a man named Stanford and a woman named Phaedra and we’ve really hit it off. All 3 of us are single and we all love movies. They are both bloggers and love weird indie films not just the standard blockbusters. It has been so nice to have friends that share common interests with me but also are available to do things more often than my married friends. The other day I called Phaedra and told her I had an extra ticket to a movie screening. We went and had a great time. I haven’t had a friend like that in so long. Yesterday we went to see the fun little thriller- 47 Meters Down and went to Indian food before. It was so much fun. Here is her blog post about it.

I went to see The Godfather and Some Like It Hot with Stanford and we had a so much fun. I love that I have someone to see classic films with and discuss them from all kinds of angles. Stanford joined me for a podcast to talk all about Field of Dreams and that was a lot of fun.

I also have a new friend named Amber that I have enjoyed spending time with. We did the Anne with an E podcast and share a mutual love of Survivor. We just went to the Transformers 5 screening which was fun despite being Transformers ;). I also got to go to her play which was super fun.

There are even some new friends in my singles ward that have emerged lately and I am very grateful. I was feeling like I was in a bit of a funk so I really needed these friendships right now and I’m very grateful.

It’s funny because it used to be so easy for me to make friends. I remember my sister struggling to connect with people and me totally taking it for granted. I still connect with people pretty quickly but I find it harder to find companionship that is available to spend time with in your 30s like it is in your 20s. That’s why I am so excited to have new friends who are available, seem to like me and share common interests! Yay!!

We are going to be doing Utah Movie Club each month and I am sure will see each other through out the summer. Happy Day!

So how are you doing? I hope well. I just really wanted to share this fun development in my life with you. I hope you all are having a great summer. Sure love ya!

I Have a Wonderful Life

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Merry Christmas friends!  I’ve had a wonderful Christmas Eve.  I worked out with my trainer, did some boxing and then went to Cinemark Draper to see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen- one of my all time favorite movies.  In the movie, George Bailey makes sacrifices for his friends over and over again. Life in return gives him many great moments but it also asks him to keep sacrificing  He finally reaches a breaking point where he can’t give another inch and is about to give up on life. It’s then that God intervenes, sends down Clarence and shows him what all that sacrificing meant to people.

Granted the life without George Bailey may be a little stark.  I for one have not saved anyone’s life or stopped someone from poisoning another person, so my ‘life without  me’ might not be a hell hole of debauchery and despair!  However, we have to also remember that they were dealing with a man about to kill himself so subtlety might not have worked.  I mean if they had shown him life being relatively the same that would be even more of a reason to jump off a bridge!

The thing that struck me today as I rewatched the film on Christmas Eve is how George was missing all the goodness given to him and focusing on the sacrifices. It was only when he stepped out of himself and saw things from another’s point of view he realized how precious not only his friends were but his life was as well. How easy is it to focus on the things you do not have, the trips you wish you could take, the spouse you wish you could have, the friends you wish you hung out with etc. Instead we should focus on the many things we do have in our life and the important role we all play to each other- even if it is not as dramatic as George Bailey and the citizens of Bedford Falls!

I guess I was thinking about this because I am alone on Christmas again.   I did spend Christmas Eve with my Grandma and other relatives and some of my family come to town on the 27th, but Christmas Day I am alone.  While it certainly wouldn’t be my choice, I am going to try and focus on the many people I have in my life and how good God has been to me this year.

In that spirit, I want to say thanks to all of you. I admit this year I have been a bit more divided between the two blogs and the youtube channel, but hopefully I’ve still provided good content to this blog.  I have certainly loved writing the more personal, eclectic entries here.  You all add so much to my life.  That’s not just lip service but true.  Thank you! I hope I add some small something to yours.

I hope you feel love this Christmas Day and know that ‘no man is a failure who has friends’- even online friends!

Merry Christmas and God bless you

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Can You Have an Internet Friend?

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you know friendship is extremely important to me.  I’m not someone who has had luck with romantic relationships in my life and so most of my experience with love has been through my friends. (Why do I still feel embarrassed to admit that? It’s just the way life has worked out…Silly).  Anyway, I have been thinking about friendship lately and what qualifies as a friend. If you were to ask a child they would probably say “a friend is someone you play with”.

Unfortunately as an adult it gets a little bit murky.  A large majority of my friends have moved away from me and so I don’t get to see them as much as I would like.  Even the one’s that are close it can be frustratingly difficult to get together with schedules, kids and everything else.  Thankfully we have social media to help us keep in touch and still feel a part of each other’s life.  It’s so much more difficult to make new physical friends these days because I don’t come in contact with that many new people like I used too. This makes me even more grateful for social media and it helping me keep the friends I already have who are far away.

But what about online friendships?  Are the people we meet while blogging. vlogging and other online communities ‘friends’?  Here are two examples of videos I have done with youtubers who both refer to me as their friend.

I’ve never met either of these individuals and yet I do feel a kinship to them.  I feel like we are friends.  Am I deluded? No, I don’t think so.

Aristotle said there are three types of friend. They are friendships of utility, pleasure and virtue.  Each one has its place and is important in its own way.

A friendship of utility is a useful friendship.  It is a friendship that can be easily dissolved and done away with when a more useful version comes into place.  For example, I took voice lessons for many years and was sincerely friends with my teacher.  I still love her but now I’m not taking lessons we don’t see each other or interact really in any way (she’s not huge on social media).  So no hard feelings but the friendship went dormant because it was more of utility.

I’ve known people who see all their friends like this.  I had a roommate in college who’s view was ‘I’ll see you in the next life’.  She made no attempt to keep in contact with people or keep up relationships feeling they were all in the end friendships of utility.

This makes me sad because you never know what you might be able to do for another person and having such a cynical view of something as special as friendship doesn’t feel right to me.  These aren’t dolls you dispose of but real people.  I know that friendships of utility exist but I don’t go into anything expecting that to happen.  I would love for all my friends to be more than friendships of utility.

But then there are friendships of pleasure.  These types of friendships are built around love or passion for similar things.  For example, my open water swim friends are connected to me because of our love of open water swimming.  In fact, I would put most of my friendships, including my online friends in this category.  My friends who I shared videos above are my friends because we have gotten to know each other over our shared love of movies.  What’s wrong with that?  I have friends I’ve gotten to know because we love Survivor, or are Mormon or any number of common interests that bond us together.  I treasure these friends.  I’ve had the chance to meet many of these friends over the years.

friends friends6 friends5 friends4 friends3Aristotle says these friends are fleeting and start and stop without much pain.  That may be true but what a great ride we’ve had along the way.  I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything.   Plus, even if interactions are brief (even if it is just doing a collab video with someone) I learn something from each person I meet and interact with.  I become better.  They teach me how to be a better person or see the world in a new way.  Both the people in the videos above don’t even live in the US and yet we have a bond and friendship, which I am grateful for.

I prefer to think of life in moments than end results.  Yes a person may not be in my life forever but for that moment we shared an experience and isn’t that what life is all about? Moments of emotion shared with other people?

The third type of friendship for Aristotle is a friendship of virtue.  This is that rare friend which supersedes friendships of pleasure or utility.  This is that bond which is practically sacred it is so special.  I think we are all lucky if we have one or maybe two such friends in this life.

The best description I’ve ever heard of a friend of virtue is from The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (or Linda Brendt):

“Friend! It is a common word, often lightly used.  Like other good and beautiful things, it may be tarnished by careless handling; but when I speak of Mrs Bruce as my friend, the word is sacred”.

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I have such a friend and it is a sacred, special thing.  I also thought I had such a friend and it turned out to be more a friend of pleasure, which was extremely painful.   I think many are lucky enough to marry their friends of virtue.  I hope to be so lucky someday!

That said, if we don’t embrace all the people who come into our lives because they aren’t the rare friend of virtue I think we are making a great mistake.  Human beings are for the most part wonderful souls trying to live good lives.  If we can have a moment of their time and learn something from them than I think it behooves us to do just that.

So yes, my internet friends are actually my friends.  It may not be the friend of virtue but it doesn’t mean they don’t give me much joy and happiness.  Life is too short to not embrace the people in your life however they may enter it.  Thanks to all of you readers who I consider my friends.  I really do.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The Oddness of Modern Community

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned on this blog I am going to be in New York next week! On Tuesday night I am taking the red eye to the Big Apple and going to be visiting until Saturday!  I am so excited because I love New York, get some time off work, see a show, visit with my sister and meet up with a bunch of friends I’ve never met before in real life.

Let me explain that last one for a second.  It’s an interesting situation.  You guys know I like the show Survivor.  I find it fascinating to look at the choices men and women make in the game and how every game is different with a different style of win (except for Sandra who won twice).  It’s now going into Season 30 and we have a very promising season with a lot of super fans after season 29 was a super snoozefest.

I would say I was a big fan at the beginning of Survivor and then picked it up again in spurts when there was a Utahn on the show and then with Heroes vs Villains I started watching again regularly.  I missed One World and Philippines but got the rest of the seasons but nobody I know is into the show, which is frustrating because it is the kind of show you want to talk about with others. 
In fact, I miss the social aspect of movies and TV.  In my 20s it was quite common for me to gather with friends and watch American Idol, Survivor, Lost or The Office.  Now that never happens.  Same thing for movies.  Most movies I go to by myself these days.

But around Season 26: Survivor Caramoan I stumbled on a podcast where former Survivors Rob Cesternino and Stephen Fishbach were talking about the show each week and I loved it!  A lot of people don’t care for Caramoan but I love Dawn and Cochran and it was my introduction to the podcast and the Rob Has a Podcast Planet.

I think someone could enjoy Rob’s podcast even if they didn’t watch any of his shows.  Kind of like I enjoy Car Talk and I hate cars.  Rob’s just so personal, funny and engaging.  Plus, it was so much fun to get involved on the chatroom and talk about the episode.  Again, it reminded me of those times in college when media was a group experience.

Well last year Rob made a proposal to his little planet that if we would support his podcast for .25 cents an episode he would give a monthly patroncast where we could ask questions and set up a patron group to further discuss the show.  Wanting to support Rob I decided to become a patron and so I joined the facebook group at the same time.  I believe I was in the first 100 patrons in the group.  Now I don’t know how many hundreds of us there are but it is an active vibrant group with patrons from all around the world.

rhapWe even did a secret Santa last Christmas where I came up with a gift for a woman named Ana from Brazil and I received maple syrup and some bacon bowl makers from a patron named Rebekkah from Canada!  Each week we talk about whatever reality show is on (Big Brother, Amazing Race and Survivor being the big 3) but also scripted shows, movies and occasionally other silly news.  There have been a few cantankerous souls in the group and some people are too sensitive about spoilers IMO but for the most part its been great!

It sounds crazy but I really feel like it is a community of friends and it seems amazing to me something as silly as a podcast about reality TV could bring people together in a community.  It shows it really doesn’t take much to gather people together, especially in the world of social media and the internet.  But I think even in real interaction if you can find something you have in common with another person, it can be the silliest thing and yet that is enough to start a friendship and get people talking.  I’ve seen it a 100 times that a shared love of dolls, books, Judy Garland, musicals, whatever it is, it’s all it takes to get the ball rolling and create a relationship.  Get enough of those balls rolling and you have a community. Kind of amazing!

I’ve seen it with my open water swimming- how a love of the water and being outdoors brings people who have little to nothing else in common together and fast friendships are formed.  It seems to me sometimes all it takes is finding that one thing you have in common with someone, no matter how stupid, and you can make it work.

Anyway, when Rob announced they were doing a live podcast in New York on March 11th I initially dismissed it.  Who flies across the country after all to listen to a podcast?  That’s crazy talk!

But then the rest of the community kept talking about it and it sounded like so much fun. A few weeks ago I decided to look at plane flights just out of curiosity and to my surprise they weren’t half bad, and then I found a hotel which was reasonable and in a safe neighborhood.  The idea kept germinating and I finally said

“What the heck!  Why not! I’m a super predictable person and for once I’m going to do something strange and fly across the country for a podcast!”

So I got my ticket and it turns out my sister is going to come down the day after the show and we are going to spend a couple days in New York together!  It should be a ton of fun!

There is a side of me which still thinks I am nuts for going to a podcast and meeting strangers but another side is really excited (and nervous) to meet all these people I’ve interacted with over the last year.  I’ve heard their voice when they call into the podcast.  I’ve read their posts, sometimes surprisingly personal and I feel like they are friends.  I really do.

I just hope it is a good experience and people aren’t too rowdy.  I normally don’t go to places like bars or comedy clubs but it is 300 people and the girl I am sitting with doesn’t drink and there are other dry members of the group so it should be good.

I love being a part of this strange modern community so I hope it is a lot of fun.  At the very least it will be something new and different and that is a good thing.

(Plus I get to meet a whole bunch of famous Survivor contestants which I am very excited about!!!).

Have you ever been a part of a community that was unusual or strange?  Maybe played bunco with girlfriends for years or have a group of online chess players or something like that?  I’d love to hear about your experience.  Do you agree sometimes all it takes is finding the one thing you have in common with another person and a friendship can be built?

Well, I look forward to sharing the week with all of you.  Take care!

Birthday 2015

Last Friday I turned the 34 and had a great birthday.  I decided to meet up with friends at the local aquarium because I thought it would be an easy place to bring kids and my friends wouldn’t need to find sitters.  It ended up being very crowded and we had a hard time staying together as a group but I felt like I spent time with everyone who came and really enjoyed it.

My friend Lisa came over and stayed in the guest room Friday night. She even came with me to a midsingles game night I had to go to (and ended up being very fun!).  We had a great time visiting and reminiscing about our missions (she served in my mission mostly before I got there).

When we all got back from the aquarium we had tarts from my favorite bakery, Bake 360.  They were delish!  My Dad surprised me by getting me a sound box and new TV!!! I was overwhelmed at such a gift.  I also got some new big mixing bowls from my roommate and Mom, Anne of Green Gables from my sister, scarf, swimming shampoo, and my Christmas gift to myself came on my birthday- my dream Le Crueset dutch oven pot.

But more than any gifts I was blessed to be reminded with just how many people love me.  I am so blessed with good people in my life.  I lost track at 49 but I couldn’t even tell you how many birthday wishes I got on facebook and other social media.  When I think of the lonely people I met on my mission and other places I am overwhelmed with gratitude at all God has given me.

Thanks to everyone who made my birthday memorable.  I love you!

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Mission Companion New Years Reunion

Normally New Years is one of my least favorite holidays. For a long time it was fun but I’ve found it frustrating because it is a very couply holiday and one where I increasingly seemed to get left out. See post New Years Eve Sucks)

Not this year!

This year my friend and former mission companion Julia Graves came for a visit and it was such a treat.  I rarely have visitors that are here just to see me.  My family comes a lot but they have their own house and sometimes I hardly see them because of their work responsibilities and other family things.

Regardless, they aren’t here just to see me and for me to be host and show them around.That hardly ever happens despite my very comfortable guest room! (It’s ready for anyone to come on over!).  So it was so great to have Julia here for a visit and to have fun and reminisce.

She arrived on the 30th and we went to lunch and then got settled in and she was kind enough to join me for our SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water) end of year banquet.  We spent a fair amount of time in the car and had a lot of fun talking with each other.

Then the 31st we went to Blue Plate Diner in SLC and had a yummy breakfast.

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And then I had gotten a room for New Years at my favorite hotel- the City Center Marriott in Salt Lake.  It is the place I went when I quit my job in 2007 and so it has always had a special significance (one of the best days of my life!). I also went there for my Eat Pray Love weekend in 2012.

hotel1It’s a lovely hotel with great linens and fluffy robes for all the guests.  They have yummy room service and an amazing pool!  It is one of my favorite places in the world.

I also successfully parallel parked twice! Pretty impressive right?

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Then we went to Copper Common- the sister restaurant of my favorite place Copper Onion and it was very yummy!

copper commonAfter that we spent a bit of time at Temple Square and listening to music and enjoying the lights of the city (there was a lot going on this year with eveslc.com).  It was the most walking I’ve done since the knee injury which was good.  I felt it the next few days but it was a start. good menThere was a faux light fireworks display but we were so cold we decided to head home and watch the New York ball drop (what a letdown that was.  They didn’t even show the countdown!). But we had a great time with the hot tub and pool and just enjoying the hotel.

hotelWe rang in the New Year with gusto a little early and then crashed! It was great.

happy new year happy new year2New Years Day we went to breakfast at the hotel and then went to the new Living Aquarium in Draper.  I’ve been wanting to go and it was really fun! My knee was hurting from pushing it the previous day so I used my cane and it helped a lot.

The aquarium was easy to work around with lots of animals and fun exhibits.  My favorite was the penguins.

aquarium penguins turtles julia turtlesWe spent about 3 hours at the aquarium, and I have a membership now so if you want to go call me up and let’s go!  Your kids will LOVE it!

After the aquarium my parents and grandma came over and we had fajitas and Mexican food together.  They got to hear all about our memories from the mission.  It is so strange to think it will be 10 years in March since I came home from my mission.  Being with Julia made it feel like yesterday.

Today was the final day of the trip and we went to Bake 360 for breakfast (their new cafe is so delish!).  Then we did some shopping and tried to go to 2 different art museums but they were both closed! (Art was not on our side!).

So we went to the Leonardo.  They have one of those plastic body exhibits and those creepy me out so we just went to the regular exhibits and it was fun.  I thought it was an art museum but it’s actually science and math based.

leonardoJulia wanted to go to Chick-fila since they don’t have them in Nevada so we finished off the day eating some chicken and ended up visiting my Grandma in some extra time.

chickfilaIt was just a great trip and time with a friend.  I am so lucky to have wonderful friends in my life and playing host was a blast.  I loved reminiscing about our mission and all the years since. Julia is also single and we have very similar personalities and are both still active in the church. Our faith is very important to us and sharing it with the Hoosiers has given us a bond that will last forever. I just had the most lovely time.

Definitely my best New Years Eve ever!  A great way to start 2015!

Friends with Kids

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I’ve never been afraid of a sensitive topic on this blog and this will probably be one of those so be prepared.

I just want to share another side of the story.

Recently seemingly everyone I know with kids have posted this video.

This is a charming video and I get why especially stay at home Mom’s respond to it but as one of those friends without kids let me try to explain the other side of the picture.

First some societal trends that come into play.  Americans, even Utahns are getting married at older ages, usually in the post college years.  This gives sometimes a decade or more for single American’s to form friendships and create meaningful bonds/memories.

These groups of friends are often more important than family to the modern young American as they have shared experiences and group empathy that is not the same in a typical family.  There is no real hierarchy to an urban tribe; where even the most high functioning family has an order and chain of command leading to the main decision makers, the parents. A group of friends provides a space without judgement or the expectations of a family.

This is perhaps less common in the Mormon world as family is universally praised over friendship. Family bonds are eternal and you are after all not sealed to your friends…

Nevertheless, urban tribes do happen and even if not a group of friends the same reliance as with groups can exist in individual friendships between singles. I’ve never fallen in love so most of what I know about love is shared through friends.  I always felt very different from my family but felt at home with my friends.

Last year when I swam GSL the reporter asked me who I was going to call first and I said I wanted to see my friend Etsuko because we had shared that experience together.

But we grow up and people fall in love, marry (or sometimes not marry), and start having their beautiful babies.  We are happy because our friends are happy but we are also a little heart broken…

Is it a selfish response?  Of course it is, but it is also a very human one.  In the 50’s the average age for a girl to marry was 22.  This meant she would be lucky to graduate from college before getting married and having a family.

Now it is 26 (28 for men). Like I said, that means for almost a decade men and women have lived their lives relying on friends and then seemingly overnight their support system and world has completely changed.  Suddenly there are new priorities and they can be pushed to the side. I cannot overstate how devastating that abandonment can feel.  It may be childish to feel that way but I’ve felt it and I bet most singles have too.

Of course, the change in lifestyle the video depicts is necessary but just because something is necessary does not make it any less painful.  In fact, some essential things are the most painful. Giving birth for example.  Do we tell a young mother that her pain is less valid because it is necessary to bring her baby into the world?  Of course not!

I can’t tell you how many times I have been a bridesmaid at a friends wedding, or thrown a baby shower, or something important like that and then I never hear from them again.  I will call and call and then eventually give up.  I will see photos of their kids on facebook and smile.  On my bitter days it can feel like everyone else is moving on with their lives but me.  My support system is gone and I don’t even get a baby out of the deal…

On my peaceful days I smile and hope my day will come and that I can do a better job at keeping in touch with my single friends.  I’m sure like the video shows it will be hard, but I hope I can at least be cognizant of their pain.

She does say in the video that she loves her friends but she is also very judgy.  Assuming her friend has all this free time and can hop off to Vegas whenever she wants.  The truth is said friend probably has worked a 10 hour day with a boss breathing down her neck and this 20 minutes with your kids is the only real human interaction she gets.  Your single friend and you may be catching Shark Tank when you are exhausted in exactly the same way just different exhaustion causes.

Both single women and homemakers with kids sacrifice most of their days for other people and leave completely frustrated and worn out.  A single girl may not understand the cheese or the door slammed in her face by a toddler but she does understand feeling frazzled and pushed around by other people and most likely what’s pushing her around does not love her the way your baby loves you.

I’m not trying to minimize being a young Mom.  It is super difficult but I’m just saying assuming one person has it so much easier than another is a shame.  You miss out on support you could be receiving and ostracizing yourself to only bonding with one type of person, other young Moms.

Of course, singles can do the same type of ostracizing and be too inflexible in adapting to the new situation. But can’t we all be grown ups and just say ‘my daughter threw cheese on the ground.  Isn’t she a rascal?  Could you help me with this? I bet you got into all kinds of messes when you were little…’ A conversation starts and an awkward moment becomes one of friendship instead of distance.

At the very least I would urge you to treat your single friends a little more gently than the video describes.  They may not be calling just to hang out.  Merely assuming that every time a single friend calls you it is for something superficial isn’t worthy of the friendship that was seemingly so important to you before you got that ring on your finger.

I understand there just isn’t time for everything and that some friends will be dropped but perhaps we give up too quickly?  Perhaps we assume because we can’t keep up our original relationship it is all over?  Maybe we could create a new relationship? Maybe it doesn’t have to be completely abandoned simply because it isn’t the same?

I have friends I only see once or twice a year but I know they are there for me.  I know they love me.  There is that gentleness and kindness which tells me ‘yes I have these kids and yes, its tough but I love you and you are important to me’.  At the very least I don’t feel abandoned and that I was a tool for a wedding photo.

A few years ago I went traveled and spent time with many friends with kids.  All of them unnecessarily apologized for their kids behavior.  Maybe I was giving a bad vibe or something but it wasn’t how I felt.  I can’t imagine just sitting there talking while friends are entertaining kids like the video suggests.  I get in and play or talk to the kids, talking to my friend at the same time. Occasionally I may have a day when I am not as kid-friendly but I don’t think it’s the rule of thumb as the video shows.

Most of the time my friends with kids want to meet me outside of the kids, not because of me, but they see it as an escape for them, but I am more than willing to meet at Chucky Cheese or a playground and talk to you, get to know your kids.  The video seems to show it is either going out, getting a sitter or a frustrated experience, and I think with a little creativity it doesn’t have to be that way.

I would also never tell a mother that I am going to be strict with my kids.  I can’t think of a single adult that would say such a thing to their friends with kids when they are with said friend.  That would be super judgy and rude.  They may say it behind their backs which I guess is bad but the woman on this video has strange friends if they say that as part of light discussion during a visit.

In the end, I guess if I made a video it would say ‘be kind’, ‘be gentle’ and spend a minute to let someone know you love them and I bet that will make your time with those little one’s a little easier too.  Maybe it will help you to not feel so alone when you know you have a friend who is rooting for you?  It would for me.

Friends are not simply role-players in our lives- someone we use to get through the day.  They are real people and relationships with real people matter.  So, if worse comes to worse, maybe pray that Heavenly Father will help you find a way to express love to your friends. Just maybe He will inspire you with an idea for a get-together or a cute text.

And if a friend does need to be dropped just try to be gentle about it.  Try to understand how they are feeling and as Jesus taught ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  That goes for all of us married, single, divorced or widowed.

Friendship is too great a gift to let it pass without much thought.  I promise it’s worth the effort.

The truth is it is harder for single women over 30 to get together.  It is just harder when you are older, so maybe that is part of the change.  You can set up plans for weeks, get everything organized and then someone gets sick or there’s a blizzard, or a late assignment at work.  It is just harder post 30 but again worth the effort.

(I have no problems with my friends btw.  Only posted this because I saw the video so much and wanted to share how the person on the other side of the phone may be feeling).

Feel free to share your opinions of what I have written.  How have you made friendship work as an adult? My Dad is a great example of maintaining friendships.  It is a natural part of his expression and I’m kind of the same way.  I need friend, so thank you dear friends.  Love you and your kids!

3 Sisters and 2 Brothers

crazy family

I look at this blog as a form of ministry.  As a chance to share my story with the world and hopefully help people going through their own struggles and appreciating our victories together.  As such, I have tried very hard to talk about my life and let other people tell their own stories however they see fit.  I very rarely speak of friends or family except in the most flattering way and even then it is unusual.

Today I want to depart slightly from that philosophy as my sister Anna is moving out of Utah tomorrow and then will end up in Japan for 1-2 years as a teacher.  She’s been here studying for 5 years and I will really miss her.

So let me tell you a little bit about my family.  My parents are still together after 36 years of marriage. They are kind of a ying-yang, balancing each other well. My Dad is energetic, passionate and full of ideas.  My Mom is calming, nurturing and peaceful.

They were young and excited to start a family and my brother and I were born quickly.  He is 35 and I’m 33.  Then my sister Megan came 3 years later but she was a month early and my Mom had complications.

But the dream of a big family never went away and 8 years later they announced my sister Anna was coming. This was a challenge because my Mom had full bedrest and my Dad was working a lot in Japan at the time.  We all worked together and a baby came.

My parents wanted to have more kids but then it took 5 years for another baby to come.  I was 15 when this happened and Sammy was born the beginning of my sophomore year in high school.  Once again my Mom had to go on bedrest and I internalized a lot of fear and worry about her situation.  Whether it was bedrest, recovery or caring for an infant, a new baby kind of monopolized my homelife in high school.

Then we moved to California and the winter before I went away to college my Mom announced she was pregnant again.  At the time I was young, selfish and very upset.  I was acutely aware of how hard this was going to be and I worried it would pull me away from  my dream of BYU.  In a way I was right because I felt really guilty at abandoning my Mother at such a hard time.

In August we came home and my Mom had the baby and I went back to school.  My sister Madeline and I have never lived together as siblings.  The longest time was probably after I returned from my mission in 2005 and lived with  my folks for about 3 weeks.

So that is the dynamic of my family.  It was unique to have 3 teenagers and 3 babies.  It taught me a lot.  It forced me to be selfless when I really didn’t want to be and it hopefully gave me some real-life experience if I ever have to be a parent (or co-parent).

I love all of my siblings and as the younger one’s get older I am less the step-Mom and more the sister which is nice.  Madeline and I have turned out to have the most in common as far as religion, energy and personalities.  Sammy has proven to be a great listener and have a calming spirit about him.  He is a great person to talk to when you have a problem because he is very empathetic and encouraging. As a little boy he would get so emotionally involved in your worries it was very touching and he still has that.

Anna and I have a lot of similar tastes in music, theater, movies etc, which has been fun.  I’ve enjoyed having her close by and will miss my event buddy.  Anna has a bright, cheerful countenance and I will miss that too. Sigh…

My sister Megan and I were the best of friends growing up.  She is a great mother and very nurturing and kind.  She also has been a great influence in reading and writing.  Growing up I was not a great reader and she always had her nose in a book.  She is currently trying to achieve her dream of writing a novel and has made strides with an agent.

My brother Ben and I are the most different.  I guess it is a classic oldest and next kid dynamic.  I thought left, he thought right.  That has been an interesting tool to have in my life.  To see that someone so fundamentally different can still make good choices and lead a good life has been helpful.

Life in any family can be both a joy and challenge. I know I still feel radically different than my siblings but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It forced me to be happy with my own life choices and to not lean on anyone else.  We could support each other, and love one another but that didn’t mean we needed to be the same.

One time when I was in high school I yelled out to my family ‘I’m the normal one.  You are the weird one’s and yet in my family I’m the weird one’.  That was a ridiculous thing to say but it was kind of true.  Megan, Ben and my Mom were more homebodies and happy with a few good friends.  I was an active social butterfly.

Neither way is right or wrong but I think I learned to lean a lot on my friends who seemed to process things the way I did.  Because of this, I have always been a very friend-reliant person to this day.  I guess that’s why loyalty and friendship is the most important topic to me.

So that’s my family.  They’ve all taught me something different and I’m glad they are all a part of my life.  What about all of you?  What have you learned from your siblings?  What is the age dynamic in your family and how has that affected you?

Sadly minus Meg and Ben but still a mighty fine family photo
Sadly minus Meg and Ben but still a mighty fine family photo

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Tampa Trip Day 3-5

So I am back in Utah and I think you can tell it was a great trip because I only found time to post once very quickly.  I was having too much fun!

Day 3-

This was Sunday and Kim had gotten us tickets to a Rays/Red Sox game.  It was nice to have one day away from the beach (only one) and we rooted for Boston.  There was even a fight! 😉

Play ball
Play ball
The fight! Cleared the benches
The fight! Cleared the benches
Always like a good hot dog
Always like a good hot dog
Kim, the red sox fan at the game.  I became adopted sox fan for the day!
Kim, the red sox fan at the game. I became adopted sox fan for the day!

When we were driving home it started to rain, thunder, lightning and hail.  You can see it in the trip video below.  For the next 3 days it rained but always on our way back to the house, so it was perfect timing!

Each night we got home around 5 and we ate dinner and watched a movie.  We viewed Frozen, Tangled, Emperors New Groove and Return to Me!  So fun.

We also had a ton of laughs over a Mormon romance novel I brought with me that was pretty bad. See description below.

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Yes, he smelled like rootbeer…So romantic.  It was very funny.

So, there were a lot of laughs and also some heart to hearts.  Kim and I had been friends in high school but she wasn’t one of my best friends.  After 17 years of not seeing each other and being from different parts of the country, religions, and everything else I wondered if we would have anything in common, but we had lots.  It turns out we had both been through similar career struggles.  We had had bosses that made us nuts and anxieties to deal with as working women.  We both shared dating struggles and being single.  We both had lots of memories and had a similar sense of humor.  We both love New York and love the beach.

It certainly is another reason to be grateful for facebook.  Kim and I had reconnected during the election because we are both fiscal conservatives and needed some political venting (she lived in NY at the time).  We would chat on fb and I had inquired about staying with her in New York some time.  Then she told me she had moved to Tampa.  Being the nice person she is she invited me to stay there and being the bold, without boundaries person I am I said ‘let’s do it!’.  Most people would probably shrug off an offer like that as being polite but I just had a feeling to go for it.

So many times in my life I have been benefited by not worrying about being polite or following some idea of normal behavior and this is certainly one of them.  I’m glad I didn’t worry about what someone’s ulterior motives might have been and took her at her word.  I think we are both glad and it will be the first of many such visits.

Day 4 and 5-

Monday and Tuesday were pretty simple- beach, beach, beach, beach.  All together we went to Madeira, Passe de Grille, Honeymoon Island and Fort De Soto.  Passe de Grille was my favorite because of the closeness of the beach to the parking and the cute little town.

beach18 beach14 beach13 beach12 beach10 beach9 beach8 beach7 beach6I feel blessed.  Blessed to have seen God’s beautiful oceanic creations and even more blessed to have made what I know will be a life-long friend.

At least to me vacations should remind you of why you work everyday and how perfect before starting a new job to remember the potential for happiness that lies in my heart.  It’s a good day to be Rachel Wagner my friends.  A new job, new opportunities, beautiful memories, great friends and a happy heart.

I’ve done my fair share of complaining on this blog and I want to let you all know that never have I been happier than this moment right now. 🙂

This video is a little bumpy so I don’t know if you will enjoy it but it shows how beautiful a trip it was and how much joy it brought me.