Tag: friends

No Fear of Being Alone

Recently I was talking to a single friend of mine about my Thanksgiving plans and telling him I was going to be solo this year. He seemed horrified by this notion.  Technically I will eat Thanksgiving meal at my aunts house (but wasn’t planning on that at the time of this conversation).

I told him that it was fine with me and I am okay being alone.  I told him ‘I am comfortable in my own skin’ and he said ‘I wouldn’t be.  It would kill me’.

I guess it’s a normal reaction to being alone on Thanksgiving and some years it would make me sad, but this year I’m ok. I was actually a little bit more sad to be facing Halloween alone (ended up having a great time with 2 couples my friends Danielle and Cory, and Rachel and Grant). The reason I was sad about missing Halloween is that it used to be a highlight of the year with my friends.  We would throw a big party, dress up and just have a blast.

I guess the reason I get a little nostalgic for Halloween and New Years is that I know it’s a time that is gone from my life.  My friends are almost all married.  Like seriously I have 4 or 5 single friends on my phone and they are usually so busy.  Even book club has become impossible of late.  I get it.  I understand people have to be with their little one’s on Halloween and New Years but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss all the good times with friends.

With Thanksgiving I know next year I will likely be with my family and the year after that and onward.  There isn’t a feeling of devastation because it’s just a day and like I said I do have friends and family to share the day with.

If you are alone on Thanksgiving and want to still cook a turkey dinner make sure to check out my Thanksgiving for one article I posted last year on my friend Samantha’s awesome food blog.

http://littleferrarokitchen.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-1-guest-post-smilinglds-girl/

This year I am going to order a Thanksgiving meal from Harmons (a local grocery) that make delicious food so that I have some thanksgiving food besides the meal at my aunts.  (My knee isn’t quite up to preparing feasts yet)

Anyway, this conversation about being alone at Thanksgiving and my friend being so horrified at the idea made me think about my life.  I am alone a lot.  Even though I have a roommate and tenants we don’t really get to sit down and spend time together that often.  It’s so much effort to get together with friends but I am a very social person and I do make that effort, but still I am often alone.

Many people have a fear or social anxiety about eating alone or going to the movies alone . Eating I get a little bit because you don’t have anyone to talk to but I do not understand why people care about going to the movies alone? You can’t talk in the movies so unless you are there with your honey and can snuggle I don’t see the value in having another person accompany you to the movies?  Please someone explain why that is such a social faux pas?

In fact, I realized today that all the movies I have been to this year have been alone.  I have seen in the theater- Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Ghostbusters, Meet the Mormons, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Book of Life and The Boxtrolls and Big Hero 6. None of those experiences were hurt by being alone? I don’t get it?

But anyway, I feel like there is this anxiety many feel about being alone.  My Mother gets very nervous being alone .In fact, she has probably spent under 5 nights in her whole life alone without family of some kind with her.  That blows my mind.  She’s very fortunate that life has worked out that way for her.

I would love to have my own family and fall in love but that’s not the cards God has dealt me.  My job is to be as happy as I can be with the life I have. And never forget I am surrounded by amazing people.  Whether it is reaching out to someone on phone, Facebook, twitter, this or my disney blog, my channel, or someone in my ward there is no shortage of people who care and love me.  That’s the great part about being single in this day and age.It is so easy to not feel lonely even if you are alone.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days.  I do.  I have days where I feel sad and bemoan the fact I may never have my own children or a great love story.  It may happen but it may not.  I’m a human being just like anyone else and I express the full range of human emotions at different times of my life.

But I can confidently say being alone is not a fear for mine. It is the reality of my life and I always know that with God I am never truly alone.

So if you are alone this holiday season know that you have a friend here at this blog and on social media who knows how you are feeling- both on your good days and bad.  I get it.  I love you and we can support each other.

Take care my friends and god bless!

Btw thanks to Emily and Megan today for calling me out of the blue and cheering me up! I’ve got such great friends and family to support me.

Upstairs Rachel

Hi friends!

I just wanted to give you guys an update on my knee.  This week was huge! I saw improvement everyday and I was very good about staying off my knee as much as possible.  I even had a ticket to Wicked today but didn’t want to push it so I sold it to a friend. 

It’s weird I feel secluded from the rest of the world.  Like I’m in some kind of tunnel or bomb shelter.  I see my roommate and visitors and interact with others (including work) online.  It’s amazing how quickly you can cut yourself off from people.  It is also amazing how quickly the human brain gets used to a new routine, a new way of doing things.  Staying upstairs for days feels oddly normal.

So, what have been doing to keep myself busy upstairs?  Well, a lot of work which has been great.  I met some of my coworkers when they were here for the OR Show and told them some of my ideas for youtube and they loved it!!  They liked it so much they asked my boss if I could participate in a conference call on Wednesday and share them.  I made a power point presentation explaining my ideas and it went great!!!

We’ve been working on this spreadsheet project at work which is fine but I’m really excited to do something a little more creative so hopefully that will be starting after the presentation.

I’ve also been having fun diving into my old VHS collection because my friend Sharla is moving to Malaysia and she sold me her collection and her TV/VCR combo.  I watched Aladdin and Snow White on it.  So fun.

aladdin snow white

I think I had built it in my brain there was a huge difference between VHS and DVD/Blu-ray and there is but not much.  I was surprised how long it took to rewind.  Seemed like forever.

As you’ve seen from the reblog I’ve also started a new blog I’m very excited about.  If you like what I’ve said on this blog about movies please follow me on http://57disneyreviews.wordpress.com/  as I watch all 57 Walt Disney animated films (there may actually be 62 depending on where I draw the line). 

I already have posts on Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia.  I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. The melding of mediums in animation is just amazing.  I love it.

I also couldn’t help but do some shopping upstairs ala QVC.  I know what you are thinking but I sincerely like what I bought.  So cute!

qvc2
these shoes are made out of neoprene (the wetsuit material) and they are great and so cute!

qvc Aside from that I’ve been heating up microwave food, still filming my videos, watching big brother, listening to podcasts, getting my manga read for my next Adventures in Reading, resting, and heading downstairs once a day.  It’s a very exciting life!

I was pretty frustrated last week but am feeling positive today so hopefully next week I’ll be close to as good as new!

It certainly does make me grateful for all those times my knee does work without pain.  It also fills me with even more admiration for my Mother who went through bedrest for 4 of her children.  I can’t even imagine how hard that would be for months and months.

It has been a tough time in many ways but also a chance to think and be reminded of how many wonderful people I have in my life.  How many people all around the country are praying for me and anxious for my recovery.  How many people have been by for a visit or to offer assistance.  It’s humbling to need service but a good experience too and I’m so grateful.

I was very sad to miss out on the Deer Creek swim on Saturday but I went out and finally tried the Bake 360 brunch menu.  So delish!  Thanks to Emilee for helping me do that. 

bake 360In the end I’m just grateful for this time as Upstairs Rachel but also ready for it to be over.  Please continue to send those prayers. 

Love you all!

 

Friends with Kids

Friendship-Quotes-5

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

family2

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.

beach11

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.

Friendship at 10, 20, 30

I was going to wait and post about my party tomorrow but yesterday’s post was such a downer that I didn’t want to leave that as the heading on the blog for long.  Friendship has always been a highly important part of my life.  Next to faith there is nothing more valuable to me than a loyal friend.  I was reminiscing with my roommate about groups of friends we’ve had, parties thrown etc, and I had a minor epiphany about friendships.  Friendship is essential to at least my function but it manifests itself differently in different times of life. Hanging on to the old manifestation can lead you to miss out on the current phase.

Let me explain…

When you are a child and especially a teen your friendships are chosen by you but fellow-shipped by others.  For example, I may have chosen Meredith as my best friend in high school but it was our parents, teachers and other activities that facilitated that friendship and made it happen.  At the very least people were driving us places, teaching us lessons and coaching us in choir/sports.  We became friends through participating in these activities and even when we tested out our leadership skills it was under a controlled, monitored environment.

These were my 3 best friends from high school
These were my 3 best friends from high school

It is this structure in friendships that causes some teens to party and rebel- trying to make their own choices when really still relying on others to make those poor choices.  Fortunately I had good friends who were supportive of my beliefs and I never steered too off course (I was also incredibly strong willed).

Your teen years are also the time when your friends center your life, which is why we worry about teens having or cultivating good friends.  No other time in life will who your friends are (for most of us at least) be more influential.

Then your 20’s start and a new degree of independence is given to most people.  You are free to go your own way, make decisions and make friends dictated less by others and more by common interests and personalities.  Aside from classes and maybe an errant roommate nobody is really forced to be friends with someone in the 20’s the way they may be in your teens.  However, you still have a lot of the structure of your teens facilitating activities and the meeting of new people (even dating).

Whether it be through a church group or college setting most people I know met their college friends through some type of organization, fraternity or class.  The interesting thing is in college the friendships are often made in such activities but forged in something much more casual.   This is partly due to lack of time a college student has but also a lack of funds.  Most people I knew in those years didn’t have a ton of money to spend on friend experiences so you spent time together watching movies, TV, sports events and cooking/eating food together.

College friends (my cousin Julia, me, my sister Megan and Emily)
College friends (my cousin Julia, me, my sister Megan and Emily)

 

My roommate Heather and friend.
My roommate Heather and friend.
My friend Miriam and I are still friends from college
My friend Miriam and I are still friends from college
My friend Joni from college as she left for her mission.
My friend Joni from college as she left for her mission.

I have such warm memories of that time in my life.  It really helped me become the person I am and was a very happy, simple time.   Because things were so casual you do end up wasting a lot of time seeing bad movies, eating junk, and for lack of a better word hanging out but there’s a certain freedom in that.  How do you know what movies you like if you don’t see a couple of turkeys?  All part of the learning experience.

After my college experience I had my mission which was so separated from normal life I will skip over it for this entry.  Then you get into my later 20s (I got home from my mission when I was 24 1/2).   This was actually one of the most social times in my life but interestingly enough it mixed the casualness of my college life with a little bit more structure.  At this point my friends and roommates had jobs which gave us a little bit more money but less free time.  We would still see the occasional bad movie but most activities were researched and thought out.

There was also a lot of routine socialization that happened at that time.   For a long time I had a daily dinner group (which I still think was brilliant) where a bunch of us singles were assigned a day of the week to make dinner for the group, so you got a social experience and only had to cook once every 12 days.  So great.    I also had groups that met regularly to watch a lot of tv shows like American Idol and The Office.  For a while in my apartment in American Fork we had 3 or 4 nights a week that had some kind of TV viewing together.  I watched Lost every night for 2 years with friends and then I moved and never watched it again.  That certainly tells you the influence of friends!

This was actually a hard time in my life personally and it’s amazing I fit so much socializing in when I was working 60 hours, serving at the temple, had 2 other callings and going to grad school.  I wouldn’t have done much of it if it wasn’t presented at my door with little to no effort.  The house in American Fork was especially good for socializing because we were the only one’s with our own apartment in the ward.  Everyone else lived at home so our place became something of an escape for our friends.  It’s funny that time in my life is probably where I maintained the fewest of my friends.  People got married, moved, and the friendships are mostly through facebook or gone and that’s ok, just interesting.

During my later 20’s is also the only time in my life where I through big parties with lots of people.  Or I should say my roommate and I did.  We had great Halloween and New Years parties, planned outings and group dates together, concerts (went to more concerts then than ever again), and seemed to find excuses to wear costumes on a number of occasions.  Despite it being a challenging age, I have many warm memories.  I often drive by the house in American Fork and feel a wave of nostalgia for the good times had just watching TV together with my friends.

fair dance gifts new years girls party tracey dinnerThen my 30’s came and things started to change (really more at 28 but close enough).  Seemingly overnight the big group TV sessions and parties stopped and everything became more one-on-one, highly planned, intimate interactions with friends.  This may not seem like a big deal but I remember feeling so sad that I had no one to watch American Idol with any more or celebrate Halloween (our last ‘big’ party was 2009).

While still loving to entertain it takes a lot more effort now than it used to.  No just casual ‘let’s go to the apartment and watch The Office every week’ kind of thing.  It takes work but that work can be a joy.  It took me a long time to realize that I really enjoyed gathering my friends together and coming up with fun activities.  I did swimfests, book clubs, baby showers and dinner parties and loved every one of them.  Occasionally I could still pull off the big party like last year for my open house (or tomorrow to celebrate 40 book club books!) but it’s just different.

In 2009 I wrote a post on this very blog about a book club I threw where nobody came and how discouraged I was.  https://smilingldsgirl.com/2009/06/10/thoroughly-uncool/ I remember feeling so sad that nobody had come to my party:  “I am merely puzzled by my recent inability to attract new friends.  It isn’t just with Enrichment but the few times I have had parties the turnout is low.  I used to be able to always attract a crowd. Weird, hah?”

The problem I was truly dealing with was looking at a new era of friend-shipping through old eyes.  Like I said, sometimes I still feel nostalgic and a little sad for those times.  It can feel like I make so much effort and in a selfish mood it can seem underappreciated when it really isn’t.  People love it and it means a lot to them but it just takes a lot of work to make friendships in this era of my life function.

Truth is those friendships are better because I’ve had to work hard for them.  Unlike the fun time in my late 20s where most of the people have come in and out of my life I have a feeling the friends I have made in the last 5 years will always be a part of my life.  That’s what work tends to do.  Plus, in a way it is kind of a circle of friendship.  When I was a teen others allowed me to make friends, now I am facilitating that experience for others.  That is a great gift not a burden.

Anyway, I don’t know if this will mean much to any of you out there but even my friends online (twitter, facebook, this blog) take work but I’ve learned so much from that process.  I’ve learned to cook, decorate and entertain. Plus, I’ve learned to actually appreciate and discuss the arts, movies, theater, etc.  It’s not casual like those days in my 20s but it’s very rewarding and great.

In the end, enjoy the season you have now. Look fondly on the past, remember the smiles and moments and then try to learn and serve as much as you can in the present.

It’s a good life and I’m grateful for my friends!  To a fun day tomorrow!

 

Thankful for Faces

turkey-clip-art-20

I used to do this long list of all the things I am thankful for on the blog but eventually you run out of items and end up thanking the in and out crew and the pasta I had for dinner (not that we shouldn’t be thanking those things but not top of my list!).  I thought it would be fun to just show in pictures.  The faces of people I am thankful for today. Happy thanksgiving!

A Contradictory Heart

“It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.”  Betty Friedan.

“What person is for himself, what abides with him in his loneliness and isolation, and what no one can give or take away from him, this is obviously more essential to him than everything that he possesses or what he may be in the eyes of others”  Schopenhauer

This is going to be one of my long rambling posts where I think about life that nobody reads and I’m okay with that.  I decided a couple of weeks ago that I’m happy with what I write and that is most important. It is my blog after all.

…but it may be helpful to someone out there so read and ponder along with me. 🙂

Sometimes I feel confused about myself.  I am a creature full of contradictions, and at times it feels like God wants it that way.  Today is a perfect example.  I went visiting teaching and felt so connected to my girls.  I really felt like I made 2 new friends, cultivated an existing friendship, and shared a message all 4 of us needed to hear. Days like today I feel like I have a way of creating friends and interacting with others that not everyone can. I’m not saying this to boast but ever since my days of being bullied I have never had a hard time making friends.

I actually enjoy public speaking and teaching and it seems like I can usually find a way to reach my audience.  Someone told me today ‘I really enjoyed your talk you gave a while back’.  This was a talk given in March and he remembered it.  I found that to be amazing. 9 months and he remembered it. I’ve also had great experiences putting together parties, swimfests, bookclubs, a writing group and any number of other group activities. I’m a natural leader and gatherer.

Even on twitter I have made wonderful dear friends and felt a comfort level around strangers which most people do not share.  This blog is certainly abundant proof of that!

I’m also a very loyal person and most of my friends stay friends for years.  In fact, loyalty and honesty are essential to me in any friendship. I have friends from high school, college, people I’ve traveled with, been in wards with (pretty much all of them girls…don’t know why that is the case), swim friends (some of them are guys!), and just so  many treasured relationships.  I feel so grateful and have certainly not done anything that warrants such a blessing from God.

Here’s where the contradiction comes in…

After visiting teaching I put up Christmas decor myself, cooked a meal for one,  and went to meet with the bishop alone.  We talked about my individual scripture study and how I can do better.  We talked about my life and how independent I have to be.  How I have to stay motivated and be persistent or it will not happen.  There is nobody to push me along and challenge me to read scriptures everyday, go to the temple, exercise, or whatever worthy goal I am trying to accomplish in my life.  It’s all on me…

I am probably the most independent person I know.  Ever since I was little, and I mean little, I wanted to do things in my way, under my control.  I hated being a kid.  I hated being told what to do and  how to do it.

It was my dream to have my own place, my own space, my own life.  I never remember dreaming about what kind of husband or kids I would have.  In fact, for years while being open to love I was antagonistic about the idea of having a family.  To me it was a giant life and freedom suck. I’d seen how hard it was to have little kids and I wanted none of it. (Sorry but I grew out of it.  I promise!)

I don’t know many other Mormon girls that grew up wanting to be independent and free but that’s the way it was for me and that’s the way it has turned out.  I’ve always been a bit mystified by love and the dependence couples seem to have on each other. I’ve grown to a point where I want it but still don’t really understand the innate human need for it and yet…

I am lost without friendships and human bonding.  So maybe it is just love that confuses me?  Romantic love?  I don’t know.

I remember one time on my mission my trainer and I were talking about marriage and life.  I told her I didn’t know if I wanted to take my husband’s last name.  I like my name.  She said “This from the woman who wears a pink sweater every day” (and I really did wear a pink sweater a lot on mission.  Look at the photos!).  And yet both statements were equally true.  A contradiction….I feel like I have lot of those in my life.

Today I realized that in many ways the last 2 years have made me even more independent.  I didn’t think it was possible but it’s true. I am now a homeowner, I lived alone for 3 years happily before that, spent holidays alone, traveled alone and my spiritual sustenance is now maintained alone. Any leaning I was doing on another’s faith has had to be replaced with my own knowledge and strong conviction.  I don’t know anyone else that has been forced to be independent in more ways than I have.

Sometimes it seems like God wants me to be more independent and self reliant but in other ways he puts more people in my path to help and nurture.  People who need me and I desperately need them.   This is a good thing but it can leave me vulnerable to the lonely moments, which you would think someone who is so independent wouldn’t have.  Yep, still have them…

How can one human being need people so badly yet fundamentally resist them as part of my nature?  I truly have both yearnings and always have.

So, the giant Rachel tug of war will probably always continue.  One side needing and thriving on community and love, and the other needing isolation and freedom from what other people have planned for my life.

A contradiction…Does this make sense to any of you?  Do you see these 2 sides in your own life? Can any of you relate?

indexbtw- this is my 750th post!

Thanksgiving for One vs 2.0

So the guest post is here!  Check it out at http://littleferrarokitchen.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-1-guest-post-smilinglds-girl/ .  It is based on a post I did last year when I was home for thanksgiving and missing the food I was used to. Take a look at last years post and you will see how much better this one is (especially the photography.  Thanks Dad! https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/11/25/thanksgiving-for-one/

I’m really proud of how everything turned out so please take a look and make some comments on Sam’s or my site.  Pass it on (especially to the singles that you know)

Last year I found myself facing a new predicament in life.  For the first time in my 32 years I was alone for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now I had friends who had me over for meals and the like but for the season and for Christmas day I was alone.

This is a situation that more Americans are finding themselves in every day.   In his wonderful book, Living Alone, Eric Klinenberg says that “In 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single. Now that number is almost 50 percent. One in seven adults lives alone”.    One in 7 and yet our society is still built on the assumption of companionship. When I venture out to say a movie or a nice restaurant by myself it is a near social pariah.  I do it anyway but it is still definitely outside the norm.

So, where does that leave the single who is alone for even more family-centric moments such as birthdays or holidays?  If they cannot find an urban tribe, quasi-family to associate with then they are left to celebrate alone, a depressing prospect for most of us.

Well, last year I decided to change that.  I was going to be spending the holidays alone and I would make the best of it.  I did pretty well through Halloween and even Christmas but Thanksgiving proved particularly difficult.  I had a friend invite me to her place for the actual day which was lovely but it wasn’t the meal I was used to and I found myself feeling nostalgic for the flavors of my family.

The logical solution was to make Thanksgiving for myself but how can one make a feast for one?  It seems impossible?  Fortunately I am not the type who is left undaunted by challenges and I decided to give it a try and you know what I learned- you can do Thanksgiving for One!  It is not only possible but very enjoyable. 

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

Here’s what I learned:

        1. Plan ahead so you don’t have all the cooking in one day.  Both  years I have done thanksgiving for one I have made the desserts the day before.  You could also do the rolls the day before if that is important to you.   Since it saves well I make the cranberry relish or sauce in advance also.
        2.  Pick 2 sides and make them really well.  It is impossible to duplicate a huge thanksgiving meal for one person and if you did how would you eat it all (and let’s be honest you will be a little sad so tons of food and lonely person probably not good combo).  I chose to make mashed potatoes and stuffing.   Sweet potatoes are an everyday item and not that special for me, so I will leave them out.
        3. There’s no reason to make everything yourself.  I used canned rolls because rolls aren’t that important to my Thanksgiving but you could certainly buy them from a good bakery or your local market.  You could even buy the turkey already cooked (or a rotisserie chicken) and focus on sides.
        4. Pick a veggie that you can buy in small amounts.  For example a head of lettuce is often too much for me and goes bad.  Green beans are great because I can buy just a handful and not waste.  One ear of corn, a couple carrots, things like that save on time and money.
        5. Don’t forget little details like real whipped cream and cranberry relish.  If your family always has a pickle platter have pickles.  Or if you secretly hate the family jello salad don’t make it!  That’s the great thing about cooking for yourself you can do whatever you want.  If you want to make turkey curry go for it.  Want to try sugar free recipe, go for it.   Want to make collard greens or eat ham instead of turkey do it!
        6. Because you are cooking for 1 live a little.  Buy lobster or mussels, get the good french butter or be like me and get a massage while on break!  There will be plenty of your life when you are scrimping and saving every cent to pay for kids and retirement.  An occasional treat for a single’s dinner is highly worth it!  Plus, you can afford to go organic, get grass-fed meat, artisan bread.  Whatever excites you!
        7. Plan on ways to save meals and use components for 2nd and 3rd meals.  Like having turkey sandwiches or potato soup after thanksgiving dinner.  I make up these little TV dinners so they are ready to go when I’m in the mood for a little home cooking.To quote the amazing Judith Jones “Some say Why would I want to go to all that trouble just for me? My answer is: If you like good food, why not HONOR YOURSELF enough to make a pleasing meal and relish every mouthful.”  Cheers to me!

Menu

Turkey breast roasted with fresh herbs and gravy

Cornbread stuffing with maple sausage and apricots

Yukon gold mashed potatoes

Cranberry relish

Green beans with bacon vinaigrette

Rolls

No bake pumpkin cheesecake

Turkey Breast  

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • Thaw bird completely before cooking.  Make a paste with fresh herbs and butter then rub the bird with it and put underneath the skin.  Check the label but it usually ends up being about 30 minutes for every pound at 350.
  • It should get to a temperature of 160 to be done.

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

  • Cook 4 yukon gold potatoes in the crock-pot under high for 6 hours (which saves time) and then mash with skins on.
  • Add 1/4 cup of cream/milk and 1/2 stick of butter and mix until most of the clumps are gone.
  • You can make it with as many potatoes as you like or just one if you want.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste

or you could just cook them regular on the stove.

  • Cornbread Stuffing with Maple Sausage and Apricots
  • Cook onion, celery, maple sausage until onions soft, sausage cooked.
  • Add cornbread stuffing cubes and 2-4 cups of chicken broth.
  • Add diced dried apricots and then put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.Gravy
  • Take pan drippings and skim off excessive oil.  Then mix together a little water and flour until smooth.  My Mom even uses the blender for hers but I prefer minimal dishes.  Then you add the flour-water to the drippings and stir until the mixture thickens up.  Then add salt to taste.Cranberry Relish

    Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • In food processor pulsing blade finely ground 1 bag of fresh cranberries, 2 tbsp agave nectar or sugar, a whole orange cut into segments and a cup of nuts (I’ve made it with almonds, walnuts and pecans all good). Add more sweetener to taste.

 Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • Green beans with bacon vinaigrette. Cook bacon into bite sized pieces.  Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan leaving a couple of tablespoons inside.
  • Cook beans in boiling water (I’ve actually found the microwave does this quite well) add red onion, 1 tbsp of sugar to the bacon fat and then ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (you could use any vinegar you like.  I used an apricot balsamic from Sutter Buttes Olive Oil that I got in one of my subscription boxes.  It was great!  Combine beans with sauce and stir.  Top with crunchy bacon.  Yum!No bake pumpkin cheesecakes (recipe adapted by I Wash You Dry)

    Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • 1 box gingersnap cookies ground to fine crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener

For the Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream (I accidentally bought light cream cheese but it worked fine)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ c marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I added more because I like things on the sweeter side especially for dessert)
  • 1 ½ ts pumpkin pie spice1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream whipped.

For the Crust:

  • Mix together all ingredients press into bottom of molds or spring-form pan.  You can then bake it for 5 minutes to create a more solid crust but I don’t think that is even necessary.
  • For filling mix together cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin, and sugar.   Heat up marshmallows and butter until cooked and bubbling.  Add to rest of wet filling mix.  Beat vigorously.  Add to molds.  Set overnight.  Top with whipped cream.

So those are the recipes I used.  Have fun cooking for one.  It will be a great journey for you!  Good luck and let me know how things go and what strategies work for you. 

Thanksgiving for 1

Ingredients

Turkey Breast
    • 1 Turkey breast with skin
    • Fresh herbs (variety)
Cornbread Stuffing
    • 2, 6oz bags Dried cornbread stuffing cubes
    • 1 cup onion, chopped
    • 1 celery, chopped
    • 1-2 links of maple sausage
    • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
    • 2-3 cups Chicken broth
Gravy
    • 2 Tb flour
    • Water
    • Salt, to taste
Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette
    • 1 cup Green beans
    • 1 slice of bacon (more if you want extra for salads)
    • 1 Red onion, chopped
    • 1Tb sugar
    • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
Cranberry Relish
    • 1 bag fresh cranberries
    • 2 Tb agave nectar or sugar
    • 1 orange, cut into segments
    • 1 cup nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
    • 4 Yukon potatoes
    • 1/4 cup milk or cream
    • 1/2 stick of butter
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake via I Wash You Dry
Crust
    • 1 box gingersnap cookies ground to fine crumbs
    • 3 tbsp butter melted
    • 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener
Filling
  • For the filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream (I accidently bought light cream cheese but it worked fine)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ c marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I added more because I like things on the sweeter side especially for dessert)
  • 1 ½ ts pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream whipped.

Instructions

Turkey Breast
    1. Thaw bird completely before cooking.
    2. Make a paste with fresh herbs and butter then rub the bird with it and put underneath the skin. Check the label but it usually ends up being about 30 minutes for every pound at 350
    3. It should get to a temperature of 160 to be done.
Cornbread stuffing
    1. Cook onion, celery and maple sausage until onions soft, sausage cooked.
    2. Add cornbread stuffing cubes and 2-4 cups of chicken broth.
    3. Add diced dried apricots and then put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.
Gravy
    1. Take pan drippings and skim off excessive oil.
    2. Then mix together a little water and flour until smooth in a separate bowl. My Mom even uses the blender for hers but I prefer minimal dishes. Then you add the flour-water to the drippings and stir until the mixture thickens up. Then add salt to taste.
Green beans with bacon vinaigrette
    1. Cook bacon into bite sized pieces.
    2. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan leaving a couple of tablespoons inside.
    3. Cook beans in boiling water (I’ve actually found the microwave does this quite well).
    4. Add red onion, 1 tbsp of sugar to the bacon fat and then ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (you could use any vinegar you like.
    5. Combine beans with sauce and stir.
    6. Top with crunchy bacon.
Cranberry Relish
    1. In a food processor, add the cranberries, agave, sugar, nuts and orange.
    2. Pulse until finely ground.
    3. Add more sweetener to taste.
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
    1. Cook potatoes in the crock-pot under high for 6 hours (which saves time) and then mash with skins on.
    2. Add 1/4 cup of cream/milk and 1/2 stick of butter and mix until most of the clumps are gone.
    3. You can make it with as many potatoes as you like or just one if you want.
    4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake via I Wash You Dry
  1. For crust- mix together all ingredients press into bottom of molds or spring-form pan. You can then bake it for 5 minutes to create a more solid crust but I don’t think that is even necessary.
  2. For filling mix together cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin, and sugar.
  3. Heat up marshmallows and butter until cooked and bubbling.
  4. Add to rest of wet filling mix. Beat vigorously. Add to molds. Set overnight.
  5. Top with whipped cream.

All of the food made can be up-sized or downsized. If you would like less turkey buy a smaller breast or only 2 potatoes instead of 4. Use half the cranberries and make less relish.

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

Girls Night Slumber Party

girls night 3

I’ve got a challenge for all of you lovely readers.  I defy anyone to produce better friends than I have.   It can’t be done.  They defend me when I am sad, are incredibly loyal and also a lot of fun.   I just love them and after the month I’ve had I wanted to say thanks and relax with my girls.

A few days ago I was talking to a box review friend that unfortunately I can’t remember who it was (if you are out there please remind me).  We were discussing how we had more make up from box reviews than we could deal with.   It really starts to add up quick and not all of it is good for my complexion so it could go unused.

So my friend and I were talking about our excess makeup problems and she told me she was going to have a makeover party with her friends to have fun and use up the makeup.  All of you know I love a party so this sounded like a great idea to me! Plus I felt exhausted by October so why not?

I put out the word of a girls night out to my friends and gave them plenty of warning and reminded them a couple of times.  I also invited a new friend Lindsay who I know from twitter.  I always have an eclectic group at my parties.  This was no exception.  There was Emilee and Rachel who I knew from singles ward and Hawaii 2011, Stefanie my roommate from 2006-2007 and bestie, and Rachel my friend from book club (yes, 3 Rachel’s- party!) .  I like having different people at parties so you have a mixture of conversation and personalities.  It is a risk but usually leads to the best time by all.

The party was easy to plan.  I put together goodie bags using dollar store items (and some see’s candy!).   I figured it was my chance to put together my own beauty bag so it fit well with the theme of the party.

In Rachel's beauty bag we had lip gloss, nail polish, q-tips, glow bracelet, pedicure kit, cherry tea light and 2 see chocolates
In Rachel’s beauty bag we had lip gloss, nail polish, q-tips, glow bracelet, pedicure kit, cherry tea light and 2 see chocolates (there was also a washcloth I forgot to picture)
The party booty
The party booty

The food for the party was easy.  I got a take and bake pizza and some baked chicken strips from a local restaurant. I didn’t have to cook anything which was good because I have been working and starting nanowrimo so no time to cook!

The girls got there at different times and we chatted for the first hour or so.  Then we ate and started our makeovers.  Masks, apple peel (from Juice Beauty, a great birchbox find) and exfoliants were used by various people.  Then we moved on to the eyes, lips and nails.  We looked very pretty by the end of the night!

girls night 2Then we finished up the night watching Joss Whedon’s new Much Ado About Nothing which was really fun.  They shot the film in 12 days with hardly any  budget but that was all for the benefit of the film.  I liked the black and white photography.  You could tell the performers were all friends (I guess Whedon does Shakespeare readings with his friends (great idea for next party!) and he had a break between the Avengers and decided to make a movie in his house.  Love that!

So I think the party was a great success and I look forward to the next one.  What do you gals like to do for girls night out?   I think as a 32 year old singlite I’ve got the girls night out down.  So fun!

Now off to write my next section of nanowrimo!  How are you all doing on your word counts?

“For man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.”