Tag: life

A Chance to Work

dream-job

I must confess I have been keeping a secret from most of you.  About 3 weeks ago I interviewed for a new position at the company I used to work for Kobayashi.  I couldn’t mention it because my prospective boss was looking at all my social media and I didn’t want to appear over or under-confident about the job.   Well, I have very exciting news after 3 weeks of waiting I found out that-

I Got the Job!

This is really a dream come true.  To even have the chance to do something other than accounting is so thrilling I can’t even put it into words.  Years ago I had resigned myself to a life as an accounting clerk.  In 2008 I tried to make a change but nothing came through and I ended up back at accounting but working from home.  It seemed like the compromise I would need to make.

In 2012 I said:

“But always in the back of my head is that nagging question of all the things I could have been and done? Do any of you struggle with unfulfilled dreams? With what you have settled for in your life?  We all have to make compromises in order to live.  At least most of us do.   How do you reconcile your wishes with reality?”

I still agree with that.  We all have to make sacrifices to live.  Even if you get that dream job you still have to make sacrifices because nothing is free. I am continually fascinated by themes of work because it is such a tricky formula to master.  If a happy life is made of work, family, and experience than how do we know when the work is taking things over, or family, or whatever.  Balance is impossible but the hope is we come close.

So we make sacrifices.  We do things we aren’t crazy about because we need money, or we like the people we work with, or get to work from home, whatever the compromise might be.  And you are left hoping that the right sacrifices are made but never being 100% sure.

And then every once in a while an opportunity comes your way where maybe the slope of the compromise  will not have to be so steep.  A chance to do something new, a chance to live your dreams.

I got such an opportunity today.  Basically I am going to be working 30 hours a week for Kobayashi in their marketing department.  The main emphasis will be content creator management.  I will also continue to work part time for Poler doing their accounts payable.  I’ve worked for 2 companies before so it shouldn’t be a problem.  Fortunately, both companies are eager to help me make things work.  I am so blessed.

During the interview with the marketing manager we went over the brands placement on various retailers and I told him about my experience in youtube.  He then asked me to do what I called ‘homework’.

The main question was ‘how do we engage with youtube content creators?’.  Just a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have known how to answer this question.  However, in January I was inspired to start taking my youtube videos more seriously.  I invested time and money to improve them and saw immediate results.  I learned a ton about google ad words, search engine optimization, making video and how to interact with content creators (I have a giveaway going on now on my facebook page).

This became a new layer to my skillset which included this blog and all I’ve learned from writing my silly thoughts for 7 years.  I had mastered twitter, facebook, pinterest, blogging, youtube and instagram.  I thought it was just for a hobby or to perhaps help me with my job at Poler.  Never did I think I could do something else for my job. Never.

In fact, in December I was some of the sickest I’ve ever been and yet I worked the whole time.  There was just so much to do but mere weeks after things began to change and a lot of my responsibilities became automated.  It became clear I was going to have to find different full time work before too long  (Poler is so amazing to work with me and keep me busy through all this).

After I had worked on my youtube page, gotten some semi-serious hits, my Dad took notice and mentioned my skills to the marketing director at Kobayashi.  After giving the referral my Dad stepped aside and told him that this had to be a good fit.  Definitely no nepotism for this job.

Then I had to be patient.  I think I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog about waiting and that was what I was referring to.  I waited to see the job description. Waited to set the interview, and then the interview came.  I was very nervous but I tried to study hard on the lingo and be confident, and I felt good about my performance.

Then I turned in some homework about engaging with youtube content creators and I felt it was strong but waited another 3 weeks wondering if I would get the chance.  It was really hard.  I kept envisioning having to go back to corporate America and feeling nauseous at the thought of it.

The longer it took the more I figured I was out of the running. Preparing for the worst you might say.  Finally today I talked with the marketing manager I had interviewed with and it turns out:

I got the job!

I know I said that before but I am so thrilled!  I can’t believe it. It will be a little less pay but for the opportunity I would do just about anything.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I never thought I would get a chance to do something else.  I feel so grateful I was inspired to take the risk on my videos.  It was inspiration as I see it.  Inspiration to go for it and learn as much as I could.  Without that youtube experience I would not have gotten the job.  My Dad said he didn’t talk to them at all after the initial recommendation.  He said if I got the job it was on my own merits not his.  Yes!

I am so excited and grateful. Overwhelmed really.  I can’t believe it. It may be a simple little job but the chance to do something creative and still work from home- holy heck! Pretty amazing.

So I worked for 10 years in accounting and out of the blue a chance came.  Lesson to all of you- don’t give up, keep trying new things, work hard at what God has given you now.  Take all the inspiration you can from my experience! Good things can happen!

Yippeee!!!!

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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!

 

Resume of Life

So I try to constantly keep my resume up to date.  You just never know what will happen and I like to be prepared.  Plus, I’ve had moments in my current employment where it has come in handy for a project or two to show my skillset.

resume

I was looking at it today and I hadn’t done so in about a year and lots has happened.  I changed jobs last year from Grabber to Poler and changed my references around, updated addresses etc.

Anyway, as I was looking at it I realized my whole adult life is on this 2 page sheet. How weird is that?  You can summarize a life in 2 page outline.

Sometimes this makes me sad because I thought the list would be more grand by 33 but this is it and yet, it is pretty great too.  And yet someone may look at this and think ‘hmmm…not enough, or not the right stuff’.  I know over-thinking it but it really is weird.

There’s a lot of learning, experiences, friendships and faith hidden in this list of my life . There was some heartache and deep wounds inside a sentence or two.  It looks like an ordinary event but I know what it meant.

It is the Resume of my Life….What would your’s say?   It is meant to qualify me for something but I’m not sure that it does or what that is?  What is all this meant to open a door to the next event on the list? Who knows!

Anyway, it’s just kind of strange moment to see it all out there on 2 pages  the story of a life, my life. I hope I have done enough, experienced enough, lived enough?  I guess it is done so nothing I can change about it now!  Still, it’s my life…

This is my life on 2 pages.  Whoa….but then again it’s pretty great too.  In a way you could say it’s the story of my life…

And yes, I like One Direction so kill me!

Cookbooks

Last week I made 2 recipes from a very special cookbook- ‘the best white bread’ and ‘italian chicken’.  Where did I get these recipes why from my very own cookbook. See below:

20140118_153258
a nice big hole in the sleeve for the main dishes. Kind of appropriate.
20140118_153211
Drinks
20140118_153319
Desserts my favorite section and not a bad drawing!
20140118_153326
yummy salads

When I was 17 I was heading off to college I wanted to take my mother’s best recipes with me, so I gathered them together into a 3 ring binder on blue paper separated into categories like drinks, bread, salads, desserts.  The thing that I love is even though it was just for me I did my own drawings to accompany the recipes.   How many 17 year old’s who can’t really draw to save their life do that?

Isn’t it interesting because I could have just written the recipes down.  I’m not an artist so why did I feel inspired to add the drawings to my little cookbook?  Who knows exactly what inspired me but I would like to think it was because I knew that the recipes were special, that they deserved to be memorialized in some way and even if I was the only one who would see the drawings (which I pretty much am until this post) it was still worth it.

And you know what? It has been worth it.  I feel happy whenever I look in my cookbook and see the drawings.  It’s like 17 year old me waiving and saying hello to 33 year old me.  Over the years flour and guck has built up on the plastic covers of the pages and even had several that got briefly melted but I haven’t changed them to new covers.  I like seeing the years and remembering the time I made candy and it melted the on the fudge recipe or seeing the flour and remembering the pancakes that I’ve made over the years.

Other recipes remind me of the cooking contests we used to have (some are actually from the contest like the Green and White Lasagna one below).  That is one of the best times of my childhood cooking with my siblings.  Pancakes also remind me of my Dad and how he tried diligently for weeks to make the perfect pancake.  A recipe for spaghetti  makes me think of my Mom and how we ate pasta and sauce at least once a week growing up.  I also see the apple pie recipe and think of all the family gatherings where my Mother made the perfect pie and wistfully wonder if I will ever have such a culinary moment (her’s are seriously the best)

20140118_153341
Italian Chicken is one of my favorites.
20140118_153249
Even have the butter label stuck on the pancake page1

It’s an amazing thing because at the same time that my cookbook brings back all those memories it is creating new one’s that I will look back on 5 years and see the flour from when I first made bread in my new house or the raspberry pies I made and brought to my friends the Porters. I don’t if I can think of anything else that is both a time capsule of past and present more than this cookbook.

For some reason I had an idea when I was young that this would be important so I not only made such a book for myself but when my sister got engaged I made a similar (if a bit nicer!) cookbook for her.  You see, she and her husband and spent much of their courting time with me and I had done most of the cooking.  At the time I was working and it was fun for me to cook for hungry guests and hear about their plans and adventures.  So, when I made Megan a cookbook it was more based on the recipes that I had made for her and not as much about the recipes Mom had made.

20140120_083453
Megan’s recipe was all based on things that were quick that I had made for them as they were courting and engaged.
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You’ll notice I have hand drawn drawings on Megan’s too. It just makes it more special.
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Chili was a favorite of mine in college. It was sort of dotored up canned goods but always tasty and cheap.
20140120_083349
the cover. So fun.

You will see in hers there is also the hand drawn artwork which I still find amazing as I am not much of a drawer but there was something about making a cookbook that made me draw by hand.  It’s like passing on a bit of who you are with what you cook so nothing else would work but your own hand at drawing.  And maybe the memory of making the drawings becomes part of the time capsule for past and future memories.  I hope it has been that for my sister.  I know she uses it often.

As I was making bread I said to myself ‘I wonder if most people would just look online for such a recipe?’ I’m sure they do and I look online often for sure but I hope that with the advancement we haven’t lost the value of creating family cookbooks, with personal touches of story and art for your life, your family to share and add on to.  Such a legacy of flour and egg cannot be transferred to an email or a pinterist pin.

Food has such a link to our survival, to what makes us literally alive; therefore, the stories it can tell can be monumental or sublimely small.  Without the family, homemade cookbook we lose some of those stories and some of that life.

So make a goal of it this year to write down your family recipes, add some illustrations (you’ve seen mine, don’t have to be so great) and then give similar gifts to those you love for their memories and by transference now your memories.  It’s just a good thing to do!

Don’t get so lost in the world of blogging, even food blogging, that you forget to make things that make memories.  Writing is powerful but so is art and beauty and cooking, so make a cookbook as a gift to your life! You’ll love it!

Ps.  I know there are companies that can make it all professional but I would discourage from that.  Make it you and everytime you see your wobbly version of a salad or a turkey you will smile and say to yourself ‘thanks 17 me love ya’ and those are the sublime moments of life.

A 3 AM Introduction

(Started this last night.  Now some of you are seeing the guest post I thought you might like to learn a little more about me)

Awake
Awake

Ok.  So its 2:33 but it will probably be 3 by the time I am done writing this.  It helped me to get to sleep yesterday to write so I thought maybe it would do the same today.  What do you have to lose?

So today sometime my guest post will be added to http://littleferrarokitchen.com/ and I’m pretty excited.  It will be fun to open myself to a new audience, and I’m super proud with how it turned out! I thought on the off chance that people check out my blog from reading the post on her blog I would take some time and introduce myself.

First of all, I have been blogging for going on 6 years and I’ve done over 748 posts on everything from recipes I like to religion, to movies. When I was a little girl my sister and I would make newspapers that covered politics, movies, and current events.  We even drew comics for them.

I am currently working on the nanowrimo challenge and almost done!  I am also a homeowner and social media purveyor as they like to say.  You can follow me on  instagram and twitter at @smilingldsgirl.  Please introduce yourself to me.  Let’s be friends.

I have bolded any links below so if you want to learn more about a particular topic click on it and read a post.  Share your feedback.  Thanks for reading!

So here is the 411 on Rachel

  1. What’s your name?  Rachel Wagner
  2. How do you spend your days? I work as an accounting clerk for Poler at www.polerstuff.com
  3. Have you always lived in Utah? Nope.  I grew up in Maryland, but have also lived in Indiana and California.  I’ve lived in Utah for most of my adult life.
  4. What are some of your hobbies? I love open water swimming (7 races done!), blogging, writing, reading, party planning , movies and subscription boxes!
  5. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had? That’s a tough one.  There was a time on my mission when we had worked so hard in the bitter cold and the RS Pres made us breakfast for dinner with hot cocoa.  It was like gold.
    Another meal that comes to mind is when I made spaghetti and meatballs for my friends in 2013 and decided I needed to make some major changes in my life because the food was so good.  No joke
  6. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? Hawaii.  Always Hawaii. North Shore. Oahu.
  7. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given? I’m a pretty good gift giver but this was one of my best. Also last year I got my Dad Lord of the Rings in German and he really loved it.  When my sister got engaged I made her a cookbook of all the recipes I’d made for her when we were roommies.  She still has it uses it so that was a good one
  8. And what’s the best gift you’ve ever received?   I’d have to say on my mission I had a companion from the Philippians and she didn’t have a ton of money.  My parents sent us a tiny Christmas tree in the mail and gifts for both of us.
  9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)? I’m an ok singer.  I wish I was a great singer
  10. What is/was your favorite subject in school?  In high school it might have been drama.  In college definitely political philosophy.
  11. What’s the biggest problem facing the world right now?  So many…the secularization of schools and the distancing of overall life from religion.  More detailed thoughts on politics and such can be seen at- interview 1, interview 2, interview 3
  12. If you alone could solve it, how would you do it? Be a missionary forever!
  13. What’s your dream job?  Teaching at BYU
  14. If you had to choose only one: cat or dog?  Neither but if I had to chose I’d pick a small dog like a goldendoodle.  I have a bit of an animal phobia so that is never going to happen.
  15. What’s your favorite movie of all time?  So hard to pick just one but if I did I’d have to pick Up. My five favorite films
  16. Aside from food, water, and shelter, what one thing could you not go a day without?  Prayer (cheesy answer but its true!)
  17. In everyday life, what is your number one pet peeve? Talking to machines and giving them all this information than a human finally comes on the phone and you explain it all over to them.
  18. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Hey I have a 30 year mortgage so I’ll be in Draper.  I’d like to think I’d be married but probably not.  Probably just living here with tenants and a roommate and making the most out of my life.
  19. Where do you see yourself in 20 years?  30 years is more interesting because then I’ll be close to retiring and can be a missionary for my church for the rest of my life. That would be my dream if I don’t get married. .  20 years I will probably be doing the same thing I am doing now but hopefully still swimming and singing and blogging.  I can think of worst lives and you never know Mr.  Sunshine could finally make an appearance.

What do you want to know about me? Ask me some questions!

So that is a little intro.  I think I’m a pretty interesting person so check out the blog and get to know me a bit better.  Thanks!

rachel (10)

Swim Shutdown

So I have made a difficult decision.  I have decided to not swim Slam the Dam.  Here are the reasons:

1. I miss General Conference for my church.  I should have just abandoned the attempt in the first place because watching this live and tweeting during it has become a big part of my life.  I need the nourishment and its just not the same watching it backwards.

2.  Despite their best efforts I have not gelled well with the organizers and I’ll just leave it at that.

3.  My friend won’t be able to go so she will be driving me down just to watch me swim.

4.  The likelihood of my finishing was about 50/50 (being generous).  My best time in a 1 mile swim is 54 minutes which is cutting it very close to the hour time limit. I get why they needed to have it but it just wasn’t the best for my friend and I to have the time limit.

5. With the government shutdown looming and very likely the race would be cancelled anyway because they rely on the parks department for the permit and race.  I think the chance of everything being resolved by Saturday is very small.  One of the organizers said “If the government shuts down the park will be closed and no swim. It’s that simple.”  I think its very unlikely the race will go on at all.

6. I have gotten to the pool about 4 times in September.  With vacation, sickness, back treatments and everything else it just hasn’t been a great training month like August was

7. In the end, driving 7 hours to not finish or have it cancelled while missing Conference just didn’t seem worth it especially considering I don’t really have any friends going or who would be there to cheer me on.

8. My friend summarized why she wasn’t going and her outlook and I agree:

“I’ve also withdrawn, asking that my swag bag and hoodie be mailed to me. I still dont regret signing up. I had a goal to reach for, and though I fell just short of it, I succeeded in becoming a swimmer. I will take that as the lifetime win it is. And, this just means my first “official” swim will be a SLOW swim. I think I love that!”

9.  I will also be following the directions and repeated orders of the planning committee.  Today they reiterated that if you are “unwell, ill, injured or generally “off” from your normal self (whatever that means?)  or can not meet course cut offs times, please do not swim” .  I will respect their request and not swim, leave it at that.

10. All goals just don’t work out and I think there is a lesson in that.  This is the second year I’ve tried to do this swim and will be my last for a time.  It’s just too busy a time for me and has been too stressful for all involved.

Thank you to all the volunteers and my friends for your amazing support.  I love you all so much.  Swimming is after all just a hobby.  It needs to always be fun and the last month or so it hasn’t felt fun.  I’m going to work on that.  I know that I’m a good swimmer.  Not swimming Slam the Dam does not change that.  I know that it is all for the best.

Thank you especially to Tania for being my training buddy and becoming my cherished friend.  You are the best. (I feel like I’m giving an Oscar speech but its true).

Thanks you guys!

This is what its all about in the end.  Friends always
This is what its all about in the end. Friends always

Guys- it was cancelled in the end so I’m extra happy with my decision (and glad I made my own medals in advance!).  I am sorry for those hoping to swim that couldn’t.  Karma…

Anything I Can Do You Can Do Too!

swimming

Today I went visiting teaching and told my girl about my swim.  Her response was ‘Wow!  I could never do that!’.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that response in the last 3 years (crazy that I’ve been open water swimming for 3 years btw!).  It can actually be quite discouraging because I want to inspire people to do as I do, not make it seem impossible.

If you haven’t noticed I’m not exactly the typical athlete with a svelte figure.  Every swim I’ve done I’ve weighed between 275 and 310 lbs (yes, I just admitted that to the world. Deal).  I’m a big girl and always have been.  It wasn’t all that long ago that  just the idea of swimming for a mile felt impossible but I had a gentle friend put in my path who never wavered in his support of my seemingly impossible first swim back in 2011, and I did it!

I’ve faced other challenges besides my weight such as a fall down the stairs, chronic pain/fibromyalgia, PCOS, hormone problems, diabetes scare, and more, so training isn’t always easy or even possible.  I’ve faced personal challenges, heartaches and disappointments, which have felt like a fall down the stairs.  I’ve spent a greater part of a year looking, building, buying and moving into a new house.  I have at times dealt with crippling anxiety and even panic attacks that can make goal setting difficult and self acceptance challenging.

I’ve had all the challenges any of you face and yet I’ve completed my swims.

I don’t want to sound like a great hero.  In fact, I am trying to prove the reverse- that there is nothing particularly special about me.  If I can do it, so can you.  Even people with minimal swimming experience have made amazing strides with consistent practice.  I have seen people barely be able to cross the length of a pool, swim a mile in the GSL 6 months later.  I’ve seen people conquer fear of water, waves, being submerged, etc and do great things.

The way I see it you have 2 choices in life.  You can either take chances or watch as other people take them.  Even if its not an open water swim, I am sure there is something that you look at and think ‘I could never do that’.  I guarantee you ‘THAT’ is the thing you ‘NEED’ to do!  There is nothing more satisfying than doing something you never thought you could do.  It could be singing a solo in public, painting with watercolors, running for public office, starting a small business, writing a novel, entering a triathlon, giving blood.  Whatever. Find out what that is and DO IT!

Now you may not succeed.  My friend Goody had a goal to swim the Catalina channel in California.  He was in the water for 16 hours and eventually it had to be called off.  It was devastating but he took it like the trooper he was.  You know what he had to face this year? Cancer. I can only imagine the fighting spirit he developed in that water and setting a bold goal helped him in his victorious battle.  He also became the first Utahn to swim an ice mile in below freezing water.  So, your victory may come in a different way than you had planned but it will come.

Part of the reason I know all of you can do what you dream of doing is because I face the same doubts and fears.  Every time I swim I face anxiety about whether I’ll be able to finish.  Not just before the race but many times while I’m swimming.  I got to the point in the last GSL swim where I could hardly move my right arm.  The current was killing me and I could do about 20 strokes and I’d be pushed inside.  I had seen a woman give up early in the race and I wondered again and again if it was going to be my outcome.  I guess I decided I wasn’t going to let the lake lick me and it didn’t and that is the real victory!

I have a quote on my bookcase by the divine Nora Ephron that says ‘Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim’.  Stop saying ‘I could never do that’.  Stop it!  Think of things you can do and haven’t tried and do them.  Go for it!

I can think of so many times when this advice has benefited my life.  Because of a demon of a choir teacher, I was petrified of singing in public for years.  I even refused to lead the music on my mission because I had been so humiliated as a teen.  That said- I always knew it was something ‘I wish I could do’ but thought I just wasn’t made for singing.

In 2006 I was so miserable with life that I sought fulfillment in anything and signed up for voice lessons.  My first recital my hands were shaking and my skin was pale, but you know what I got through it and 7 years later it turns out that singing in public is actually something I’m quite good at.  I’m not saying I have the greatest voice in the world but the acting and performing is a strength.  That’s the blessing of doing hard things, of pushing yourself. You find out what you are made of and it constantly surprises you!

Last year I had a goal to introduce someone to open water swimming.  I felt it had done me such good and I wanted to share the favor.  Unfortunately I come in contact with relatively few new people so I didn’t know how I would complete this goal (speaking of impossible goals!) but I had faith and even made it a matter of prayer.  Well, in April of that year I discovered #ldsconf on twitter and made a ton of new friends while watching General Conference. One was a girl from Washington State named Abby.

We still have never met but she read about my prep for the GSL swim and my race last  June and one day she asked me if I thought she could be ready for the race on the Columbia River in September.  “Sure!” was my gleeful reply.  I remind you I had never met this person and yet I felt confident she could do it.  Later I remember asking myself ‘You don’t know this person.  What if she has a terrible experience and then blames you?”

Well, fortunately she swam it and had a wonderful swim with a great time.  Life is usually like that.  We need a little encouragement to do hard things and then we pass that gift on to other people.  We are the heroes of each other or we should be.  That’s the great thing about doing hard things is it inevitably puts you in the path of other dreamers, and your life is so much the richer for those relationships.  When I think of the people I have met through just swimming and singing I am blown away.  The decision to try seems self evident for the friendships alone.

Like the poet says:

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old.
Today might be your last chance to hold tight to the hand of the one you love and show all you feel.
If you are waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
Because if tomorrow never comes, you certainly will regret for the rest of your life
Not having spent some extra time for a smile, a conversation, a hug, a kiss,
Because you were too busy to give that person what ended up being their last wish.
Then hug tight today the one you love, your friends, your family, and whisper in their ears how much you love them and want them close to you.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone so stop saying ‘I can’t’ or ‘I could never’ and go and do it!
There. That’s my pep talk.  Eat your heart out Zig Ziglar. Sure love ya!
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Also some did not get to see my little bit of fame from the TV the other day.  With the music and everything I was quite the culminating hero to the piece. (part 2).  I hope somebody sees it and says ‘wow. She looks like me.  Maybe I could do…’