Tag: life

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:

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a nice big hole in the sleeve for the main dishes. Kind of appropriate.
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Drinks
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Desserts my favorite section and not a bad drawing!
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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)

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Italian Chicken is one of my favorites.
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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.

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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.
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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…’

A Week in Chaos and No to Slam the Dam

So I’ve had an intense last couple of days.

Saturday- book club highlight of the day.  Great turn out, great friends, great discussion.  We read The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella which I’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog as a fav.  We had this great discussion about workaholism in the modern culture.  Then I went home and spent 5 hours on an audit for one of my jobs.  I finished drained and so glad I didn’t have to teach the next day

Sunday- went to church, fast Sunday.  Didn’t have to teach but didn’t get much spiritual feeding because my week to go to sharing time.  Then had dinner with my sister.  We had some girl talk and watched Downton Abbey.  I have so much I need to work on.  My personal life is far from perfect. It was fun and supportive but felt tired next Morning.

Monday- Found out that month end close was on the 5th this week instead of the 10th and I was going to be out of town on the 5th.  Serves me right for taking a day off work!  Stressed out all day.  Then miracle of miracles Avalara called me and said they could move up my closing to the 3rd so I could get everything done.  Great news!   Stress has moved into the anxiety stage but some relief (most dangerous kind of anxiety is when you think it has been resolved and let your guard down). 10 hour work day

Tuesday-  Found out my ride to Henderson to stay with my Aunt and Uncle wasn’t going to work out.  (The details don’t matter but it was a  communication problem that caused me a lot of anxiety).  Felt unprepared for race.  Spent $100+ on race already.  Couldn’t decide what to do.  Was supposed to be fun but then with all the work anxiety and mechanics of it all it was anything but fun and certainly not relaxing.  I had a decision to make could either stay here, give up on my plans, or find a way out there and swim a race I was unprepared for but could probably do anyway?  My fear was if I didn’t go I would just end up working anyways and then be ready for a mental ward by Saturday….10 hour work day

Wednesday- Had a big long cry, near panic attack.  Felt overwhelmed by everything.  And then like a bolt of lightning I just knew ‘I have to make a decision.”  and then I knew “I’m not going” and I immediately felt a confirmation this was the right choice.  Seriously a lightness I had not felt in a long time came over me and I smiled.  My Dad called me about 5 seconds after hearing me in sobs and couldn’t believe the transformation.  All it took was a decision to be made.

Then I said what can I do to relax instead of working if I stay?  My solution- go to City Center Marriott (my favorite as it was my victory celebration when I quit my job in 2007) from Tuesday to Monday morning get a room all to myself and watch Conference and enjoy.  They have the best pool, hot tub, robes, sheets.  I know I will be able to sleep well.  Its near everything (in the center of the city!).  I want to try out some cool restaurants and really try to relax.  If this doesn’t work than maybe I really have lost the ability to relax.  I think my mission sucked the power out of me.

So, it was a hard decision.  I loved the race last ever and had a great experience but sometimes you have to do what is best for your brain and body even if it doesn’t match up with your goals.  My eye still has sutures and my equilibrium is still off.  I had maybe 3 swims in September and today I was training with Michele and I about passed out doing stair steps.  Don’t know if from overwork or my eyes.  Either way my body just isn’t itself at the moment and there is nothing I can do about that.

I know the next 3 months are going to be hyper stressful with a move, packing up, closing on a house, finding tenants etc and maybe I needed this break to be able to handle all of that (which is way overwhelming)?

Maybe Heavenly Father just knew I needed to focus on Conference this October because my spiritual canteen has been feeling low (only so much I can gain all by myself).  My family might come to the hotel and enjoy it with me but I told them NO WORK TALK!!!!  NO DRAMA!

I wish I was better at handling anxiety.  I wish I could do more and be more but then I think of all I do and wonder maybe I do too much?  Then there are slow weeks where I am itching for things to do.  Balance  between work and life are impossible for me.  Thank goodness for my friends who keep me sane. Thank goodness for boxing and swimming and thank goodness for my parents for loving me and not judging when I struggle.

So there it is.  That was my decision making process.  I know it was the right thing to do so it will be interesting to see what my Heavenly Father has in store for me.

The Curse of the Should Be’s

Frequently I have people say to me ‘you are a great ______’ and then followed by ‘You should be a _______’.  Some different variations:

You are a great cook.  You should open up a restaurant.

You are a great writer. You should be an author.

Your blog is great.  You should do it full time.

Your state your opinion well.  You should be a political writer.

You should be an editor, lawyer, politician, speech writer, teacher, PHD, fiction and non-fiction author, event planner, singer, ect. (Ironically nobody has ever said ‘you would make a great mother…)

The sad part is they are all right.  There are so many dream jobs I have.  There are so many things I should be doing and would be genuinely good at, even brilliant, but how did I end up doing accounting?  Basically I took the first job that was offered to me after my mission and I ran with it.

In 2008 I tried to make a change and get something in marketing or event planning.  Something a little more creative and had no luck.  Its a tricky cycle you get into because you need experience to get most jobs and to get that experience you need experience.  So even if I went back to school my position really wouldn’t improve much because I’d still have the same experience.

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful because I’m not.  My job has tons of perks and it gives me a lifestyle I love. It’s just not what I envisioned for my life. I didn’t have some specific dream but I never thought I’d be an accounting clerk my whole life.

Now I’m buying a house and that makes it all the more difficult to make changes.  Sigh…

I guess a side of me feels like a sell out but I don’t know what else I could have done.  I took the only job offered to me. I get to work from home and have flexibility.  I’m pretty lucky in many ways.  Plus, I’m good at what I do. I work as hard as I can and have overall a nice life.

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 know there are ways to contribute outside of my job, so I’m looking out for that right now. I think it is how I will have to do all the ‘should be’s’.
When did we decide that the only way to contribute to society was through your job or family?  There has to be other options for people like myself?   Got to start writing all those books and articles I dream about 🙂 .

Btw- thanks to everyone for all the encouragement.  It always makes my day!  I think my friends often see more potential in me than I do in myself.  In fact, I know they do. Thank goodness for great friends.

I’m Building on Up!

The big purchase. Earnest money paid!

As everyone on facebook and twitter knows today I took the brave step and decided to sign a contract for a new build townhouse in Draper.  I about had an anxiety attack before signing the papers but I knew deep down inside that it was the right decision.  I had thought about it from nearly every angle and I think it will be a good move.  For only a $100 plus more a month I will own a home as opposed to renting.  It is viewable from where I currently live so no real transition there and will be much bigger.

The key determining factor for me (aside from liking the layout and space) was that I looked at worst case scenarios and it still seemed like a good choice.  If I were to say lose my job than I could get 2 roommates, 3 if I finish the basement and that could cover most if not all of my lease. Knowing it could work out even if things turned south really helped me make the decision.

The condo I had offered on was smaller and does not have the roommate potential of the townhouse.  The only real benefit of the condo is the kitchen was bigger but still the townhouse is a better choice. The resale value will be better than a condo and I can get most of the nice features of the condo.  One thing I liked about the model home is that everything I liked seems to be included in the basic package.  Things like granite countertops, wood laminate, upgraded carpet, 2 tone paint, large garage, soaking tub, etc are all included with the purchase.  Other model homes I’ve been in everything seems an addition.

I am surprised how quickly I made the decision but I had a limited time period to decide.  In fact, they may have had another interested buyer this morning and it was the last lot left! Phew! But in reality I don’t think the decision takes that long.  There is only so much data to look over and then the decision has to be made.  Sitting and stewing over it only makes me more neurotic and anxious.  Plus, its just the reservation so you have time to mull over little decisions like any upgrades or little financing decisions.

In some ways building is perfect for me because it allows me to take each step in small doses and it gives me the house I want (or at least mostly want).  Aside from approval process I don’t have to close on the loan right away, not until it is done (scheduled to be finished 12/31/2012.  Should be my biggest Christmas gift ever!).

Today I feel proud of myself.  I am officially a grown up (only took me 31 years!).  I’m a super independent person but for some reason I never thought I would buy a house by myself.  It just seems so big for one person but I’m doing it! Hurray! It just makes me feel like I can do anything if I can do something this big.

I’m actually excited for the next part of the process, picking finishes, and watching it get built.  How fun! If anyone wants to see the model I’d love to show it to you.  Thanks to all my friends for your love and support during this fairly anxious process.

One nice thing is the mortgage broker I was working with, referred to me by my uncle Tom, works for the same company as the builder’s broker.  That saves me applying to 2 brokers (I’ve already applied for 2 others, so 3 total and I think I have the best rates).   They will have my preapproval to the builder by Monday.  One less thing to worry about!

So there it is.  I am a homeowner in training.  Should be a fun 6 months!

Now on to my open water swim.  What a week!

Teen Lit

So I’m resting this morning. My fibro pain has been so bad lately.  My ribcage is so swollen.  Tender to the touch.  I already made one QVC purchase and figured better get on my blog before I did anything I’d seriously regret!

I’ve been thinking about teen literature lately.  First off, is it just me or did this genre invent itself in the last 10 years? I can’ think of a single series that was popular when I was in high school 94-98.  I can think of things like Baby Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High or even RL Stine which was popular when I was in middle school but nothing in high school.  The only books I remember reading in high school were the one’s assigned to me at school.  I remember liking Arthur Miller plays, Silas Marner, Shakespeare (especially the sonnets) and To Kill a Mockingbird. Those were all books I read during school.

Surely I must have read something during summer break but I can’t think of anything? What are the 90’s teen lit books I’m forgetting? I didn’t really become excited about reading until college and then I veraciously ate up Jane Austen, Harry Potter, and other books.  I read the 4 major Jane Austen books (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Emma) in a 6 week break I had in the winter of 99.

So, that’s my first thought.  Second, I wonder how helpful the teen lit genre is for actual teens.  Here are a few concerns.

1.  Even the best teen lit books, Harry Potter, Lightning Thief, Hunger Games, all portray characters who basically act like adults and are required to make adult decisions.  I like these books so quiet down but don’t you think this is true?  In the Twilight books Bella basically has to decide by the time she is 18 what she wants to do with her life in immortality.

A few weeks ago I saw a sign at the library saying “Teens: Do You Hate Cupid?  Are you down on Love?”.  I seem to be alone in finding this sign amazing.  Should teens really be worried about love, let alone be down on it?  If you think about Twilight and Harry Potter and Hunger Games all of the major female characters basically have to decide on their true loves as teenagers.  Plus, they all have to save their families, and in Harry’s case the whole world from ultimate evil.

Shouldn’t teens just be worried about getting a date to prom or learning to drive?  I have 2 teenage siblings and I think there is a lot of pressure on them to ‘succeed’ and to already know who you are.  I didn’t figure that out until college.  (It also doesn’t help that most teens are played by 30 year olds- ie Glee).

If you look at something from my generation for teens- Clueless.  Obviously the wealth and characters are over the top for comedy-sake but at the core its about making friends, fashion, crushes, learning to drive, dealing with teachers, parents and cliques, and trying to mature.  Even at the end Cher doesn’t fall in love for all time.  She says ” I am only 16, and this is California, not Kentucky.” (I love that movie btw)

2.  All of the books mentioned above feature characters that have a specific magical destiny.  Most of us just lead normal lives.  I think there is a lot of pressure to live some amazing dream life.  Then when you don’t know what you want to do or aren’t supremely talented at something you feel depressed.

Not all of us can be Michael Phelps and have a solo vision in life.  I think in the past the vision of teens was to have a family, live in nice house and be happy.  Now you have to do something impactful or at least be famous.

Teen movies show this.  I recently watched the movie Monte Carlo with teen queen Selena Gomez.  In the movie the Gomez character graduates from high school and goes to visit Paris with her 2 sisters.  The first 25 minutes are actually pretty good with a teen trying to get along with her 2 sisters and adjust post-high school while experiencing a new country.   Then they have to go make her switch identities with a socialite who looks just like her and live as this queen, pop star for the rest of the movie.  You see what I mean?  Just being a normal teen isn’t good enough. She had to be famous, amazing, rich, noticed to be happy.

3.  Most of these teen books are amazingly dark.  I think of Judy Blume, a teen lit of my era, her books trite as they might be involved teens and dealing with friendship, family, school troubles, parental divorce, girls dealing with their periods, and other real teen concerns.  Regardless, there is a lightness to her books that is appealing.

The Hunger Games is especially dark with brutal, violent, children-on-children combat.  Compellingly written as it may be, shouldn’t we a bit concerned that all this darkness is going to lead to dark, brooding teens?  A teen I know just said ‘I am depressed’.  With all this reading I don’t blame her!

I was not a big fan of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli but at least it was light, positive and fun.  My friend and I were talking and agreed even the Goose Girl series by Shannon Hale is pretty dark.

I know you can make the argument that all fairy tales are dark but usually those were stories, not huge books (let alone series), and there was always a happy ending at the end.  Hunger Games didn’t even really give you that.

It’s like I said to my friend Forest Hartman on his review of Monte Carlo

“I don’t understand movies like Monte Carlo. Isn’t it enough of an adventure for a girl to go to Europe without her having to become a star at the same time? It sounds just like the dreaded Lizzie Mcguire movie of years ago that my little sister begged me to take her to.
I think you could make a very good movie about a teen experiencing Paris or Monte Carlo and maturing through art, music, fashion. Would that script be so much harder to write or so much less marketable? I dont think so”

He said:

“I think there’s also a lot of pressure on screenwriters to turn out formulaic material. Something inventive is often seen as risky and many producers are afraid to take risks. It’s simpler to take a star and put them in a rehashing of something that’s already been done because the project is seen as safe. Of course, that’s not always true because most Hollywood films lose money at the box office.”

Isn’t it funny that what is seen as inventive is a story about a normal girl, experiencing normal things?  Ever since Harry Potter everyone has been trying to be the next Harry Potter.  I get that.

How about we make the next big thing- the anti- Harry Potter?  Maybe I will just have to write a book about the kind of teen I was.  I’ve never read a book like that.  Hmmmm

Anyway, I must admit at the end of this that I am not a huge fantasy fan, never have been, so maybe I am biased to begin with but what do you think of my 3 points on teen lit?  I’m sure my sister will have something to say because she is much more well read in the genre than I am.

Finally, can we agree no more books on werewolves or vampires? I was looking at audible teen and it seemed like every book was about one or the other.