Tag: living alone

Thoughts on Quiet

On such a night, or such a night,
Would anybody care
If such a little figure
Slipped quiet from its chair —
So quiet — Oh how quiet,
That nobody might know
But that the little figure
Rocked softer — to and fro —
On such a dawn, or such a dawn —
Would anybody sigh
That such a little figure
Too sound asleep did lieEmily Dickinson

I haven’t shared with you all any poetry in a long time but I found myself thinking of this verse today. You see, my house was empty and I was trying to recover from this darn cold and I couldn’t think of anything to watch so I found myself sitting and thinking.  In the words of Gaston ‘a dangerous pastime…’ It’s just so quiet sometimes when you are alone.

And I know you Moms are probably thinking ‘I would love nothing more than a quiet house all to myself for the day’ and there is some truth to that.  But I bet you wouldn’t find the quiet so refreshing if you knew those little voices weren’t ever coming back…

This is not an ‘oh feel sorry for me’ post.  It really isn’t.  It’s just a ‘today  I was alone and I noticed’.  What’s wrong with admitting that?  We all have our lonely moments, sometimes when we are surrounded by people.  It’s part of being human.  After all, if we never felt alone why would we need to turn to God?

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish for a companion to share these kind of experiences with.  Yeah, yeah I can hear you all saying ‘marriage is hard’ and ‘grass is always greener’.  Well, it is also ‘not meant for man to be alone’. Humans need companionship and sometimes I wish I had it. But I know God has His plan for me and I am doing my best to humbly follow His timeline for my life.  That doesn’t mean I don’t feel a little sad on those days when the house feels extra quiet. Again I’m only human…

I saw The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel this week and it is not a great movie but I liked it.  One of the things that I stood out to me is Maggie Smith’s character is a single woman who has never married.  However, she has found this place to live where she has an urban tribe of other seniors and a ‘child’ to help nurture in the Dev Patel character.  I had more of that in my 20s when sociability and friendshipping was so much easier but I hope I can get it again.  If I never meet Mr Sunshine I hope I can find an urban tribe like she does and maybe even a young person to help mentor.

In my 20’s I also had much younger siblings who looked to me for advice and guidance and family that lived nearby.  Now they are all grown up and my nieces are far away.  It makes me a little sad sometimes.

But again I am not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me.  I am greatly blessed. Mostly I have the miracle of all of you who are there to share in my silly life. Goodness knows why you have all read all these years but I am sure grateful.  I have a job I love, a social media presence that I think helps people, hobbies I love, great friends, a beautiful home and most importantly a faith in Jesus Christ that ensures I am never really alone.  That is never forgotten.

Thanks for letting me share and I love you all.  Can any of you relate to the quiet times when maybe it feels a little lonely in life? I’m sure I am not alone.  God bless.

Rachel Eat Pray Love Day 1

So I know I say things like this all the time but it doesn’t make it any less true- today was one of the best days of my life!  It was so wonderful!  Its hard to believe that I ever contemplated doing anything else and that I could be the same human being that was so miserable on Tuesday.  I wish I wasn’t such a spazz and had a constant, even tone to my days but alas that’s just not my style.

The one thing about an insanely hard week with a seemingly impossible deadline and a near-panic attack is that everything can only go up from there and boy did it.  I’m so glad I decided to spend the money (and it wasn’t too bad actually) and treat myself to a weekend  of rehabilitation and rejuvenation.  I needed it so badly!

For starters I finished the month end in time!!!!  I still can’t believe it!  Hurray!  Heavenly Father really does answer prayers and help you do the impossible when you have faith.  Seriously.

So done with my Friday free (hurray!)  I set out for a massage at my gym.  (Would have asked my dear friend Jill but she had to take a 9 to 5’er for insurance 😦 ).  Anyway, got a one hour massage and it was heaven. Seriously if I was rich I’d have a massage every week.

zen achieved

Oh I forgot I got to the massage late because I was cleaning my car because my folks are using it this week and guess what I threw into the recycle dumpster?  Yes, my keys.  It was quite the endeavor to get them out climbing up on a laundry basket that was in the dumpster and hurling myself into the cardboard.  It actually hurt and I have bruises but I got the keys!  Nothing was going to get me down!

found the keys. Dumpster diver extraordinaire!

After the massage I got the car wash and then headed to the hotel.  I am staying that the City Center Marriott in Salt Lake. I stayed here once before when in 2007 I along with 4 of my friends celebrated the last day of a job I hated and the beginning of a happy Rachel.  It is honestly one of the happiest memories of my life. So, naturally I have a special fondness for the hotel and its luxurious accomadations (amazing robes, tons of pillows, soft sheets, thick curtains etc).  Just look at the pillows!

Is that not heaven

They weren’t ready for me right away so I went off to have some lunch.  At first I walked the wrong way and so I asked these businessmen if they knew of any good lunch places. “There’s Carl’s Jr” they responded.  Isn’t that rude?  For all they knew I was a visitor to their city.  I would never do that.  Anyway, nothing was going to get me down so I headed the other way and went to wells fargo to deposit a check and asked the teller if he knew a good place “The Robin’s Nest” he said.   It was just around the corner so I went and checked it out.

I figure in lunch places it is always a good sign when the line is long and the tables are full.  This was the case at Robin’s Nest.  Everything was delicious from the bread to the orzo side pasta.  I got the gobbler (turkey ‘thanksgiving’ style sandwich with cranberry relish, mayo, lettuce ect).  The half was huge and the lunch combo came with drink (fresh squeezed lemonade no extra), orzo pasta or chips and a dessert bite (I got the lemon square although everything looked fabulous).  I heard Bobby Flay say that ‘delicious’ was passe as a food adjective so I’m not sure what word to use.  It was scrumptious.  Perfect lunch.

Love a good sandwich

Once I checked into the hotel I read for a little bit on my fluffy pillows and then napped for about 30 minutes.  Feeling great I headed up to the pool/hot tub and had a great swim.  As a Masters Swimmer (I was going to say competitive but I don’t know if last in every race really counts as competitive) I naturally always wear training swimsuits.  So, it is nice to occasionally swim just for fun and wear a suit that feels a tiny bit more attractive.   Is that terrible to say?

Love this photo. Feeling pretty!

At the pool they had this sign that made me laugh.  Kind of a challenge to the whole weekend in a way!

Oh you better believe I’m swimming alone and dining alone, going to the movies alone, whatever. I’m having a spectacular time alone and breaking all the rules!!!

After a refreshing and relaxing swim/soak I came back and read some more and worked on my novel.  It’s just a silly thing I’ve toyed with over the years.  I am going to finish it for the national novel writing month in November.  If I don’t I have to do a polar bear swim! (Its a bet with my friend Abby).

Next up I went headed to dinner.  My friend Heidi had recommended The Copper Onion to me and as it is minutes from my hotel I thought it’d be a perfect fit.  Boy was she right.  I have never been to such a nice restaurant in my life.  Everything was beautifully presented and tasted sublimely good.  Best restaurant meal I’ve ever had.

I decided to try different things.  Be bold and daring because that’s the kind of day it was!  So here are the courses:

For appetizer crispy pork belly salad with pickled vegetables.  I’ve always wanted to try pork belly and it did not disappoint.  The salad was rich, decadent, salty, sweet, spicy (pickled jalapenos).  So good!

pork belly salad. Yum!

Then I got the duck which I’ve never had before.  I’ve always heard it was too fatty and I hate eating chicken fat.  Figured wouldn’t like duck fat any more than chicken.  But this was perfectly cooked.  The fat was completely rendered out with a crispy skin, cooked medium rare.  Then underneath the duck breast was duck confit (holy cow yum!) and a baby portabello mushroom that was the best mushroom I’ve ever had.  All accompanied with a butternut squash puree that was like butter and a mixed green salad with roasted peppitas.  (Salivating yet? Wait until you see the photo).

Most amazing entree I’ve had at a restaurant. Can’t wait to go back and try more things.

Then for dessert I had a chocolate pudding that was divine.  It was rich with a crunchy topping and whipped cream.  It had sea salt or something sprinkled in to counter the sweetness.

chocolate pudding. This costs $4. Isn’t that insane?

I cleaned my plate in every course but the great thing is I didn’t feel stuffed or even overly-full.  I felt perfectly satisfied.  The food was not overflowing like at chains but it was all delicious and memorable, which I’d take any day over quantity.  I got all of that delicious food plus a drink for $40.  Doesn’t that seem like a pretty good deal?  You’d pay triple that in New York or San Fran.

The thing I appreciated the most about the restaurant was how accommodating they were to me as a single diner.  I’ve tried to eat at nicer places by myself and felt literally singled out and that I was an inconvenience for a busy waiter wanting more tips.  This is why I usually get take out not because I’m afraid of being alone at a meal but because it isn’t a pleasant experience as a rule.

Tonight was totally different.  First of all The Copper Onion has a bar (a suggestion I often give single diners as it easy to find someone to talk with and does not feel so isolating as a big empty table) with a separate bar menu but they also have what they call the counter.  This is like a separate bar area that faces the chefs.  It was so much fun seeing everything get made and smelling all the dishes!  My waitress was wonderful. Kind, accommodating and extremely knowledgeable about the entire menu (she was partly responsible for my bold orders!).   See the smile on my face!

Happy Rachel (I also wore eye make up for the first time since the surgery. Hurray!)

The meal was sublime and when I finished it was 6:50 and as I walked past The Broadway theater next door to the restaurant I noticed that Perks of Being a Wallflower was playing at 7.  Perfect timing!  The Broadway is one of the only independent theaters in Utah and while many of their choices seem a bit dreary for my tastes this was a film I’d been wanting to see.

It is definitely not for everyone but I loved it.  Its funny, sad, different and the dialogue is perfect.  I think it is one of the few movies I’ve seen that gets the feel a high school experience right.  Most movies about teenagers feel like the show Glee that is mostly starring 30 year old actors in high school.  This was much more authentic.  I don’t know if I totally bought some of the darker elements but still very emotionally satisfying to see something original and different.   I felt inspired!

Here’s the thing that made today special.  I have obviously lived alone for many years of my adult life.  I’ve gone to movies alone, eaten alone, even went on a cruise alone, but I don’t’ know if I have ever spent a day with basically no companionship and had such a spectacular time.  It is really gratifying to know that I can be that happy all by myself.  I think I have to remember that when I’m feeling lost and out of control.  I have the power to feel happy all by myself even without all the luxurious trappings to prop me up.

I feel proud of myself.  I did something that  nobody else I know to my knowledge has done.  I spent the whole day by myself and had a spectacular time. Granted most everyone I know doesn’t even have that option but still its nice to know I can do it.

Even more than that, its nice to know I can relax like a real human being.  Feels like forever since I’ve relaxed. Since Hawaii for sure.  And how great to have achieved my Hawaii zen right in my own hometown for pennies on the dollar of what I’d spend on any trip, anywhere.  What a freeing concept!  I look forward to many more adventures!  It’d be great if some of my friends joined me but also great to do it alone.  How freeing is that?

Most importantly I feel like I can conquer the world again.  I wish I didn’t get the anxiety and I am getting better at dealing with it but I’m grateful in a way for it because it forced me to take action and create happiness for myself.   I learned that making a decision is a freeing experience and then planning for joy is the only way to really get it.  Rarely is it presented to you for free.

I’m grateful to God for giving me this day.  In the world of billions of souls going about there day He proved once again this week to me that HE KNOWS ME and HE WORKS MIRACLES!   I can’t wait to hear Him speak through His prophets tomorrow.  I will have notebook in hand and am confident I will receive instruction and inspiration.   I am so blessed. I am so grateful. I am so inspired. I am so HAPPY!

 

 

 

 

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!

Be a Bother

This makes me laugh and it goes along with a discussion about inferring when others make a statement or an invitation.

I had an interesting experience today.  There is a family in my ward who I had greeted but didn’t know very well (that’s true for most of the family’s in my ward!).  Especially without a ward activity I don’t feel like I’ve had a chance to really get to know people.  Last week being Easter a number of people asked me to their home for dinner because they wanted to make sure I had some place to go for the holiday.  I had a lovely evening with one of those families but another one I said ‘please invite me over another time.  I’d love it.’.

So this week I saw the Mom of the family and said ‘would you like to come to dinner tonight?  We’d love to have you.  It’s totally up to you’.

My immediate reaction was ‘I don’t want to be a bother.  I have food at home.  I don’t need to bother them.’  but then I reasoned ‘She is inviting me, so why not?’

With a shrug I said ‘sure.  That’s so nice.  Thank you.’

I offered to bring something, we chatted and then I joined them later for dinner.  We had a wonderful meal with her in-laws and the whole family.  It’s fun to go to someone’s house because I can have just a little bit of food I don’t normally indulge in because I can’t make a whole batch for myself.  For example, she had rolls that were big and fluffy.  I could never make a batch of rolls because I would eat too many on multiple days!

In the course of our conversation she said ‘I was pleasantly surprised when you said yes.  I think that shows great determination to accept an invitation from a stranger who you don’t know very well’.

What I didn’t tell her is that I’d almost said no but living alone has taught me to take advantage of the social opportunities presented before me and gather with others when you have the chance.   Its interesting to me that I would have held off from having a pleasant experience where I wasn’t a bit of a bother out of a fear of breaching some kind of social protocol.  Do we fear that the offer is not really sincere? Kind of like when someone asks you how are you doing and you just expect a ‘fine’ in response even if their world is falling apart?

Do we worry that we really will be a bother even if they don’t think we are at the moment of the request? Or are we just too prideful to accept an offer when it is presented?

Why do we hold ourselves aloft from positive experiences because of a mysterious social fear? Have you noticed yourself doing this? Someone offers you help or says ‘I’d like to do _____ sometime’ but you never pursue their request out of an embarrassment or you outright refuse knowing it would be a good experience?

It’s a funny part of human nature that’s for sure.  Why do we hold ourselves off from good experiences? Strange. I’m going to try and not do that any more.  Take advantage of every good thing that comes my way.  I’m not saying you have to accept every invitation offered to you but to not except out of some type of social protocol is ridiculous.

Anyway, just so you know I love getting invited to others homes and hopefully I’m helpful and can return the favor sometime.  So all you friends out there invite away.  I won’t be offended! 🙂 .

(Big Bang Theory on non-optional social conventions)

Benefits of Living Alone

As all my facebook fans know I’ve been deeply absorbed in a new non-fiction read:  Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg.  Through both anecdotal and statistical evidence Klinenberg examines the new reality of 31 million US residents—roughly one out of every seven adults—live alone.

By the way, I love a good non-fiction.  Reading this book reminded me of the excitement I felt when I read The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenberg, Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam- which discusses social and political loneliness not living arrangements,  Urban Tribes by Ethan Waters, and The Big Sort by Bill Bishop.  Books like this make you feel validated because someone is taking your life choices seriously and examining them for both good and bad side effects.

The book description sums it up best “Though conventional wisdom tells us that living by oneself leads to loneliness and isolation, Klinenberg shows that most solo dwellers are deeply engaged in social and civic life. In fact, compared with their married counterparts, they are more likely to eat out and exercise, go to art and music classes, attend public events and lectures, and volunteer. There’s even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health than unmarried people who live with others and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles than families, since they favor urban apartments over large suburban homes.”

Recently this has been on my mind because in moving to the family ward I have found an untold number of people who are surprised even shocked that I live alone. This happened so frequently that I began to feel hesitant in bringing it up and perhaps a bit of defensiveness.  Who, after all, does not feel a little bit defensive when their lifestyle is questioned.

This reaction is particularly weighted in my community where marriage is not only a goal for a happy life but a requirement for exaltation and eternal life.  By choosing to live alone during this portion of my life some may fear I have abandoned hope of meeting Mr.  Sunshine, or that I have something against marriage.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  I strongly support traditional marriage and believe it is a holy institution.

From my view living alone is proof of that support.  I value the institution enough to not settle for anything less than the right person.

That said- I value my life enough to keep moving forward and progressing with or without a man. Perhaps this feels more natural to me because I’ve never really had a romantic partner.  Not sure why but it is the truth.  I have always been a social butterfly, with lots of friends and activities but never met someone I wanted to date more than a couple times or certainly marry.  The way I see it finding the right person is not in my control.  I can do what I can but even when doing those things he may not come into my life.  God has His reasons for this and I trust Him.

What can I control?  I can control where and how I live my life.  I can control how hard I work, what friends are worth nurturing and what activities are worth my time.  For me, living alone is my opportunity to control my life in a definite and concrete way.  I love that!

For example, by attending church each week I am deciding what I believe and want to dedicate my life to.  There is no one else to get me out the door or push me into getting ready.  I am not doing it to set an example for children or to keep a relationship happy.  I am doing it because I believe it is true and the best way to live MY LIFE.

People often seem worried about my social life living alone and that a sense of isolationism will overtake me. I’m not going to lie and say that never happens but as Klinenberg points out loneliness can happen in any situation. In an interview of a woman named Helen he says:

“In Helen’s view for most of us loneliness is inevitable.  It’s part of the human conditions, and she rejects the belief that living alone is its source.  ‘People are in an incredible panic to avoid being alone in the room with themselves’, she explains, but their desperation can lead to disaster because ‘there’s nothing more lonely than being with the wrong person…When a relationship doesn’t go well, its a very lonely situations.  You can’t go to the person that you’re with for help because, in your eyes, they are the problem.  So you become a little island all to yourself within that relationship, and it’s very lonely'”

I would wager to say that even in the healthiest of relationships there are periods of isolation and loneliness that top anything I have felt through living alone . There are a few moments where I wish I could call on someone to help with the groceries or fold the laundry (laundry I detest). The times I wish I didn’t live alone the most is when I am sick because there is no one there to take care of me and nurse me.  Luckily such moments are few and far between and I make do.  In general I believe I am not a lonely person despite living and working alone.

Many singles, particularly single women, who live alone are remarkably active and social in their community.  “The General Social Survey, which is the largest study of American social behavior, shows that single women above age 35 (divorced as well as married) are more likely than their married contemporaries to do the following activities: see or visit a best friend at least weekly, have a ‘non-visit’ contact with a best friend at least weekly, spend a social evening with neighbors, regularly participate in informal group activities and be a member of a secular social group. ”

The great thing about living alone is all of those interactions are done by my choosing.  I am not forced to be friends with my husbands peers or make nice with my kids friends parents.  Is that not a blessing?

Klinenberg goes on to say that not only can it be a blessing to live alone but it is in many ways the fulfillment of the American spirit.  The idea of self reliance and rugged individualism is woven into the fabric of the American dream.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his essay ‘Self Reliance’ that “society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members” and “Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world”.

Henry David Thorough made the case for self reliance by moving out to Walden pond and living alone “I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself” .   That’s how I feel about my apartment.  It is a little world all to myself.  I have a form of freedom that is not possible in a relationship, and while I would love to meet someone, I don’t think there is anything wrong for appreciating the life I have, while I have it.

As a silly example, I have pink bed sheets and pink curtains with 2 Audrey Hepburn posters on my wall as a headboard of sorts.  Could I have this room when I marry?  Probably not and I’m OK with that but its exciting to do things uniquely my way while I have the chance.

I also have the freedom to live my life the way I want.  For example, a friend of mine recently told me about the efforts his wife makes at keeping him on a diet.  Portioning out food, making only healthy recipes and scolding him when he diverges off the plan.  I laughed when he told me saying  ‘and people think in  Mormon marriages the man rules the roost!’.  In some ways this is very touching and loving but it made me feel proud of my own weight loss journey.  I did it on my own with no micromanaging from anyone.  While everyone’s support has been key the day-to-day decisions are mine.

Almost half of the people in DC and New York live alone. Amazing.

There are also more silly benefits of living alone including full usage of the fridge (and particularly freezer space), full control of the television and the DVR space, freedom to keep the home as clean or messy as you wish, and entertain as little or as much as you prefer without asking permission from roommates or spouses.

I can also put up whatever Christmas tree or other holiday decor I want without consulting any other opinion.   My apartment is something that is mine and mine alone.  Is there not something appealing about creating your own space that is just for you?  I am sure if I do get married I will still need my own space whether it be in the form of a garden, park, room or even a jetted tub!

I also have complete discretion on how I spend my money, which to me is very empowering.  I can take a long shower or turn my heat up to whatever I want.  I can take a trip if I decide I have the money for it.  I can go out to eat or get frozen yogurt before dinner.  I can lead the life I want to lead.  I love that!

I enjoyed living with roommates for years, had 31 of them from 17 to 28.  I had good relationships with all of my roommates and 3 of my current best friends were former roommates.  I loved creating a mini-family with my friends but there just became a time where I needed to move on from an adolescent roommate experience to a fully functional grown up living on my own experience.

The cravings to have my own space really started after my mission- the ultimate shared experience, 24/7 no breaks with a total stranger.  I was a little scared at first that it might be socially difficult but I’m so active with church, gym, voice lessons, friends etc that I honestly have not felt lonely much.  In fact, I revel in the sanctuary I’ve created for just ME! Aside from getting married, I don’t think I would like having a roommate again, even with someone I love like a family member or dear friend.

I’ve always been fiercely independent, so in many ways living alone is the ultimate example of my nature.  I have achieved independence in every way possible and yet I’m still a remarkably social and giving person.  I have found a lifestyle that I like, even if it stumps and confuses others.  Hopefully by knowing me people’s views will be expanded and stereotypes erased (speaking of stereotypes… I do not own a cat. I’m allergic!).

I work alone.  I live alone.  I’ve traveled alone.  I go to the movies alone (something that befuddles most people) but in truth I am never really alone.  Jesus Christ and His spirit are always with me.  I have spent probably a cumulative month of my life feeling truly alone and those were some of the hardest days, but learning to reach for my Savior during those tough times made me a believer to the end.  He has never abandoned me in the lonely times.  If anything I feel His presence more and more with each tear I might cry.

I promise I want to get married, so please don’t read this thinking ‘Rachel is getting too set in her ways’.  Send Mr.  Sunshine my way and I’m all over it. 🙂

Random Thoughts VI

So I’ve tried to write this post tons of times but for some reason wordpress keeps erasing it.

Here goes again.

Pain- Day 2 of hypthoroid pills has come and gone and so far I am cautiously optimistic.  No major side effects and today I actually felt pretty energized.  Still have the pain but there are things to feel good about (I have learned to be grateful for a good day no matter what the cause of it is).

Something about this photo I really like

I was thinking today of the scripture in D and C 122:7 when God tells Joseph Smith “that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”  That I idea of giving us experience is so interesting.  Every trial I have gone through has helped me relate to a new person in a new way.  It has literally given me experience. (In my new ward I’ve met like 6 people who have chronic pain in some form or another and I can relate to them. My experience gives a connection). Something to think about…

Breakfast- One of the things I have really struggled with is eating a good breakfast.  Lately all food looks gross to me, all the time, but especially in the morning.  Things I normally like such as eggs produce the gag-reflex. Plus, it means I have to get a pan dirty and chop stuff and I’m tired (you get the idea).

I would say more than any other category, aside from maybe dessert, it is hard to make breakfast healthy.  All of my favorite things I can never have- french toast, toast, fluffy pancakes, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, most cereals (the hardest of the list), donuts, bear claws, etc.  Any ideas you have for a healthy, quick way to do breakfast that would be great.

I recently made this breakfast quinoa that was pretty good.  In the rice cooker 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup water.  Then I put nuts and dried fruit on top.

breakfast quinoa. It would be really good with half and half or cream...

Books- I’m on the lookout for cheerful books. I’m talking fun, even silly, happy books. Not the type of inspirational overcome challenges type of books but just overtly happy books. For example, the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency is bright and funny (Alexander McCall Smith is kind of the king of the happy series), or Sophie Kinsella’s books I really love in this regard. Especially The Undomestic Goddess. Is it great literature? No, but it makes me laugh without fail and actually has a few things to think about on the side.

Food- Recently I came up with this list. What are your top 5?
Top 5 Foods I miss:
1. Mashed Potatoes (Potatoes in general are a rarity)
2. Non whole grain cereals.
3. white bread with honey and butter
4. most yummy breakfast foods- french toast, fluffy pancakes, cinnamon rolls, donuts, honeybuns…sigh
5. Pies and fresh hot cookies (and the cookie smell)

On the plus side of food I am finally getting a bountiful basket!  http://bountifulbaskets.org/.  It is this organization that combines farmers produce to get fresh produce at a discount price.  My friend Kate and I are splitting it and it should be delicious! This is what the baskets look like.  Yum and since we are splitting the cost it will only be $20 each including the organic and citrus package!

I am told this is what a typical bountiful basket looks like.

So I might take boxing lessons! I just found out about this club in Salt Lake just for women and boxing. Looks awesome. I’ve always wanted to learn. I took a self defense class in college and it was really fun! It will be fun to spice things up a bit. Lately in my training we’ve been using the punching bag and I love it! (Get out all that angst!). Did I finally think of something that suprises a few of you’all?

Living alone- So in my new ward I am the only never married single person. Isn’t that kind of amazing? Still, things have gone very well. One funny thing is that everyone is so surprised I live alone. I’m kind of used to it. Its really not that big of a deal to me. Yes, friends I live alone and love it! The only time I wish I didn’t live alone is when I’m sick and someone could go to the pharmacy for me (and listen to my moaning and groaning!).

New Calling- So it finally came. I got called into primary.  I was actually quite disappointed because I have loved teaching Sunday School.  I will miss the gospel interaction with adults….However, it will be a new challenge and I am sure I will learn a lot.  It is teaching the 9 year olds so if any of you have suggestions for engaging that age group please pass on.  I’ve heard bring treats from a lot which is hard because I don’t really eat treats but I will see what I can do.

Diabetes- One comment on the Paula Deen controversy.  I do think it is strange that she didn’t come out with her diagnosis for 3 years until she is a victoza spokesperson.  Seems shady to me.  However, I don’t really care about her.  The thing I noticed in the coverage is who the ‘experts’ kept talking about diabetes as this horrible awful thing, and it can be that.  Never do I seem to hear that it is a treatable condition.  I was a borderline diabetic at best but I got my A1C’s down in a year and am no longer a diabetic threat.  When I was first diagnosed I thought I’d have diabetes my whole life and that I was going to die.  That’s what I thought.  I had no idea it was treatable.  Maybe that’s just my ignorance showing but I wish more ‘experts’ would point that out when they discuss the issue.

Here’s a great flyer on the subject. http://physical-therapy.advanceweb.com/sharedresources/Downloads/2009/113009/pa_dec2000.pdf

So, there you go.  That’s my thoughts on a bunch of issues.  The most important thing is I am feeling hopeful in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.  Thanks so much to everyone for all your love and support.  I’m sure there is still a long road ahead but to feel hope is grand thing. 🙂

Social Singles

Does that look like 3 antisocial girls to you? They are all 3 single.

I normally don’t post entire articles but I liked this one so much I decided to do it.  It reinforces what I’ve tried to say on this blog and on facebook.  As someone who lives alone I can feel defensive about the assumptions and stereotypes that go along with my lifestyle.  This idea of the old maid with a collection of cats just isn’t a reality any more.  I’m not sure if it was ever a reality.

I liked 2 points in particular.  First,  when he says “There is much research suggesting that single people get out more — and not only the younger ones”. On one hand this seems like an obvious point but you’d be surprised how often I have to reassure people that living alone does not mean I am a social hermit.  In fact, I believe it forces me to try twice as hard for companionship since I don’t have it with me in my home.

Second,  I liked when he said, “New communications technologies make living alone a social experience, so being home alone does not feel involuntary or like solitary confinement. The person alone at home can digitally navigate through a world of people, information and ideas. Internet use does not seem to cut people off from real friendships and connections.”.

I have  found this to be the case in my life.  While the internet can definitely be a time suck, on the whole, it has been a tremendous blessing in my life.  It has allowed me to keep in touch with friends from high school, college and my mission, and most importantly to receive support from them on a daily basis.  My trip to Maryland in September would never have happened without Facebook and my blog.  There is no way I would have kept in touch with all those people.

Plus, I’ve received so much support from people located all over the country as I’ve battled to lose weight, diabetes, PCOS and fibromyalgia diagnosis and all the other chaos in my life.  All in all the internet has been an overwhelmingly positive social tool in my life.  My circle of friends and support is way larger  than it ever would be otherwise.  I don’t know how I would have gotten through the last 2 years without it.  Seriously.

My blog has also given me a voice in the world.  It is a chance to communicate my feelings and learn how to write those feelings in a coherent way.  If I die tomorrow there will be a record of my life for all to see.  A record of my thoughts, wishes, opinions and struggles.  There is something beautiful about that.  I hope that it is a way I can make a difference, maybe inspire a few people or give them a laugh.  Such a difference might have been more difficult for singles in the past.  I am SO grateful to have a voice and a platform to speak.  Thanks!

Single ladies on the single cruise I went to in 2009
A group of us girls going out for Camille's birthday. I think this was in 2010?

One’s a Crowd

By ERIC KLINENBERG

MORE people live alone now than at any other time in history. In prosperous American cities — Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis — 40 percent or more of all households contain a single occupant. In Manhattan and in Washington, nearly one in two households are occupied by a single person.

By international standards, these numbers are surprising — surprisingly low. In Paris, the city of lovers, more than half of all households contain single people, and in socialist Stockholm, the rate tops 60 percent.

The decision to live alone is common in diverse cultures whenever it is economically feasible. Although Americans pride themselves on their self-reliance and culture of individualism, Germany, France and Britain have a greater proportion of one-person households than the United States, as does Japan. Three of the nations with the fastest-growing populations of single people — China, India and Brazil — are also among those with the fastest growing economies.

The mere thought of living alone once sparked anxiety, dread and visions of loneliness. But those images are dated. Now the most privileged people on earth use their resources to separate from one another, to buy privacy and personal space.

Living alone comports with modern values. It promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization — all prized aspects of contemporary life.

It is less feared, too, for the crucial reason that living alone no longer suggests an isolated or less-social life. After interviewing more than 300 singletons (my term for people who live alone) during nearly a decade of research, I’ve concluded that living alone seems to encourage more, not less, social interaction.

Paradoxically, our species, so long defined by groups and by the nuclear family, has been able to embark on this experiment in solo living because global societies have become so interdependent. Dynamic markets, flourishing cities and open communications systems make modern autonomy more appealing; they give us the capacity to live alone but to engage with others when and how we want to and on our own terms.

In fact, living alone can make it easier to be social, because single people have more free time, absent family obligations, to engage in social activities.

Compared with their married counterparts, single people are more likely to spend time with friends and neighbors, go to restaurants and attend art classes and lectures. There is much research suggesting that single people get out more — and not only the younger ones. Erin Cornwell, a sociologist at Cornell, analyzed results from the General Social Survey (which draws on a nationally representative sample of the United States population) from 2000 to 2008 and found that single people 35 and older were more likely than those who lived with a spouse or a romantic partner to spend a social evening with neighbors or friends. In 2008, her husband, Benjamin Cornwell (also a sociologist at Cornell), was lead author of “The Social Connectedness of Older Adults,” a paper in the American Sociological Review that showed that single seniors had the same number of friends and core discussion partners as their married peers and were more likely to socialize with friends and neighbors.

SURVEYS, some by market research companies that study behavior for clients developing products and services, also indicate that married people with children are more likely than single people to hunker down at home. Those in large suburban homes often splinter into private rooms to be alone. The image of a modern family in a room together, each plugged into a separate reality, be it a smartphone, computer, video game or TV show has become a cultural cliché.

New communications technologies make living alone a social experience, so being home alone does not feel involuntary or like solitary confinement. The person alone at home can digitally navigate through a world of people, information and ideas. Internet use does not seem to cut people off from real friendships and connections.

The Pew Internet Personal Networks and Community Survey — a nationally representative survey of 2,512 American adults conducted in 2008 that was the first to examine how the Internet and cellphones affect our core social networks — shows that Web use can lead to more social life, rather than to less. “Social Isolation and New Technology,” written by the Rutgers University communications scholar Keith Hampton, reveals that heavy users are more likely than others to have large and diverse social networks; more likely to visit parks, cafes and restaurants; and more likely to meet diverse people with different perspectives and beliefs.

Today five million people in the United States between ages 18 and 34 live alone, 10 times more than in 1950. But the largest number of single people are middle-aged; 15 million people between ages 35 and 64 live alone. Those who decide to live alone following a breakup or a divorce could choose to move in with roommates or family. But many of those I interviewed said they chose to live alone because they had found there was nothing worse than living with the wrong person.

In my interviews, older single people expressed a clear preference for living alone, which allowed them to retain their feelings of independence and integrity, and a clear aversion to moving in with friends or family or into a nursing home.

According to research by the Rutgers sociologist Deborah Carr, at 18 months after the death of a spouse, only one in four elderly men and one in six elderly women say they are interested in remarrying; one in three men and one in seven women are interested in dating someday; and only one in four men and one in 11 women are interested in dating immediately.

Most older widows, widowers and divorced people remake their lives as single people. A century ago, nearly 70 percent of elderly American widows lived with a child; today — thanks to Social Security, private pensions and wealth generated in the market — just 20 percent do. According to the U.C.L.A. economist Kathleen McGarry: “When they have more income and they have a choice of how to live, they choose to live alone. They buy their independence.”

Some unhealthy old people do become dangerously isolated, as I learned when I researched my book about the hundreds of people who died alone in the 1995 Chicago heat wave, and they deserve more attention and support than we give them today. But the rise of aging alone is also a social achievement. The sustained health, wealth and vitality that so many people over age 65 enjoy allow them to maintain domestic independence far longer than previous generations did. What’s new today is that the great majority of older widows, widowers and divorced people prefer living alone to their other options, and they’re willing to spend more on housing and domestic help for the privilege. Some pundits predicted that rates of living alone would plummet because of the challenged economy: young people would move into their parents’ basements; middle-aged adults would put off divorce or separation for financial reasons; the elderly would move in with their children rather than hold on to places of their own.

Thus far, however, there’s little evidence that this has happened. True, more young adults have moved in with their parents because they cannot find good jobs; but the proportion of those between 20 and 29 who live alone went down only slightly, from 11.97 percent in 2007 to 10.94 percent in 2011. In the general population, living alone has become more common — in absolute and proportional terms. The latest census report estimates that more than 32 million Americans live alone today, up from 27.2 million in 2000 and 31 million in 2010.

All signs suggest that living alone will become even more common in the future, at every stage of adulthood and in every place where people can afford a place of their own.

Eric Klinenberg is a professor of sociology at New York University and the author of “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.”