Tag: midsingles

Feeling Happy and Hopeful

Hey guys! After being sick for a few weeks and feeling a little discouraged, I am feeling great at the moment!

The biggest thing that has me feeling on top of the world is on Sunday we had our first meeting of the new Mid-singles ward.  This is something I have been dreaming of an praying for these past 4 years I’ve been in the family ward. The first fireside was better than I could have imagined. I felt the spirit more than I have in literally years and there were quite a few people I recognized from former YSA wards, activities and committees.  I think it is going to be an excellent fit for me and great thing for my life!!

The bishop and other leaders spoke and I felt a connection with them right away and that is something I have missed with my recent wards. Family ward bishops are so busy with marriage counseling and welfare concerns (and the youth) that it is tough to even meet with them, let alone get the kind of attention a YSA bishop can give. I just have a good feeling about this new bishopric.

And honestly I can’t wait! I can’t wait for the activities and FHE and just to have renewed spirituality and focus in my life. I know I will have to do  my part but I feel excited and enthusiastic- and I haven’t felt that way for a long time about church. The gospel and my faith of course are always huge in my life but the church has taken a back seat the last few years. I hope that will change with this new ward. I’m going to do my best to make sure it changes.

Anyway, I am feeling very optimistic and encouraged. I am also feeling good because this week has been a great week over on my youtube channel. Through various situations I ended up doing 3 podcasts this week. Yesterday I talked about Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan with my friend Tom and then tonight I talked with my friend Mark about the Best Indie Films of 2016.

These discussions were so much fun. And then on Saturday I am talking Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with my friends Abby, Jeremy and Richard, which I am greatly looking forward too.  I’m almost at 1000 subscribers so if you aren’t subscribed help me out! I think you will really enjoy the content. Thanks so much!

Tomorrow I am going to see the Broadway touring company of Newsies which I can’t wait to see as I loved the musical movie growing up.  And then on Saturday I have book club where we are discussing 2 obscure Jane Austen novels- Love and Friendship and Lady Susan. I LOVED the new movie based on Lady Susan but called Love and Friendship. If you can find it see it!

So things are looking good for me. Oh and I am going swimming with Etsuko on Friday. We decided we needed to get in the water to assuage our guilt at not swimming the GSL this year. It will be so much fun!

News and Updates

Hey guys! I just wanted to give you a quick update as Memorial Day is coming to a close. I hope you had a great day! I am happy to inform you I am pretty much healed from my illness of the last 2 weeks. It was brutal but I’m so grateful for all the support I had. If there’s one thing a tough experience can teach you it is it shows you all the love you have in your life. Thank you for all your love, support and prayers.

I have some fun news to share with you! The first exciting news has to do with the church congregation I go to. I have done my fair share of complaining on this blog about my family wards and how out of place I feel. Unfortunately it was my only option because I was too old for the YSA singles ward and the midsingles ward was 30 minute drive and that wasn’t going to happen. Well, I am so excited to announce that we are getting a midsingles ward in Draper!!!!  They announced it last week and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  It is going to start up right away with a fireside to be held on Sunday and the first meeting on June 12th!

This does have its downside because the ward will be massive- containing singles 31-45 from 28 stakes in the Sandy and Draper area. I am sure I will feel somewhat lost but as I already feel that way in the family ward at least there is some potential to make friends/date. Currently my life has little opportunities to meet new people so I am most excited for activities/Family Home Evening and other gathering times in the new ward. It should help my social circle at least a little bit (hey even if I meet one additional person that is a plus!)

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The other drawback is I will lose my home teachers, The Porters, who I love very much. Hopefully we can still stay in touch because they are only 2 houses down from me but I will miss their visits. They are the coolest people I know and so warm and accepting of me with all my flaws. I could talk to them for hours and have on a more than a few occasions.

Other than that I am excited to at least try something new. Hooray!

The other exciting news is I had to get my passport because I am going to Spain for the beginning of July!  I will be visiting my sister Anna in Valencia, Spain. I was determined to go to the beach this summer and she was there so I figured why not take advantage of it? I don’t know much about the area but am doing research. It looks like a neat place with beautiful water, which is most important to me.

valenciaI have been to Europe since I was in high school and haven’t been anywhere aside from a Mexican cruise since 2005! I am very excited.

I also don’t think I will be swimming the GSL race this year. It was a very hard decision for me but this recent illness finally sealed the deal. I just don’t think I will be strong enough Saturday to take that on. It’s so hard on my body with the salty water that it just doesn’t make sense. (It pains me to write that and a side of me still wants to do it. Darn it all!).

Anyway, that’s my news. I hope you are all doing well.  Let me know what you think!

Thank You for Reading

It’s late but I wanted to do a quick thank you.  All of my friends are posting daily thank you’s on facebook which is awesome but really today there is one major thing I am thankful for.  I am thankful to all of you. I had a rough October but November has started out great.  Thank you to all of you for reading no matter my mood or topic.  I know there are readers who follow religiously but haven’t made a comment in years (Becca and Suzanna I know you read!).  I am so grateful.  I hope you know that.

thank-you-for-readingThank you for reading when I inspire you.  Thank you for reading when I tick you off a little bit.  Thank you for reading when I bore you.  Thank you for reading when I make you laugh.  Aside from friends and faith, it is the best thing in my life.  Thank you especially to the people who read regularly not just when I do something bold.

Thank you to fellow bloggers who inspire me with their posts especially Samantha Ferraro, Forest Hartman, Christine Plouvier, Abbey Kidd, Tracy Christensen  Emily at Blogging Runner for giving me so much support.  Some of you I have met.  Rest of you if you ever come to Utah dinner is on me. (there are so many but they have been so supportive).

I sound like I’m dieing or something or winning an Oscar but I really am grateful.  I told my siblings that all I really wanted for Christmas was for them to comment on my blog every week or so.  I’m partly kidding but it really does mean a lot to me when people read.   I am also grateful to my sisters Meg and Anna for being the standout family readers by far and away.  Thanks!

I suppose it means a lot to any writer when people actually read what they write (go figure I know) and I’m no different.  It feels like you have a legacy and people might remember you for something.  Who doesn’t want that?

I’m grateful to my swim friends, trainers, writing group, twitter friends, cousins, coworkers, voice teachers, fellow parishioners…I could go on.  I really am just grateful.

What brought this all on is I was talking with a friend in the stake presidency who has taken my letter on the midsingles situation and shown it to area leadership and asked a question on the topic to two apostles.  It meant a lot to me to be taken seriously and to feel like just maybe I did something good with my words.

Maybe nothing will come of it.  Maybe it will just make a few of the people who commented feel understood but that’s good enough for me.

Hey, it made me feel understood and isn’t that why I started this whole thing?

In my first post on my preblog I said “First, I am never going to be happy living my life for other people’s expectations. Second, I need to take more comfort from the love of those that care for me instead of being devastated by the criticism of those that don’t. Third, I have to be my own advocate.

Why is it that I seem to believe in other people more than I believe in myself?Honestly, I think I am my toughest critic. I am starting to accept that I am not proving anything to anyone by the way I live my life. I have to believe that those that come into contact with me, including my employers, are lucky to know me. That I am valuable just for being me” (pretty good advice.  I should listen to myself sometimes).

That was written in 2007 and the blog has certainly proven that last statement to be true 1,000 times.  I am valuable for just being me and writing.

“The best word shakers were the ones who understood the true power of words. They were the ones who could climb the highest. One such word shaker was a small, skinny girl. She was renowned as the best word shaker of her region because she knew how powerless a person could be WITHOUT words.”

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Midsingles: A Letter

Dear Brethren,

I am writing this letter via my blog in the hopes that somehow you might see it. You probably won’t but I am going to pretend that you can and say what I want to say.

For the first time in my life today I didn’t go to church.  It was the wrong decision but I just couldn’t take it.  Let me fill you in on my life story. I’m 32 single adult, RM, BYU grad member.  I attended YSA wards for 15 years of my life.  While these had there challenges, I was always able to make it work.  I benefited from a large amount of money and resources spent to ensure I was taken care of and spiritually nourished.

With all its faults, it was the only way I have worshiped in my adult life. The only thing I knew.  My last singles ward was particularly great.  I had a bishop who really loved me and we had a mentoring relationship.  He cared about my life, followed my swims, and met with me on a regular basis. As someone who does not have much gospel family support, aside from parents, this meant a lot to me.

In that ward we had a daily scripture reading, service and prayer challenge which we reported on regularly.  We had lessons that I could relate to each week and activities that helped me to feel included and make friends.  While the emphasis on dating sometimes drove me crazy, at least I felt important and taken care of.

And then I turned 31…

Like a guillotine I was told I had one month to transition to either a midsingles or family ward.  It didn’t help that the same week I was transitioning I had a blow in my personal life I had to absorb mostly alone.  Nevertheless, I tried to be obedient and attend the family ward.

I’ll never forget walking in to my first family ward that had 3 other single adults. I sat on a row in the back but I tried and bore my testimony, introduced myself.  (I can’t even imagine if you were shy how you’d get through it).

Then I met with the bishop and told him I did not want to be in primary.  Not because I don’t like kids but because I knew it would make it near impossible for me to make friends and feel a part of the ward. Lo and behold I got called into primary and I did my best to make it work.  I was also called as activity day director, a calling I loved.

I was pretty vocal and active in that ward and I actually was able to make a friend or two (my co-teacher was great and we became friends).  Still, I felt spiritually stymied and cut off from the ward experience I was used to.  I attended some ysa activities and that was fine but its hard when you are cut off from the Sunday social environment to feel a part of things.  I went to midsingles activities but the challenge there is the numbers are so massive that you can’t get to know anyone because the next month there is an entirely new group at the activities.

So I lost activities, spiritual nourishment, friends and a sense of being part of a ward family (It really feels like sometimes they are prepared to invest so much in people and then boom its over).  I met with the bishop before moving out and told him ‘I haven’t been asked to speak.  Haven’t given a prayer or anything’ .  He said ‘It looks like you fell through the cracks’.

Not exactly comforting…

So a new ward came with a new house.  At first I was called into the Relief Society presidency which helped a lot to give me something to do, feel needed.   However, it really hurt when I was seeking help with my move and told ‘we don’t do moves’.  It kind of broke my heart. I was left to figure it out on my own, as a single woman with no immediate family to help.

But I plowed forward.  I worked hard.  Tried to contribute, gave a talk in church, taught several lessons, but still missed the inclusive experience of my singles ward.  This new ward has more singles but most are divorced with kids which is a different set of circumstances.  We have only had Relief Society activities so its hard to get to know families, to even know who is part of what family. We also don’t have ward directories any more so if I wasn’t in RS Presidency I’d have nobody to call for help or to get acquainted.

They have a monthly activity for FHE for singles that I appreciate, even though I’m the only one from my ward that attends.   The problem is that the group seems different each time and the interactions are so seldom that even learning people’s names is difficult.  So I am left alone.   The same problem is true for midsingles activities in general.  The midsingles ward is about 30 minutes from my house (an hour driving is a lot if you don’t have to) and it is massive, 750+ members.

As far as spiritual nourishment goes I tried to tag onto the singles ward as long as I could.  For example, they did a scripture challenge on the atonement before Christmas that I found very rewarding.  Those kinds of things never happen in family wards.

There are also other issues I won’t get into but suffice it to say any spiritual nourishment I was getting was not from my Sunday meetings.  These are attended only out of obedience and a chance to renew covenants.   One Sunday we had talks on girls camp, a lesson in Sunday School about the big bang theory and a RS lesson about ‘keeping the love alive in your marriage’ where we learned the steps for writing love notes, cards passed around and all…

In May I was feeling down and wanted to talk with the bishop.  The waiting list was over a month out.  I said ‘forget it’ and moved on, dealt with my problems by myself and with this blog (thank you!).  The whole time I felt very sad and truly grieved for the life I was allowed to live for so long that was ripped out from under me through no choice of my own.

Then this week the ties in my YSA were weakened all the more.  At this point I only know 3 people there and the bishopric.  I felt very depressed about it.  My bishop called yesterday and I told him as much.  His response was ‘ok’ and hung up.  I am sure he has way too much on his plate but it hurt.

I just couldn’t do it today.  I couldn’t pretend today. Next week I will be back because I know it is true and that’s more important than anything else but you brethren should know that there is a reason inactivity among midsingles is 80% or more.  It is so hard to make that change.

In other parts of the country they are implementing a system of magnet wards for midsingles.  This is a great idea. Instead of the 2 choices I have of midsingles ward or family, you have a ward in each stake that the midsingles are assigned to attend.  You could even have 2 for stakes with more midsinges.  This gives the advantages of friendship and fellowship of a ysa with the grownup feel of a family ward.  Please! Bring this to Utah!

These singles are great people.  They are strong.  Strong enough to forge ahead with all of this.  They know they are not living the ideal Mormon life.  They can’t work on the celestial concept of marriage.  They don’t have anyone to nudge them forward or to correct them when they are getting off the path.  It is all on them.  This should be more of a reason to fellowship and provide solutions that help them.

I honestly think the transition from singles to family wards (even if through marriage) needs to be treated like welcoming in a new convert.  It’s that different and that unsettling.  Like President Hinckley says, any convert needs “a friend, a calling and nourishment of the good word of God”.   That’s what is needed and I’m convinced if it was tackled from that perspective attrition rate wouldn’t be nearly so high.

The fact is when you are a midsingle you are living in a world that isn’t designed for you, even outside the church.  It is assumed by your 30s that you have at least one marriage under your belt and that most people have kids or are starting to have kids because most people are doing just that. And it only gets worse, I’m told, the older you get.

But where does that leave the group left behind, outside the norm?

Well, on this Sunday she stayed home and cried but she’ll be back and will try again.

Love,

Rachel

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Speed Dating and Sisters

Tonight I am exhausted but wanted to give you an update on my last weekend.

It all started on Friday with my most recent 8 at 8 singles activity.  I was expecting  around 15 people and to my shock 56 people came.  I felt kind of bad that I wasn’t more organized but luckily everyone was easy going and the restaurant was very good to us (especially because I had been confused over the reservation).  I am also very grateful to a girl in the group named Carly who took a leadership role on the activity and saved the day. I still can’t believe that so many people came!  Who knew speed dating would get such a crowd?

speed dating 3 speed dating 1 speed dating 2

Saturday and Sunday I spent with  my sisters Megan and Anna.  Meg was in town for the weekend on a special discounted airfare from a an airline called allegiant airlines.  I think her ticket was around $100.  Just as a point of contrast my last ticket to California was nearly $400, so its a tremendous bargain.

Sometimes I think the small breather of a trips are the best and most refreshing.  Doesn’t give you enough time to be sick of each other and you don’t have to do as much bending to change work, school and other schedules around to accommodate  visitors.  We kept it pretty simple but went to my favorite bakery Bake 360, watched Best in Show and then Sunday took a walk on Draper trail, taking a photo by the dinosaur a resident has in their backyard (random I know).

meg and I anna and meg bake 3602

One last update, I have been having success in my work and in preparing for Slam the Dam.  I feel confident in both.  Just today my boss said I was a ‘lifesaver’.  It meant a lot to me especially given I was gone for so long.  The other great thing was that I truly took a vacation and hardly worked at all for the 10 days I was gone.  I haven’t done that in nearly all my adult work-life.  I’m not exaggerating with that statement.  When I worked for JWA I worked so much my boss had to tell me to get off the computer and enjoy Hawaii.  The same when I was doing the rentals full time and definitely true when I worked for Grabber.

I’m not trying to sound ungrateful for my past work experiences.  Far from it.  I’m just grateful to Poler for allowing me to take a real break from work.  It may also be that I am learning to let go and relax a little more but I doubt it?  Either way, I’m grateful for my job.

If You Love Kids Why Don’t You Get Married?

All 5 of my nieces are above average in intelligence and vocabulary, and I’m not just saying that as a proud aunt, its true.   My oldest niece reads a book a day and can converse on a variety of topics.  Sometimes I think it is hard for her to be the oldest and spend so much time with younger, less mature minds.

I think I have a pretty good relationship with my nieces despite the fact that none of them live near me.  That said, I know there is a lot of my life that seems like a mystery to them.  I live in Utah.  I’m not married.  I don’t have kids.  How can that be?  In fact, the last couple of years every time I see my oldest niece she says ‘Rachel, why aren’t you married?’.   Yesterday it was ‘If you can take care of all of us little kids, why don’t you get your own little kids to take care of?

Ah the simplicity of youth.  I wish marriage was the result of readiness or abilities.  Unfortunately there’s this annoying thing called choice and chemistry…Sigh.

Sometimes I wish I could just have 4 or 5 options and just pick one and make it work.  This randomly meeting the love of my life thing isn’t working out very well.  Set ups and online dating provide few dates so I am left just trying my best to answer my nieces question.  What do you say? Here’s how the conversation goes?

“Well, I can’t have kids until I get married and I can’t get married until I fall in love”

Her response “Well why don’t you fall in love?”

My response “I’m ready but sometimes it just doesn’t happen”

She looks at me skeptically and adds

“If you don’t get married and have children how can you be happy?”

Sigh…I’m sure many young moms are thinking this kid has no idea how hard it is and that is true!  However, there is also great happiness.

I finally have to say

“I don’t know why I haven’t fallen in love, but I hope I will someday”

Still with worry another niece says:

“You should just adopt your own babies”

“That would be fun but hard to do all alone” I reply

Then the conversation wanes. If only there were better answers to all these questions.  And yes, I’ve tried online dating and its not for me.

That’s what I hate the most about dating is how impotent it makes me feel.  There is this big life goal that I know will add to my happiness (even eternal happiness) and there is almost nothing I can do about it.  How do you force love?  Force someone to love you?  You can’t.  You just have to hold out hope and be happy.

It’s just frustrating to have such a big thing in the human experience that is so outside our control.  I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on the most human experience.

To have lived and never fallen in love? Is that a life at all?  Art, music, movies, books would say no.

I know that it is, but it still makes me sad every now and then that I don’t have a better answer to “Why haven’t you fallen in love?”

Why indeed?  Only God knows.

hold-up-heart

Happiness: A Journey

Happiness-quotes-31097737-500-441

Today I was visiting with my home teachers and they asked me an interesting question.  They said ‘we’ve met many single individuals over the years but not many who seem to be as happy and content as you are.  What is your secret?’.  After thanking them for the compliment I had a hard time putting into words why I am happy.  Its kind of a hard question to answer?  There are lots of things that make me happy.  How do you sum it up?

They then talked about all of the different activities I’m involved in and how I take control of my life.  I again thanked them for the compliment and made a fumbling attempt to explain why I am happy.  Here’s a better explanation:

About 7 years ago I was seriously unhappy.  I think only God knows how low I really got.  Its again hard to explain because I wasn’t doing anything wrong per say I just felt this cloud over my life.  I hated my job.  I didn’t get to spend enough time with my friends and things I loved like school and church callings were getting crowded out by long work days and other responsibilities.  In the end, it doesn’t even have to do with that particular job.  It was this ghost of unhappiness that haunted me every day.

I related many times on this blog the events of that period- how I pushed the feelings of depression inside until they burst out in full blown panic.  It still amazes me that with all the challenges I had on my mission and being bullied at school the thing that really broke me was a perpetual stupor of unhappiness.  It makes no sense to the outward observer.  In fact, one could claim I was suffering from first world problems and should be grateful I had a job, and I was. Still, that feeling of grayness in my life is something I will never forget.

Once I had shown the world my unhappiness I had little left to gain by pretending and started to take the leaps of faith necessary to remove the cloud-cover from my life. I lowered my hours and eventually quit my job.  I graduated from school with my MBA. I moved to Draper.  Found out that working from home was right for me, started taking voice lessons, was introduced to open water swimming,  and started a book club, the list could go on and on.  cs-lewis-quotes-sayings-god-happiness-peace

Everything good in my life is because I learned what it felt like to be unhappy and chose to never allow myself to hit that kind of funk again.  Of course, I have unhappy days, even months and been through severe disappointments and anxiety in the last few years but nothing like it was in 2007.

So that’s why I am happy now. I am happy because I know what it feels like to be unhappy and the great thing is that God was with me through it all.  He never stopped telling me that He loved me and He helped me learn the lessons I needed to learn.  He kept reminding me that I needed to make a change.  He never gave up on me.  He never will.

Probably most importantly I learned from that period that God’s plan of happiness is not simply a checklist of big things to do, ordinances to make but literally a plan for our happiness down to where I worked and what I do with my life.  If he is so involved in these microdetails how can I not faith in the big things such as finding my Mr Sunshine out there.  Regardless, I will never let myself feel that way again for an extended period and that is a life-changing lesson.  I am happy because I learned that I mattered to God and His happiness requires my happiness not just my obedience.

To happiness! (Hopefully someday I can find someone to share that happiness with.  All in God’s timetable).

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