Tag: singles

Friends with Kids

Friendship-Quotes-5

I’ve never been afraid of a sensitive topic on this blog and this will probably be one of those so be prepared.

I just want to share another side of the story.

Recently seemingly everyone I know with kids have posted this video.

This is a charming video and I get why especially stay at home Mom’s respond to it but as one of those friends without kids let me try to explain the other side of the picture.

First some societal trends that come into play.  Americans, even Utahns are getting married at older ages, usually in the post college years.  This gives sometimes a decade or more for single American’s to form friendships and create meaningful bonds/memories.

These groups of friends are often more important than family to the modern young American as they have shared experiences and group empathy that is not the same in a typical family.  There is no real hierarchy to an urban tribe; where even the most high functioning family has an order and chain of command leading to the main decision makers, the parents. A group of friends provides a space without judgement or the expectations of a family.

This is perhaps less common in the Mormon world as family is universally praised over friendship. Family bonds are eternal and you are after all not sealed to your friends…

Nevertheless, urban tribes do happen and even if not a group of friends the same reliance as with groups can exist in individual friendships between singles. I’ve never fallen in love so most of what I know about love is shared through friends.  I always felt very different from my family but felt at home with my friends.

Last year when I swam GSL the reporter asked me who I was going to call first and I said I wanted to see my friend Etsuko because we had shared that experience together.

But we grow up and people fall in love, marry (or sometimes not marry), and start having their beautiful babies.  We are happy because our friends are happy but we are also a little heart broken…

Is it a selfish response?  Of course it is, but it is also a very human one.  In the 50’s the average age for a girl to marry was 22.  This meant she would be lucky to graduate from college before getting married and having a family.

Now it is 26 (28 for men). Like I said, that means for almost a decade men and women have lived their lives relying on friends and then seemingly overnight their support system and world has completely changed.  Suddenly there are new priorities and they can be pushed to the side. I cannot overstate how devastating that abandonment can feel.  It may be childish to feel that way but I’ve felt it and I bet most singles have too.

Of course, the change in lifestyle the video depicts is necessary but just because something is necessary does not make it any less painful.  In fact, some essential things are the most painful. Giving birth for example.  Do we tell a young mother that her pain is less valid because it is necessary to bring her baby into the world?  Of course not!

I can’t tell you how many times I have been a bridesmaid at a friends wedding, or thrown a baby shower, or something important like that and then I never hear from them again.  I will call and call and then eventually give up.  I will see photos of their kids on facebook and smile.  On my bitter days it can feel like everyone else is moving on with their lives but me.  My support system is gone and I don’t even get a baby out of the deal…

On my peaceful days I smile and hope my day will come and that I can do a better job at keeping in touch with my single friends.  I’m sure like the video shows it will be hard, but I hope I can at least be cognizant of their pain.

She does say in the video that she loves her friends but she is also very judgy.  Assuming her friend has all this free time and can hop off to Vegas whenever she wants.  The truth is said friend probably has worked a 10 hour day with a boss breathing down her neck and this 20 minutes with your kids is the only real human interaction she gets.  Your single friend and you may be catching Shark Tank when you are exhausted in exactly the same way just different exhaustion causes.

Both single women and homemakers with kids sacrifice most of their days for other people and leave completely frustrated and worn out.  A single girl may not understand the cheese or the door slammed in her face by a toddler but she does understand feeling frazzled and pushed around by other people and most likely what’s pushing her around does not love her the way your baby loves you.

I’m not trying to minimize being a young Mom.  It is super difficult but I’m just saying assuming one person has it so much easier than another is a shame.  You miss out on support you could be receiving and ostracizing yourself to only bonding with one type of person, other young Moms.

Of course, singles can do the same type of ostracizing and be too inflexible in adapting to the new situation. But can’t we all be grown ups and just say ‘my daughter threw cheese on the ground.  Isn’t she a rascal?  Could you help me with this? I bet you got into all kinds of messes when you were little…’ A conversation starts and an awkward moment becomes one of friendship instead of distance.

At the very least I would urge you to treat your single friends a little more gently than the video describes.  They may not be calling just to hang out.  Merely assuming that every time a single friend calls you it is for something superficial isn’t worthy of the friendship that was seemingly so important to you before you got that ring on your finger.

I understand there just isn’t time for everything and that some friends will be dropped but perhaps we give up too quickly?  Perhaps we assume because we can’t keep up our original relationship it is all over?  Maybe we could create a new relationship? Maybe it doesn’t have to be completely abandoned simply because it isn’t the same?

I have friends I only see once or twice a year but I know they are there for me.  I know they love me.  There is that gentleness and kindness which tells me ‘yes I have these kids and yes, its tough but I love you and you are important to me’.  At the very least I don’t feel abandoned and that I was a tool for a wedding photo.

A few years ago I went traveled and spent time with many friends with kids.  All of them unnecessarily apologized for their kids behavior.  Maybe I was giving a bad vibe or something but it wasn’t how I felt.  I can’t imagine just sitting there talking while friends are entertaining kids like the video suggests.  I get in and play or talk to the kids, talking to my friend at the same time. Occasionally I may have a day when I am not as kid-friendly but I don’t think it’s the rule of thumb as the video shows.

Most of the time my friends with kids want to meet me outside of the kids, not because of me, but they see it as an escape for them, but I am more than willing to meet at Chucky Cheese or a playground and talk to you, get to know your kids.  The video seems to show it is either going out, getting a sitter or a frustrated experience, and I think with a little creativity it doesn’t have to be that way.

I would also never tell a mother that I am going to be strict with my kids.  I can’t think of a single adult that would say such a thing to their friends with kids when they are with said friend.  That would be super judgy and rude.  They may say it behind their backs which I guess is bad but the woman on this video has strange friends if they say that as part of light discussion during a visit.

In the end, I guess if I made a video it would say ‘be kind’, ‘be gentle’ and spend a minute to let someone know you love them and I bet that will make your time with those little one’s a little easier too.  Maybe it will help you to not feel so alone when you know you have a friend who is rooting for you?  It would for me.

Friends are not simply role-players in our lives- someone we use to get through the day.  They are real people and relationships with real people matter.  So, if worse comes to worse, maybe pray that Heavenly Father will help you find a way to express love to your friends. Just maybe He will inspire you with an idea for a get-together or a cute text.

And if a friend does need to be dropped just try to be gentle about it.  Try to understand how they are feeling and as Jesus taught ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  That goes for all of us married, single, divorced or widowed.

Friendship is too great a gift to let it pass without much thought.  I promise it’s worth the effort.

The truth is it is harder for single women over 30 to get together.  It is just harder when you are older, so maybe that is part of the change.  You can set up plans for weeks, get everything organized and then someone gets sick or there’s a blizzard, or a late assignment at work.  It is just harder post 30 but again worth the effort.

(I have no problems with my friends btw.  Only posted this because I saw the video so much and wanted to share how the person on the other side of the phone may be feeling).

Feel free to share your opinions of what I have written.  How have you made friendship work as an adult? My Dad is a great example of maintaining friendships.  It is a natural part of his expression and I’m kind of the same way.  I need friend, so thank you dear friends.  Love you and your kids!

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

Single in a Family Church

“Rachel, I’ve been told by a bishop in a singles ward several times that if I just open my mind and pray a spouse will find me. It’s easy he said. Ok. I’ve been single 5 years now.”

A friend on the singles forum told me this yesterday and I just couldn’t believe it.  First of all, who in their right mind thinks that being single is easy and secondly how dare you judge me as being ‘closed minded’ and not prayerful enough just because I am not lucky enough to find a mate.  It wasn’t even me and I am angry.

“Begging friends for setups, dealing with creeps online, having scores of crushes unmet, constantly dealing with being treated like a child by idiots, hearing the clock tick for a family while attending a family church. So easy!” (my response)

And unfortunately this experience is not in a vacuum. You ask any single person and they have experienced such attitudes.  The problem is for many people it has been so long since they have been in the dating rat race that they remember the process with rose-colored glasses.

Also, the whole idea of dating has just changed since they were in the dating scene.  Here’s the deal to those that don’t remember- nobody I know casually dates.  If you get asked on a date whether you are 14 or 44 you assume that person likes you and is seriously interested.  The only exception is if a person needs a date for an office party or wedding.

It is very rare for someone, man or woman, to date different girls on a weekly or even monthly basis.  Now you could argue that this change is unhealthy or needs to be fixed but at a certain point you would be denying the new reality  and living in a fantasy world.

Eventually the leadership of the church just needs to say ‘ok, This is the new way people date and court.  How do we help people?’

To prove my point.  Here are some answers to my survey about dating:

“I would love to go on dates more then once every 5 years. Lol. But if you don’t get asked out, or there is no one to ask out…how do you!”

“Dating? Futile
Online Dating? Funny Farm
Being set up? “Is that really what you think of me?”

“Dating is hard. Online is way less effective.”

“I hate dating. everyone I like likes someone else. everyone that likes me I think is pretty repulsive”

Anyway, gives you an idea.  I also think this problem exists outside of the church.  Its just not a requirement to marry for exaltation outside of the church.

In the end, I agree and know from the bottom of my heart that the highest degree of exaltation does require getting married and finding that person to be with forever BUT what about that sentence screams ‘easy’?  Living truth has never been easy.  Even if you do find him or her its still not easy.

We all have our struggles and claiming that someone needs to be more open minded and isn’t praying enough when you don’t know FOR SURE is just wrong. It’s outrageous.

Just love people guys.  Please.  Laugh with people.  Tell a joke.  Share doctrine that can apply to everyone’s life with gentle encouragement where appropriate.  My experience is most people have something to contribute, even if minimal on almost any topic.  Why not listen? Heavenly Father loves His children, married or not.  Let’s try to be a little bit less free with our advice and a little bit more loving.

PLEASE.

PS.  There is a popular blog going around my married friends circles that says that those without children should ‘shut up’ and that their opinions about parenting are ‘worthless’.  If I have to keep my mouth shut about your life than the same goes for those that haven’t experienced being single in their 30’s +.  How would you like it if you went to church and heard about how your job being a parent was easy and that you just needed to pray more for your children to behave? Urgh….

Let’s all try to be nice and admit that neither of us have it easy…

There I said it.

I also have to add that my parents are a single girl’s dream.  No pressure at all.  No guilt.  Thank you!

130929-172753PPS.  If you think it is really that easy try finding someone for the single in your life to go on a date with.  I bet you will find it is tough.

PPPS.  Forgive me for ranting and raving.  The Church is still so true even if I get frustrated with the people every now and then.  I think people need to hear that someone in the world is experiencing the same thing as them.  Its hard to be single in a family church.  I hope at the least I let someone know they are heard and not alone.

Married and Single Surveys

So I have an idea for my next nanowrimo that I think will be really fun.  I won’t give it all away but it has to do with a single and married woman, so I need some feedback (especially for the married woman).   Having never been married I’m not sure what its really like.  I only see it from an observer.

You can email me the questions below or use the following links.  There is one survey for single friends and one for married.  I would really appreciate your feedback.  Thanks tons!

Married Survey

Single Survey

Single Living
1. What is a benefit to being single?
2. Have you been married? Divorced? Widowed? Separated?
3. Do you want to be married and have children? Does it make you depressed to be single?
4. What’s the hardest part of your job? Greatest benefit?
5. How is being single in 30’s-40’s different than in your 20s?
6. How is your relationship with your family as a single person?
7. How is it managing relationships with married friends and friends with kids? Difficult?
8. How do you feel about dating? Online dating? Being set up?
9. If you could invent the perfect relationship what would it look like?
10. How do you manage your finances?
Married Life
1. What is the hardest and best part about being married?
2. What do you miss most about being single?
3. If you could trade lives with anyone who would it be and why?
4. How long have you been married?
5. Who is responsible for managing your finances? What kind of stress does that give?
6. On a day to day level what is the best and hardest part of being a parent?
7. What surprised you the most about married life and parenting?
8. What do you do to relax?
9. What is a goal you personally would like to accomplish?
10. How has your social life changed since you got married? How important are friendships vs family?

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

My First Meet Up

I mentioned a few days ago that I ended up planning a midsingles activity called 8 at 8.  It was the first one so we had a few more than 8 people but it didn’t matter because the whole idea is about networking.  Instead of dating just 1 person you get to interact with 7+ people who know more people who might be right for you.  It makes an evening all the more productive than traditional one on one dating.

Anyway, I had brought the idea up on the singles forums and there was a good response so I created a meet up group and today was our first meeting.  It was super easy to plan.  I basically posted the event, created a little discussion sheet and then showed up at the Pie Pizzeria in Midvale for their awesome pizza.  They have a 23 inch pizza that we got for the group and then people got their own salads and drinks.  It couldn’t have been easier.

Once we all arrived and had our pizza everyone chatted and it seemed pleasant.  I was going to mix people up more but with people eating it seemed easier to stay put and then switch things up once people were done with their pizza.  It was a lot of fun.

I admit I got a little bit of butterflies right before but no need.  Everyone was friendly and we had good conversation.  I think it is a good thing to interact with new people, get out of my comfort zone.  Its challenging but I always feel grateful after.

So for the next one we will see if people want to do a smaller group or keep it big.  Its hard because you have so many no-shows that the smaller groups make me nervous.  Plus they take more planning but I’m open to it if that’s what people want.  The Pie is a good place because its cheap, everyone likes it and the outside space is nice.  We’ll just see what people want to do. It just has to be easy to plan and fun.

What do you think?  What kind of activities do you like to do?

Anyway, I felt proud of myself for taking the time to gather people and stepping outside of my norm.  A few more people aren’t strangers any more and that’s a good thing.

meet up1 meet up4 meet up3 meet up2

Modern Mormon Dating Woes and a Resume

Its no great secret that my church is a church of marriage and family.  After all, we have an entire proclamation on the family and have fought tooth and nail for traditional marriage to be protected and encouraged.  All that is good and wonderful but where does that lead the rapidly growing group of single adult members of the church without families? Well, you can either hack it out alone ignoring much of the doctrine that doesn’t relate to your life or you can

DATE!

(or some mix of both to survive).

The second option is hard.  Its hard to find people to go on dates with.  That is my constant problem.  And yes, I’ve tried multiple online resources and nothing.  I’ve asked my friends to help me but evidently they don’t know many singles which I get.  Hmmm.  Who else? Don’t go to singles ward any more so could meet someone at the gym or at swim stuff or something like that but its hard.  I signed up for a matchmaking service but it is based on the men and they haven’t matched me yet.  They make a big deal about being ‘active’ which is a nice way of saying skinny because nobody thinks of someone like me as ‘active’. even though I am.

So where does that lead me? Ok.  Back to option 1.  Hack out a good enough existence for yourself and ignore the second part. Make the church work for your life because you know it is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet and you don’t care that a large part of doctrine you can’t practice yet.  Ok maybe you care a little but everyone wants companionship some of the time.  You don’t have to be a robot because you are single.  So you do your best to take what you can and develop a strong relationship with God and hope that someone sets you up with a friend or you bump into Mr.  Sunshine.

Part of the problem with set-ups is my friends say things like ‘I don’t see you two together’.  I wish they would let me be the judge of that.  I had another friend say ‘you wouldn’t want to go on a date with just anyone’.  Unless he’s a rapist and murder I probably would let them buy me dinner.  The standard doesn’t have to be so high.  I can learn something from a date even if it isn’t ‘the one’.  Plus, how do I know ‘the one’ if I haven’t met ‘not the one’.

I wish I could have a bunch of dates and get  a flavor for what I want.  I really have no idea.

The problem is when you do finally get a date your expectations tend to be a little out of whack because you haven’t had one in 6 months.  You either think this person might be the one, really likes me or, has big potential, instead of just a casual date.  Usually that’s a nightmare.

Even if it is a nightmare date you have so few that I’ve found myself hoping the rotten date would call me again after it.  I don’t know why but it feels better to go on another rotten date than nothing.  Silly but true.

I’m embarrassed to admit the last date I went on was last October and that was only after rather incessant begging to my friends because I didn’t want to go to a reunion alone. We had a great time.  I enjoyed it immensely.

What made me think of this is I have season tickets to the Scera Shell and they are having Josh Turner coming next Tuesday.  It crossed my mind- this would make a great date activity but could I for the best of me think of a guy to ask? Not so much.

Its a problem.  Where have all the good men gone?  Where are you hiding?  I’m a nice girl!

Here’s some things about me to recommend me to your single friends out there:

I’m in my early 30s and look like this

942688_10151573127677239_220067204_n

I’m a great athlete and love beautiful lakes, rivers and oceans.  Swam 5 open water swims with 2 more to come this year.

DSCF0497

I also can kick most anybody’s butt. I’m tough as nails.  MMA is my specialty.

DSCF0896-001I’m also a great reader, philosopher and deep thinker.  Love good conversation and debate

988662_10151621772677239_175637564_nI also love the arts, movies, music and theater and the symphony.  Here I am after performing at Hale Center Theater

dscf0348I take great joy in writing both this blog and my recently completed nanowrimo book

934051_10151563520112239_1137825993_n

Looking for a great cook?  I’m that too.

The finished product.  So good!
The finished product. So good!

I’m also a great friend and aunt. Loyalty, honesty and friendship are everything to me. Always have been.

My friend Emily and I at a book signing
My friend Emily and I at a book signing
Stephanie, Angie, Camille and I in Hawaii.  Dear friends
Stephanie, Angie, Camille and I in Hawaii. Dear friends
Emilee and Rachel in Hawaii
Emilee and Rachel in Hawaii

miriam

Lastly my faith is everything.  Without it I would just be an anxiety ridden, unhappy mess.  I would sooner give up breathing than give up my faith.

190765_5007947238_8728_n

So there you go.  That’s my online resume for any guys out there to read.  I think I’m pretty great.  Not perfect but got a lot going for me.  I’m fun and try really hard to be a good friend.  I work hard, am honest and I know what my many flaws are and am working to do better.

So if you know someone who is single show him this page and then let him decided for himself if he wants to be set up with me.  That should make your life easier.  Who knows right!

Anyway,  That’s me and that’s the state of dating at my age.  Its darn to impossible.  So in the meantime I am hacking it out on my own.  Hoping for a bad date if I’m lucky.  Sigh…

My Imaginary Husband

imaginary husband

So today was an interesting day at church.  It started with an early meeting with my bishop and  a surprise release from my calling as Relief Society secretary.  It was a bit of a bittersweet moment for me because on one hand I felt relief because it frees up a lot of time (at least until the next responsibility comes along).  The reason they released me is they dissolved the whole presidency.  They did not give me a new calling so your guess is as good as mine.  I’d love if they called me to be a teacher.  (As stressed out as I’d get teaching I still learned a lot).

Then we went to sacrament meeting and had one of those ‘when I was a boy’ talks where old people berate the incarnate modern times while waxing nostalgic about their television, movies, music etc.  (Remind me to never do that when I’m 80).  The truth is every generation has its good sides and bad sides.   After all, blacks and whites couldn’t get married or go to the same pools when he was a teenager, so it hasn’t all gone down hill.  Sigh…

Then we had Sunday School which was academic but fine and relief society.  I was busy as we got things started and then had the lesson which was on marriage.  Now, I have no problem with a lesson on marriage.  Everything is not about me after all.  However, this focused on ‘keeping the romance alive’.  How exactly do I keep the romance alive with a relationship I don’t have?  She even went so far as to give tips on writing love notes to your husband and talking about her vow renewals in Africa and Tahiti (I thought vow renewals were discouraged by the church.  Who knew?).

Anyway, I normally wouldn’t care but for some reason it rubbed me the wrong way.  I let a tear out during closing prayer and tried to sneak out but my visiting teaching companion saw me and was inspired to offer words of encouragement.  She’s normally not a super cuddly person so I knew her thoughts were sincere, and I was very grateful that she followed the spirit.

As I was thinking about the women talking about their husbands and how one brought them breakfast in bed every weekend and another always did the dishes, I started to wonder what I would want in a husband.  I guess thinking about what you’d like to have seems less melancholy than what you don’t.

One of my pet peeves is when I say something like ‘I’d like to marry a Republican’ and my friends say ‘Oh, I bet that means you’ll marry a Democrat’.  This is very annoying.  Yes, I get that he probably won’t be anything like I think but am I supposed to have no idea what I’m looking for because if I do I will get the opposite?  This doesn’t seem logical to me.

How do you find it if you haven’t given it some thought?

I look at it like searching for a house (although even more frustrating).  When househunting I had a list of must-haves.  Over time, about 3/10 of those must-haves didn’t come to fruition, but I don’t think creating the list was a bad idea.  It helped me get the 7/10 and some things I didn’t know I wanted.

So, it begs the question- what would my imaginary husband be like? Here goes nothing:

I think he would be kind if a little obstinate, have opinions on things and be open to discussion (I used to know a guy who had no opinions on anything, such a turnoff), he gives good hugs and has a nice smile, he probably likes the outdoors more than me but we can go to a lake and he can set up camp while I swim.

He loves God and tries his best to be a good man and worthy priesthood holder.  He leans conservative and is interested in learning/talking about the world and new things.  He is ok with the fact we might not be able to have our own kids.

He is willing to do laundry and doesn’t care that I hate to iron.

I imagine he comes from a big, loud family like my own, or at the least can relate when I love them and when they are driving me nuts.  He lets me have time with my girls and he can do his own thing.  He comes to my recitals or my swim meets even if he hates them.  I will come to his events even if they are deadly dull.  We both watch movies, TV and sports together.

Most importantly he loves me and when we fight (which I imagine will be somewhat explosive!) we still know that our marriage is eternal and our commitment is above any such squabbles.

Overly-simplistic? Yes.  Unrealistic? Yes. The only way to stay sane? Yes.

President Eyring has a talk called The Law of Increasing Returns where he talks about how some harvests are immediate and some late, requiring great faith.  It can defy human nature to keep ‘working and waiting with nothing seeming to come of it’.  He speaks eloquently about the moment of frustrations some of us have when we decide ‘what’s the use?’.  ‘I seem to be giving too much and getting too little’.

One of his words of wisdom for dealing with late harvest is to create a picture of what you are working for.  I just love this (seriously everyone should read this talk):

“You rarely can have a photograph of that future for which you now sacrifice, but you can get pictures. Years ago, near the time of that sacrament meeting, it occurred to me that I would sometime perhaps have a family. I even joked about them, calling them “the red heads.” My mother’s hair had been red when she was young. I certainly didn’t think the idea of red heads was inspiration, just an idea. But more than once that picture was enough to make me work, and wait.

If all my four sons were here tonight, you would see two blond heads and two red ones. In a kitchen chat one evening, one of them said to me he’d not mind exchanging red hair for beach-boy blond. I just smiled. All dads may think their sons are handsome, but I would not exchange his red hair, nor my early vision of it, for spun gold.

It’s not wise to daydream, and I’m not recommending it. If you girls dream too much about a house or a car, some poor man will someday have to get it for you. But I recommend a little thought, not about things or places but about people.”

So, yes my imaginary husband is ridiculous but I agree with President Eyring that it is wise to have a picture of what you are working hard to achieve.  Perhaps it makes disappointment more acute but I don’t know? If I have no idea what I am looking for does that not leave me more open to being disappointed?   Regardless, it is the only way to do things.  Not to be living in the stars but to have a goal, an image, a picture of who someday I might get a love note from and who I can give lessons about our great love in church…. (Remind me not to do that either!)

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 IV

This is one of my random jumbled posts.

1. Got home yesterday.  Long day at the airport (funny that when I’m volunteering my seat up the wait isn’t so bad because I get a free ticket but if I’m delayed its torture!).  Fun trip visiting the fam and my parents.  I particularly enjoyed spending 2 nights with my sister and her family.  I find I get more out of one-on-one interactions rather than chaotic groups.  Its hard to go from being the sole ruler of my roost to being surrounded by people.  Does it seem selfish to say that?  Oh well, its true.

2.  Thanks to my Dad who gave up his bed and slept on the floor so I would have a place to sleep for 2 of the nights home.  Thanks Dad!  I had a great time at the Turkey Trot and totally want to do it next year but it was very exacting on my body.  I had serious pain for 3 days.  It hurt to sit up, move, walk, do anything.  Having sleep on a comfortable bed was essential to my muscle recovery.

3. I am not good at hiding my emotions.  Never have been.  If I’m hungry, tired, upset, frustrated, or in pain most people know.  I try to keep it inside and ‘be a trooper’ but I can never seem to pull it off.  Thank goodness I have understanding family and friends.  I suppose this is one benefit of living alone.  I can moan and groan all I want to myself!

4. I must express my doubts about the sugar fast.  It doesn’t seem to be changing my cravings.  I still crave sweets bad and when I eat them they taste just as great as they did before…I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up!  If I’m honest I really kind of hate it.  I hate dieting in general because I feel it excludes me from a full life experience.  Still, I suppose it is a necessary evil.

5. Good news on the Poler front!  We had a very successful Black Friday sales weekend and are looking forward to a great Christmas season.  There are still bugs to work out but congrats to my the Poler team for a great start!  Particular shout out to my brother who has worked so hard on this new company.

6. I am setting up my tree tomorrow!  Can’t wait.  Its a tight squeeze with my new sofa but I will make it work.

7. Speaking of new furniture I made one black friday purchase- a new ottoman for my main room.  Now I have one for each sofa.  Isn’t it pretty and only $73!  Thank you Walmart! (Yes, I am a Walmart shopper. In fact, I think they get a bum rap.  They have reasonable insurance for their employees, livable wages and their products are in general good quality.  I’ve actually been more impressed with their furniture/decor items than Ikea or Target and really are either of those 2 companies any less of a corporate giant?).

8. It has actually happened, my friends, I don’t have to convince myself to exercise anymore!  For literally years it was a chore to get my but out the door.  This week I realized I actually want to go and feel remorse when I can’t go.  This is particularly true for swimming (which I haven’t done for over a week 😦 ).  I really miss it when I can’t do it.  I was going to swim on Thursday with my friends but then there ended up being work commitments and I can’t go. The person asked “Do you have to go swim?”.  Its honestly like asking if I need to eat lunch.  Well, technically I could survive without it but I will miss it!

9.  I decided during this trip that I am going to start walking/running once a week from now on.  With how difficult my recovery was from the 5k I need to work out those walking muscles more often.  Walking is such an easy thing to do while traveling and swimming is very difficult (at least in the winter). Anyone want to be my weekly walking buddy?

10. My friends are going to swim the Great Salt Lake through the Winter. They have a group called the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club.  They have already swam in 46 degree water!  I think it would be a fun adventure to join with them but my fibromyalgia would be super painful.  Its just not worth it for the rush.

11.  Don’t get me wrong I’m grateful but having 4 mini-jobs can be stressful.  I feel a little stretched each and every way. Especially coming home from a trip is always rough.  I worked a lot this trip but it never seems to be quite enough.  At least I don’t have to push myself like some of the other people in my company.

I used to think I wanted to be an ambitious business leader but I really am glad to be free from the stress and pressure.  I am happy with my little roles and the difference I make.  I will be grateful when the routine of Poler is set in stone and when other pending issues are finalized. (I have my employee review next Monday.  Here’s to hoping I do well and maybe even get a raise! Haven’t had one in 2 years).

Do you think because I’m not the dynamic business woman or politician I dreamed of as a child I’m a bit of a sell-out?  Are we not all sell-outs in one way or another as adults…?

12. Lately I’ve been fascinated with the Revolutionary generation.  Last year I read a book called Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts and loved it.  Now we are rereading that for my book club.  I have also been reading Founding Brothers by Joseph Elis and am enjoying that.  It goes into great depth into many things I didn’t know much about such as Washington’s Farewell Address, Benjamin Franklin’s support of abolition, the controversy of Jay’s Treaty.

It also elaborates on topics I did know about such as the friendship/feud between Adams and Jefferson, Jefferson’s strategy as the first party politician, James Madison’s skillful quiet power, Abigail Adams role in her husbands presidential cabinet and more.  It is so interesting.  As I’ve read I keep coming up with parallels to the issues facing politicians and the similar strategies used to win elections that still exist today.  Its amazing how with all that’s changed some things never change.

13. Don’t mean to end on a somber note but I can’t begin to describe how disgusted I am with what’s gone on at Penn State.  I was horrified to see people cheering for anyone even remotely involved in this terrible tragedy.  Our thoughts should be on the victims, not on football.  I love sports but let’s have a bit of perspective people!

14. Finally I am a little sad because I now have 2 months left in my current ward.  In January I turn the big 31 and that means I am out of the single adult ward.  I can either go to the midsingles or the family ward.  Haven’t decided what I will do.  Any experiences either way? I’d love to hear them.  Our midsingles ward has over 600 people so honestly I’m afraid of getting lost with either choice.

I guess I will just have to be extra vigilant in making friends and being outgoing. (Maybe my new ottoman will help with that!).  I’m sincerely sorry to be leaving my ward and particularly my calling.  It has been a wonderful sanctuary from a year that has been one of the toughest of my life.  I will always be grateful for home and visiting teachers, RS President and bishop who took care of me when I really needed it. Thanks!

15.  I wish I could be in Hawaii right now…but that’s pretty much true of every day of my life!

16.  Saw 2 movies over the break, Hugo and Muppets Movie.  Enjoyed both.  Hugo was a work of art in movie form; however,  a little slow and I don’t know if I ever bonded to any of the characters.  Movies are played as an unmitigated good in the plot and while I enjoy a good movie I don’t know if they are as important as Hugo would have you believe. Still, well worth a viewing. See it in 3D if you can.  One of the best uses of 3D I’ve ever seen.  It didn’t have the murkiness of most 3D.

The Muppets movie was GREAT!!  I loved it.  I thought it was funny, I loved the music, and the whole thing made me smile throughout.  While I think children will enjoy it I think it is designed for young adults my age.  There were tons of references to the Muppets I knew growing up and I found them all charming.  I just really loved it.

17.  No I did not see Breaking Dawn.

18. Best movies I’ve seen this year- The Help, Midnight in Paris and Harry  Potter.  Favorite performances so far Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain in The Help, Alan Rickman in Harry Potter, Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemmingway in Midnight in Paris. Best animated movie by far Winnie the Pooh (best soundtrack also)

19.  Finally, I went speed dating a couple of weeks ago and actually had a good time.  However, I definitely realized that my fear of animals is totally not normal! Btw, if that thing in Ohio with the exotic animals had happened by me I think I’d have a heart attack.  There are 911 calls of people saying ‘I’m on the freeway and just saw a lion’.  Can you imagine?

20.  Do you like the cool new theme for the blog?  Got to switch things up every now and then.  I am trying to figure out why I got double the hits this same time last year?  Tell me blog readers what have I done differently? 🙂

21. One last thing- a couple of weeks ago I gave my phone number out to a boy for the first time in my life.  It felt totally cliched but I was proud of myself.  He never called but hey its a step in the right direction! Probably sad that it took me to age 30 to do that.  Oh well!