Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Éponine Complex (Marnie)

After watching the Academy Awards this weekend, it reminded me of seeing the movie, Les Misérables during the Christmas break. Whether you agree with the choices of singers/actors in the movie or not, you have to admit it was a raw, emotion packed movie. I've always loved the musical.  I have seen the musical more times than I can really count and have listened to the soundtrack more times than the years I have actually  lived - which is a lot nowadays. 

I have always been intrigued by the love triangle of Maris-Cosette-Éponine.  Back when I was 19 and heard the music the first time, I, like every other woman I have talked to, related to Éponine.  Yep, I’ve had my heart broken, given love to a man that never returned it, and drooled from jealousy as the man I loved, left me for her.  

Or, something like that…

Of course, who really likes a soprano voice that only spits out words like, “I can’t believe it! Is it real? Is my life just beginning?  I’m just so lucky,” when many of us can only pull off an lower alto voice of a woman who says things like, “he’ll never love me like I love him so I just have to suck it up and be on my own forever because I’m a single woman in my ***insert appropriate number here***."  

Yep, a lot of us relate better to Éponine.  Negativity just oozes out from us.

But as this New Year continues to get underway, I challenge myself - as well as you readers - to break the insanity of the sad lonely and very dead Éponine.   We need to start thinking that we too can ride off into the soprano sunset that Cosette and Maris take off on.  Why did they have that ending?  Because they were soul mates. (And I define "soul mates" as two people that exclusively love each other and who actually commit to each other.) 

They belonged together. Unfortunately, Maris would never love Éponine the way she wanted him to because they weren’t even close to being a good match.  Reality is reality.  Would Éponine's life turn out differently if she had fallen for a different guy?  Or, moved on from Marius after she realized how much he loved Cosette?  You can’t tell me there wasn’t another street-smart French sweetheart of a guy who wouldn’t have appreciated her for who she was.  Yet, she didn’t find him.  But that's because she didn’t even look for him.  She got stuck on the “out of reach” guy that she KNEW wanted someone else.  

And she ended up dead.

Now before everyone starts emailing me for being a thoughtless unromantic for taking their love triangle away from them, let me get to my point. The point is WE make our lives happen.  But first we need to BELIEVE we can be Cosette. Believe that we can find the right guy if we keep moving forward and looking for him.  We can’t just let life pass us by, pining for a guy we are too scared to talk to or one we think is totally out of our reach.  Or, even worse, pining for one that rejected us in the past and broke our hearts to a million pieces.  

Let’s get a move on!  If you are pining for someone, chase him down and find out if it’s right.  (meaning stop being scared and have a conversation).  And if a huge, big, fat rejection comes, take a weekend to sulk with your ice cream and chick flick movies, then MOVE ON.  

If you are still dwelling on a bad relationship and the one that got away, MOVE ON. Look around and look for someone else to focus on.  Don't be scared of the future just because of the past hurt, MOVE ON!  There are many more French men moving in the streets of Paris – metaphorically speaking of course. We just have to keep looking and believing Maris is out there. 

There is nothing worse than losing faith and personally, I’ve done it several times in my life.  But it brings misery and despair.  It is also a choice, just like Éponine decided to get shot.  Are the odds against us?  Yep.  Does it look bleak when you put our dating situations down on paper and do the math? You bet!  But are miracles possible? YES, but ONLY if we believe.  So let’s believe we can be the Cosette to the Maris.  Believe we can find the person that is the best fit for us.  I have too many happily married friends who were in my situation and age bracket this last year and they had the exact same odds and stumbling blocks. Yet they ended up finding the one that “just fit.” (aka Their Marius).  They all have different stories on how fast or slow they figured it out, but when they try to explain to me how they did it, it is always the same: it just happened – BUT  it was while they were trying. 

So let’s get a move on!  Let’s keep trying.  Let’s keep hoping and praying and doing everything in our power to find our Marius. Let's make a happy ending for all of us and not just those damn sopranos.

As it says in the end of the movie, "to love another person is to see the face of God."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

20 Seconds of Insane Courage

I haven’t seen “We Bought A Zoo” yet (I will, based on my love of all things Matt Damon and Cameron Crowe) but one line from that movie keeps finding its way into my Twitter feed and Facebook wall: “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage…”

I’ve been thinking about this since Sunday morning, when I logged on to a dating site I keep an open profile on, clicked on “who’s viewed me” and saw his face.

He looked at my profile.

He sent me no smiles or flirts or messages, but he looked at my profile.

Now, I know there are a million explanations for this--errant thumb hits link accidentally, dog paws on the keyboard, possibly forgotten he even knew me--but I’ve been thinking ever since I saw his face again if it was intentional.

And what might that mean?

And should I do anything about it?

I usually subscribe to the philosophy of “If he wants to be with you, he’ll find a way to be with you.”

But at the same time, I subscribe to the philosophy “Act as if everything depended on you, pray as if everything depended on God.”

I’ve spent many hours on my knees about this one, from the day we met, especially in the week that followed our breakup, and occasionally in the past year or so when I missed him so much I thought for sure I’d rather just feel nothing, have some “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” procedure so I could forget how he made me feel.

I wanted to forget him.

And then this quote, "20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you something great will come out of it."

And then today, this blog post, about a girl who refused to give up.

And I wonder--in all honesty--what is the harm of saying hello, happy holidays, hope you are well?

What is the worst that could happen? My heart is already broken, though stitched together with seasonal hope, so the worst is that he never reads the email, never responds, and a stitch or two pops open but heals back up in a day.

20 seconds of insane courage. It takes less than 20 seconds to send an email.

So I only need one.

Because honestly, at this point in my life, why not? I turn 40 in seven months. I’ve reconciled completely and peacefully with not having children. I’m truly okay with it. And most days, I’m completely and peacefully okay with not having a spouse. I love my career, I love my colleagues, I love my space that I can keep as neat-freakish or as slovenly as I wish, depending on my mood.

One second of insane courage. It’s something. An offering at the end of a year that can only be described as utterly hopeless.

So if anyone has one second of insane courage to lend me (or wants to talk me out of sending a two-sentence email), speak up. I'm not sure I can do this on my own.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest Post from Scout

I first read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in eighth grade. I remember feeling such longing to be like Scout, who never cared what anyone thought of her. So while writing for this blog, I would like to be called Scout, if only to encompass a little of her bravery and boldness.

I had a normal childhood growing up. I was born and raised in the LDS church, and from a very young age, was taught that marriage, eternal marriage in particular, should be one of the top priorities in your life. My parents have a fantastic marriage, one that I aspire to have someday.

I knew from a very young age that I did not want to be a full-time stay at home mother. I’ve had the same career aspirations since the age of five, and I’ve never wavered in knowing what I’ve wanted to do with my life. Go to college, get married sometime in college, go to graduate school, have children, have a successful career, live happily ever after, etc… I’m one of those people that love to have everything planned. I had a perfect plan of how my life would end up.

However, sometimes life does not go according to plan. Sure, I went to college. I finished with my Bachelor’s degree still single but loving life. I’m now in graduate school, currently living on an island in the Caribbean. Sounds idyllic, right? It is, most of the time. It has done nothing for my dating life though.

The church on the island is a small branch of about sixty people. It’s small but strong and growing. For the first few years, I was the only single LDS person to be found on the island. I would return home to Utah every four months to see family and friends, who would take it upon themselves to set me up as much as possible in the few weeks that I was home.

Then things took a turn for the interesting. One Sunday morning after shooing out the local goats from eating and destroying our supply of mangoes in the church’s garden, I hurried into sacrament meeting. I was hot. I was humid. I was crabby from having to chase out the obstinate goats. So I sat in the back of our small chapel, and what do I behold, an LDS man who looked to be around my age. To top it all off, I also learned that he was single.

Now, most people would say that I was drawn to him just because he was the only man that I should date because he was my same faith, and I would have to say that’s false. Something intangible drew me to him from the moment I met him. Almost like a string was attached to my heart from the very beginning, and he held that string. He started at the same graduate school that I was attending, and we began to spend quite a bit of time together. Heck, we even went grocery shopping together. He had all the qualities that I was looking for in a future spouse, yet he came in a completely different package than I had always pictured. He had a beard and looked unkept most of the time. He had these sandals that were so old they were practically falling off his feet.

Yet I was falling fast and dangerously hard for this boy. We never defined our relationship and where it was going, and in the beginning, I loved being with him so much that I was fine with that. But, as girls tend to do, I started to analyze things. Where was this relationship going? How did he feel about me? Where did he see this relationship going? All the typical questions we start fearing in new relationships.

Months went by and these questions still were not getting answered. I didn’t ask them out loud, but I thought they would come up in our conversations. They never did. So finally I’d had enough. I’d had enough of the mind games and endless analyzing. I had to know how he felt about me.

You know those moments, the ones that mark your life? Those moments where you feel like nothing will ever be the same after it? The night that I decided to tell him exactly how I felt was one of those moments. I remember standing outside his house, willing my shaking body to knock on his door. Never in all my life had I felt such anxiety and fear yet also felt so much hope. I had my whole life in front of me, and here I was taking risks to achieve what I really wanted! Because honestly, all I wanted was him.

So I knocked on his door. He was confused to see me at such a late hour, but he looked pleased to see me. I told him how I felt about him, how I wanted us to be together. I told him everything that was in my heart. He told me he didn’t feel the same way. He said maybe he could feel that way in the future, but now at this point in his life, he said he couldn’t. I left his house that night, heartbroken and forever changed.

Isn’t that what life is about though? Going through trials, heartbreaks, and tribulation so that we can be changed? It alters our life so that we can progress to where we are supposed to be. I’m not going to tell you that I wish he hadn’t felt differently. Of course I wanted him to kiss me that night and, just like the movies have all taught us, we live happily ever after. But that’s life for you. Sometimes we do not get what we want at the time we think we deserve it. Our timetable for our life does not match our Heavenly Father’s timetable for our life sometimes.

I was devastated by this man’s response. I felt like I was not good enough for him. A few days after this transpired, I read a quote from President Uchtdorf that said “No matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you.” Don’t you love how you receive inspiration from the scriptures or from our beloved church leaders just when you need it? No matter what we are going through in our lives, whether it is big or small, our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS there to comfort us when we are in need of comfort. He gives us these trials not because He does not love us, but to strengthen us.

I don’t know if my story is done with this man. Part of me feels like it’s not over between us, like something else will transpire. Either way, I know in the time since we parted ways, I have felt my Savior’s love more acutely than ever before. I think that when life or people break our hearts, break them completely open to where you feel like you can’t withstand the pain, that is when the Savior rushes in. He fills your heart with such love that, in time, it begins to mend itself back together. That’s what gives me the undying hope that I will love again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Which Anne Finally Gets That God Is On Her Side.

Exactly this moment a year ago today, I was probably in the middle of a pathetically sweet conversation with the nicest man I have ever met. Ever. And we were borderline hideous in how adorable we were to each other.

And then a couple of months later, without warning (and trust me--I know how to spot red flags after my sordid past) he broke up with me. The days that followed were pretty dark, yet I felt peace and comfort and was able to carry on without falling apart.

It hasn't always been easy, this past year. I've missed him horribly, and my prayers have run the gamut of the stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, sadness...but never quite arriving at acceptance. Because throughout all of my failed relationships, I always want to know WHY. Why not me? Why someone else? I never get an answer to that question. And I'll be honest, I don't want to accept that it's completely over because I want to keep my heart open in case he happens to come back.

A couple of weeks ago, I was the pianist at my niece's baptism. I spent the entirety at the piano, away from my family, and as I sat secluded from the rest of the people in attendance, I prayed. I prayed about the angst I feel about never having children, about dying alone, about all the traveling I keep putting off because I want to go places with someone dear to me. (And I do travel quite a bit alone, so don't think that I'm just sitting at home, staring out my window.)

It's difficult to articulate how I felt at the end of that prayer, but I will try. I felt as if I was being physically supported by God. As if I was floating, or as I described to my sister--like going tubing on the most peaceful river. And the message was clear: "Just. Hang. On."

And then, this week, various bits of information have come to light that made it clear to me this past year, I was better off without him. Not because he's not who I thought he was, but because he needed time to himself. I apologize for the ambiguity, but suffice it to say, I was protected. My year was stressful enough, and though I would have gladly helped shoulder his burdens, God thought better of it.

I teach Gospel Doctrine at church, and I'm always harping on the importance of the basics--pray daily, read scriptures daily, serve, love, etc. Because it's only when we are entrenched in the basics that we are able to feel that physical support from God, or be open to the inspiration that tells us He knows us and loves us. He is not a vengeful God, punishing my litany of sins with a lifetime of being single.

I still do not feel like the chapter of this particular boy is finished. But if it is, at least now I know why. That's no small gift, and I can't begin to express how grateful I am to just know.

Friday, June 1, 2012's Marcia


You might not remember me as I hardly remember me myself.  I’m the formerly single Mormon girl known in this world as Marcia (see side bar to the right à).  Even though I was anonymous (except to my family and friends from whom I cannot keep a secret), I was a proud contributor to this blog at one time.
Although I was single for 42 years, I had a pretty short stint on this blog.  If you haven’t gone through the archives (for which I can hardly blame you) and don’t know my story, it is this in a nutshell.  I met Tony (yes, that's his REAL name) a few days after breaking up a long-term relationship which was the foundation for a tentative new beginning.  Even though I had the tendency to be in relationship for long periods of time (is ten years long?), Tony and I were married 6 months to the day after our first date.  But that doesn’t mean we hit it off right away.
I fully intended on writing a follow up posting post wedding/honeymoon.  There were some pretty funny stories to tell back then, like the time I overheard Tony talking to someone about his “wife” and I thought “he’s MARRIED?!!” not comprehending that he was referring to ME.
So now it’s four years later and I thought it was time to resurface.  I still get emails from this blog with comments that people write and it’s fun to hear the funny stories, sad to hear about struggles and wonderful to hear about marriages!

I’m also grateful for this blog for doing a few things for me.  By nature I am an introverted, private person.  This blog was the vehicle that brought my feelings to the surface, that allowed me to explore the whys and how comes.  And although I'm definitely still a work in progress, writing on this blog helped me immensely in my transition to married life.
And speaking of that transition, it was a lot smoother than I expected, given we were both pretty old and set in our ways (he was a ripe old 50!) and we both worked from home.

So four years later, I really don’t want to give any advice because I HATED that when I was single.  You know, someone gets married and suddenly they are the expert?  But can I just say that the best thing about being married is having someone else to focus on other than myself?  I also have to say that I loved being single as much as I love being married.
Some of my single friends have told me that I gave them hope.  And I guess that’s what I’d like to do.  Because at the age of 42 I got married, at 44 I got pregnant (after making the decision to start the adoption process), and although we had a bit of a rough go of it (can you say hospital bed rest for me and 6 weeks premature for Ryan?), we have the cutest little boy in the world (ok, now I’m bragging).  But lest you doubt, here, for the first time on this blog, is a picture!

Oh and if you’d like to follow our journey, hop on over to our blog.  I don’t write as often as I used to, but not from lack of stuff to write about.  We’re in the midst of adopting a second child which is a race to Tony’s 55th birthday (the age limit for the adoption we’re pursuing) which is next March.  Yikes!

So to all those who encouraged me during the ups and downs on this blog, if you’re still around, thank you!  I still have those ups and downs, but I’m alive and trying to survive the world of the terrible two’s as a middle-aged momma.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Age Is Sometimes More Than A Number. (Anne)

First of all, congratulations to Stella!
I’ve been in a slump. I lack the words to describe what work has been like for me this past month, other than to say this: this month has once again proven to me that fiction is a sorry replacement for real life. I cannot imagine someone creating the situations I’ve endured recently.
And as for the dating, well, it’s not happening. Several reasons for that…
  1. I live in the middle of nowhere. 
  2. Still struggling with memories of the boy. Just the other night he popped into my dream, and as I started to wake up and realize it was a dream and not reality, I willed myself back to sleep so I wouldn’t have to remember what it felt like not talking to him. Grrr.
  3. I am back in the online dating world, which for me means the only men expressing interest in me are 13-18 years older than me.
It is this last point I’d like to address today...and I’ll admit it: I. Am. Ageist.
I’m not yet 40 (though it’s barreling toward me, and fast) and if a man has grandchildren, I’m having a really tough time giving him a second look. Vanity, yes. Shallow, absolutely. But I simply am not ready to be “grandpa’s special friend” or “Nana.” Again, I’M NOT EVEN 40 YET.
And occasionally I like to rail about LDS men wanting young and fresh BYU grads (or not even profile I read noted in his desired mate: college sophomore), but as I had dinner with a friend last week, a friend who is not LDS, and we caught up on life, I realized this is not just an LDS phenomenon. Between the two of us we knew three men my age, each dating girls between 20 and 23. 
So what is it about younger girls? Is it the biological imperative to “sow oats” in more fertile places? Is it the lack of baggage that often accompanies younger girls? Is it that their bodies haven’t given way to gravity yet? Is it a “Peter Pan” mentality of the men my age?
I’m really not intending to sound shrill or accusatory, just genuinely curious: am I the only not-yet-40-year-old being pursued by the 50-65 year-old crowd? And am I being too picky in not returning their advances? Or should I embrace the grandmother moniker at 39?

Monday, April 23, 2012

With this ring..(Stella)

Well friends, it's finally happened. I am engaged! I am excited, and nervous, and can't hardly keep a thought in my head for longer then a few seconds but I wanted to take the time to write what I suppose will be my final blog post.  I wanted to take a few minutes and ponder what these changes in my life mean and the lessons that I never want to forget.  If ever there comes a day I forget to be grateful I want a place to remember.

Things I did right:
  • Take the opportunities to explore every dream, every idea, every opportunity.  Once you marry those singular choices come to a screeching halt.   I will forever be grateful that I took the opportunities I was given to finish my education, travel the world, and make mistakes that no one but me knows about.
  • Be faithful.  I know the only thing that has kept me sane, and happy (even when I felt miserable) was the gospel.  Cling to it. Make it your best friend.  You are NOT alone.
  • When you fall down, get back up.  Let your mistakes go and make tomorrow better.
  • Never regret the people that you've loved.  Even if they've broken your heart, turned their back on you, or treated you poorly - never regret the love and kindness you gave them.
  • Have good friends.  Wherever you can find them.  When your family doesn't understand, when you feel alone in your ward, when you just need a shoulder to lean on - I know that unequivocally the friends that I have made (though they were all married, stay at home mom's and I thought they could never understand) have been my greatest champions, my greatest supports, and are now my biggest cheering section.
Things I could have done much better:
  • I wish that I had found a way not to be so angry.  Anger is a wasted emotion but it was part of my process I suppose.  Feeling anger that deep makes my joy that much bigger but it made my sorrow that much darker.
  • I wish I had found a way to let myself dream.  I worked so hard at convincing myself that this would never happen that even as I stare at the ring on my finger I struggle to believe.
  • Not worried so much.  I couldn't rush today anymore then I could pick up a car and throw it.  My faith wasn't strong enough to let this worry go but things would have been a lot easier if it had been.
  • Paid attention to red flags in relationships instead of trying to rationalize them away.  Heavenly Father will guide us if we will just listen.
  • Trust Heavenly Father.  Trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him.
Thank you dear friends for your words of kindness and support when my grief and struggle became bigger then what I could contain within myself.  I pray that your righteous desires are brought to you as quickly as possible and that you have the strength to endure until that day.

Thank you to the original Talking Walls girls - you have blessed more of us then you know. 

Thank you Heavenly Father for not melting me down for parts years ago.

In closing I would like to say:

May the force be with you.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
And most importantly...
God be with you 'til we meet again...

Love, Stella

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tweeting Conference (Anne)

This General Conference, I lifted the protection on my personal Twitter account and participated in #TwitterStake and #ldsconf discussions. I am a Twitter fiend, and I loved this experience, but due to my job, I feel like I have to keep tweets protected. So the lock goes back up...

At any rate, I highly recommend Twitter, even if you only use it for Conference weekend. It really was quite exhilarating to be part of that conversation, to see people re-tweeting and favoriting my tweets, and to read see what others were taking away from the talks as well.

One tweet I saw mentioned that Sunday afternoon seemed specifically for singles. This made me want to read all the talks from that session and see what he saw and heard in that session.

And when I tweeted a somewhat exasperated tweet Saturday morning after the first two talks were about parenting and families, a couple of people responded words of hope and encouragement.

This post really isn't about anything specific single-related, other than this: we have many ways to reach out to others, and it doesn't always have to be about finding a spouse. Sometimes just knowing we aren't really alone is a nice feeling.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Okay, Universe, It's Your Turn (Anne)

My sister moved to a far-off land, and I want to visit her and her adorable family. But to do so requires a passport.

Can you believe I am as old as I am and don't have a passport? Since I served a mission in Canada pre-9/11, all I needed for a visa was my birth certificate. And it's not like I'm swimming in money to travel whenever I'd like, and I didn't want to go traipsing all over the world by myself.

But yesterday, I gathered all the required paperwork, paid the fees, and in 4-6 weeks I will have a passport. As I left the Post Office, I thought to myself why I had waited so long to get a passport, and though not the sole reason, one reason was that I kept expecting a different last name.

It's the same reason why I never had my scriptures engraved--when I bought my post-mission set, I was dating someone, then someone else, and then I figured I'd just wait.

(And yes, the feminist in me kinda cringes as I admit this to the world, but it's somewhat safe with the pseudonym and all.)

So, Universe, my passport application is on its way to the State Department. Is this passport gonna last me 10 years? Or will I have just paid $135 only to have to get a new one in the next year or two?

Your move.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Trauma-Drama Queen (Stella)

Last night I sat with my sweetheart enjoying a well earned piece of pizza (after my 20 minute swim at the gym) talking about our day, what our upcoming plans were, joking and teasing each other (as only 2 first born instigators can) and just enjoying the evening. Somewhere within that conversation (and though I'm forgetting right now how it was relevant at the time) he made this statement:

"Someday when you're married you're going to love being a wife."

And there it was. In one short, well intentioned sentence I was yanked back to every break up I've ever experienced where a man had told me he wanted to marry me but because I am so wonderful (which I am) and they are so unworthy (which they were) they just couldn't in good conscience make that type of commitment. In one confused blink of his eyes, mine filled with tears and we looked at each other as only a man and woman can. Both completely baffled as to what the other is confused about. She feeling hurt to her core questioning how she could love such an unfeeling brute, he wondering what in the world he had said that had landed him on the on-ramp for one of those discussions.

Being the independent, hates being vulnerable, swore to the heavens that she would never put herself in this position again kind of girl that I am I had to fight back my initial impulse to get up and run. I did a little self therapy, told myself to brave and then...clammed up.

My sweetheart, being the sensitive male that he is will do anything in his power to make me happy. It kills him when I have a problem he can't fix, and as far as I can tell he means it when he says that he wants me to share everything with him. I have to admit, that is new for me. I'm much more accustomed to something like the following: "I love you with all my heart! I would do anything for you! Of course, this is contingent on the requirements that you don't come to me with any problems, never confront me about something that is bothering you, and whatever you do never suggest that I am not 100% perfect."

After some gentle snuggles and a head rub (I'll do anything for a head rub) I was finally cajoled to connect the dots for him. Of course, I had to first figure it out myself and why I had such a primal, immediate reaction. What I realized (and what I finally shared) was that I had heard something very different then what he had said. While he was making a statement about our future life together I heard:

"Someday (a long, long time from now) when you're married (fat chance sister, it's never going to happen) you're going to love being a wife (because finally someone will have chosen you back you sad, sad thing. But don't hold your breath. By the way, I'm telling you this so that you'll read between the lines and know that I'm not interested in marrying you even though I've told you that I am. I just like watching you fight back all that hope and even giggle when I see you trying to resist the urge to pick out paint colors for this living room you're never going to live in. I secretly wonder how long you'll let me string you along, but I'm going to milk it for as long as I can. Cue evil chuckle...hehehe...")

That's quite a journey those few words took from my ears to whatever part of the brain stores memory and emotion. But that's the path I took and it happened so fast I didn't even realize it until the tears were falling down my face. That's the traumatized part of me I suppose - flashbacks and triggers to my most painful experiences. In an instant I was alone again and the freshness of those feelings was powerful.

I think of the times that I have let myself believe and opened up that protected part of my heart that I have (unfortunately) learned to guard with Xena Warrior Princess fierceness. By allowing myself to be vulnerable I have experienced those moments most of us would do anything to avoid but which I've started to wonder just might be important to our eternal development. Most of us have never been asked to cross frozen plains without food or shelter or deal with tyrannical leaders, or watch our families starve to death. We have been asked to deal with loneliness, hopelessness and depression and just like those faithful pioneers have been encouraged to be cheerful and keep going believing that our promised land is real and will soon be in front of us.

I just have to ask - why is that so hard to do even when all the signs around you say This Is The Place?