Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As I write this on Christmas Eve, I am humbled to think that regardless of income, race, gender, or yes, even marital status, He loves me. He loves you. He came to earth for us.

On this special day, I hope we each take time to reflect on the Savior's birth and life, and remember His atonement heals not only our sins, but also our weaknesses and infirmities (Alma 7:11-12).

Be joyful that He was born, and that He lives. His promises are infinite, and He knows us personally.

Have you see the video site? Here's one...Merry Christmas to our readers, wherever you may be.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Speak Up! Or How Anne Started Yelling in Relief Society.

Last Sunday's lesson in Relief Society was a revisiting of Elder Uchtdorf's talk in the Relief Society General Meeting about Forget-Me-Nots. I loved the premise of this talk—his first point about how we need to stop punishing ourselves for our weaknesses is something we just don't hear enough.

But then he got to his third point—a perfectly valid point of Forget Not to be Happy—and rather than illustrate his point with an anecdote about someone who did just that, he told the story of a woman who wanted a husband and family so badly that when it didn't happen, she turned into a bitter old school marm who alienated everyone around her, including her students.

I remember being upset about it when I heard him give the talk, and when the teacher started the lesson, I thought, “Surely she's not going to retell this story.” She did have someone read it, and I stewed. Do I say something? Do I just let it go?

Well, I said something. Loudly. Vehemently.

“This made me so angry when he told this story. I know dozens of women who are single and NOT like the woman in this story—why couldn't he have shared their stories instead? It just perpetuates the cultural myth in the church that to be valued, women must be married.”

And wow, did I open a can of worms.

I didn't mean to, and as someone who teaches Gospel Doctrine and occasionally has to deal with lesson-hijackers, I really try to be sensitive and NOT do that. But I just couldn't stay silent any more. I wanted those women to know that while I'd love to be married and have children, I'm STILL happy with where I am. I love my job (most days) and I'm able to really, truly affect change in my classroom and with my piano students. And I know I'm not alone! Marnie and Stella, plus at least a dozen others I know in the same situation. We aren't bitter, and we ARE doing something with our lives, and we ARE happy.

And even though I was the only single woman in the room, I was shocked at how many women agreed with me. I was sitting next to the temple matron—a woman who has known me since I was 8 years old—and she said, “It makes me angry, too, that the image we have of single women in the church is bitterness. Anne is an example to me, and a role model for me, and I'm a grandmother. It doesn't matter that she's single.”

I was going to apologize to the teacher afterwards, but then a thought came to me. Maybe it was stubbornness, maybe inspiration. But here's what I thought: Maybe Elder Uchtdorf didn't have a better story to share because we are silent. We don't talk about our careers or volunteer work or whatever it is we do, because it sounds self-aggrandizing. We don't share what makes us happy because...well, I'm not sure why. Is it because we think it's not important to the members of our ward families? Is it because deep down, we feel no matter what, it's never going to measure up to the women who get to raise families?

I don't know. But I'm done being silent about it. It's time I stopped apologizing for and complicit-ly ignoring the life I've built by not being more vocal at church about the good things I'm doing with my life.

If I get to listen to the women in Relief Society share their stories about sleepless nights with newborns, then I should share stories of my sleepless nights caused by my job. If I get to listen to stories of funny toddler sayings, I should share stories of funny work colleague sayings.

If the women in Relief Society share their family life with me, I should share my single life with them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So, Thanks, I Guess (Anne)

29 days ago, a friend pressured me into trying National Novel Writing Month. Technically, I don't fit in their parameters, because most of the writers focus on works of fiction, and I can't imagine anything more ridiculous than my own life.
So I wrote a memoir.
50,000 words of a memoir. Most of which I will likely hack to pieces before sending it out to publishers in anticipation of many rejection letters.
(Sidebar: I think all of the dating rejection has completely prepared me for a life as a writer. How can rejection by a stranger be worse than rejection by someone I love? But I digress.)
The most recent boy to bail on me told me that what attracted me to him the most was my writing. He looooooooved reading my writing. He encouraged me to write a book, too, but I was too wrapped up in him and other summer pursuits to really take it seriously.
So when my friend challenged me to write an entire book in November, it was simply germination for a seed that had already been planted.
So to this boy who bailed on me exactly four months ago this week: thanks. Thanks for believing in me enough to encourage me to write a book. I never would have seriously considered it, had you not repeatedly told me you thought a book of mine would be great.
Oh, and thanks for being a chapter.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do I want to be the Pot or the Kettle? (Stella)

I am dating a new man. Yea!! right? Um, no. I stopped getting excited about new relationships years ago. Now I approach them like I'm walking up quietly on a venomous snake that will snap my neck in two if I startle it. Somehow in my head I'll find my husband when I can get my arms around the scary snake before he notices I'm there. Unfortunately, for me that's what relationships have become. Everyone says - Have fun! Enjoy it! I laugh a dry, sarcastic laugh and say uh-huh. To my sweet married friends who didn't date past the age of 23 and have absolutely no idea the trauma of adult dating I tell them - you go and have 8 miscarriages and then tell me you're excited when you get pregnant again. A rather gruesome analogy but it gets my point across.

So this new fellow...he's great. Not just great, amazing. A 'real' grownup with a career, a home, and a life prepared to provide for a family. He is marriage minded and makes it very clear that I am being evaluated for future wifehood. That makes him sound methodical and cunning but he's quite the opposite. Despite being scarred by a painful divorce he is open and honest with his feelings, his fears, and his hopes. He treats me like a princess and trips over himself to take care of me. He's the kind of guy I've waited decades for. I'm having a wonderful time and feeling all those warm fuzzy feelings and yet...

I'm freaking out.

Why? Because THIS ONE is different. It feels totally different - as if it has real possibility. This one is all the things the others were not and this one just might be it. Funnily, I find myself (inside anyway) acting just like the men from my past who were so happy to be in a relationship until it turned serious and then they were clawing to get away. I absolutely refuse to let fear ruin my future or my possibilities so I charge ahead and tell "the jerk" (my special name for satan) to jump in a ditch 'cause I'm not listening!

That said I find it hysterical that I find myself (through honest means of heart shattering experiences) acting just like those men I've dated before who let their fears and insecurities make their decisions for them. I hate that and I absolutely refuse to be that person but it's interesting none the less that these feelings are so powerful.

The future is not yet decided and we're certainly not at a point of making any announcements but I thought I would throw out these thoughts and remind myself of my favorite Book of Mormon verse:

Moroni 7: 12 - Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

In honor of my future family I say - If the jerk can't find a ditch I have a few other suggestions...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gratitude and Holidays (Anne)

I think we mention the importance of gratitude on a fairly regular basis here on the ol' blog, but it's worth another mention today.

The talks in my ward today were all about gratitude and how important it is to be grateful. Every November over on my non-pen-named blog, I write a daily post of what I'm grateful for each day. Some days the posts are poignant realizations, some days the gratitude is perfunctory. But I do try to be grateful.

The holiday trifecta is fast approaching--the trifecta that reminds me over and over that I am alone. Christmas, New Years, and Valentine's Day. It is so easy for me to get bogged down in what I don't have (a spouse, heck--I'd settle for a mere date) that I fail to recognize what I do have: a truly wonderful life.

I'm really hoping that all of us who turn to this blog for some kind of comfort, validation, or support will remember that in the coming months, we are all blessed. Sometimes we are blessed with our jobs. Sometimes we are blessed with our families. Sometimes we are blessed as we serve others. We all can be grateful for at least one thing a day.

Focus on those blessings throughout this holiday season, and recognize God's hand in your life. I know the holidays can be hard--and I'm not saying I won't have some dark days myself--but keeping an eye toward what God HAS given me, instead of focusing on the one teensy-weensy thing He hasn't might help me be a little less despondent. I hope it helps you too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mr. Good Enough (Marnie)

I read the most fascinating and eye-opening book suggested by one of our readers this summer. It’s called “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” by Lori Gottlieb. Now before you go off and think “settling” means giving up the most important things you need in a future spouse – such as respect, responsibility, integrity, and a strong testimony – know that it’s not. In fact, I think this title might be a turn off and should be instead called, The Case for Accepting Mr. Good Enough. I’ll have to talk to her publisher….

There are many points the author puts out there – but one point I really related to was the fact that women often give up or pass up fantastic men because they don’t fit their extremely large list of “requirements” in a future spouse. Of course, some of her examples were just absurd: women who had relationships with men that were funny, smart, good looking, kind, and someone they related to but broke up with them because they weren’t romantic enough or dressed well enough. I think single women in their 30s and 40s realize that there is no perfect man and that romantic love stories in movies are just for the movies. They don’t exist.

Or do we?? Do we really believe it? Do we believe that the outer shell of a person doesn’t really reflect the person that will make a perfect husband and family man? The author had some excellent examples about how the men we THINK we want to marry are the men we pass up for trivial and silly reasons.

I’m completely guilty of that. I’ve broken up with a really great man for some unrealistic picture of a man, but I surely have passed up some men after only one date because – his laugh was just too annoying, or he had facial hair, or was shorter than me, or I just didn’t “feel” anything after a first date. And after reading this book, I’m completely ashamed.

Now let me qualify here that there are some men that have asked me out that yes - it ain’t ever gonna to happen. But aren’t there also some people in my social circle that I have written off for no real good reason who could be a real potential and great spouse if I just “got over myself?” And I don’t mean the creepy or the needy ones, or those with absolutely no social skills. I mean, the nice guys that we overlook because they are too nice, aren’t tall enough, or have less education then us, or not quite good looking enough.

Have you ever said about a guy, “oh, he is the absolute best! Kind, funny, fulfills his church calling. He’d be perfect for anyone but me!” I do that ALL the time! But why?? I think it’s time I start analyzing and realizing why I’m really discounting these men. Are they good enough reasons? Are these reasons important ENOUGH? Is it just because I’ve always wanted a man 4.5 inches taller than me so I discount those that aren’t? Or a man who has a better job than me that will impress family and friends? Or is it because that one guy that dumped me had that one special trait that I just thought was so perfect for me and I keep holding on to it as though it’s the most important thing in the world and discounting men that don’t have it?

REALLY? Isn’t this exactly the shallow behavior I accuse men of doing all the time???

I liked this book because it had reality in it. I’m forty. My dating pool is smaller and with scarier looking fish. I need to open my horizons and stop focusing on the shallow things we accuse the men in the world of doing. I need to look at MYSELF and stop getting in my own way of finding my spouse.

So what does that mean? What am I going to give up? Well, there are several childish, ridiculous rules I made up when I was 12 when dreaming of a future husband. Admit it! You’ve all had them. I’ve given up several already, I’m proud to admit. Here is a list of some of the qualifications I had as a college student:

1. Had to be from a big city and not from Utah. (that lasted 3 years before I fell for a guy from Toquerville, Utah. Population 910.)

2. Had to be over 5’11 (love of my life admitted he was lying when he said he was 5’8” and was actually 5’7” yet I could have cared less)

3. Never married – because I never wanted to be compared to a previous wife (Yet, I dated another great guy who was divorced and was the most thoughtful of all I’ve dated)

Well, luckily I got over those childish reasons. But yet I’ve still held on to some with all my might and strength and won’t give them up because I’m too prideful to admit that they are childish. I’m not telling you what they are – I’ve already admitted too much here. But you know what I’m talking about. These stringent rules that eliminate really good men because we feel like we can’t control much in this life, so darn it, we are going to control this about who we marry!

Things like they had to served a mission and be righteous to this very day with no bumps in the road in their past, has to have all the skills to be a future Bishop, has to be charismatic and take the lead but also let you lead whenever you want to, can’t be shy, has to like your favorite types of movies or music, has to anticipate your needs before you know them…you can see how this list can be completely ridiculous.

I had a lot of epiphanies from this book and I’ll be posting about them later, but one other point I want to share is the need of letting the man I marry be human. If I expect a man to accept me for all that I am – with my many failings and quirks – I should give him a break and let him be just as human and quirky. If he wears bow ties and forgets to take out the trash, so what! As long as he loves and adores me and is a supportive husband. He should be allowed to be just as human as I am.

Do you see the difference from giving up some things you should never compromise from the things that really have no bearing on a good marriage? Having that realization is helping me think about the men in my life differently.

I challenge you (and myself) to take a good look at the men around you and see if they have the qualities you are looking for even if they might not be in the perfect packaging. Which guy makes you laugh? Which guy do you respect for how he treats you and others? Which guy is really kind and looks out for others? Even if they are 20 pounds overweight, no hair and dresses like he is a crazy professor - take the time to get to know them and flirt or even ask them out once. No, you aren’t committing to marriage so don’t get freaked out! You are just opening up your options and seeing people as Christ does.

I think you’d be really surprised as to who you might find attractive in the end – IF you just give him a chance.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From Where I Sit (Stella)

I have a new, dear friend that has been kind enough to entertain some of my questions about dating from the male perspective. He's unbelievably patient with me and so far hasn't taken offense to anything I've asked which has endeared him to me forever. The following post is a slightly edited version of my response to my friend and be advised it's written with a great deal of passion and (I'm honest enough to admit) years of hurt feelings and disappointments. It is in no way intended to be a man bash or an invitation to tear our brothers apart but an honest out-pouring of one woman's heart.

The question I posed was: At what point is it okay to start looking outside the church for marriage opportunities? The answer (in a nutshell) I received: Never. You never give up hope and you never accept anything less. Be patient and have faith in the Lord.
As a woman I am promised that I will have the opportunity for an eternal marriage if I live worthily of it in this life. I will receive it in this life or the next and "it mattereth not." Men do not have that same promise...(well not quite anyway) but are charged with the responsibility of preparing themselves through education and gospel pursuits and then going out and finding a wife while they are young(ish.) If through no fault of their own and despite their best efforts that blessing doesn't come then of course they have the same promise that we women do. That said I just flat out do not believe that any man who wants a marriage can't find it (please see disclaimer below.) Of course I've never been a man so I can't say that conclusively but I do know girls and lots of really good ones who will/have/do love men of all types, backgrounds, physicality, abilities etc.

Disclaimer: I have also known plenty of nightmares who have pummelled good men with their lies, selfishness and absolute lack of gratitude for the blessing of the good man by their sides. But this isn't about those girls - it's about the ones like myself and my fellow contributers to this blog. Good, loving, beautiful, faithful women who quite frankly deserve someone equally wonderful and who get pummelled themselves.

If you have not yet read A Single Voice by Kristen Oaks you need to. Run, do not walk to your local Deseret Book or computer and order it today. While discussing the importance of keeping our standards high Sister Oaks states something to the effect of "Men are not being who they are supposed to be." This is not said in a disparaging way and it is not said in a hateful way. It is stated as a fact of her experience and by so doing has validated mine. For any who may be offended by such a bold statement I ask you to reflect on the efforts of dear President Monson and the men and women who lead with him. Their gentle begging of single men to make something of themselves, get married, and start families (while promising them happiness and eternal joy) simultaneously brings tears of sorrow to my eyes and makes my Irish blood boil. What can I say? I'm a complicated woman and while I can be compassionate I've also had quite enough.

So while I agree in being patient, while I agree in being faithful I must stomp my foot and say what have I been the last 20 years but faithful and patient? Despite having heartbreak and frustration and normal human desires I have not left the church, I have not sacrificed my virtue (and not because I haven't wanted to,) I have not fallen away though many times I have given it thought. If I were to marry a man outside the church it would be with great care, prayer & fasting, priesthood blessings, and absolute confidence that I was not turning my back on the Lord's will for my life. I have absolute confidence that Heavenly Father would not leave me alone in that decision and if I felt the confirmation that it was okay I would move forward with all zealousness. So who is really being the faithless one? Who is really the one to lose their blessing? Me or the LDS men who have let me pass through their fingers? I declare emphatically it would not be me.

The Lord's will and counsel don't change. The scriptures are as true as the day they were given - I believe them with my whole heart. I know full well that eternal blessings only come through Temple ordinances and I know that we are to strive for Temple marriages. But I also believe that if I create a home with a man who loves and honors God and the Savior and loves and honors me then we will have an eternal marriage - in this life or the next. While I don't pretend to know what it would feel like to not share the Temple with my spouse or have him bless our babies, I did grow up in a home where my dad was a member and my mom wasn't. We had a wonderful, loving, faithful home and when the Lord's time came for our family to become eternal it did and always will be. Maybe I'm being naive, maybe today I'm just throwing a temper tantrum but my intention and my hope is that I'm being faithful. More then anything I hope I am pleasing the Lord in my quests and my pursuits. I would never choose an earthly family over an eternal one if I was offered both choices but at what point do I utilize that faith and belief that Heavenly Father will bless my life and my future family even if the opportunities brought to me are not in the package I expect?

And I must ask - am I really expected to live the next 1 minute - 60+ years lonely and miserable? Am I really to hold on to this painful hope that never seems to be realized? I have longed described this trial in my life as my version of Abraham sacrificing Isaac and while I have fought Heavenly Father and myself and prayed and begged and been sickened by the idea of earthly singleness I have, to the very best of my ability, offered my heart and my willingness to embrace this revolting idea if that is what the Lord wants. I have tried to walk up that mountain and raise that dagger in the form of focusing on work, family, friends, church, pursing so many degrees & opportunities the wall needs extra supports only to repeatedly find myself miserable and knowing that something huge is missing and I am not living the life I'm supposed to.

Now because as far as I can tell I have been (imperfectly of course) where I should have been, done what I should have done, accepted every date with every man who ever asked (unless I had good reason not to - i.e. safety.) I assume that I have done my part thus far. Because the desire and the hope and the never ending feeling & confirmation that it is the Lord's will that I am to be married and have a family I am lead to this...

If it is the Lord's will and it is my will - whose will is missing? I ask again - would a loving and just Heavenly Father withhold my eternal blessings or the one who has yet to show up?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Offerings (Anne)

When I transferred from BYU to a Midwestern university, I enrolled in Institute. I was 22 at the time, and was returning to church activity after a horrific engagement to a boy who did not share my faith (and was an all-around awful person). I loved the Institute teacher, and I always felt like he “got me” in a way my religion professors at BYU did not.

Three years later, I returned from my mission, and a boy who I thought had waited for me broke my heart in rather devastating fashion. When Institute classes started, and that same teacher asked me questions about my mission and how I was adjusting, I told him about the boy and my fear that I would never get married.

My teacher said, “Maybe being single is going to be your Abrahamic trial.”

I wanted to punch him.

That was 13 years ago, and apparently, that Institute teacher was somewhat clairvoyant.

But I think of his analogy every so often, especially when I do things that I consider sacrifices. Trying online dating: an offering. Going to a single adult conference, where I am the youngest person in attendance by at least 25 years: an offering. Continual church attendance despite feeling like a complete freak: an offering.

Offering after offering on the Altar of Please-Don't-Let-Me-Die-Alone.

Last weekend, I attended one of those single adult conferences. I could only make it to parts of it, and really didn't have a chance to mingle much, but I went. And in the opening prayer of one of the speaker events, the pray-er asked that we would be blessed for our faith in attending.

I was so touched by that idea—that by going to the conference, by myself, knowing not a single soul could even be considered an act of faith.

I enjoyed the speakers (Barbara Thompson was one of them) and the one workshop I was able to attend before I had to leave for another obligation. I didn't see anyone close to my age. And yes, I know I probably shouldn't be age-ist, but I'm just not ready to date men closer to my father's age than mine.

I did not have enough faith to attend the dance.

But I laid down an offering just the same.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

If They Are In Trouble So Are We (Stella)

As I was doing a little "work avoidance" I came across this article on CNN's website and felt that familiar feeling of "I've got to blog this" come upon me. I ask you to hang in there with me - this is not a man bash, this is not a frustrated single girl vent and this is not an attempt to find someone to blame for my current life predicament. It is however, a frightening reality of our current society, and in typical Stella style I say let's examine and try to fix.

In this article it is discussed that men in U.S. society are falling behind women in education, career success, and family ties. I'll let you read and decide on your own but some of the high points are:

  • Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two.

  • The out-of-wedlock birthrate is more than 40% in America. Of course we can only blame men for 1/2 of that...

  • Men are also less religious than ever before. According to Gallup polling, 39% of men reported attending church regularly in 2010, compared to 47% of women.

  • Current census reports that for the 1st time in recorded American history there are more singles then marrieds, & more adults then children.
I suppose the easy thing to do would be for those of us of the XX chromosome persuasion to point our fingers at our brothers and chastise them for not keeping up. 10 years ago I would have been at the front of the finger pointing line - however time and experience has shown me that things are not always as they seem. Therefore I must stop and ask:


As children of our Heavenly Father we know that women are no more talented or gifted then men - He has blessed us all with gifts, talents, and abilities. In America it can be argued that we all have similar access to education. As members of the church we all receive the same Prophetic guidance and counsel. So what gives? Some thoughts...

  • Divorce and the break up of families. How many have watched their parents marriage break up or other loved ones or maybe even their own and have sworn they will never again go through that?

  • Women's lib - no offense to any libbers out there but somewhere in the quest for equality we handed over our rights to chivalry, our God given right to be gentle and female and though I doubt that any of us mourn the demise of the corset, I for one wouldn't mind being taken care of once and a while even if I don't "need" to be and yes I'm willing to wear a corset to make that happen.

  • Selfishness and the waxing cold of mankinds' hearts. Marriage and family require putting others needs first every day - and for some this isn't very "fun."

  • Massive decline in morality and values. I can't help but think of the reference to buying the milk if the cow's giving it away...

  • Satan's all out attack on (I believe) men and their VITAL importance to women and the world. I long ago lost count of how many men have told me they aren't good enough for me. Knowing that I am no better then anyone else I have come to interpret this as "I don't have anything to offer you;" or "I don't want to put forth the effort that that would require;" or better said "I don't believe I have it in me."
Granted, all of this began long before any of us began our mortal journey and it's hard to say exactly when it started to fall apart. Maybe it began during WWII when women kept the country going and had a taste of earning income and working outside the home? Maybe it was the Flower Power and free love generation? Or maybe we can blame it on the invention of Atari (the article cites that men 18-34 play video games more then boys age 12-17.)

I wonder if this is a chicken/egg type of situation. Certainly as women we just might be the most educated and accomplished generation ever. Is that because we are career & achievement orientated or because we weren't given another choice? Certainly I believe most of us would have (and should have) pursued an education regardless but I'm quite certain I wouldn't have gone on to graduate school or have the career that I have if I had been given another option.

I decided long ago that I wanted a "good" life. I wanted to be able to care for my own needs, I wanted to be able to enjoy some of life's 'fineries' and since I didn't have a partner that landed squarely on my shoulders. For me, that meant formal education and a career. So the question I pose is: Have women surpassed men in these areas because we are these super go-getters or because we didn't have another choice?

My follow up question is to wonder if our achievements (and maybe even a get out of my way, I am woman hear me roar mentality that some of those achievements bring) have somehow pushed the men of our society into thinking that they can't, or shouldn't, or don't need to pursue their own achievements?

I can't help but think that if we expect men to return to who they once were we have to in part do the same. During the October 2000 general conference Margaret Nadauld said:

"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity."

I believe therein lies the challenge. We do not need to hide our intelligence or abilities nor do we need to stop reaching for our greatest potentials but perhaps as we draw closer to who we are to be we will clear the path for our brothers to embrace who they are. If women of the world returned to the virtues the Lord has outlined for us it seems to me that men would have no choice but to follow the example. Of course we are one small percentage of womanhood but if we can inspire other women with our examples perhaps change can begin to happen - maybe not everyone and certainly not immediately but I believe it can happen. Let us encourage the best of one another, love each other and cheer each other on to achieve all the Lord has sent us here to be.

The article concluded with this thought: "This decline in founding virtues -- work, marriage, and religion -- has caught the eye of social commentators from all corners." Make no mistake friends - if the world is starting to notice you can say with absolute authority:


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Moneyball. (Anne)

I saw Moneyball with a friend today. I'm an Aaron Sorkin fangirl, and he co-wrote the screenplay, and I'm a baseball fan, so it met the litmus test for being worth the price of matinee admission.

It didn't have the typical pizazz of a Sorkin script, but near the end of the film, the statistician shares a metaphor with the General Manager, Billy Beane.

He shows Beane footage of a minor league catcher—way overweight for baseball standards with an admitted fear of going to 2nd base. He's at bat, hits a perfect pitch, and can tell from the contact that he hit it well. So he takes the leap. He approaches first and we see him round the base to head to 2nd.

And he falls down.

He belly crawls back to first, because he doesn't want to be tagged out. Head in the dirt, he clings to the base, almost hugging it, despite the first baseman and the first base coach tugging at him, motioning for him to get up. He was so focused on staying safe at first base that he didn't see he had hit a home run.

In the movie, the metaphor was intended to persuade Beane to take a lucrative contract in Boston. But the metaphor wasn't lost on its applicability in my own life. I have this great career. People with whom I work respect me. I chair a committee that can affect true change. I write in my spare time. I teach piano lessons, raising a piano army for church. And I do a million other valuable things with my time.

But sometimes, my face is in the dirt and I'm belly crawling to first base, believing that I'm not valuable if I'm not married—and I can't be bothered to see all the home runs I'm hitting.

So. The next time you trip and fall into the self-esteem spiral that often accompanies being single and LDS, look up, as Elder Cook counseled Saturday afternoon in Conference.

Look up and see what you just knocked out of the park.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

31 Dates in 31 Days: The Review (Anne)

For the first time in my life—and I hope not the last—I had the opportunity to read an advance reading copy of a book. “31 Dates in 31 Days” is the tale of Tamara Duricka Johnson's quest to make sense of the madness that is dating.

This is a hard review to write for two reasons. First, I felt a bit of jealousy that I didn't come up with the idea to date 31 guys in 31 days, blog about it, turn the blog into a book, and possibly sell the movie rights (it really would make a pretty decent movie, in the spirit of “Julie and Julia.”) Second, the book caused me to examine my own approach to dating and relationships—and it was somewhat uncomfortable.

I identified all too well with Johnson's admissions of relationship-killing fallacies: rushing past dating stage into full-blown relationship; compromising her interests in order to save a relationship; and the big one—believing that any relationship was better than none, and making it work was imperative, because no one else was going to come along. Luckily, Johnson doesn't disclose these admissions until half-way through the book, and by that time I was too invested in her experiment to stop reading.

I'm not going to discuss plot at all—you can check out the website for that—but I will say that as I read the book (hard to put down, by the way—took me about three hours) I was tired for her. I would not be able to keep up the frenetic schedule she did: a demanding full-time job (which I also have), plus a date every single night. And while she set a minimum time limit of 31 minutes for each date, it seemed that all of them lasted at least 2-3 hours.

If I wasn't still trying to heal from a breakup, I know I would have adored this book. And that's not to say I didn't enjoy it—I did. But some of her words hit just a tad too close to home and forced me to examine my own failed relationships through a different lens, a lens that I was simply unprepared to face.

As for Johnson's writing, it is typical of the genre—accessible, engaging, with flashes of humor. My only criticism is that many of her dates seemed to end with her extrapolating some lesson or moral to help develop her new approach to relationships. I'm not sure such epiphanies were completely integral to the story-telling aspect of her experiment. I enjoyed just reading about the dates and didn't need to read all of the lessons she learned; a handful would have sufficed.

That said, I spent the better part of the day trying to figure out how I might run a similar experiment. I wouldn't be able to do it every day, but there's really no reason why I couldn't find a way to have a date every weekend for a specified period of time. And the hallmark of any good book is if it compels the reader to act, to change behavior.

Johnson acknowledges in her book that she is Mormon, but doesn't explore how Mormon culture complicates dating and relationships. I assume part of that is so that she can reach a wider audience, and perhaps because she converted to the faith later in life and might not have been raised with some of the expectations and fears that I was.

But I'm glad she left that part out, because that's my book to write.

31 Dates in 31 Days is available at your regular book-shopping locales. According to Amazon, its official release date is September 27.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal...

No matter how hard I try to squash it down it's there. No matter how many times I swear - NEVER AGAIN! it's there. No matter how many times I tell myself let it go - have faith or it's never going to happen move on and do your own thing - it's there.

Sunshiney, bright and effervescent, send you into an instant diabetic coma with its rich sweetness, freaking hope.

I have once again signed up on one of those "sites." Don't judge - you know the ones and I'm willing to bet at least 90% of you have tried it even if only 20% of us will admit it.

So the profile has been up for a few days and has managed to catch the eye of one particular, seemingly sweet fellow who wrote me quite possibly the sweetest, most flattering note I've ever received from one of these would be suitors and darn it all to heck (I've Pollyanna'd what I'd really like to say...) I feel that feeling again. Hope!

But, if I'm completely honest it's not just hope - it's more like this...

"I shouldn't even bother. Yes he's sweet to have reached out and flattered me in this way, and yes I am looking and he's quite cute and seems to be all good things and have his life together but you're almost at the point where you can give up and not want to off yourself...
...but maybe this time it will be different. Maybe he's everything he says it is and my wait is finally over. I pause to gather my strength before really letting my imagination run away...

This is where it takes off and gets interesting...

"We'll have an outdoor wedding and a yellow house and 2 dogs and 3 kids and we'll take our family vacations in September and I wonder what side of the bed I want and I hope there's 2 closets in the master bedroom and..."

Yeah. Have you ever wanted to step out of your body and slap your own face?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chemistry and Timing (Anne)

On tonight's season premiere of “How I Met Your Mother,” the ever-hopeful Ted arrives at the frightening realization that he no longer has hope. Talking to his friend Robin, Ted grapples with the reality that all of his high school friends are married and have families, and he doesn't.

He says, “I've stopped believing...not in a way I even noticed...every day I believe a little less, and a little less, and a little less, and that sucks.”

The advice Robin gives? To believe again. And not to believe in destiny, but to believe in chemistry. She says, “If you have chemistry, you only need one other thing. Timing.”

And, she continues, “But timing's a...”

Well, this is a Mormon blog, so I'm going to leave out the expletive, but you get the point.

And then I started thinking about how mopey I've been lately. Just this morning, as I once again wished for the boy to call or text, I thought, “Would he even want to be with me again, seeing me like this?”

Probably not.

I lack chemistry right now. That spark, that flirtatiousness that makes people want to be around me. Heck, I don't even want to be around me some days lately. I need that chemistry back, and I do see flickers of it a couple of times a week, so I just need to fan it and stoke it a little, until it's back completely.

And then, it's timing. Timing sucks. Timing is the sole reason why I'm dealing with a breakup in the first place. The timing was not right for us. And there's not a lot I can do about timing, other than read conference talks about patience and re-read Captain Wentworth's letter in Persuasion. Talk about timing—that letter is all about timing.

One element in my control, one element in God's hands. I'm guessing if I expect God to come through on his part, I should be a little more active in doing something about mine.

Pity party over.

I'm out to find some kindling.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Day in the Life (Anne)

5:30 AM, my alarm goes off and I pray for the feeling of sadness and dread to go away.

7 AM, sitting at my desk, buried in papers and lesson plans, I take a deep breath and forget that I woke up with sadness, put on my happy face, and I get to work.

11:30 AM, eating lunch with my friends, I take out my iPod and catch up on Twitter and my RSS feed, focusing on my digital world as an escape.

3:45 PM, working with my newspaper staff to finish our first issue, they make me laugh and they make me think, and for a couple of hours, I feel like I am actually making a difference.

7:30 PM, running on the treadmill, I realize after 17 minutes that I am hollow, going through the motions, and the TV show playing in front of me is horribly romantic and the sadness returns.

10 PM, on my knees at my bedside, I pray for my friends, for my students, for my family. I pray that I'll sleep through the night and that somehow I will wake up feeling like I did last week—normal, happy, over him. And then I pray for two men. For the one who said goodbye, I pray that the miracle he desires will happen. For the one I've yet to meet, I pray that he is well, and on his way to me soon.

Yesterday over at Segullah, a woman posted about the concept of God closing doors and opening windows, and she presents the idea that God might not work that way, rather closed doors are somehow meant to transform us. In the past six weeks, with a door slammed in my face, I have seen tiny transformations in myself. I am feeling more dependent on God now than I was on my mission or in grad school.

That is a pretty good transformation to make, right?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dreams (Stella)

Today is a special day. A day for reflection and evaluation. A day to remember our blessings and spend time with our loved ones. Today I pause to remember all the things this day means to me and I imagine to all of us. I remember those whose mortal journey ended 10 years ago and my heart goes out to their families and loved ones. Not only is it the day that changed our country forever but it is also my birthday. My birthday is an insignificant part of this post but I throw it in there because as I add another year to my time on the earth I ponder my life and pose a question.

I pause to remember that one of the ways we honor those whose sacrifice allow us to continue on is to in fact - continue on. I'm wondering if any of you have found yourself either now or in the past where I now find myself. Think back to that day you graduated from high school. Maybe it was 5, 10, 20, 25 or more years ago. Think about all of the dreams you had for yourself - where you would go, what you would do, see, experience. How many of those dreams have been realized?

I'm grateful to say that I set some big dreams for myself and was raised to believe that I could and would accomplish them all if I worked hard enough. Though it took me a while and wasn't easy, I'm happy to say that I've accomplished every single one that I had for myself except one. I've finished my education, traveled the world, am well ensconced in my career, bought a little house with 2 recliner chairs and a big TV just like I imagined as a teenager dreaming of her own space and through it all have become someone I really like.

In spite of these blessings however, I have one dream that for the foreseeable future remains out of my grasp. Unfortunately attached to this one dream are countless others that would take me through old age and without the first one happening the others are like fine mist that get dimmer and dimmer as the years go on. It seems to me that if I'm going to make it to my next birthday without going completely crazy I need some new dreams.

What are your dreams? Maybe I could borrow one for a little while until I find some of my own. Please keep in mind that I'm a bit fearless - I'll jump out of it, off of it, or on to it. I'll save for years to get there, give up sleep to accomplish it, and anything short of sacrificing my moral or value system will give all to attain it. I only speak English fluently but have never let that stop me and thanks to an impulsive personality will only think it through after I've already done it.

I'm looking to find something to wake up for - that sounds pathetic and a wee bit sad but it is what it is. When you choose to live life only for yourself life is pretty meaningless but when you live life for yourself because you haven't been given any other choices it's down right painful. I spend my life serving others - every single day I help and love and lift and support. While that keeps me going and blesses my life in countless ways I still go home each night to an empty house and an emptier heart. I want to rediscover the girl I used to be who was hopefully waiting & diligently searching for her sweetheart while tearing up the world around her and I think a new dream or two is just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

He's NOT the One!!! (Marnie)

Have you ever gone on a date with a guy that you knew you had NO intention of ever going out with again? So why did you say yes in the first place? maybe he caught you off guard or it was a pity date. Or it was just nice to go out on a date. If you weren't interested even MORE after the 2nd date - for whatever reasons - did he ask you out again? Of course he did! It’s almost like clockwork. Why does that happen? Because you weren’t that interested! They sense that and men do love a good chase. I’ve seen it time and again with me and with my friends. For me, I try to let my date know I'm not interested by acting completely like myself, like I don’t care what I say or do, and even try to remain a bit standoffish - yet they STILL ask for a 2nd date. That behavior is like a perfume they can't resist. They still go hunting and try to get another date. They love it especially when the prey isn't interested and even running away…it’s in their nature.

If only we could do that with the men we ARE interested in! If I'm interested in a guy and he has several qualities I'm looking for - he may even be on my "potentials list" for a future husband - I act completely different. Instead of disinterest, I'm very interested in what he says and does, I try to act just perfectly, very attentive and oh so willing to be flexible and helpful in any way - probably too much. What is the result? Well, usually, he sees I'm interested and suddenly he isn't...there's no chase.

It's just the way it is...

Well, I just read an article by Holly Sidell that had a great point – you should really date guys believing they're NOT "the one!" (You know, the man you've been dreaming of.) Holly's coach told her that "the one" doesn't exist. There is no perfect person for you, just the person you marry. That isn't the romantic dream we all have about our future spouse, but Holly believes this is a good philosophy! If you are able to get "the one" thought out of your head and think of the guy as just another date, you'll keep yourself from investing too much in him and take the pressure off the date. She says we often attach too many emotions and stories into our heads of what we want to happen. (So TRUE!) And another great reason: it makes you look a little disinterested - if he even remotely likes you, he’ll chase you!

I know it seems impossible to do – NOT comparing the guy in front of you to what “you want” and wondering how he would be as a husband and father to your future children. And if he is a really great guy and you two really do click, you start making your mental list of what you are looking for and start thinking things like, "he could be the one" - you've fallen into that trap! But as the article says, you should instead think, “that’s a trait I would like in my future husband.” That way you still are identifying his good points but keeping him out of the your temple marriage mental picture. If he really is a guy you should marry, you’ll get there! How many friends of yours dated a guy they had no intention of getting serious with and then ended up marrying with the common comment of, “I had no real interest at first and he didn’t seem my type at all!”

I think they may have something…

So that’s my goal…the next cool guy that asks me out, I will repeat over and over and over in my head during the date, “He’s not the one.” I only hope I can pull it off! In the end, I think it will save me a lot of grief.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Seeking: Flat Stomach & Tight Tush (Stella)

I have a dear, sweet, beautiful friend who made the unfortunate choice to do a little cyber surfing for blogs of LDS single men. Unfortunately...she found a few. She called me and I have never once in the 15 years I've known her heard such hurt and loss of hope in her voice. I wish I could tell you that she found a blog or two of single men discussing their struggles in finding a virtuous woman but as you might imagine she found instead the ramblings of Victoria Secret soaked frontal lobes spinning fabulous tales of how they have every right to a "hot" woman and will settle for nothing else. Then they went on to describe what "hot" is and proved that their yardstick of worthiness is about as minimalistic as their thinking.

We've all known men and women who approach their quest for a companion with "hot" as their only criteria and if you're in my business you've seen the fruit of some of those conquests. What can I say? You get what you ask for and that's not always a good thing.

My sweet friend has the same human frailties that you and I do and suffers the consequences of those frailties. She, like many of us at one time or another, has been fighting a battle with her weight which seems to settle upon her in leaps and bounds - even if she's just sucking an ice cube. With that weight gain comes sadness, which brings more food to feel better, which = a vicious circle that's hard to get out of. She has come to believe that is what has kept the blessings of marriage from her and unfortunately she found a burden of proof in the words of those who should probably have a life coach following them around 24/7.

I believe that we all have the right to our version of attractive and I believe we all have the right to our version of unattractive. I'm a tall girl who loves high heels and I have always had a problem dating men shorter then me. It makes me feel like an amazon and while those who are chest high don't seem to mind it makes me feel ginormous and makes hugs awkward. I try really hard not to use that as a measurement of a man's worth and have dated many a shorter guy so I could get to know them better. Now granted I realize that a person's height is outside of their control and that a person's weight in most cases very much is. I also realize that being overweight may send others unintended messages of laziness, unadventurous or even slovenly, unmotivated or unhealthy. As adults though we should be able to look past this and see the person - their character, their worth, their value, and their contributions - then we decide if all of those things (coupled with attraction of course) is someone who makes you want to be a better person and who would be a wonderful addition to your life.

As I talked with my friend it occurred to me that these individuals - whether they be men or women - who solely use flat stomachs and tight tush's as their companion seeking criteria are really no one that any of us needs to be all that concerned with. While the current definition of beauty in our society is well defined by entities such as the media and Hollywood you don't have to go too far back in history to see very different definitions where a plus size woman would have been drooled over for her softness and ample self.

My point is that these particular individuals who wrote these particular blogs and hold these particular ideals are going to find their unrighteous desires no matter what labels we are talking about. They are going to find their excuses (and the fruits thereof) about why they are not following the counsel of the Prophets and I say we give them as much credit and attention as if they were saying they would only marry a woman with a huge stomach and saggy tush. Acknowledge it for the crazy thing that it is and move on with life. Just like they are going to lose the opportunity with a virtuous, beautiful woman like my sweet friend they are also going to lose the virtuous, beautiful, tight tushed girl who knows she is more then a tight tush and deserves better then the rants of the deranged.

I'm all for beautifying ourselves. Look your best, keep yourself active and healthy, explore the world and all your possibilities - not because your quest ends in a tight tush but because it ends in becoming the ruby talked about in Proverbs 31. A life where we magnify our mission on the earth and ultimately honor and glorify our Heavenly Father with the lives that we live. In the Lord's time after our sweethearts and ourselves have been made ready He will bring us together.

In the meantime to the authors of those vile writings that momentarily crushed the spirits of my sweet friend I have one (highly edited) thing to say:
Unless it was in one of those books that was lost I have no memory of the scriptures defining a beautiful, virtuous son or daughter of God, who can access the heavens and eternities, by how good he or she looks laid out spread eagle in a worldly catalog. And just in case it is in one of those lost books I think we've discovered why the Lord "hid it up." Get a clue....and a life coach.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

So It Turns Out I'm Human.

A long time ago, I decided I would not allow myself to be emotionally manipulated by a man. I would not let him woo me with fancy words or romantic gestures, because I didn't want to deal with the inevitable opposite.

So when I let my guard down last spring and allowed a man to woo me with fancy words and romantic gestures, I would apologize every time I'd talk to my friends, because I was gushy and gooey and downright disgusting.

They kept telling me I was human.

And when he told me he needed to move on three weeks ago, I tried to be robotic, stone-faced. One day, I was with a friend and could not stop crying. I kept apologizing to her, saying that it had been a week, and I should be over it, and I had no right to still be upset.

She told me I was human.

I saw The Philadelphia Story last night with a friend, and the men in the film really work over Tracy Lord and her superwoman approach to keeping men at bay in the name of emotional preservation. At the end of the film, she realizes her steely exterior has actually drawn in a man with whom she has zero chemistry, a man who would not challenge her, a man who expected a neat, near-robotic, tidy wife instead of a nuanced and at times emotionally messy wife. She exclaims with great joy, “I'm human! I'm human!” before walking down the aisle to remarry her ex-husband.

I've seen The Philadelphia Story several times, but it was the first time that Tracy's discovery that she was indeed human affected me. I thought of how many times in the past four months I have apologized to people for either being unable to stop smiling or unable to stop sobbing. True, one of my friends commented earlier in the summer that it was somewhat bizarre to see me so giddy, because I was always so rational and even-keeled. But she was glad to see I was capable of being “normal.” And when I was crying in her car a couple of months later, apologizing for being such horrible company, she told me to stop apologizing, told me I'd be okay, and told me I was “normal.”

Apparently, I'm human.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

When It's Over...

So I spent all summer wrapped up in a relationship that I felt had real potential, and last week it ended. Abruptly. So abruptly, that I'm still reeling, and I don't want to be a complete downer so I've purposely held off writing here, but I feel like I need to put this thought out there...

Seeing a relationship end at my age is so much more complicated than it was when I was in my 20s. Yes, I miss him terribly and I'm confused and hurt and all those familiar emotions that I felt when guys would break up with me over a decade ago. But my hurt is now compounded by a fear that I might not meet many more suitable men. After all, it took quite a long time to find the one who left me last week...and it's not like I have a whole lot of options where I live, unless I'm willing to go to bars.

Which I'm not.

I need more time to process and heal from this, but I want to offer up this tiny piece of hope: in the past week, I have felt God's love for me more acutely than ever before in my life. As friends learned the news, they prayed for me, and I felt their prayers. And even though every night I've been on my knees, sobbing, my heart feels peace. I have no idea how this summer fits into God's plan for me (and I can't try to make sense of it now, because the first place I end up on that train of thought is Bitterville) so for now, I focus on my career that I love, my family that I love, and my God that I love.

After all, they all love me more than he did.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dream A Little Dream...

I am one of those kooky romantic types who thinks dreams actually speak to me and teach me something new. I remember my dreams, often in vivid detail, and can usually find symbolism or at least explanation for the dreams I have.

About five years ago, for one week, I had the exact same dream. I can still remember snippets of it now. I was being chased. I was with someone I loved—though I don't remember who. And I was carrying a bouquet of red balloons. We were making our way through a train station, and every night, we were caught, and I would wake up right as our chasers, guns drawn, found us in a baggage car.

By the sixth night of this dream, I was afraid to go to sleep. But I eventually fell asleep, and the dream started again. Same sequence. We got to the train station, and a thought came to me:

“If you want a different outcome, you must let go of the balloons.”

But the balloons apparently were important to me, because I was hesitant to let them go. I ran a few more steps, looked up at the balloons, and then let them go. My loved one and I managed to escape with ease, and I haven't had that dream since.

So why I am telling you about a five year-old dream? Because while at the time, that dream taught me something important about my professional life, I find myself thinking about it now as I am once again navigating the waters of relationships. I struggle to make different emotional choices than I've made in the past, citing all the failed relationships as reasons why I need to maintain a brick wall around my heart, or why I can't trust him.

But, as the saying goes, “if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.”

Or something like that.

I have to let go of my bouquet of red balloons of damaged relationships, and take the chance that he isn't like the others. And sure, he could turn out to be like the others, but a certain path to that outcome is to make the same choices I always have.

It might be time to choose a different outcome.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Will of the Father

I gave a talk in church at the end of May. The topic? Following Christ's example by submitting our will to the Father.

I stifled a chuckle when the 2nd counselor in the bishopric gave me the topic. Of all the people in the ward, I'm sure am the worst example of someone who follows Christ's example by submitting to the will of the Father. Because the truth is, I haven't so much as submitted to His will as I've been strapped into it with ropes, buckles, and duct tape, and no matter how I try to wiggle free, I can't.

I would love to be married. Everything I've been taught in church (and continue to hear in church) suggests that marriage should be part of God's will for me. I've examined this topic for the past couple of months, especially through the lens of being a single woman in a predominantly married church.

A friend once told me that she wished I just knew when—or if—I'd ever be married. If I knew, for example, that I would meet a great guy at 41 and marry at 42, she figured my life would be a little bit easier to bear. True, that some of the angst I feel often springs from flat-out not knowing if it will ever happen. But isn't that the whole point of faith? To believe and hope, despite conventional wisdom telling me not to?

Faith is so hard. I often turn to the women of the Old Testament for support. Never mind the conditions in which they lived (no Sephora or indoor plumbing!), these women were TRIED. Sarah, who with Abraham shared the promise of millions of children had to see her handmaid conceive easily. Rachel, who wanted to badly to marry Isaac but her older sister got in the way. Esther, who had to essentially save an entire nation.

Each of these women—and I'm sure others who were excised at various councils as the Biblical canon was formed—had moments where faith failed them, and moments where faith sustained them, all the while keeping their eye toward what their Father required of them.

And this is where I know I can improve. I know what God asks of me, yet I consistently fall short. I'm mostly certain that He's not withholding a spouse until I stop making mistakes, but I'm also mostly certain that as I continue to develop more faith in His will for me—which I have to believe includes marriage—I will be so much happier.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Patriarchal Blessings (Posted by Stella)

As I've mentioned before I take a great deal of joy in reading the posts that readers leave. I take encouragement and support from those who confess having similar struggles, I take a renewed sense of commitment from those who cheer me on, I shake my head at those whose judgements are well...nonsensical and ridiculous and I hurt when I read someones comments about their own pain.

Some time back someone made a post and asked that we discuss patriarchal and other Priesthood blessings. You know the ones, the kind where we have been promised certain blessings only to wait, and wait, and wait some more to have them realized. Where we are given comfort and peace only to have it disappear as the days, weeks, months, or even years continue by. This particular comment broke my heart because I could envision through her words a certain hopelessness that her promised blessings were being withheld and all of the feelings that came with it. I know that feeling well and struggle myself to make sense of the Lord's will and many times have questioned my personal revelations. I've thought about her post many times and wondered how best to go about it.

I'm not going to give you Stella's interpretation or vision of what our blessings mean - I have neither the wisdom, understanding or authority to do so BUT I will share some of the things that I have come to learn through my own trials and will reference some talks by those who do have the proper authority to have a valid opinion.

  • Promises made to us in our Patriarchal blessings may be realized at any time during our spiritual journey (pre-existence, mortality, or in the eternities.) Oh how I wish I had perfect faith so that I could say "OK, if not now then I won't worry about it." But, if you're anything like me then this is little comfort...

  • I remember watching a panel discussion on BYU TV where one of the panelists said that the desire for marriage or children is a RIGHTEOUS desire (i.e. if you're living as you should your desires are in line with God's will.) If those desires are as yet unrealized that desire isn't going to go away as long as you continue to live RIGHTEOUSLY. Seems wildly unfair to me and not much incentive to keep holding on to the rod, HOWEVER;

  • I do believe with all my heart that if being single is not okay with you, if you can't get peace about it, if the heartache and the desire refuse to go away (despite prayers and pleadings and a true effort to focus on the life that Heavenly Father has blessed you with) THEN there's a purpose to it. I do not believe for one single second that our loving Heavenly Father would let us be miserable and watch us struggle if He did not intend that struggle for our good. What would be the point to have so many of His daughter's in quiet pain and sorrow if it were not for our betterment? So what then is He trying to teach us and why does it hit us at different times in life (meaning - why some women in their early, mid or late 20's and some of us can handle it until our 30's etc...)
#1 - We all have our free agency. I imagine many of us have an experience where the person we were dating would have been a great match and we could have had a very happy life only to watch them turn their back and walk off (and maybe even some of us were the ones walking away.) That's not God's intention but He doesn't take our free will away. So if this has happened to you I believe that our blessings don't disappear just b/c someone else used their free agency poorly - we are affected unfortunately but it doesn't make our blessings null and void. It does mean we have to continue to wait, which is akin to having your fingernails pulled out one by one...very slowly...with plastic tweezers.

#2 - We are in the last days - the Prophets have been telling us this for quite some time. I think (?) it was President Kimball who said that (I'm paraphrasing here) only those with a DEEP and UNMOVABLE testimony about the importance of families would be able to navigate their family successfully through the last days. I interpret that to mean that only those who have this testimony will be able to keep their family together, teach their children the gospel, and successfully overcome the adversary's full on attack on anyone with any level of goodness in them.

#3 - I take this thought a little further and realize that few people appreciate things that they haven't had to work to the end of their strength to obtain. The things that I value the most are the ones that didn't come easily and that includes my desire for a husband and children. The wait has been unbearable at times and the path to get to this place (and the places still yet to be traversed) has been strewn with opportunities to forget who I am and more importantly why I am here. Now, tell me that's an accident.

#4 - I feel confident in saying that I have made some huge mistakes in my quest to find my family. I have certainly chased my own wisdom and have not been as vigilant as I could have been in trusting Heavenly Father. I have learned through my own experience the good from the bad, happiness from sorrow, that my way will always lead me to destruction and I hope have proven to our Heavenly Father that He can trust me. No matter how far I fall it is Him I will always come back to.

To our dear sister who questions the blessings that she has been given. I wish I had the perfect words to share or the right story to say that would renew your strength and bolster your faith. I'm sorry to say that I don't - but I will say this: If you are continuing to go to church, to follow the counsel of the Prophets, to do the things that you know are right, to serve and love others then YOU ARE BEING FAITHFUL! Do not, for even a moment, let a self-deprecating feeling or a thoughtless observance from someone else make you feel forgotten or lost or wrong or worthless.

Heavenly Father knows with perfect knowledge how hard this is on us. Single-hood is not His way or plan nor is our hurt His purpose. Our Savior feels our pain and I have no doubt They cry with us during those times when we feel like we just can't take one more day. He doesn't expect us to be perfect but He does expect us to try, to keep going, to fall down when we must but to not give up. He needs to know that He can trust us with His precious children because I also believe that the spirits that we are waiting for are going to be some of His most choice. They need mothers whose strength goes to the core, our future husbands need women who will not falter, and the world needs women who will fight for righteousness. If we're being successful out here on our own just imagine what we'll accomplish in the walls of our own homes with a righteous partner by our sides. While we are being prepared so is the one we will take this journey with. Maybe he's not quite ready and our time would be well spent praying for him.

I also believe that if I didn't have something truly spectacular to offer my future family satan wouldn't waste his time on me. If I wasn't going to be a fantastic wife and mother he'd go harass someone else. I believe the same is true for you. When you feel lost, forgotten, alone, lonely, hurt, afraid, hopeless, or less then please remember those feelings do not come from Heavenly Father. The plan of happiness is about 1 thing and 1 thing only. Families. If we weren't future feathers in the proverbial cap of the kingdom satan wouldn't bother. If we weren't heading in the right direction we wouldn't struggle so hard with being single. If it wasn't in the cards for us Heavenly Father would make it okay. If it's not okay, then it's not over.

One of my favorite talks that remind me that my promised blessings and personal revelations are real is by Jeffrey R. Holland: Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence:

Your promised blessings are real. I don't know when our hopes and desires will be realized and I don't understand why they are so long in coming but I do know that they will. I believe that the endurance and strength we utilize every day living full and productive and most importantly FAITHFUL lives despite going through this particular trial that seems to so strongly affect the lense that we look at life with is no small thing and I like to think an indicator of just how special we each are.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lessons from the Mission.

Thirteen years ago this week, I returned from my mission. I remember feeling like I would never forget the lessons I learned, and many of them I haven't. But one very important lesson I had forgotten, until today.

Whenever God's children try to do something right and good, they might be met with opposition. As a missionary, when someone chose to be baptized, I saw this so often—suddenly she was tempted with things she didn't even know were weaknesses. It's been said that Satan knows our weaknesses and he exploits them anyway he can. And I fell victim to that today.

One of my biggest weaknesses is assuming men do not like the way I look. I come by it honestly—more than one boy has broken up with me and given my looks or my weight as the reason why.

After a particularly rough day at church, I walked to my car, and this principle came to my mind: just like Satan tries to keep people from choosing to be baptized, or go to church, or make simple right choices, he was exploiting my deep-seeded self-loathing to keep me from opening my heart to a good man.

As I reflect on the past couple of days, I can see clearly how it happened—how the thought was planted, how it grew, and how I felt strangled by it by the day's end. And when I floated my theory past my sister this afternoon—that the adversary was pitting me against myself to sabotage a potentially good thing—she said, “I had that thought last night.”

“Why didn't you tell me then?” I asked.

“Would you have listened to it?” she countered.

Good point. I may have, I may have not. But making that connection on my own was certainly more powerful than hearing it from my sister. Finding a spouse is a good thing, an important thing, a righteous thing. So of course Satan would want to thwart that any way he can.

I don't want to give him the satisfaction.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Introducing Anne Elliot

I first read Jane Austen's Persuasion after one of the roughest breakups I've ever experienced. And it gave me hope—maybe the man who left me would be my Captain Wentworth! Alas, he was not, but I reread the good Captain's letter to Anne often, as a reminder that men do have the capacity to love and ache as much as women do.

(Yes, I know a woman—Jane Austen--actually wrote that letter. It's called “willing suspension of disbelief.” I'm an English teacher.)

I used to be a serial monogamist when dating. For the past 10 years though, I've just been on a lot of first dates.

I occasionally cycle through the hell that is online dating and have made some good connections...until we meet in person...and then my self-esteem takes a beating. I don't live in Utah, California, Arizona, or Virginia, where there seem to be large pockets of LDS menfolk, so I am somewhat limited in my dating options if I want to stick to marrying someone who is LDS.

My major dysfunction in developing relationships is trust, and not making current men pay for the mistakes and hurt past men have inflicted.

I've written a couple of guest posts here, mostly when I've needed to write about the unique challenges of being single and I don't want my mom to see it (she reads my personal blog daily). I've admired the women on this blog for years, and have drawn strength from their posts, and I'm excited and honored to help keep it going!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Response to Jill's Comment (guest post from Anne)

Dear Jill,

I took a class in graduate school called “Internet Communities.” In this class, we examined how the Internet had the ability to form communities regardless of geographical difficulties. My own research in this class examined Fantasy Football leagues. The small sample I researched suggested to me that Fantasy Football leagues did not form true communities.

However, some of my peers found that certain online forums actually form true communities. Dieting websites, where people share struggles of healthy living, are often communities. People on these sites form true friendships, albeit via a virtual medium. My mom is a member of a Cricut forum, where she has formed online friendships with women who share a common bond of crafting. A blog I read daily, Feminist Mormon Housewives, is also a community of more liberal-minded LDS men and women (and many non-LDS men and women) who wrestle with reconciling personal opinion with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They share an interest in the LDS faith and in what it means to be Christian. Often, members of this online community actually meet in real life for “snackers,” where faces and names are put together, and friendships are made stronger. It is a community, a place where people of like mind (and sometimes unlike mind) can gather and share and cry and lament yet also find joy and solidarity and resilience.

While posts on this blog are not written daily, the writers provide an invaluable service—an online community for single LDS women who are wrestling with reconciling a Gospel perspective of what it means to be single with the world's perspective of what it means to be single.

My life is incredibly fulfilling. I'm happy. I'm busy. I'm successful. But in quieter moments, like Sunday afternoons or late Thursday nights, I think of how nice it would be to have a companion. This is not an experience limited to LDS women—last night I chatted with a friend who is not LDS, in her 30s, single, and she shared identical frustrations and fears. She is also busy and successful and happy and fulfilled in what she is currently doing, but also desires a companion. That's just the human condition, regardless of religion.

My day-to-day life is not a “painful struggle,” but just as my sisters have painful moments with their husbands and kids, I have painful moments of being single. Posts on this blog give me hope, if for nothing else, by letting me know that the dark moments are not mine to bear alone. For more often than not, the posts here are grounded in a knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior who atoned for the sadness we sometimes feel at lives that didn't turn out the way our Young Women leaders promised they would.

So don't pity us, but don't deny us the human emotion of sadness and longing, either. I've seen parents cry at choices their children make—do I tell them to man up and move on with life? No. I comfort those in need of comfort, for I am willing to bear their burdens as my own.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Response (Marnie)

This post is in response to one of the comments to Stella’s Why Marriage Matters. I wasn't going to write one because it seemed silly to defend myself, but another reader asked us to comment. So this is mine.

First the comment from Jill:

"Just stumbled onto this blog and sorry, some of it is kind of scary. I come from a really stable Mormon home and I don't believe in spending copious amounts of time lamenting about being single. I get that you need to express yourself, but if you are still this depressed, it might not be working. I don't think you should give up, but maybe you need to focus on what is positive in your life and if there isn't much, maybe you need to make some changes. In my opinion, viewing everything as a "painful struggle" is reflective of a lack of faith in God's plan for you-not proof of some kind of superior insight or nobility. Life can be really beautiful and fun, regardless of your marital status. This wallowing in misery is not healthy.”

Marnie's Response:

Jill, this blog about being single - not about golf or movies or cooking. Our point is all about the struggles of dating and relationships of women over the age of 30. So to think we obsess about it non-stop is in complete error. I promise you I have a very full life filled with great things and OTHER problems - just like everyone else. But we don't share those things here.

I feel bad that you worry about our depression level. I assure you that we constantly look at the greatness in our lives and revel in it. And you'll see that in MANY of our posts. No one believes more than me that life is beautiful and fun! I’ve been on this earth 40 years and have seen and experienced so much, but it's unfair to look down on me just because I talk about my “painful struggles” here on this blog.

I will admit that at times the sadness from what I don't have can be overwhelming and makes it difficult to stay positive. And when I struggle, I like to share. I find other readers have related to my posts – as you so apparently haven’t. They have read that I am not perfect - that I do struggle with understanding for God’s plan for me. They have also seen me express how I have conquered tough situations and loneliness from a broken heart (several times now). I do not believe my posts have ever brought them down or encouraged depression as a way to deal with being single.

I do wholehearted apologize to you and anyone else that thinks I've written these posts to show how I’m superior or noble I am because I think my life is harder than others. I have never tried to write that way. I also do not look down on the lives of women that haven’t married or have I ever thought they're lives weren't full of amazing things. The truth is they have their lives and I have mine. I'm only worried about my own and I only write about my own.

Everyone has a trial that seems to stick by them for a very long time. I was sick for 5 years in my 20s before I fully recovered and it was a very difficult burden to bear. Being single after many efforts to be married is my current burden to bear. The point is we all have our trials that are supposed to bring us to our knees so we can pray to our Heavenly Father and Savior for help. And that help comes through the atonement of Christ and helps us heal and move on. And both experiences (and many others) have done that for me.

Have you ever had your heart broken, Jill? I have a hard time believing you have…otherwise you wouldn’t be so trite, condescending, and unsympathetic about our desire to obtain eternal marriage on this earth. You have misinterpreted our growth and search for understanding - although it hasn’t been pretty at times - as some sort of wallowing in misery. And you are completely wrong. I feel that if you really read our posts, it would be evident to you.

But that's ok...Good luck, Jill and all the best to you! No need to come back and visit - it’s obvious we have nothing for you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why Marriage Matters

We've had a new friend join our faithful readers. Judging by his comments I am going to assume that he is not a member of our faith nor has he taken the time to respectfully educate himself on the what's and why's of who we are. But that's okay - that's what a free speech society is all about and truthfully we are a peculiar people (and proud to be so) so there's a lot for a non-LDS person to raise their eyebrows about. It does bring an interesting and sharp focus though to the difference between the LDS mindset of marriage, family, and life purpose versus what the general current world view is.

Hopefully our new friend will take a closer look and realize that this is not a place to be disrespectful or contentious. This is a place where a few share their points of view, feelings and ideas. Sometimes others agree and sometimes they don't. What I invite him and each of us to think about is this...

Leave religion out of things. Leave morals and values and tradition and "normal" by the wayside. Leave white, black, rich, poor - your culture, my culture behind. Now take a look at the world. What do you see? Are people happy? Are people satisfied with their lives? Are people fulfilled? Do people feel loved, valued, like they matter? What characteristics or traits prevail? Is it kindness or selfishness? Is it progressing or is it doing just enough to get by so you can do the bare minimum that anyone might expect? Are people better off today then they were 5 years ago? Do people have hope? Feel safe? Feel like they have value?

I can tell you as a professional therapist without fear of (legitimate) contradiction ABSOLUTELY NOT! I see clients from every walk of life, every race, every culture, every socio-economic status and I can say without hesitation that there's a whole lot of darkness and unhappiness out there. Too many people trying to fill their needs by taking from everyone and everything around them.

So back to our little blog. We lament about the painful struggle of wanting people to love, we lament about wanting a family to serve, we even lament about the fears that we'll never have the opportunity to do this thing we desire so much. We don't lament because we're women, or Mormons, or marriage hungry. We lament because we know that true happiness, true fulfillment comes from loving and serving others and the most pure form of that is within the walls of a family.

In fairness I'm guessing our new friend, like so many others in the world, have never seen or experienced the wonderfulness that this type of home is. If you've never seen it, never experienced it, never gotten close to it then it's easy to understand how to you it may sound like a Walt Disney movie hopped up on massive amounts of sugary Leave It To Beaverness that is unreal and unattainable.

But for those of us who know exactly what it is and exactly what we're missing we're going to continue to lament. This is why we are on the earth. This is what we all work so hard for. This is what I will fight for until my last dying breath. I will fight and I will never give up because I have experienced it. I know it exists and I know that it is the only way to be sure that the mark I leave on this blog and the world around me is one of selfless love, kindness, and light that will trump every dark, selfish and self-loathing deprecating notion the world will ever teach.

So go ahead and question us new friend. Go ahead and share your thoughts and by all means please think us strange. We know who we are. We know why we are here. We know where we are going and how to get there. We are more then willing and very happy to share what we know so that you too may discover who you really are and may find the kind of joy that only comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue to challenge us - but be ready for a fight. When you know what's true you don't deny it and you don't back down no matter how loud the wind around you howls.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Audacity of Hope (Anne Elliot, guest post)

I can feel it again.

That space in my heart that I've kept closed off for so long is starting to fill, and at times I'm worried it will burst.

That lurch in my stomach that borders on nausea every time I see his name on my phone or read his emails.

That lump in my throat when I click “send” and worry that I've revealed too much, too soon, and I'll never hear from him again.

And that tingling in my toes when I do hear from him again, the euphoria that he's chosen me for one more day.

It's been years since I felt this, and I'm surprised at how easily and how fast it returns.

I play angel and devil in my head.

The angel says to enjoy the moment, develop the friendship, trust his words.

The devil tells me I have no reason to hope, he's just like the others, and to not be surprised when it's over.

I really thought I had lost this ability, this capacity to feel hope and happiness, the beginnings of a possible relationship. I was prepared to live the rest of my life alone. Now I don't want to. I feel these physical manifestations of emotions and I want more. Whether it's with him, whether it's with someone I've yet to meet,
I'm not ready to give up after all.

I really thought I was.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Today I am thinking about men. As a lover of all things boy (and regularly confused by them) I find myself often watching men and wondering what makes them tick. I pray the Spirit will be with me and I am going to write VERY CAREFULLY to ensure that my post today is not mis-interpreted...Heaven help me.

Ever since our last general conference (April 2011) I have been thinking about Elder Oaks talk on Saturday afternoon: "Desire."
Elder Oaks said many things but this got my attention: "I am sure that some anxiously seeking young men would want me to add that there are some young women whose desires for a worthy marriage and children rank far below their desires for a career or other mortal distinctions. Both men and women need righteous desires that will lead them to eternal life."

I wish I had the guts to ask some of the never married, divorced or single LDS men that I know some of these questions...

  • Do you want/desire to be married?

  • Do you feel marriage is important?

  • Have you ever met someone you thought you could be happy with?

  • Do you feel that you have something/nothing to offer a woman?

  • Do you feel that you still have tons of time to make this happen?

  • How do you feel when the leaders of the church call you on the carpet? Does it make you try harder, feel pounded and 'bad' or do you tune them out?

  • What do you think about Brigham Young's statement (I think??) about a man over 25 who is still single is in the grasp of satan?

  • Are men (in their 30's and up) still looking for that physically 'perfect' ideal? Have you ever been looking for that or is that an unfair stereotype?

  • Do you feel that it is your 'job' or priesthood responsibility to actively seek marriage? Why or why not? Do you feel that you are doing that?

  • Do you feel that the woman you're interested in give you a fair chance? Have you ever thought that you're looking at the wrong kind/type of woman?
These are the things I wonder - I think it would help us all if we would just talk about it and share our points of view. We're old enough now that we shouldn't be afraid anymore to be real with each other. So you don't ask me out - I'll live - but I sure would love to know why?

I've decided to be the first - if you're a single man I want you to know this (and I don't think I'm too different from other women but please feel free to chime in):
I am a smart, confident, devoted to the Gospel LDS woman. I am imperfect physically but judging by the many stares I get on a regular basis I'm as beautiful as I think I am. I have held myself in reserve (and in the interest of realness that has NOT been easy) so that I may share my whole self with you someday (and I am VERY excited for that day.) I am courageous and I am accomplished. To the outside world I have it all but in my heart I know that my true self waits for you. Every decision I make, every path I take, every thought I have is somehow connected to my desire for you and our family. I move forward because I am on this earth to progress. I continue to try to improve myself so that I will someday be able to offer you the most amazing version of myself I possibly can. I do not do these things because I am career driven, or because I view my priorities as more important then what I could do within a family. I progress in the areas of my life that I'm allowed to progress in at this time.

I need you more then I can possibly ever put into words. I need your strength, I need your perspectives, I need your calming influence when my femaleness leads me to irrational, emotional freak outs. I need your priesthood and righteousness to lead me and guide me to greater paths. I need your strong arms to hold me so that I can be weak once in a while (as my current world and lifestyle requires constant strength.) I need you to be you and I need you to not be afraid of all that I am.

I don't need you to be rich. I don't need you to have a fancy education, toys, or material things to offer me. I don't need you to be scared of what you aren't. You are a son of God - you are already more amazing to me then you will ever know and I will do everything in my power to make you feel that. My accomplishments in no way take away from yours and I don't need you to feel badly about who you are or where you've been. The only thing that matters is where we will go together. I need you to be confident and love yourself. I need you to know that I am not "her" (whoever "her" is to you.)

I need you to try. I need you to put away fear and recognize who that comes from (the jerk) and that the purpose of fear is to keep you from being happy. I need you to trust me enough to open the door to possibilities. I know you've been hurt - we've all been hurt- but I need you to get over it and keep trying. I need you to not hold yourself back and I need you to not choose the easy way or the path of least resistance. I need you to know that I will use every gift, every lesson, every single thing at my disposal to help make your dreams come true - I will not take away from you but will add and I need you to do the same for me.

I need you to pay your tithing. I need you to read your scriptures, say your prayers, go to the Temple, attend church and magnify your priesthood. I do not need you to be perfect or on the path to future apostleship. I do not need you to be able to quote entire books of scripture but I do need you to have firm faith and know where to go to find the answers. I need you to love me - all of me - as I will love all of you (wrinkles, puckers, and imperfections.) I need you to just hold my hand sometimes and let me depend on you. I need you to know that you are the head of the household and I believe that starts in dating. I need you to take the lead and let me be the woman. I need you to stop waiting for me to ask you out - it's just not going to happen. You're not going to find me at just the "fun" activities. I'm long past that - if you want me you're going to have to come to church - I'm the beautiful blond with the sexy shoe collection.

I need you to start being (or continue being) the amazing man that you are. I need you to start living your best life (please excuse the Oprah reference but it just sort of fit) and I need you to pursue things that will bring true happiness. I need you to trust our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and the leaders of the church and believe them when they tell you that I will be the greatest decision you've ever made.

There's really no other way to say it - I can be happy without you if I really try but I'll never be complete.