Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On The 3 Categories

I have this way of categorizing those individuals of the opposite gender who have any kind of placing in my life.  Whether it be friend, acquaintance, colleague, etc. they all fall into one of these categories.  

It came to me one day when I was having a particularly difficult struggle with the above mentioned gender.

Don't worry.  There will be no man-bashing, slandering, or otherwise negative jabs at the male sex.

This is a purely scientific categorization.

Category 1: The Untouchables

These are they who are nowhere near the realm of my achievement.  I would put George Clooney under this heading if I knew him in any way.  Others who are in this category include those who are (as society would put it) "out of my league".  Whether this be physically, educationally, or spiritually they are, simply put, untouchable.  Most likely unintentionally so, but there it is.  We all know the type.  And while we can dream, that's closest we will ever get. This is the simplest and generally smallest category.

Category 2: The Safety Men

They are exactly as the category labels them.  SAFE.  They are either taken, pre or mid-mission, interested in members of the same sex, or just simply "not my type".  They are guys its easy to spend time with because the obnoxious "interest" receptors in the brain are turned off.  These guys aren't even on the radar. There is no danger befriending them or even confiding in them because they, like the untouchables, are off the table.  A number of great guys in my life fall into this category.  I'm glad to know them.  They pose no threat.

Category 3: The Danger Zoners

Here is where we have our problem.  These guys are available, looking, and of interest.  Not only are they on the radar, but they are in great danger of gumming up the relay due to the 19-year-old that sometimes occupies my brain.  There are times when she can't focus on anything else.  We all know the symptoms of unrequited love.  The prognosis is bleak and it is quite contagious.  ESPECIALLY around The Danger Zoners.  They are carriers for the disease in the worst way.  Because they are carriers, they have NO IDEA that they are inflicting any kind of harm. These are they who easily become dangerous and "flawless" illusions (*nod to Sabrina*).  They are easy to befriend (and indeed there are some who are really GOOD friends), which often only makes things worse.  Being "just friends" with someone who you are infuriatingly infatuated with is truly tragic.  But those of us who allow it take what we can get, right?  It's better than not being with them at all.  They, like the Safety Men can be confided in because they have all the appearance of being trustworthy-this comes from the fact that they obviously have no idea of the effect they have on the girl who can't seem to convince herself that they JUST AREN'T INTERESTED.  I'm sure this is because often they see the girl as their own safety individual.  They often do things that unknowingly encourage the affections of said girl, making it nearly impossible to TRULY let go.  Oh, she (the 19-year-old in my brain) might release for a day or two, having been talked down by the rational adult that sometimes inhabits my brain.  But then something happens that causes a flare up and we're right back where we started. 

The Danger Zoners are (for the most part) totally innocent in their status.  Though the truth is there are guys in the world who look everywhere but right in front of them for perfection that they aren't going to find.  Not that they have to settle.  Not that ANY of us have to settle.  

Let me tell you a little more about the 19-year-old located in my brain who I am constantly doing battle with.

She is a persistent little bugger.  And she can't help but be drawn to the positive attention she gets when she sends time with these guys.  She clings hopelessly to the way The Danger Zoners make her laugh, share her interests, willing put themselves in her company, etc. 

And the hardest part is that there ARE good qualities about these problematic gentlemen.  If there weren't they wouldn't be Danger Zoners.  What happens is the rational adult in me sees those qualities and admires them.  But what the 19-year-old does with that admiration is twist it into a raging emotion that is barely controlled.  The rational adult, losing control of the situation, allows things to rise to dangerous levels before stepping in again.  For a time I can ignore those Danger Zoners who pose a dilemma.  But it's a never ending cycle and the lull doesn't last long.

I know deep down that the time spent thinking over and over this is time wasted.  

I have to constantly remind myself that I've been back in Missouri for over a year.  If something were going to happen with anyone I already know, surely it would have happened by now, right?

Anyway, there you have it. The three categories.  

I keep a constant eye on The Danger Zoners.  I try to reign in the 19-year-old.  I check myself often to be sure I'm not making too huge a fool of myself.  

And life goes on.  

This is part of learning and growing.

It's patience, understanding, frustration, and a touch of heartache.

It's knowing that as long as I am doing all I can to keep my covenants and live the best I am able, I can't go wrong.  And as I am proceeding forward, as long as I am not shutting myself away from the world, I'll find someone who will quote Star Wars with me, go on hikes, not scoff at my crunchy moderate "hippie" ways, and share my love of music.  All the while truly thinking that I am worth it.

In the meantime, I'll continue to scientifically mark and categorize the men in my life into these three groups.  Because there is only one who will eventually fall into the forth category.

Category 4: The Best Friend and Companion. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On a November Nights Dream

Did I ever tell you that as a kid I used to pray for weird dreams?


I liked the crazy stories my mind would come up with during my night time reveries.  And so I would ask God to bless me with strange and crazy dreams.

I was an odd one, for sure.

I don't ask for that anymore.  And while a crazy one pops in here and there my dreams have taken on a more realistic nature as of late.  

Meaning that often, while I am dreaming, I have no idea that the things that are happening aren't real.  

Because they are so believable.

Over the past couple of years I've had some particularly troubling dreams.  Ones where I have done something things.  Bad things.  And the guilt associated with the dream is so intense that I am almost crying with relief when I wake up and realize that it was, in fact, just a dream.  

I can't say that I am fond of these dreams.  Though I do see them as warnings.  

But the dream I had last night was different.

It was a dream the likes of which I have never had before.

In it, I was going to die.

And I knew it.

I had 24 hours at the most.

There was no disease, no injury, no ailment of any kind.  Just a certainty that I was, in fact, going to die.

I know that through the course of my dream I came to some rather poignant conclusions but I can't for the life of me remember what they were.

What I DO remember was the crushing guilt and disappointment.

Not terror.

And not a fear of what came after or what would happen to me.

But a deep and terrible wish that I had: 

1. Done more with my life

2. Tried harder to be the person I know that I can be

I could not stop thinking about how I was going to miss out on so much of my life.  I wondered what was so important in the next life that God couldn't afford to keep me in this one.

And most of all, I knew deep down that I had let too much slide. I had failed to be the strong, devoted daughter of God that I knew I had to potential to be.

Was this dream also a warning?

I know I'm not going to die in the next 24 hours (boy did I just jinx myself...).

But I know that I can always be doing better.  And yet I let so much fall by the wayside.

What more should I be doing?  What can I do so that if I were going to die in 24 hours I would not feel those things I felt in my dream?

I'd take strange, crazy dreams over these frighteningly realistic ones any day.

But maybe I need these wake-up calls.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On A Little Passing

Yes, I know that I JUST posted.

But something happened today that I felt deserved more than just a passing Facebook status.

Today, one of my two finches passed from this mortal life.


I just want to take a little time to remember her.

I remember when I purchased the pair of them back in September of 2008.  They were actually for a presentation on bird banding I was going to give for a class.

From that time on they have been kind of a silly and random presence in my life.

After much deliberation and input from my family, I decided to name them Howard and Eunice. From "What's Up, Doc?"  Need a reference?  Here you go.

Please go and rent the entire film if you have not seen it.  It's for your own good. 

They were a cute little pair.  A little shy at first but then learning their routine and opening up in their song repertoire.   

Beeps, chirps, warbles, (and if agitated, screeches) abounded.

When I FIRST got them, they used to wake me up in the morning.  But after a while I didn't mind their sounds.  They were familiar.  And adorable.

They used to hop and dart around their cage.  Take baths that splattered water everywhere.  And once or twice, little Eunice laid an egg (which never hatched, of course).

Yes, they were a sweet little duo.

Only in the last couple days has Eunice been acting strange.  Not as active.  Not singing as much.  I thought it was just the change in weather.

I should have known it was a terrible idea to hold off turning on the heat when it was getting below freezing at night.

And so after I got back from church this afternoon, there she was at the bottom of the cage.  Lifeless.  

And Howard looking confused and a little lost.

Birds may not have as much intelligence or emotional complexity as dogs, but they do learn routine and familiarity.  And these two little birds had been together from birth.  Never separated (except for the couple times Howard got out of the cage).  And so I know Howard will be a little out of sorts for a while.

I'll admit, I'm not going to loose sleep over this.  I'm not going to take off a day of work.  But I AM sad.

Mostly for Howard.  I know he will be just fine.  But he seems so lonely now.  He no longer has anyone to sing with or to perch next to in the night.  

It doesn't help that I am pretty sure it was my neglect in temperature regulation that KILLED Eunice.  

I feel horrible about it.

She will be remembered.

I wish I had a picture of these two...but they flit rather fast and I've never taken the time to just sit there and wait for them to be still.

It's a pity.  They are such lovely little birds.

So, to Eunice.

One of the silliest little birds who honored her namesake.

Farewell, tiny one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

On An Unexpected Puppy

Let me tell you a story. Well, my brief part in it, at least.

It all begins last Sunday night.

Now, I wasn't here for this part.  I was at home, lying in my bed, preparing for sleep.

But as I understand it, a friend of mine was in the parking lot of Wal-Mart.  There, she witnessed one of the most heinous crimes.  Blatant physical abuse of an animal.  A small puppy to be exact.

She stepped in, as well she should.  As I would have.  An argument of unknown length and heat occurred in which at some point the puppy beater said something along the lines of "YOU take her then".

And so she did.

Fast forward to Monday morning.

Not being able to keep the puppy herself, and needing to take her SOMEWHERE, my friend brought her to the Veterinary hospital where I work.

The puppy had no shots, was quite shy and skittish, and had no idea what these humans around her were going to do to her.  Not to mention she was CRAWLING with fleas and had scabs all over her from the scratching.

It was tragic that anytime a person approached her, she would back away...afraid.  Because the humans she knew had hurt her.

Oh, and did I mention she was ADORABLE???

She was so helpless.

I mean LOOK at that face!

But what were we going to do with her?

I had full intention of taking her home and putting a notice up on Craigs List.  Not IDEAL, but it was a thought.

Half an hour after she came into the hospital and we had made sure she wasn't damaged or sick, a woman comes in with her sick cat.  And guess what?  She just HAPPENS to be looking for a house mate for her 2-year-old Yorkie.

The timing was perfect.  I showed her the pup and made the sale.  At the end of the chat, the pup wandered cautiously from my arms and snuggled right up to this new lady.

It was a sign.  This was fate.

The only problem (which really wasn't a problem at all but a JOY) was that this woman couldn't pick up the pup until Wednesday morning.

So, who got to foster her in the meantime?

Yours truly.

And so for most of Monday, all of Tuesday, and Wednesday morning I was the keeper of the little sweetheart pictured above.

I'm not gonna lie.  I fell in love.  Even in that short time.

And when Wednesday morning came, a little part of me wished that the woman would call and say her plans had changed and she couldn't keep her.

Alas.  Perhaps now is not the time for me to have a puppy.  But it was a wonderful two days.

Here are some things I want to always remember about this little bundle of joy.

-The way she carefully seems to select a leaf from the countless numbers of them, pounce on it, then carry it triumphantly for a few seconds.

-The way she loves to bound through the grass.  leaping like a white tail deer.

-The way she follows close by like she never wants to lose you.  You always have to be in her sight. I never had to have a leash on her.

-The way her food disappears in a matter of seconds.

-The way she curls up in your arms once she is ready to settle down.

-Her adorable playfulness.

-How she looks at you adoringly.  Because she depends on you and KNOWS that you love her.  And she loves you too.

-The way she explores under chairs and beds.

-The way that she already knew the way home from our little walks we take up the drive.  On the way back she would start charging ahead, impatient to get back.  But she would wait for me to catch up and then bolt a couple feet again.  SO excited to be back home.

-The way she loves car rides.

-The way she immediately began to open up once she knew she was safe and loved.

-The way she looked at my slightly steep stairs EVERY time like "you want me to do WHAT now?" but with a little encouragement, stumbled her way up.  Because she knew it meant she was strong and because she knew I loved her for it.

-The fact that in only two days we had already fallen in love with each other.  And even though she hardly knew me, the fact that I fed her, cared for her, held her, and loved her meant that she trusted me.

-The way she would hover around my ankles whenever there was a new person.  Afraid to venture from the unfamiliar.  And then she would look at me as if to ask "is this person okay?".

-How smart she was.  How she already knew the trick of "I'm going to grab this things that is yours and drag it out here to get you to come out here and play with me".  The good ol' bait and lure.

Let my provide you with some more pictures.  They're not great.  But they are what I have.

(wow, phone IS kind of a beast...)

 Bath time!!

Chomping the leaf

Early Wednesday morning when I dropped her off at the hospital to be picked up my heart broke a little.

I know it sounds stupid.  To get all attached to this little mutt of a dog after only two days.

I tried to understand myself and why I got a little misty eyed as I said goodbye.  Why it was a wrench to leave.  Why I can't help but feel that there is now something missing in my life.

And I think I figured out what it is.

We, as human beings, need to be NEEDED.  It is within all of us (well...MOST of us) to care and nurture others.

And with dogs, they are so accepting, so trusting, and devoted.  They give all they have and are to be with you and love you.  You are their LIFE.  They depend on you.  And in return for your care, they love you unconditionally.

And we all want to be loved.  Deep down we all want to care for someone or something and be loved back.   And dogs provide that. Unconditional companionship.

I had that for a couple of precious days.

And losing that made me feel like I lost a little part of myself that I had discovered.

All in all I am very grateful for the experience.  I hope one day to have a dog as smart, sweet, loving, and overall well behaved as this little pup was.

Monday, October 1, 2012

On Revelation

We all live in our little bubbles.

Where we are safe and life is as we perceive it-true or not.

We are convinced that these little worlds we have created are the sole purpose of our existence.

If any one thing is thrown out of balance, the fragile walls of these bubbles come crashing down.



Life is hard.  It's complicated.  It's messy.

And it is nearly NEVER as we perceive it.

Sometimes we need to open our eyes.

I won a pair of sunglasses that have a hint of red tones to them.  I often wear them bike riding.  When I do,  the limited vibrancy of this slow rising Missouri Autumn is enhanced.  I can almost believe that the trees are starting to turn bright scarlet, orange, and gold.  Not rust, brown, and pale yellow.  It's pretty great.  But the second I take them off, the dullness of reality is revealed.  It's kind of disappointing.

Of COURSE we all want to wear those reality altering sunglasses through our lives.

But where does that get us?

It's hard when we find ourselves faced with a revelation that changes our whole perception of a previously solid reality.  There is a time of floundering and questioning.

This is normal.

But eventually, you are going to have to come to terms with that reality and find your footing again.  Otherwise in this new exposed environment, unprotected by the paper thin bubble, we can find ourselves beginning to lose all that we sought to gain.

That's why spending life in these self-imposed bubbles is never the best idea.

Step outside yourself.  Look around you.  WITHOUT the sunglasses.  Expose yourself to reality...and over time it becomes less scary.

It's still just as hard as it's always been, but you find you are more suited to face it.

We can spend our whole lives laying out the little pieces of our future.  Trying to create the mosaic that we think we deserve.  A collage of expectations.

How often do we limit ourselves through this act of "pursuing our dreams" and "not making compromises"?

Don't take me for a cynic.  I believe as much as the next person that much is possible when you put forth effort and never give up.

But then there is reality.  Sometimes those pieces just don't fit.  Like putting together a puzzle and trying to ram the little round end into the hole of another piece and it just wont work.  Then we try to force it because we don't have the patience to look for the right piece in the seemingly endless pile of identical looking shapes.

The worst part is that sometimes that fitting piece is right there in front of us, and we either keep passing it over never giving it a change, or we've tried it several times and decided that it just doesn't look right and so discard it without a second thought.

It doesn't help that the pattern of the puzzle is ever changing.  Never the same thing for very long, and so we are constantly having to alter our perspective.

Like I said.  It's not easy.

It's not meant to be.

But if we keep trying to force our lives into perfection, we're only going to be disappointed.

We shouldn't devote all our time on those two pieces that refuse to fit and miss the opportunity of revealing the bigger pictures that is the puzzle.

One small revelation can change things.  Suddenly, a whole section of the puzzle is different.  And I can't seem to figure out how it relates to the rest of the picture.  Where does it fit in?  Does it even belong to the same puzzle anymore?  Does it work well with the rest of the images or is it a blemish to the art that is the balancing act of my life?

I find myself wanting.  Searching for something that I haven't had in years.  Sometimes the desire for it is a hollow ache somewhere between my heart and my stomach.  It spreads until it occupies a nagging corner in my mind.

And so that need to search is always there.

I can't escape it.

But I can put it aside.  Place it on a shelf and let it sit collecting dust while I strive to attend the more important things in my life.

It's something I'm learning to do, and it's not easy.

The last thought of the night is this:

More than anything I wish there was a way I could be just me.

Just Sarah.

Nothing more, nothing less.

 No expectations.  No brand.

Because it's okay for me to be that person.  An individual separated from various hats that I wear.

In my entire life I can easily count on one hand the number of people I can be that Sarah around...

Honest.  No strings attached.

And you wanna know how many of those people are still in my life?

Not enough.

It's what I'm searching for.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Riding in the Rain

When I was young, I knew how to let things go.

And it was liberating.

Whatever happened to that girl?

I remember fondly weekends when the skies opened up and torrents of rain made raging rivers out of the gutters in front of our house.  Across the street, sunken valleys in the sidewalk filled and became lakes.  On very special days like this, with all other modes of entertainment exhausted, my little sister and I were permitted to ignore the usual rule of staying dry.

And so we shed our inhibitions and became water nymphs.

Barefoot and free, we ran into the pouring rain fully clothed, prepared to get as soaking wet as possible.

And so we did.

We would jump in the sidewalk lakes, splash through every puddle like our lives depended on it, and sit ourselves down in the gutter rivers.  We would dance and twirl as the drops cascaded down on our young heads; believeing that were the richest girls in the world to have a life such as this.  Who cared that we were getting drenched?  Awaiting us inside were towels and warm dry clothes.

I miss those days.

What brought this memory on?

I found myself this past Saturday taking my bike down the familiar paths of the Bear Creek Trail.  I'd eaten far too many cinnamon bread sticks from Gumby's the night before and was determined to get this ride in even though dark rain clouds loomed ahead.

Let me tell you a little about the world of the forest on this day.

It was as if it everything was heaving deep sighs of relief and contentment.  From months of drought to nearly a whole day of rain-every facet of nature found itself coming upon a brimming oasis after months of trudging through the desert.  Green abounded and the whole world was dripping.

I high-fived the trees as I rode.  They deserved it for hanging in there.

I stopped along the bridges to watch the long dry creek beds babble along with newly supplied water.  I  imagined the dance of life going on under the surface.

I made it a point to speed through every puddle created in the potholes of the trail, drenching my feet and kicking up mud everywhere.

And every time I did, I smiled and the child in me emerged.  My legs were soon speckled with muck and my shoes were soaked through.  And I felt liberated.    

About halfway along my ride, a drizzle began.

That drizzle became heavier until it was a steady downfall.

What did I do? I rode on.  Felt the drops against my face, wetting my shirt and pants and immediately cooling as the wind rushed past.

Instead of feeling uncomfortably wet or frustrated by the change in weather, I felt refreshed.


And it was one of the best experiences of my summer.

Who cared that I was getting dirty and wet?  At home, dry clothes and a shower awaited.

Sometimes we have to learn to let go.

Because in truth, a lot of the rules in our lives that cause anxiety, strife, and discomfort are ones created by the world and not ourselves anyway.

We all need days to kick off our tight and constricting shoes.  We need to walk barefoot in the mud, jump fully clothed into lakes, ride in the rain, and let nothing stop us from doing what it is we want to do.

Monday, July 30, 2012

On *sigh* (not the contented kind)

This is not a gleeful post.  So let me preface it by saying this:

I'm fine.


You think you've got it all worked out.

You think you've made your decision.  

You're sure that from now on, things will settle down.  Life will click.  

And you won't have to worry anymore.

All it takes is one tiny grain of conflict, careening at an unimaginable velocity, to bring your wall of certainty crashing to the ground.

But lets be honest.  You can pretend all you want that your wall was made of titanium.  In reality, it was made of paper.

Wet paper, at that.

I guess that means the wall doesn't come crashing down, but melting down.  

In slow, agonizing globules of uncertainty and doubt.

That tiny grain-you should have seen it coming.  You DID in fact. You just chose to ignore it-hoping that it would bounce right off you.  Or better yet, miss entirely.

Deep down you knew you wouldn't be so lucky.

Suddenly its happening all over again. You looked at your future (molded by the decision you were going to make) and saw contentment.  Hingent on one tiny detail.  The instant that detail is taken away, the vision becomes tainted.

Blackened, even.  

And all your planning, all your hopes and anticipations come to a screeching halt.

All because of a few choice phrases. A tiny grain.

Honestly, I'm making a bigger deal out of all this than I need to be.


And all that.

Happiness is not dependent on fuzziness.

It's not dependent on the acquiring of "things".  

There is still potential for contentment.

I've found it before.

In the most unexpected of places.


There's a time to fight for what you want (or what you THINK you want), and a time to let go.

Because what you think you want is probably not all that you think it is.

The "want" is often deceiving because underneath it are layers of unfair expectations.  Visions of what the end result of that want is supposed to be.

And for the most part, it's all false.

"Illusions are dangerous people.  They have no flaws"

That's from Sabrina (1995).

It's only been in the past 3 years that I've become aware of the true danger of illusions.  

But like most things that are falsely appealing to us, we ignore the danger.

We wander from the path to pick the pretty flowers.  Unaware that a wolf lurks in the shadows.  

The wolf, he is idolization.  He is false perception.  

And we build up these illusions, until the resemble something flawless.  Something that could never truly exist in reality.  

And that, my friends, is how you sabotage yourself.

It's easy to spend so much time focusing on that false image of "perfection" that you ignore all the other realities surrounding you.

I've decided something.

I don't need a wing-man.

I don't need a friend encouraging false idolization.

I need a reality check.

Someone who will pull off the rose colored glasses and help me see truth.


These are the vague ramblings of an exhausted, 20-something female.  

They are what my brain decides it needs to spit up and spatter across the blinding lights of computer screens and mobile devices.

They are not to be taken too seriously.  

Because we all make the tiniest problems out to be the end of the world.

When really, they are nothing more than a blip on the radar of our lives.

P.S.  I'm Fine.

Just tired and disappointed.  Not a good combination.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Hats.

At some point in the process of self discovery, you have to look outside yourself.

At the person you REALLY are.  Not the person you imagine yourself to be.

Compare that to the person you WANT to be.

Then begin to take the necessary steps to making the two images one.

It's not easy.

It's not quick.

It is possible.

Identity has been the focus of my thoughts of late.

Whatever you may know about me, it's only a small fraction of who I really am.  That's true of a good number of people, I think.

(prepare yourselves for an extended metaphor)

We all have different versions of ourselves.  Different hats we wear for the various social interactions we have.

I own quite a collection.

Some of my hats sit collecting dust.  Many of those I hope to never wear again.

Some I've re-discovered and found that I remember just how much I liked how they suited me before.

I have, as we all do, a few awkward hats.  Ones that don't become me.  Fortunately only a few people have ever had to see me in those hats.

And then there are the new hats.  Recent additions.  A few take some getting used to-and I go back in forth between loving them and thinking they make a fool out of me.

There is one in particular that is rather weighty.  I'm not sure how it suites me, because I never seem to be around a mirror when I have it on.  It feels kind of bulky, and sometimes awkward.  I'm just hoping I'll grow into it.  This hat was offered to me.  It was not something I expected.  It's one that many have worn before and many will wear after.  With it comes a great number of expectations and responsibilities, as well as a title.

And people look at you a particular way while you are in this hat.  

But I don't wear it all the time.  I mean, it IS rather conspicuous.  And the weight is exhausting.  Plus I often wear it at the same time I am wearing other hats...which just makes things all the more challenging.

All that being said, I would never give this hat away, take it for granted, abuse it, or ask to have it bequeathed to someone else.  Because right now, this is one of my most important hats and I should wear it respectfully and proudly while I have it.

I think sometimes people don't take me seriously when I wear this hat.  Or worse, they don't take the HAT seriously.  Sometimes people toss the hat casually onto my head because they like the way it looks just a little off kilter.

Maybe I'm making unfair assumptions.

I probably am.

In any case, this is a hat I am trying to take seriously.  One that I am trying to be worthy of.

There are still many hats that I wish I could acquire.  I see other people wearing them and feel pangs of envy. 

The truth is that at this point if I were to be GIVEN one of these desirable hats, I probably wouldn't know what to do with it or how it should be worn and presented; how it should be maintained and taken care of.  

I THINK I would look amazing in this hat, but perhaps it would be an acquisition I would regret because I am not prepared for what comes with the hat.

Finally, there are some hats that I had to leave behind.  Ones that were only available in the life I had before. Ones particularly suited for ocean breezes, long hikes up mountains, kayaking lakes and rivers, long walks through the woods of tall pines and prevalent birches, and solitary exploration.  I miss those hats and find myself trying to use other, unsatisfactory hats to achieve what I had.  This only leads to frustration and disappointment.  Because I can't have what I had before.  I'm in a new place, a new situation, and I have to learn to utilize that hats I DO have and not take them for granted.   

As I sift through my collection, I have been holding up several of the well worn hats that maybe need to be retired.  Or perhaps simply taken better care of.  Some I cast aside, others I put in a pile of "I'll get to you later" hats.  I find that pile to be ever growing.


Who am I to others?  Am I the person I want them to perceive me as?  Am I to them what I wish them to be to me?  Or am I trying to force hats on them which don't fit?

Most importantly, who am I to Him?  Am I striving to be all that I can in His eyes? Or am I striving to be what I think others want me to be?

Am I more focused on the hats that I think others like to see me in, or on the hats that are of a more humble nature?

There are hats for all occasions.

For all social settings.

There are the ones we wear for all to see.

Unfortunately we often wear those hats over the ones that are more important.  The ones that show to others our truest and best qualities.  The hats that most become us are obscured by the wild hats society tells us are fashionable.

Lastly I have come to realize that some of the most important growth comes from remembering to cast aside all those self-centered tendencies we naturally incline to.

Being selfish doesn't get you as far in life as you might think.

Humans are not a solitary species.

We are meant to uplift, encourage, support, and love one another.

Look past the small central circle which encompasses only you and start looking into those larger circles which encompass all those around you.

Those you care about.

Remember that they are people too.  With just as many struggles.

Sometimes its okay to wear no hat at all but instead offer to help others with the number of hats THEY are juggling.

Monday, July 9, 2012

On Revision






Then deciding and committing.  

To taking deep breaths and let that knot in your stomach drift out of you.  Because what does it mean, really?  What is that knot but an additional burden?  It's not what you think it is.  

Nor is it evil.

It's simply...false.

A misunderstanding.

There is no bitterness.

Maybe a touch of shame.

There is no blame.

Only admission.

And a desire to come out the other side better.

A desire for clarity and peace.

The game.  The chase.  The tension.  

Is that what it's all about?  Is that what we want?  Is that how we've been conditioned?

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not..."

To all of you who have offered your invaluable thoughts and advice, thank you.

You're support is deeply appreciated.

Don't worry.

I'm just going through a transition.

All will be well as soon as I learn to grow up just a little bit.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On The Voice in my Head I Can't Turn Off

She's not me.

Not the real me anyway.

Or maybe she is the rawest version of me.  The one that I never reveal because she has to potential to embarrass me.

I don't know any of that for sure.  All I know is that I can't get her to SHUT UP.

She's the one in constant battle with the rational adult side of me.

It's like a tennis match in my brain.  Except the obnoxious me apparently had well endowed parents who paid top dollar for tennis lessons.  So the game is usually one sided and therefore kind of tiresome.  It's not fun to watch the adult me lose over and over again.

You wanna know the worst part?

Obnoxious me is horribly reminiscent of a teenage girl.  Those teenage girls whose first person narrative grates on every one of my nerves (like Katniss Everdeen or (dare I say it) Bella Swan).



Obnoxious me is not nearly as self-sacrificing as she could be.  Nor is she overly emotionally skewed.  But she does tend to cycle through the same things over and over and over again.  She over thinks things.

She feels she's entitled to more in her life which makes her come off as selfish. 

She wants to make my life more complicated.

To her, it's all about "me".  What I want.  What I feel I deserve.  How unfair it is that I have to work for it.  How unfair it is that others have what I want.

She's whiny.

She's horrible.

And I can't get her to shut up.

Some tell me she's normal.

Yeah.  Sure.  Okay.

That doesn't make it any better.

This obnoxious version of me...she is full of wishful thinking and desperation.

Her mantra is: "If I set myself up to expect the worst of the situation, I will receive a delightful surprise when something better comes along rather than disappointment when nothing at all happens."

It's a bleak point of view.  One that I'm not particularly fond of.

But it's a defense mechanism. Like humor in the face of tragedy and terror.

And like those similar defense mechanisms, it usually manifests itself in childish and cringe worthy manners.

The only good thing?

I've managed to tamper nearly all the outward expression of this obnoxious self.

(Those of you who have heard her, I apologize.  PROFUSELY).

She is manifest mostly in the lines of pages and pages of notebooks.  I scrawl endlessly, hoping to expel every ounce of her onto the unsuspecting paper (what did it ever do to deserve such torture?).

But she always manages to bubble up again.

I shall never be rid of her.

Sometimes a naive voice in my head tries to convince me that once she has been satiated by obtaining all she desires, she will be quieted.

This, I highly doubt.  Because she's been around for years and every time she gets something she wants, she replaces that gap with something new.  Something MORE.

She always wants more.

So what's the trick, you ask?

Well, I'm convinced it has to do with getting adult me some crazy good tennis lessons.  Or at least more practice time.

Luckily, experience comes with age and adult me has managed to score a few wins.

Usually they come when obnoxious me least expects it.  The element of surprise is very valuable.

She will be unguarded.  Winning the game mightily.  It's match point.  She's setting up for a winning serve.  When all of a sudden, out of the blue, a rational and mature thought emerges that can't be ignored.

And just like that adult me is back in the game.

I KNOW that the people around me are just that.  People.  Human beings.  I can't be unfairly expecting things of them.  I can't wait around for other people to take steps that I could be making myself.  When immature Sarah says "why haven't THEY stepped up yet?", mature Sarah arc's the ball across the court, scoring a point with the countering thought "what have YOU been doing to make the situation better?"


Often, other mature thoughts follow this one, like the following:

"Hey, guess what?  You're over thinking things and that's only going to make you stressed and unhappy.  Just relax."

"You've come far.  You're not perfect.  No one is.  But you have progressed.  That's something to be proud of."

"Friendship is an important part of social development and you're lucky to have the friends that you do.  Do you really need more than that at this point?"

"There are many things in your life you can focus on.  Get those things in order and when you are ready (thinking you are and actually BEING ready are very different things), you'll obtain that which you seek as long as it is sought righteously."

But Adult Sarah is not out of the woods yet.

Because obnoxious Sarah usually has a fresh round of frantic when's, why', why not's, and how's.  They are hit with desperate force, fly wildly, and yet still manage to score points in the game.

Sometimes I think I've matured.  Maybe I have a little.  But not as much as I might think.

Because lurking underneath each life discovery and personal revelation lies little miss selfish.  Little miss NOW. Little miss over-thinker.

To everything there is a season, right?  Everything in the proper order.

Right now might not be the season I think it is or believe it is supposed to be.

I've been blessed in so many ways.  In friends, in spiritual growth, in my calling, in family, in my new job.  And yet I still feel the need to ask for more?

Maybe I should stop being so greedy, huh?

I can appear rational.  Mature.  Collected.  Progressive.

But just know that underneath is this voice.

One that wont shut up.

And I'm convinced that if you knew her, you'd run away terrified.

Be glad for the therapeutic nature of writing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

On My Thoughts on a Monday Morning

I've spent the whole week listening to Coldplay.  That can only mean one thing:

I've got too many thoughts and feelings galavanting through my brain without my permission.  

And you know what THAT means?

Brain vomit.  That's what.  The mind can take only so much churning before it has to expel some of what's in there before it becomes one big, hot, complicated mess.

So forgive me.

Commence vomiting:

It's suddenly hit me.  Just what is being asked.  I'm catching a glimpse of what is required of me, and I'm not gonna lie.  It's a little scary.  And overwhelming.  Yet I know I would not be asked to do these things if there was no faith from above that I could do them.

I just finished filling out the equivalent of a personality profile on the online dating site I signed up for.  I'm not really sure why I even jumped on this particular bandwagon.  It was kind of a whim.  Done in a moment of frustration.  I have this account and I've no idea what to do with it because I'm too afraid to actually do ANTHING!  

I've been pondering the use of my Sundays.  I'm sure my activities fall under the description of "good".  But how about "better" and "best"?

I promise.  I'm not a "playah".  I just like playing Mario with company.  Especially company that makes me laugh.

I hear whats being said, and I see the merit.  I just don't know if an added piece to the board (me) is going to help much.  But I'll do what I can.

What's WRONG with me?  Seriously? Anyone?  No?  Okay then.  I guess it's time to move on to greener pastures, right?

We walk so high.  Aloof on our mountains of righteousness.  Believing we are invincible.  Ever tempting the edge.

And in a split second, that one decision, that single moment, the soft, chalky ledge gives way and we are plummeting.  Hurtling toward that dark abyss.

Because we were CONVINCED we were fine.  Convinced we had it all worked out.  Thrilled to have been sure enough in our footing to balance on that fine line.

Like an unruly child, showing off to his/her little friends.  Look what I can do!

And in seconds he/she is on the ground, knees scraped, crying at the unfair nature of it all, at the pain.  But most of all, crying from the shame of it all.

And if we were still children, how easy it would be to pick ourselves back up and wipe away the tears.  To meet everyone with a smile as if nothing had happened.  As if we had MEANT to fall.

All part of the plan, folks.

Except everything is different.

But you know what?   NO.

No more self pity.

No more lower lip stuck out and sniffling for someone to hug my problems away.

No more wishing that this or that person would be a shoulder to cry on.  Would miraculously show up and ask me how they can help make me feel better.

I brought this on myself, and I'll be darned if I'm going to force it on someone else.

It's up to me to fix things.

And fix them I will.

This life is filled with a million decisions to be made.  And you can either go running to someone else to make them for you, or you can take a deep breath and make them yourself.

You control your life and no amount of whining is going to change that.

You know what can help?  Trust.

And activity.

Trust that as we do all we can, and strive our hardest, we will be rewarded.

Not always in the ways we thing we should be.

But always rewarded.

And you know what?

I think the time for pining is over.

It's time to stop wishing you had something and complaining because you don't have it.  Either go out and take it, or think of all the things you DO have and get over it.

It's okay for things to be the way they are.  And a real adult will look at their blessed lives and say "I'm okay with this."  Instead of  "this is how I want to be blessed more".


I said brain vomit and I meant it.

Most of it is stuff my brain is yelling at me.

Stuff that I need to keep reminding myself of.

And things I need to just face head on instead of cowering in fear or uncertainty.  Even if they ARE comfortable waiting rooms with cushy couches, good magazines, and delicious snacks.

It's time to get OFF that cushy couch, roll up that magazine, and toss away those snacks and just....




I think I've done enough damage for now.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On Poo Soup, Pedicures, and Familiarity

Please note: this is another long one.  It covers the intimate details of my work.  Not for the squeamish of stomach.  

The first month it over with.

I'm through that terribly awkward and stressful time in a new job where you are new and know nothing.  When you feel like you spend more time being a hindrance than a help.

I'm starting to becoming a working piece of the machine that is a veterinary clinic/groom service/pet boarding service.

That's right, we're the whole package, baby.

*ahem* anyway.  

The first month is always the longest.  Time seems to drag on because you spend so much of it worrying and feeling anxious, and TRAINING.

But NOW is the time for routine and familiarity to set in.  To start feeling comfortable enough with the job that you know what to expect and what to anticipate.

I can finally start to get a feel how each of my days is going to be.

For example.  Thursday's are my LONGEST days.  Wednesday's one of my easiest.

But for a general view in a typical day in my job, keep reading.

And be prepared to be jealous (if you've got a strong stomach).

My typical full 7am to 6pm day goes as follows.

I arrive at 6:45 and am greeted by the symphonic sounds of shrill yaps, booming barks, and pathetic yowls.

Ah, what music!  

Usually the ward attendants are already there, giving the boarding dogs their walkies and cleaning cages, divvying  rations, etc.  

I flip on some lights, turn on some machines, clock in, and if I am lucky I have a fresh batch of stool samples waiting for me in the fridge!  Nothing like the fresh smell of poo in the morning to wake you up!

Want to know how to set up a fecal sample?  It's FUN!

Step 1: get some poo.  You can obtain this from the fresh, steaming pile the animal leaves behind on it's morning walk (lucky for me, this is obtained by the owners or the ward attendants).  OR if the owner fails to pick up their pets poop, we get to stick what we call a "fecal loop" (a long plastic stick with what looks like a big eye of a needle on the end) into the animals bum.  I mean really stick it in there.  Then give it a twist.  Pull it out.  And if luck is on your side, there will be a remnant of the pets last poo on the stick.  Yummy!

Step 2: Put the poo in flotation solution.  

Step 3: Stir and break up the big chunks so that you have a nice poo soup!

Step 4: Pour into a test tube (trying not to spill any on you!)

Step 5: Spin in the centrifuge so that all the poo pieces go to the bottom of the tube and any intestinal parasite eggs float to the top. 

Step 6: Dab the flat end of a small test tube into the top of the spun poo sample.  Apply a droplet of poo sample to a glass slide set with a cover slip.

Step 7: Look under a microscope and see what you can see! (This part makes me feel so cool and sciency!)


Back to my day.  

Groom animals and drop-off appointments begin arriving around 7am.  While I get things prepared for the morning (check supplies, catch up on laundry, etc.) I listen for a page from the front calling me to bring back an animal.

This is the easy part.  You go to the front and if the animal is a dog, have them hop on the scale.  HOPING that they stay still for long enough that you can get a body weight.  If it's a cat you get to pry it out of it's carrier in one of the exam rooms and force it to lay still on one of the smaller scales, all the while avoiding and claws or teeth that might hinder the process.  

Appointments start at 8am.  

For a routine check up I bring both patient (the animal) and client (the owner) into an exam room, check the chart, and then cart off the dog to the treatment room where we get a blood sample (sometimes I get to draw the blood myself!!!  *excited squeal*!!) and if we must, a stool sample.  If the owner REALLY want's to make my day, we do a doggie pedicure.  

Not as nice as it sounds.  

There are a great many different "holds" we are required to learn.  There are different holds for getting blood (from the neck, from the leg, etc).  There's a hold for extracting urine from the bladder of a cat with a needle.   There's a general restraining hold.  Then there's the hold for the nail trims (if the dog is an uncooperative baby).  You have to basically force them on their side, hold their legs, and put pressure on their head with your arm so they can't get around and bite you or the person trimming the nails.

Sometimes the dog whines, sometimes it yelps.  Sometimes is SCREAMS.  Like they are dying.  Pathetic.  And more often than not, the dog squirms like its fighting for its life.  

Grand times. once that is all done and dandy, the dog goes back into the room with it's owner and the doctor follows.  Then you get to check the stool sample for any intestinal worms!  And find other important things to  do, all the while still taking back groom dogs and drop-off appointments making sure to write them up on the giant dry erase board so the doctors know what they still have to do.

If there is any down time between morning appointments, the doctors have you bring up a drop-off appointment and you do all that you can with them until the next appointment shows up.

If drop-offs get finished and there happen to be no appointments, the the DA's have the wonderful task of giving selected boarding dogs a complementary bath!  I've got dog bathing down to a 5-10 minute science!  

The idea is NO DOWN TIME.  No time wasted.

After morning appointments, around 10:00 or 11:00, the doctor who isn't in surgery does all the drop-off appointments with the help of me or one of the other DA's.  That can involve anything from helping shave a dogs hot spot to getting a urine sample for a complete urinary analysis (it's fun, you catch the pee in a ladle!).  

Sometimes I get to help hold a dog for an X-Ray!  I get to wear a lead apron and gloves and all.  And then I get to process the films in a dark room with the red light and smelly chemicals.  Yeah, I'm awesome.

Some days we have dentals.  Yep.  That's right.  I'm now a dental hygienist.  BE JEALOUS.  Because there is no better smell than the reek of rotting dog teeth.  It's a VERY distinct smell and one they should not make into a scented candle anytime soon.

Basically dentals go as follows.  We put the dog or cat under anesthesia (so we don't get our fingers all bit off and everything).  First we scrape off all the tarter.  Sometimes there is very little and this is easy.  Sometimes it's like hacking off a thick protective shell that the dog has developed around it's teeth.  Gross.  But very satisfying as you chisel it off.  Then you "scale" the stains and remaining tartar off.  This is a tool that uses high frequency sound waves to blast the stuff into oblivion.  It's VERY hot and very damaging if you get it too close to the animals gums.  I was terrified to use it at first!  THEN, you get to use the oh so nice looking pokey tool (that's the technical term for it) to get under the gums to check for residual tartar build up, mobile teeth, or pockets in the gum line.  There is a lot of bleeding and it makes it a little unnerving...but you have to convince yourself it's normal.  Then it's the doctors turn. They check the gums themselves and *shudder* extract any really bad teeth (like a fractured canine...we see that in cats a lot).  Seriously, I don't get squeamish around much.  But teeth extractions?  I can BARELY WATCH.  Drilling?  Fah-ged-ah-boud-id!

After all that's done it's a good old fashioned polish with close to the same stuff they use on people.  I imagine it tastes always does.

You know where these animals get off easy?  The fluoride treatment!  No sitting there for 5 hours with those trays of the nastiest tasting goop in creation sitting on your teeth while you gag as the stuff runs down your throat.  Nope.  They get this foam that you rub over the teeth and it sits there for as long as it takes for the animal to wake up.  JEALOUS.

Now that I feel comfortable doing them, dentals are kind of fun.  But I've only done maybe 8 now and I have already seen some REALLY nasty mouths.  How the owners let it GET that bad, I don't know.

Same thing with ears. I've seen some ears that will keep you up at night.  And guess who gets to clean them out with cotton balls?  That's right.


If you are helping in surgery you get to prep patients-wash and shave surgery sites, mask them for anesthesia , hold their mouth open by the lips so the doctors can insert the tube to inflate their stomachs, move and monitor the patient, help keep things running smoothly and making sure things are clean and sterile.  

Today I got to use the thermal-cautery unit!  It look like a pen and has a hot little tip that you apply to nicked vein or artery.  Ah, the smell of singed innards...

It was kind of scary.  I had no idea what I was doing.  But I did it.

After you spend the surgery watching them cut into the animal and remove what they need to remove (be it testicles, ovaries, tumors, etc) you clean up.  That parts isn't that exciting.  

PHEW!  Now it's just the end of the morning.

I get a 45 minute lunch-I bought this new awesome Star Wars lunch box.  All metal and vintage looking.  BEST $7 I've ever spent.  

I go outside across the parking lot under a tree in the grass.  I sit, eat, and read.  It's only 45 minutes but it's nice.  

Back from lunch.  Deep breath.  

Now comes the quiet time.  The doctors are calling clients back about their pets and then going to lunch so there are no appointments.  The DA' s get to check in the mail (meds, supplies, vaccines, etc).  All the stuff that comes in.  We label it and put it away.  Oh the joys of inventory!

We do Heartworm tests if it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday (this REALLY makes me feel like a scientist!  There are pipettes, timers, droppers, solutions, blood spinning, etc.  I actually really like doing it).  The only part I don't like is then calling all the owners back to let them know the results (which have always been negative since I've been there, thank goodness!).

If need be, I pull up vaccines.  Just another example of an activity that makes me feel super doctor-y.  You use a syringe with the needle and flick out the air bubbles and all that.  Man.  It just doesn't get any better.  Unless you accidentally stick yourself, which I have totally NEVER done.

I check over things.  Walk dogs if I have time.  Make sure the exam rooms are ready for afternoon appointments.

Then the afternoon is basically the opposite of the morning.  Instead of dogs coming IN, dogs are going home looking all pretty and stuff.  This is my favorite part of the day.  They are all SO EXCITED to leave and see their owners!  It's adorable.  Appointments are usually the same (sometimes something EXCITING happens and you get diarrhea'd on by some insane dog that thinks you're there to murder it, other times things go smoothly).

All the while sweeping, mopping, fecal samples, blood work, general cleaning, and laundry are going on.  And we begin to prepare to shut down for the night.

On a good night we are out of there between 6:00 and 6:15 pm.

If an emergency comes in like a dog with a gaping wound from a dog fight or a cat with a fish hook up it's nose, we're there longer.

It happens.

We take out the trash, clean all the fecal loops and fecal sample test tubes, used syringes to be saved for later use in less sterile things, counters, etc.  Turn things off, and then head out.  If it's Thursday we get to carry out any euthanized pets to be "disposed of".  I'll let you figure out what that means.

I think that's about it.  That's what a long day in the life of me is like.

Working where I work is great.  I'm learning all these new things and I've barely scratched the surface!  Don't ask me questions, I'm no the doctor.  Though I do know a FEW things now.

Everyone there is pretty relaxed and fun to work with.  We help each other out and things run smoothly most of the time.

Sometimes, when things go wrong, we get a lecture from Dr. Mo.  He's known for his lectures.  And tangents.  But he's a funny guy who likes his country music and sometimes wears a camo bandanna to surgery.

Working with Dr. Mc is like working with the most encouraging and validating best friend ever.  100% positive reinforcement.  And she laughs at your jokes like they are actually funny!

The only thing I don't do often is work at the front desk.  That's because that actually requires that you have knowledge to answer peoples questions.  Which I don't have yet (and everyone else knows more than me).  I'll get there.

But I'll take stool samples and urine analysis over answering the phones any day.


Okay.  Time to end this post.

This was the right call.  I knew that I waited for a reason.  And while I still get paid hourly, this is a full time job.  One that I enjoy.  One that is giving me valuable experiences.

One that I hope I get to keep after my 3 month evaluation in June.

Who would have thought I'd end up here, right?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On Dating

This is it.  

It's going to happen.

There's no stopping me now.

This post is getting written.  Because I've had this revelation (encouraged by a relief society lesson).

Know going into this that I feel I have less experience than most to be even remotely qualified to write a post on dating.  But lack of knowledge has never stopped me before.  Why should it now?

Within this post there will be honesty.


That is what I offer.  Take it or leave it.  Ignore it.  Whatever you please.  Apparently I feel strongly about this and will not be deterred from sharing my opinions, however ignorant or naive(I hate typing this word.  I never put the "a" before the "i") they might be.

P.S. this is kind of lengthy.

First thought (inspired by the words of a friend teaching a great lesson on standards):

Dating is NOT a commitment

Dating is a social activity with the purpose of interacting with another/other individuals in a one on one or groups situation so that you can get to know each other better.  It's an exercise in learning to read social queues and to associate with your peers in a respectful and enjoyable manner.  It's an important step in our social and mental development.

It is in no way an admission of devotion to another individual, nor a promise to love them and only them for all eternity.  You are not pledging marriage then and there nor even suggesting that marriage is even on the horizon.  Quite simply you are letting this other individual know that you admire certain qualities in them and would like to know them better.

I think a big problem comes from the misinterpretation of the phrase "you date who you would marry".  The statement isn't "you marry who you date".  Sure, a date is flattering because it says to the other individual that you see in them a potential light and goodness associated with an eternal companion.  However, rarely does one date bring certainty to either party that they are each others "other half".  And assuming that one date means more than a mutual attraction and admiration is not rational.

Yes there are exceptions, of course.  But we're not talking about them right now.

I will repeat.  One date is not a commitment.  5 dates aren't a commitment.  Honestly, there is no commitment until both parties mutually state that they would like to be committed to each other.  So until that happens, just chill.  Okay?  Let things be, and be willing to let things go.

Second Thought:

Dating does NOT have to be complicated.

I'm not saying it ISN'T I'm just saying it doesn't have to be.  We as humans LOVE to makes things harder than they need to be.

Dating is one of those things made unnecessarily complicated.

One of the first steps in making it LESS complicated is understanding the above statement-that it's not a commitment.

Another step is just RELAXING.  I mean really, it's just a date.

Here's another tip.  Don't be so quick to discount people.  You may be of the opinion that an individual has nothing in common with you, or maybe you think they aren't marriage material.  It is hard to muster up the strength to ask someone on a date.  Our greatest fear is rejection and embarrassment.  Remember that the next time someone asks you on a date.  Consider before you automatically say no.  Of course if a drunk off the street gives you their number, by all means DON'T call them.  But you honestly never know the kind of connection you may or may not form with someone.  You could have a blast!  And REMEMBER-it's NOT a commitment.  

 A person should not need to submit a resume in order to go on a date with you.  They don't need to go through a background check.  The whole idea of the date is to get to know them better.  And if you REALLY feel you wont connect, what's a couple hours of your time in the grand scheme of things? Give it a change, will you?

I feel that a lot of the complications we see in dating and the reservations we sometimes have for it come from a series of misunderstandings and stigmas.  Ones that can be understood if we just look past the whole culture falsely created by our current society.  Lets go into some of those, shall we?

Third Thought (acquired from "We Bought A Zoo"):

All you need is 20 seconds of embarrassing courage...

The asking.  Arguably the hardest part, no?

I've only asked a handful of times myself and let me tell you...ICK.

This is where I have the hardest time taking my own advice.

But truly, we draw out the horrible awkwardness needlessly.  It just takes 20 seconds (average) of putting yourself out there and then it's over.  1 of 2 outcomes occur.  You get a yes or a no.  And if the other person is merciful, they wont draw out that decision, making your life horrible.

Honestly, if you get a no, don't take it personally.  You are undoubtedly an awesome person.  Why fixate on the person who's not interested and waste time you could be spending moving on to someone who IS interested?

I know I have a tendency to put people on pedestals.  I believe that everything about them is PERFECT for me and if they would just realize that we are made for each other things would progress swimmingly onto marriage.  But really, if they don't show interest, they AREN'T interested.  That's doesn't make them a horrible person.  And you might find that if you let yourself, you can discover a good friend in that person.  So I repeat, DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.

Suck it up.  Fight past the anxiety.  And just give it that 20 seconds of courage.  At this stage, you really don't have all that much to lose.

Fourth Thought:

Learn to understand, appreciate, and embrace the pressure

There is an immense amount of pressure put upon members of the church to get married.  There's a reason for that (COMMANDMENT).  Much of the pressure is exacerbated by the sometimes unavoidable dynamics of the LDS culture.  But it's there and it's not going anywhere.

So deal.

I don't mean this harshly.  While I know I cannot fully understand the amount of pressure the brethren are under in particular, I can appreciate it and sympathize.  It's kind of not fair, in many ways.  First it's GO ON YOUR MISSION.  Then it's GET MARRIED IMMEDIATELY AFTER!!  But at the same time GET AN EDUCATION!!!  Then GET A JOB!!!!  Eeeek.  I do not envy you men.

But there is a significant amount of pressure on us females as well.  We've got to walk the tight rope while balancing pursuit of marriage on one end of the bar and education/self-sufficiency on the other.  (Or if you are a LOTR nerd like I am, we stand upon the edge of a knife.  If we stray but a little we will fail).  If we focus too much on marriage and not enough on education, we risk not having a way to support ourselves if we don't marry young.  If we focus too much on school and self sufficiency, we risk ignoring marriage totally and not making ourselves available.

Knowing there is a trap is the first step in avoiding it.  Don't fall into the pressure trap.  It's there.  For a reason.  If dating, courting, and marriage were easy then we would have the same view as the world and have a great many more divorce cases.  It is GOOD that we have to excessively ponder our future and work to obtain it.

It's how we grow.

Understand the pressure you are under, appreciate, and embrace it.  Don't let it rule you and keep you from enjoying some of the best years of your life.  At the same time, don't choose to ignore it and the commandment that has been given to you.

Fifth Thought (one I feel particularly passionate about):

Lets dispense with the gossip and the jokes, shall we?

I get it.  Dating is kinda stressful and potentially uncomfortable.  The idea of marriage even more so.  And one way to alleviate stress is to make jokes.

You might laugh when after the first date you are saying to someone "so where's the ring?".  And the other person will laugh too.  Because it's a joke right?

But beneath EVERY joke or teasing statement (every. single. one.) there is an ounce of truth or sincerity.

You know it, the other person knows it, and it makes things uncomfortable.

Think if it's necessary.  Think if it's really going to make the situation better.

That brings me to the other thing.


THIS is the cause of a lot of that unnecessary stress and pressure.

We all know the drill.

The second you've gone on one date with someone the news spreads like wildfire.  Tongues start wagging, and before you know it there's talk of marriage.  I wish I could say that I'm exaggerating (Well, I am but only a little bit).  

Suddenly you feel pressured to make a premature commitment.  Because that's what people are SAYING is going to happen.  What SHOULD happen.

Now people are trying to date in secret or aren't dating at all to save themselves the stress, the embarrassment, and the trouble of having to sit through all those rumors.

It would be easy to say, "it's just gossip.  Don't listen to it."  But we all know how hard that is.

So I have an easier solution.


Really.  Just because two people go on a date does NOT mean they are even going to go on a second let alone get married. And there HAS to be something better to talk about with your friends than the social life of other people, right?

Here's another thing: stop asking people if "there is someone special" or "is there a nice guy/girl in your life".

It's never an appropriate question.  If I wanted to talk about my dating life with you, I would bring it up myself.  

I'm not saying that dating has to become a taboo topic (it does kind of sound that way, doesn't it?).  Just tone it back.  Remember that large groups of young single adults/college students have got grapevine communication down to a science.

Remember that while you jest, a little truth is felt behind every word.

Above all, remember that everyone is going through just as hard a time as you.  Be considerate of that.

Sixth Thought:

Online Dating: an unfair stigma

What thoughts come to mind when you think of online dating?

I'll tell you mine:

Lame.  Dodgy.  Desperate.  Creepy Stalkers.  Something for everyone else but not for me.

I've not actually tried online dating yet (though I won't be able to say that at the end of the month), so I cannot say with certainty that these words are false.

I CAN say that I believe them to be unfair.

Online dating offers an opportunity for an individual to expand their social circle.  It can be particularly helpful to those in an less than ideal social situation.

And it is not something to be sneered at.

Participating in online dating does not make you lame, desperate, or creepy.

It is, of course, something not to be taken too lightly (because the internet is, in fact, a dodgy place sometimes.).  Like every other thing on the internet, it can be misused in the worst way.

But used in the right way, the right setting, with the right mindset, it can become a useful tool.

It's not for everyone.  Just don't discount it because of stigmas produced by bad press and the opinions of those too afraid to give it a try.

And don't judge those who see it for what it could be.

Seventh Thought :

Don't Give Up

There will be times of rejection.  There will be the typical "I had a nice time,but lets just be friends" response.

These things happen.

And it doesn't feel good.  Rejection never does.

But it's also not the end of the world.

Don't make me go into fish metaphors.

Someone saying they want to be friends is honestly admitting to the you that they aren't the one for you. They are making your life easier!  You wont spend months of your time with them only to discover this later.  And honestly, while it seems crazy, it IS possible to be their friend.

Look past your own discomfort.  See them for what they could be not what you thought you were certain they would be.

And move on (trust me, I am still mastering this one).

Try someone else.

Don't let rejection deter you.  It is simply the opposition created to make this whole dating (and eventually marriage) thing ultimately worth it.  Allow me to add something cheese worthy and say that the best things in life are the things we work for.

A note on girls and TO girls (a potentially unfair generalization and some unsolicited advice)

I hate to harp on my own sex.  I think girls are pretty great sometimes.

But here's the truth.

While we may sit and pout and talk about how "STUPID" boys are, we are kettles talking about pots.

We're petty, immature, insecure, and overly expectant when it comes to boys and dating.  Please note that I say this knowing that there are many girls who don't fall into this category.  That being said, allow me to continue.

We're sometimes withholding.  We expect the guys to be forthcoming with their feelings and thoughts while we stand there, arms folded, and refuse to be honest ourselves.

We're hard to read.  Even I don't get all the complexities of the female psyche.

We're an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a big ball of emotional chaos.

But you know what, guys?  Cuts us a little slack.  We're going through this too.  We have our own challenges.  We have just as hard a time being honest about our feelings and guard our hearts just as much as you. We may have flaws, but aren't we ultimately  worth it?


Give the guys a break.  "Stupid" they may be, sometimes.  But they are under a lot of pressure.  And we're kind of a mess to deal with.  Don't take one look at a guy and decide that they aren't worth a chance.  How will you know for sure unless you GIVE them that chance.

If movies have taught us anything it's that anything can happen (vomit).  By that I mean stop secretly using movies as your template for the perfect relationship.


(Sorry Beckie, I know you hate the term "chick flick").

Life is NOT a romantic comedy.

Even if you are convinced that your Mr. Darcy is out there, remember that Elizabeth didn't even REALIZE Mr. Darcy was her Mr. Darcy.

I'm not saying settle or compromise.  I'm saying be realistic.  And compassionate.  And open.

Here's a little bit of wisdom offered by my Branch President in Maine.

1. There is no PERFECT man out there.

2. You can't change a man's personality to make him what you want him to be.

What I take this to mean is that while you shouldn't set your standards to unachievable heights and have a list of "deal breakers" a mile long, you should not compromise with the false belief that you will be able to change your husband once you are married.

Be worthy.  Marry worthy.

I think on that note I should close.  I have many other thoughts and I could just keep going for hours.  But I want to spare you.

I'm glad to have added my opinion to the plethora of unsolicited and unofficial dating advice in the world.

You're welcome, world.

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