A Single Shard

I read “A Single Shard” last week, and I have to say it was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It’s the story of a young boy in Korea called Tree Ear, who was dropped off by a river as an infant. He is raised by an old man, who lives under a bridge. Tree Ear becomes an apprentice to a potter, and the book follows his journey.

This book is everything that fiction should be: inspiring, exciting, emotional, and fulfilling. I feel like I’ve become a better person from reading this book. 10/10

Everything’s Not Awesome

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now, ever since we saw The Lego Movie 2.

You know the song from the first Lego movie? “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!” It was a cute part of a cute movie. But in the second Lego movie, the song changes. They sing, “Everything’s not awesome! Everything’s not cool, I am so depressed!”
Here’s the video

I know that’s kind of depressing, but I think it’s really important. The truth is, everything’s NOT awesome, and I don’t think it helps anyone to try to pretend like it is. This is my favorite part of the song:
Everything’s not awesome
Things can’t be awesome all of the time
It’s not a realistic expectation
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try
To make everything awesome
In a less likely, unrealistic kind of way
We should maybe aim for not bad
‘Cause not bad, well that would be real great

TRUTH. Things can’t be awesome all the time! If everything was awesome, it would be like staying in the Garden of Eden and never growing. We need not awesome to recognize the awesome!

So what I’ve decided is that everything is not awesome. I was really sick a few weeks ago. Now Spencer’s sick. I have an hour commute to work every morning. I get severe anxiety from some people in my life. Students and parents are disrespectful. Donald Trump is the president. Kale is not delicious.

BUT

It’s okay. Everything’s not awesome, but it’s okay.
It’s going to be okay.

The Big Breakup

Joyfully announcing my official breakup with…. the Internet.

Yeah yeah I know it’s 2018, and it’s literally not possible to completely sever ties with something so integral to our daily lives. (But does it have to be? Stay tuned.) So I’m not like never touching a web browser again. I do still have to check my email every day, and sometimes I like me a good NY Times article, and let’s be honest where else could I plug in all the random ingredients I have to figure out a meal I could make without having to go to the store?

But here’s the thing: I don’t need another voice making me feel inadequate. I already do that job just fine. By getting online I’m inviting other negative voices into my head, and they aren’t doing me any favors.

For example…. I’m on Pinterest this morning (mindlessly scrolling, what else?) and within the first five pins I pass, I’m treated to, “7 Reasons You Need to Have Sex With Your Husband Every Day” and “Eat This to Lose 10 Pounds in a Week.” First of all, how dare you tell me what I NEED to do? You don’t know me. I DON’T *need* to do anything. Also, my body is fine just the way it is, so back off.

But as strongly as I reacted, let me be completely honest: my first reaction was, “Wait, does everyone else have sex every day? We didn’t have sex yesterday. Maybe I’m a terrible wife…” and “I need to lose weight.” I didn’t have either of those thoughts until some anonymous person on the internet told me I’m not good enough.

That is unacceptable.

So I do concede– breaking up with the internet is not an option. But in the sense that I allow the internet to tell me how to feel about myself and my marriage and my body, THAT relationship must end. I need to learn to train myself to ignore the barrage of messages the internet sends. I guess it’s easier said than done, but I’m going to be working on it.

Pics Or It Didn’t Happen

If your husband sends you flowers at work, but you don’t tweet about it, did it really happen?

If you complete a triathlon, but don’t post photos on Instagram, did it really happen?

If you get married, but don’t put your wedding video on Facebook, did it really happen?

For the last few months I’ve been essentially off social media. You could say I’m a recovering addict. But tbh I have no desire to go back. I realized several months ago that I had a problem, because I found myself on one of the medias pretty much anytime I can any sort of free time (e.g. standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for a student to come to his or her piano lesson, laying in bed late at night after writing in my journal).

So I decided to ease my way off by deleting the apps. I could still access them via Safari or Chrome on my phone, but I’d have to login each time. That was mildly effective, but I still went on to Facebook once a day.

I did post our engagments and bridals. That was fun.

But then we got married and went on our honeymoon. We were so busy being in love and not being *that* couple that posts photos of their honeymoon that we didn’t even touch any of the social medias during the whole trip. It was amazing.

So then I was like, “Why go back?”

Then Pres. Nelson invited all the sisters in the Church to go on a 10-day fast from social media, and I was like, “Yes, Sirrrr!!” And I still haven’t gone back.

I’ve since done all the stuff I mentioned at the beginning of this.

The only people that know about our cute couple’s Halloween costume are our parents and brothers and sisters. But that doesn’t make it any less cute. Those are also the only people that know about the St. George triathlon we just completed. But that doesn’t make us any less strong or cool or dedicated. Even less people have seen our wedding video, but that doesn’t make us any less happy or in love. I don’t need likes, and the world doesn’t get to know every detail of my life.

I guess that got a little aggressive, but I’m just trying to say that I really appreciate being able to authentically live my life without needing to tell everyone about it. I spent several miles of my first marathon trying to come up with the perfect caption after I finished my race. Now I don’t remember what the caption was.

I’ve found it easier to live in the moment and not be concerned about the opinions of others if I don’t rely on social media. I’m not saying it’s bad and everyone should get off– I know people can do really good things there. I’m also not aware of other people’s lives like I used to be. But I’m okay, and I think they are too. If the Spirit tells me to get back on, I will. Maybe it will be an important ministering tool in my future. But for now, I’m happy living my life with just Spencer knowing what I had for dinner.

Another October Book: The Egypt Game

I don’t have students on Fridays, so that gives me time to read in my classroom. Today I finished “The Egypt Game” by Zilpha Keattey Snyder. It’s a Newberry Honor book, and it was rather delightful to read.

Two young girls discover that they’re mutually fascinated by all things to do with Egypt, so they begin to play a pretend game where they imagine they’re Egyptian. Four other children join them, and the book follows their game. Fun read.

In Which I Dabble in Domesticity

Hello there! Writing on the couch in my living room on a Friday afternoon. Yep, it’s Fall Break.

I didn’t have to go to work yesterday or today, and I get Monday off as well. Unfortunately, Spencer doesn’t have the luxury of a teacher schedule, so he still had to go to work, leaving me on break by myself.

Luckily I’m quite practiced at being alone, so I’m faring pretty well. Yesterday I did a lot of laundry, started watching “Queer Eye” on Netflix (LOVE LOVE LOVE), read a lot of the Book of Mormon, ran to Office Depot to get some stuff for my classroom, walked back carrying all my stuff, and then found myself with a few more hours before Spencer would be getting home.

So I decided to [drumroll please] try my hand at being domestic.

^what I thought I should look like

Not gonna do a “what I actually looked like” but maybe you can imagine. We keep our house clean, so there wasn’t much house stuff to do. So I decided to delve into my Food board, which has hundreds of delicious-looking recipes that I’ve never even thought about since pinning them. I know Spencer loves Buffalo Wild Wings, and we’re trying to eat healthier foods, so I decided to make Buffalo cauliflower. It turned out fine. The pumpkin cookies I made were mediocre at best. Needless to say, I was nearly in tears when Spencer got home.

Should have taken a picture.

Anyway, here’s the thing– doing the stereotypical wife things (thank you Mrs. Brady) is not easy for me. I guess I’m good at “keeping house” because I’ve been a fully independent adult for almost a decade and I can’t stand any kind of mess. But cooking is not my thing. I can kind of do it, and I plan on getting better, but it just doesn’t come naturally to me, and it is NOT fun for me.

Doing stuff for Spencer is fun for me though.

So of course I will continue to strive to do wifey things when I can. But we both work full time, and we’re both really busy. And who says good wives have to be good cooks?

I have this image in my mind of all the things you have to do to be a good wife (hi again Mrs. Brady. Hi Mom. Hi Grandma Hall. Hi Cathy.) and I feel terribly guilty if I’m not “measuring up” to that image.

But here’s the thing: Spencer didn’t marry me for my cooking skills or my sewing skills or my 1950s housewife persona. Nor did he fall in love with my mom or my grandma or Mrs. Brady. He married ME because he loves ME. So I think rather than getting down on myself for not being as domestic as I feel I should be, it would be better for both me and Spencer if I could just lean into my own strengths and focus on authentically being the woman Spencer fell in love with.

Society has a lot of expectations for women, but society can go jump in a lake. Society has no part in my marriage or in anyone else’s marriage. I think everyone should do what works for them and makes them happiest. If that means being a housewife, amazing. More power to you. If it means something else, you do you honey.

October Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Just finished this book that I’ve been hearing about for as long as I can remember. That elusive 42 that held so much meaning to all who had read “Hitchhiker.” I guess I’m glad I finally understand.

This book felt reminiscent to me of Ender’s Game. Maybe that’s because that’s pretty much the only other Science Fiction book I’ve read.

Here’s a brief synopsis: The world ends, Arthur goes with an alien into outer space, chaos ensues.

Solid 6/10. Like it became enjoyable to read, but it was so weirddddd. Which is okay. Maybe just not really my jam. But I’m glad I read it.

Terrifying Love

*****Warning: this is the most vulnerable blog post I have ever written. I’m running on the assumption that my following has significantly dwindled, because I’m getting HARDCORE REAL today.******

I am completely and totally, head-over-heels in love with my husband. I love him with all my heart, which is why I agreed to marry him. Incidentally that’s also why I agreed to be his girlfriend. In fact that’s why I said yes to a second date.

Yeah, I’ve been crazy about Spencer ever since I met him.

I also had this dating policy where I’d only go on second dates with boys I really really liked. i.e. If I couldn’t see myself marrying a boy, there wouldn’t be a second date.

As you can imagine, I went on very few second dates. (Enough to count on one hand.)

So I meet Spencer, he has all of my “necessary qualities” (speaks Spanish, loves the Lord, worthy priesthood holder, ambitious, this is too embarrassing to continue writing) so I say yes to a first date. The first date goes really well, he continues to be everything I expect in my man, so I agree to a second date. In fact I’m so bold as to tell him at the end of our fist date that I had a really great time and I’d love to go out again. (Granted, he said it first. But I would’ve said it if he hadn’t!)

Second date goes really really well, and I decide that he’s the man of my dreams and I’ll agree to marry him if he asks me. So of course I agree to a third date. Everything continues like a fairy tale, and before you can say “basic Provo girl” we’re engaged. [In all fairness, I’m 26. That’s not basic.]

Believe you me– never in a million years would I ever have imagined I’d be one of those girls that got engaged fast. I always said I’d never even have a conversation about marriage until I’d been in a solid relationship for at least 6 months. And I also always planned on having a long engagement. (tbh I have no idea what the long engagement logic was haha.) Turns out all my judginess of fast engagements came back to bite me. When you know, you know. You know?

So I’m in love with Spencer, I know he’s the one, and I feel absolutely confident this is the right thing to do. However, along with my confidence, there’s this deep and abiding fear that Spencer would just wake up one day and realize that he wasn’t feeling it anymore, or I wasn’t who he thought I was, or he just couldn’t handle me anymore. And that would be that.

Story time: I did let down my [super duper] high walls once before, a few months previous to meeting Spencer. For literally the first time in my life, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and I opened myself up to another person. I got into like a real relationship, the kind where I let him hold my hand and kiss me and introduce me to his family as his girlfriend. It was one of the most courageous, scary things I’d ever done. And then it ended very abruptly, very quickly, with no warning at all. He just drove to my house and told me he’d received revelation there was someone better for me, and we had to cut it off immediately. (Important interjection: I am eternally grateful this happened. Spencer is my soulmate, the only one for me, and I am so thankful this other boy had the courage to act on the prompting he received. I’m just sharing this to give context to my hardcore trust issues.)

So yeah. Daily, constant, deep fear that Spencer would break up with me with no warning at all. But he didn’t.

We got married, and he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I love him so much it hurts.

And that’s sort of my whole purpose here– love hurts. Sometimes it hurts like hell. When you love someone with your whole heart, you run the risk of having your whole heart shattered. It is SO SCARY to give yourself completely to someone else, always running the risk that that other person could at any point just decide to leave. There are very few guarantees in life, and another person’s continued happiness and loyalty are not one of them. I have no control over how Spencer feels, and that sometimes terrifies me.

Even though we tied the knot (and in our case were sealed for eternity, including real covenants with each other and God) I still can’t help from worrying that one day he’ll realize I’m not as good as he thinks I am, or I’m not the same as the woman he fell in love with, or he can’t deal with how much I cry (which is regularly, even though I’m happier than I’ve ever been #gofigure), or he meets someone that’s better than me.

I know I just have to trust him, and every time he does something to deepen my trust, like still loving me when I got food poisoning on our honeymoon, or showing me that I’m the most important person in his life by saying no to other people so he can spend time with me, it gets a little easier. It also helps that he’s NEVER done anything to break my trust. Sometimes when he tells me he loves me (which is often) I say, “I believe you.” That used to take a lot of work to say. Now it doesn’t. It’s still a little bit scary sometimes, but it’s getting less scary.

Love is scary, especially when you have 26 years of practice not allowing that kind of love. Protecting myself all those years kept me safe, but it also kept me from feeling.

I choose to trust that the high risk yields high returns. It already has. I never thought being married to the love of my life would require so much bravery, but it takes real courage to choose to trust Spencer every day. The good news is I’m a brave girl. I’ve been brave my whole life, and now I’m married to the most patient and supportive man I could imagine, and the terror of love is beautiful.

The Power of the Book of Mormon

I really really love the Book of Mormon. I’ve read it every day since I was 13 (Okay, not exactly… The day of my brain surgery I couldn’t read, so my mom read out loud to me while I lay in my hospital bed) and I know it’s True.

But beyond my love for it and my testimony of it, I’ve discovered a special power it has in my life. I’m sure my habit of reading it every day has protected and strengthened me, and I’m deeply grateful for that. When I started teaching 6th grade, I sometimes experienced anxiety. It started happening again this week as I started my first year at a new school.

So when I felt the anxiety coming earlier this week, I remembered what I used to do when I taught 6th grade– I pulled out my phone, and started reading the Book of Mormon. Almost instantaneously the panic and anxiety went away, and I felt great peace. I don’t understand how that works, and I know I don’t have like an official anxiety disorder, so I don’t know that I’m necessarily qualified to make this claim. But for me, the Book of Mormon takes away my anxiety. It calms me down and gives me the strength to do my job even when it feels too hard. I know that power comes from the Holy Ghost, and I’m so grateful for it.

Five Easy Steps to Find Your Soulmate

Hello! I’ve been off the grid (as far as social media and this blog go) for the last few months, but I’ve decided to return to the blog because I miss writing. So I hope at least a few of you will still be around!

I need to establish a core belief I hold before continuing on my chosen topic for this post: there is no “one and only” out there. There are no such things as soulmates. There is not just ONE person that you were predestined to find and be with for eternity.

Having said that, I do believe Spencer is my soulmate. But we COULD HAVE found other people and lived reasonably happy lives if our paths had never crossed. Thank goodness they did.

Anyway, the purpose of this post isn’t to discuss the intricacies of how our lives play out and how much control we actually have in the day-to-day events/ overall projection of our lives. Maybe I’ll blog about that another day. Today my purpose is to talk about how to meet, fall in love with, and marry the love of your life.

Step one: DON’T STRESS
As many of my loved ones can attest, I spent a good portion of my twenties (yes I know I’m only 26 don’t @ me) believing I wouldn’t get married in this life. I’d be in countless (literally countless omg #ysawards #byu) lessons/ firesides/ devotionals/ lectures about dating and marriage, and just feel incredibly guilty. Like, what was I doing wrong? I’d been a consecrated missionary, and I did my best to be faithful and strong after the mission. According to everyone (and by everyone I mean the adults giving these talks/ lessons) the most important thing we needed to be doing after the mission was focusing on finding an eternal companion. So in the same way that I invested myself on the mission, I did my best to invest myself in my new “mission.” But the irony here is that higher stress and anxiety about getting married did not correlate with getting closer to finding the love of my life. It may have resulted in dating more, but dating had nothing to do with finding Spencer. (this topic to be revisited here in a bit.) Stressing does not help. In fact I would say stressing does the opposite. So let’s all (hello adults talking to YSAs) just calm down about dating and marriage. It’ll happen when it happens.

Step two: DO YOU
Rather than worrying about being in the right place at the right time (e.g. a stake dance, other singles events, etc.) just do stuff that makes you happy. That’s not to say you should be selfish and only focus on yourself. What it IS to say is you should be spending time doing things that you enjoy, thereby leading you to people that enjoy similar things, thereby helping you be more content, thereby preparing you for marriage/ the rest of a happier life. Men aren’t that they might get married. They are that they might have joy. I trust that marriage brings joy, but so do other things, and if you already have joy, then I think marriage will be a lot more joyful.

Step three: STRIVE TO MAKE THE SAVIOR BAE
Does that sound sacrilegious? I think it probably does. But what I’m trying to convey here is that as long as He’s before anyone else, you’re good. Like obviously it’s different than having an actual significant other, but He should be your #1 forever, so this is really good practice time. Being single affords all kinds of time (lol not really it can if you prioritize) to really delve into the scriptures and go to the temple regularly and minister and do all sorts of other things that bring you closer to the Savior. Working at the temple is an awesome thing to do while you’re single. This is also a great time to form habits that will bless you for eternity.

Step four: ONLY DATE IF YOU WANT TO
I say dating schmating. If dating is fun for you, knock yourself out. If dating isn’t fun for you, see step two. I recognize that there is value in “practicing” and developing social skills and learning about yourself and what you’re looking for/ what you are NOT looking for. Dating is also an opportunity to share time with fellow children of God and offer kindness, etc. etc. Dating can be good. But dating in a culture full of marriage pressure/ other expectations isn’t necessarily fun. Maybe it is. Maybe free food, you know? But still. What I say now is definitely controversial, and nobody has to agree with me. But here’s my opinion: no one is obligated to go on any dates he or she doesn’t want to go on. You are at absolute liberty to say no for no reason. You’re not into it? Say no. You’d rather hang out with your roommates? Say no. Your show is on? Say no. That does not make you a jerk. I know some people aren’t initially interested, and then they go on a date and hit it off and it’s amazing and now they’ve been married for 40 years and good thing they went on that first date or else who knows where they’d be. Sure whatever. But I say only go on dates you want to go on, and never feel bad for just doing what you want.

Step five: BE OPEN TO CONNECTION
Set boundaries and do you and focus on your own happiness and your relationship with the Savior and serving others. But when you find yourself wanting to spend more time with someone (which may be more likely to happen if you’re spending time doing things you love) then go for it!!! Be vulnerable if you feel like you should be. Have enough self compassion to continue with your happy life if things progress, or if things don’t. Depending on the circumstance, this could mean saying yes to dates you aren’t like completely crazy about going on. The important thing here is to not close yourself off completely. Be ready if the opportunity arises.

There are my five easy steps to finding your eternal companion. Take them with a grain of salt since I’m not even married yet. But I’ll close with a quote by President Uchtdorf, who should not be taken with a grain of salt.

So once you’ve found your person, which is NOT the only goal of this life and you’re still a good person if you haven’t found someone to be with for eternity, then you have a soulmate! Yay!

What do you think of my five easy steps?

btw I am extremely aware that they are not easy. I would never dream of writing a blog like this if I actually thought finding your soulmate could happen easily. Nothing good in life comes easily. Being a single member of the Church is really really really hard. I just wanted to share my experiences and thoughts, and I hope they can be helpful to some people. At the end of the day, the only really important part of our identity is that we’re children of God and disciples of Christ.