Monday, February 28, 2011

I'll Take Door #3

Behind door #1

Behind Door #2 (also, he says he's only 36)
here is what I really think about using online "dating" websites-
I'm going to either
a) be single forever 
b) end up with an overweight, balding man, 20 years my senior, with gratuitous nose hair and a penchant for wearing wife beaters. 
At least this is what I have gleaned from looking over the "who's viewed me" list. Either way, this does not bode well for me. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A little fun in Amish Country

Loved this sign in a Mennonite shop

3 Amish men with a chain saw and one precariously placed ladder

Working, authentic, Amish farm

Gate to an Amish cemetery established in the 1700s

Insert your own joke here

As mentioned in my last post, I drove up to Pennsylvania for a singles "ski" trip this weekend. The skiing is quite optional. There were about 40-50 singles there, with odds of 5 girls to every 1 guy. I looked around the room at one point, and saw 5 -6 girls and one guy at each table. Downright laughable.
I saw a few old familiar faces, and made a few new friends as well. On Saturday I joined a few of the new friends for a trip to Lancaster County (for you non-Easterners, that is pronounced "LANK-uh-ster."), better known as Amish Country. I had never been there before, and I really enjoyed it. I'd love to go back someday with just one or two friends (or just my sister Nats) and have a leisurely day there.
We learned about the differences between Mennonites and the Amish, which was informative and helpful. Here in Roanoke we see Mennonites on occasion, as there are a few offshoots of them nearby. We heard a few Amish accents, took a buggy ride (with a very amusing tour guide), and discovered the joys of shoo-fly pie. Unrelated, I have a new favorite food!
It was a great weekend, and I am glad I got up the guts, money, time, and energy to go. My little break from reality really helped lift my spirits and, well, it was just fun! I haven't had FUN in a really long time. I can't begin to tell you how much it meant to me to feel happy, free, and fun again. So glad I did it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Today is that rare day where I use my blog to talk about politics and world events.
I can't remember where I was or what I was doing when the Berlin Wall fell. I was 14 years old at the time, and the event occurred with little to no acknowledgement from me. I was still young enough, raised by Republicans enough, and patriotic enough to be very pro-USA, and very anti anything Soviet or communist. I couldn't understand communism, lack of freedoms, or oppression until I was much older. I sang in a patriotic themed children's choir. I couldn't understand 

Single People- I'm coming to find you!

Tomorrow, for the first time in over a year, I will actually go to a social event. A singles event! Since leaving my friends in Utah nearly one year ago, I haven't gone to a party, or anything close to it. I haven't been around other singles, or in an environment where parties or social events (that didn't include my cousins) were happening.
More amazingly, I am going to a church/LDS social event. It will be my first one in about 4 years, maybe 5. When I lived in Utah I went to a few church events during my first 6 months there, but then after that, I never heard about any other "official" church activities. (During the 3 years I lived in Utah, I was the only active single woman in my wards.) However, I did go to plenty of parties and social events with friends. They just weren't church activities in Utah. (Someday I will attempt to explain the relationship between the LDS Church, singles activities, and how entrepreneurs are ruining the singles scene in Utah. But that's a story for another blog post. One I may never feel like fulling explaining.)
Anyway, my point!
I'm so ready to get out of Dodge and have fun for 24 hours. I am so ready to just have fun and meet people that I'm willingly driving 4 hours just to do it. Back when I lived in DC I could never understand those people that drove from other towns and states to come to our activities. Six months in Roanoke, and I completely understand now. Four hours, while annoying, is nothing compared to the utter boredom of living here in a vast social wasteland.
I'm pretending in my head that I'm not completely socially awkward, and completely adverse to making small talk with new people. I'm also pretending that I like being alone in large groups of people that know each other and I don't. I'm also pretending that I will not be working a graveyard shift all week, and be needing to sleep during the day when the activity is happening. Because this is my first chance to socialize and be with single people in over a year.
I never thought that I'd be this desperate to be around single people. (Of course, I never knew it would be this impossible to find single people to be around!)
Wish me luck!

PS- I have to add this because its just too typical not to add it. There's a Facebook event page for the activity I'm going to. As of right now there are 22 people attending. 19 women, 3 men. 9 maybes- 6 women, 3 men. This is everything that is wrong, and yet typical, about singles activities. 

A few unexpected changes can go a long way!

Just when you think things will never get any better, a phone call right out of the blue can change everything. After all of last week's frustrations, anger, depression, and tears, this week is a totally different tune!
This week a cousin (she's actually my dad's first cousin) called me and asked if I could be a night care giver to my elderly and sick great-aunt. She offered to pay me (far more than I would have asked for), and I began working that very night. This not only helps in the way of income, but also gives me something to do.
I've been anxious for something to do outside of the house, just so I could be more structured with my time.
Which basically just left me with my need to socialize. And guess what? Well, you'll have to wait and find out. I'm sure I'll have pictures and stories to tell you next week about the socializing event I get to do this weekend.
So I'm blogging at 1:30 am, while my "patient" is sleeping. I'm adjusting over to sleeping during the day and working at night. I'm having flashbacks to my old life as a 911 operator. Its amazing how quickly the body can remember how to do certain things.
This week is the complete opposite of last week. Last week was misery with no end in sight. This week there are solutions and options!

Monday, February 21, 2011

thinking ... things

Here's what I think.
I think I have way too much on my mind. Way too much free time, and yet not enough time in the world to get all my thoughts thought out. 
Is that redundant?
Things on my mind at this exact moment-
I applied for a mall job today (4 actually). These jobs are likely to hire much faster than any of the 10 other "real" jobs I applied for today. Do I risk taking a mall job, just to have to quit a few days later? (hopefully!)
Am I ever going to actually get a real job?
And if I do get a real interview for a real job, do I dare tell them about the Peace Corps looming over me in just a few months?
In the new book I am writing, is it more romantic that he doesn't kiss her (because he respects her), or should he just go for it and kiss her because they are in love?
Speaking of which, when is the last time I went on a decent date? Shh... don't answer that. 
Which reminds me, the guy who sent me the email about communing with cows wants to "go to the next level" with me. And by that, I mean he wants to go on a date. I'm pretty sure that the relationship has absolutely no chance for success. But I'm bored. And I'm nice. Do I go out with him anyway? 
If you had all the free time ever (and no funds because you haven't had a job in over a year), and you wanted to make the most of it, what would you do? 
I just remembered where I hid the ice cream. 
I need to go now.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I need a muse.
There, I've said it.
My life is far too boring, way too uneventful, and incredibly dull these days. Nothing but let-downs and static.
I need a muse. And inspiration.
I need something or someone that gets me motivated and creative again.
I thought for a few days I had met an interesting guy. Sadly, he quickly went from interesting to downright peculiar and odd. Including an email he sent me about cows.
Cows do not equal muse. Ever.
I'm suddenly understanding the practice of having a muse, and why artists were patrons of rich benefactors. I can't be creative sitting around at home. But take me out of the house, put me in a beautiful setting, with new, inspiring people around, and I can write anything. I can create all day long.
I need a rich, interesting, fancy person, preferably with a single, handsome manservant, to sponsor me for a while. Allow me to come live in their fancy estate by the water where I can write a book or two or five. And just flirt with their beefcake of a manservant for a few days. Nothing serious. Just something to stir the senses. A cabana boy would work too. I promise to give him back when I'm done.
Anyone have an estate by the water with a cabana boy, and Diet Dr Pepper on tap, that I could borrow for a few days? I'll even settle for a pastry chef and a lake house. Pool house and yard boy? Lake cabin and a younger brother?
Just let me know. I'm flexible. And I promise to dedicate the book to you. And the cabana boy.
Tonight I realized I've been making things worse for myself lately. There's the stress and all that comes with it from my unemployment situation. But on top of that I'm kicking myself and punishing myself for not doing more with my so-called freedom right now.
I'm not running off on weekend trips. I'm not visiting friends around the country (heck, I'm not even visiting them around the state). I'm not spending every possible minute writing a book. I'm not working out and getting into shape.
I'm not doing anything with all of this free time.
I wish that I was. But ask anyone who is unemployed, sometimes it just doesn't work that way. I still manage to be full time busy, in spite of having nothing traditional to do.
I wish I could find inspiration and creativity and write to my heart's content right now. I have a story in my head that I wish I was more juiced up to write out.
I wish I could just jump in my car and go from friend to friend, visiting people and really enjoying their company. But this seems so unfeasible as to be a pipe dream.
I wish I had a lot more money so I could do fun things with all of this "free time." One of the hardest parts of unemployment is not getting to have fun with it, and then knowing once there is a job, it will be that much longer till there is vacation time accrued, or the funds to spend on a vacation.
And then of course, on top of everything else, I don't know what my future holds. Will I get rejected in this last round of cuts from the Peace Corps? Will I be leaving the country in 6 months? Do I need to find a Plan B for my life? What job/career do I want if I don't get into the PC?

Friday, February 18, 2011

To really love another, one must really love themselves

Our last guest LOVE blogger comes from single dad Brigham. Thanks, B, for the heart-felt post!

When the month of February comes around each year, we all are reminded in some form or another that it is Valentine’s Day and celebration of love whether it is something we individually want to think about or not.  It is in our human nature to want love, companionship, intimacy, and affection in our lives to some degree. I have come across many people looking for these things in their lives whether it is the single person, the divorced person, or the married person. For the single person, they are looking for the “one” to fall in love with and share life with. For the divorced person, to hope for and find love again with the person that is right for them. For the married person,  to continue to have the lasting love and companionship with their partner.
So love is something we all are seeking or longing for, but how can we find love and sustain love with another individual. I believe the key to this is loving yourself or “self love” and knowing yourself. By this, I mean know who you are which includes knowing what you stand for, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and loving yourself for whom you are. If there are things you don’t love about yourself than change those things.
 We all have been in those self-pity stages in our lives where we feel no one loves us or cares about us which happens and is normal to feel that way occasionally, but it is those individuals that have love for themselves that can get over that and press on and really love someone else.  When you really look at those people around you that are in loving successful relationships is because they have love for themselves and whom they are. By loving yourself, I am not referring to it just to be all about loving you, but a more selfless love- loving yourself, but also giving of yourself. It is possible to love yourself so much that you become selfish, arrogant, and prideful which are the primary reasons why don’t find love or why love in relationships doesn’t last and leads to relationships ending as well as probably the most immeasurable factor in divorces.
Look at the examples, you have around you of individuals in loving, successful relationships compared to those that  are in unhappy, not so loving relationships and ask yourself these questions.  Are the ones in loving relationships more happy not only individually, but happy together as partners compared to those in not so loving relationships? Are individuals in loving relationships know who they are and tend to love themselves more compared to those in not so loving relationships? Are individuals in loving relationships more selfless compared to those in not so loving relationships?
So to really love someone else, I believe one first must love themselves. Just think about it, if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect anyone else to really love you. Does anyone really want to be with someone that doesn’t love themselves or is not happy with themselves? Do you as an individual want to be with someone that doesn’t love themselves enough where they don’t care or not happy with their lives? Of course not,  most of us don’t want to be with someone that is unhappy or miserable. Yes, it is possible to find love if we don’t really love ourselves or find a relationship with someone that doesn’t love themselves, but as individuals we have to think is that something we really want and is it something that would be a loving, lasting relationship that we all long for.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today was long coming. I finally had a meltdown. I lost it. I just broke down, screaming, crying, cursing the sky, shaking my fist, and yelling "WHY ME?!?!?!" What did I do to deserve this? Why am I going through this hell of unemployment?
I'm not proud of my behavior today. But I won't apologize for it, or pretend it didn't happen. My feelings have been bottled up for a while now. I've had to ask people to stop talking about certain things in their lives around me, because it hurts to hear them. I do love my friends, and I do want to be happy for them. But sometimes, hearing just one more success someone else has had, while I continue to receive rejection after rejection, just kills me a little more inside. I've "warned" those closest to me that things are tough. But the truth is, there isn't one person who knows just how bad things are.
I've reached out to the few friends that I know can relate. I've tried to be a good friend to others. I've tried to forget my own problems by helping others.
But today it was just too much. I just don't have it in me anymore to pretend everything is okay. And so I didn't. I just broke down and cried. Not once, but twice. Three if you count right now as I type this.
It isn't easy having little to not control over your future, your finances, your home, what you eat, what you do, what successes or failures come your way, or what insensitive and rude thing someone will say to you belittling your problems.
All you have control over is how you react. And today, I chose tears. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

LOVE Guest Blogger Jocelyn - Love Means Never Having to Remember What a Doofus You Once Were

From Guest Blogger Jocelyn of the awesome blog, "We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ." 

I visited my parents last week.  It was my mom's birthday, and I haven't been back to my hometown in nearly two years, so it was time.

There have been some changes in my little home base.  For instance, my parents don't live in the house that I grew up in anymore.  And the city finally put in sidewalks and added a stop light at one of the busiest intersections, bringing the grand total for traffic lights to two.

Other than that the town still looks the same to me.  The streets have the same names, and the small houses still bring back the same memories for me.  My folks now live in my grandparent's old house, which happens to be down the street-just seven houses away-from my childhood home.

When I go home, I can remember everything.  I remember all of my adolescent milestones:  my first friend, first sleep-over, the first time I rode my bike around alone.  I remember my first date, my first kiss, the first boy I ever had a crush on.  I remember all of the funny antics of my siblings growing up in a small town.

This time when I went home, though, I was also reminded of every dumb thing I'd ever done to my Dad in about five seconds time.  Let me explain.  It happened when my dad backed his car into mine when he was leaving for work one afternoon.

When he came inside to tell me, he was so tore up about it...he was just so sad.  I followed him outside to tell him that I don't even care about the car...I only care about and love him!  I didn't want him to go to work feeling bad about himself.

I said, "Dad, I've broken about a hundred things of yours in the past..." and in an instant about a dozen or more memories flashed back into my recollection of times in my youth that I had carelessly broken something of his, or when I had neglected to keep a promise or complete a task that he had asked me to do or when I had been greedy and inconsiderate of his time, a time that I failed to repay a loan, and even a time that I had been too selfish to share the TV remote with him one Saturday afternoon!

I had to squeeze my eyes tight to keep the tears from falling as I wrapped my arms around my big, wonderful dad, and said simply, "I love you."

But what I meant to say was thank you.  Thank you for not remembering all of the times that I was a complete doofus growing up, for not feeling the need to remind me of it, and for loving me in spite of it.

He might have "broken" my car (just a little bit), but my dad has never broken a promise.  He has never broken my spirit.  He has never broken my heart.  

And somewhere in there, there's a big lesson for all of us about love.  It's not the kind of love that gets sung about on the radio.  It's not the stuff that screenplays are made of.  But it's a kind of love that is most exquisite, a kind of love that is quiet, and rare, and real.

Jocelyn Christensen

LOVE- for a complete stranger

Several years ago my friend Joy (better known to the interwebz as Sherpa or Ruby G) introduced me to the blog of a little girl with cancer. Her name was Rebekah. I don't remember how or why Joy and I started reading "cancer kid" blogs, but we did. Within a few months I found myself following the stories of Rebekah, Joshua, Maggie, Gage, and some other little kids. All of these children had something called Ewings Sarcoma, a particularly awful type of cancer. One with a horrible morbidity rate.
My heart got wrapped into their stories. I found myself adding each other names and families into my prayers. When the first of these little children, Maggie, died, my heart broke. But then, amazingly, the other children began to fight the odds. Rebekah and Joshua are 9 years old now and cancer free (but not without significant impairments).
For a while it looked like Gage was going to be a survivor as well. I've prayed for this little boy nightly for six years. But a few months ago the cancer returned, and in spite of heroic efforts by his parents to provide him with the best care possible, the tumors took over.
He passed away today at age 9. He fought cancer for 6 years. He lived an incredibly full life for a child who endured so much.
I've learned it is possible to feel love and pain for a family you have never met. I feel overwhelming sorrow for Gage's parents, and yet I feel relief for them that their only son is finally released from so much pain.
I will never understand where the suffering and pain of small children fits into God's plan. But that won't stop me from praying for those who must live with it.
Goodbye Little Gage. You have been an inspiration to me many times over the years. Your parents strength has helped me find the patience I needed to endure my own trials. Your short little life served more good than you will ever know.
If you need something good to do in the world today, consider making a small donation to CaringBridge. It is a service that provides free websites to families and individuals in a health crisis. They have helped many families reach out and share their experiences with their friends and families. As well as provide a vehicle for others to show their love and support the families going through these crisis. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Singles Awareness Day (aka Valentine's Day)

"Valentine's Day is that time of year when married people pretend to be happy, and singles pretend they are not."

I have been blogging for about 7 years now. And apparently I have never once blogged about Valentine's Day before. I double checked today just to be sure. However, I did post this totally awesome picture of my brother once on a Feb 14.

Confession: I am 36 years old and I've never had a good Valentine's Day. In fact, I can only think of two times in history where I was in a committed relationship on V Day. Once was in college, and I was in more than just a committed relationship. I was actually engaged. I worked part-time in a florist that year. I spent days blowing up balloons, and tying them off till my poor little fingers were raw. Not to mention wrapping order after order of roses. I had high hopes that year for a good V Day present.
But oh no.
It was spectacularly bad. Monumentously bad.
First, my significant past other had a night class that day, and an exam. So he had conveniently forgotten about the big red candy heart holiday that was consuming campus.
Next, I sent him a teddy bear holding roses. (Forgive me, I was 19, worked in a florist, and was quite stupid.) The dorm delivery guy screwed up and delivered it to ME. My poor little expectations had gotten so high when the dorm director called and said there was a package downstairs for me. I ran down to get it, convinced it was going to be my engagement ring (we were one of THOSE BYU couples- engaged with no actual proposal or ring). And there was the stupid gift I had bought HIM! UGH! So I went back up to my dorm room, sick and exhausted. Oh yeah, on top of everything I had a massive sinus infection, and I had just worked a 12 hour day. All I wanted was my significant other to show up and wow me. Too much to ask? I think not.
I get back to my room and collapse with exhaustion. The phone rings. There's flowers at the front desk. Again I fly down the stairs to get them.
They're for my roommate. Who is out on a date with her boyfriend. The roses? Not from her boyfriend.
The scene repeats. I go upstairs, collapse, phone rings, I return down the stairs, and claim another dozen roses for her.
Its a darn good thing I loved my roommate. Otherwise, I would have hurled those flowers at her head when she came home.
Finally, 10 pm comes around. I'm pretty sure I hate both my roommate and my significant other. It doesn't matter because I'm dead asleep. That's when the Sig O calls and asks me to come out and see him.
He hands me a freaking broken sugar cookie that says "Be Mine" on it. And very nicely thanks me for the teddy bear and roses. And then says he wasn't taking his exam. He had fallen asleep in the library! Boy genius, that one.
He realizes I'm less than impressed. After all, I'm sick, exhausted, and he's just handed me a smooshed and broken sugar cookie. His suggestion to make it all better? Let's go make out. In fact, he's pretty certain that would solve everything.
I'll leave the rest up to your imagination.
Worst part? That wasn't my worst V Day ever.
I think the worst one ever goes to a different ex-boyfriend. We had been very seriously dating for several months. We broke up just a week or so before V-Day over some huge family things we just couldn't get resolved. (Namely, we wanted to get married, but his parents hated me for no known reason, other than I was alive.) I was depressed and miserable during the days we broke up.
My roommates at that time were awesome. I came home that day to find my roommates had built a fort in the living room (sheets, chairs, etc), and decorated it with candy hearts, feathers, and chocolates. We had a great girls night in our little fort, with them doing everything to cheer me up.
At 11 pm the ex-bf knocked on the door (scaring the beecheesus out of us). We hadn't seen or spoken to each other in weeks. But we sat down and had a good long talk.
We made up. My roommates conveniently disappeared, so I let him in our special girls only fort. And that's when he said the magic words.
But wait- you thought this was going to be my worst story ever, right? So how can getting back together with my bf on V-day be a bad thing? Oh just wait for it.
He told me he had wanted to get back together sooner, but he didn't want to have to get me a V-day present, so he waited as long as possible. He figured 11 pm got him out of having to buy me a present. There's nothing quite like being told he loves you, but not enough to spend 10 bucks!
I think we can all agree I dodged a bullet by not marrying either of those two gems. 
Personally, I have enjoyed the non-let-downs of all my single Valentine Days. There's nothing wrong with not getting your hopes up. There's nothing wrong with not expecting flowers to be delivered. There's nothing wrong with not caring at all about a holiday made up by Hallmark. There's nothing wrong with just being yourself, and not hanging your hopes on someone else.
Life is much easier and much better when you are in control over what makes you happy. Make your own happiness. Don't sit around waiting for someone else to make you happy.

Friday, February 11, 2011


In Arabic there is a very popular phrase, "Inshallah." It means "God willing." It is used far more in Arabic, than the expression "God willing" is used in English. Your kid is about to climb a dangerous tall ladder? You don't yell for him to come down. You just mutter, "Inshallah, he will make it down alive." Inshallah is used for everything.
Today I turned in my Peace Corps medical papers. Inshallah, everything was turned in correctly. According to the PC, only 15% of applicants get it right the first time and have no follow ups.
Inshallah, I will be one of them.
But the doctor who signed off on my paperwork today didn't give me much hope that I would be. In fact, he made me feel like a defective check engine light.
Yes, a check engine light.
My car has a defective check engine light. For no real reason it pops on if you drive the car for more than three straight hours at a high speed. (Like I did today.) And then if you take it through a car wash, hit just the right bump, or just wait it out for 1-2 days, the light magically disappears again. Obviously, there is something actually wrong with the car that the light does this. But the car runs fine. It runs great actually! Its in good shape, gets 30 mpg, and other than a few wear and tear items (like brakes this week), has had no repairs in its 123,000 mile lifetime.
But there's that pesky little light that causes confusion and questions. Darn that little light.
As I finished up my medical paperwork today the doctor caught something strange. He noticed that some old supporting paperwork from a lab in Utah mentioned I am allergic to iodine. And sure, I am allergic to iodine. Its just not something that I ever think about or remember. But there it was on the paperwork in big, bold letters. No getting around it.
I'm not just allergic to iodine. I'm badly, deathly allergic to iodine. But who cares, right? Its iodine! It's not like people have daily run ins with iodine!
Except for people who live in less developed countries, and use iodine to purify their water supplies. People like PC volunteers!
It had never remotely occurred to me that this might happen. The only time I have ever had a problem with the iodine was when it was injected into me for a CT scan. And trust me, that was a bad, bad experience. But then, they had just put a deadly chemical in a vein headed straight for my heart - on purpose!
So now I have been wracking my brains. In all the times I have been camping or hiking, have I ever used my iodine pills?! I know I have purchased them a dozen times. But I have no memory of ever actually using them. I've been googling things to find out if my kind of reaction/allergy to iodine contrast could keep me out. The doctor fears that it might.
It is true I had a few years where I was very sick and dealing with poor medical care. Inshallah, I've made several changes and took control since then. I'm very healthy and strong now. I've never been healthier. I'm competitively healthy!
And yet, I feel like I have a defective check engine light, raising concerns and alarms that there is something broken inside, and no one will want me.
I have no Plan B. I don't know what I will do if I get rejected at this stage.
But one thing is for sure. I will smash the hell out of that check engine light.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Show me the love!

Just how bad I look and feel (see those feverish red cheeks? they burn!) after getting shots today. And lucky me, I'm getting every last one of the potential side effects so far!

I wrote that little column I write on single life and dating this week. This week's topic? Online MEETING, and don't call it dating. Comments on the site are moderated, and the editors are out of town. So I'm secretly enjoying not seeing my comments yet. I know they will get read and approved in a few days, but until then, it is nice not knowing how many people disagree with me.
In other news, I had a legendary sleepwalking experience this week. This time I managed to get up, find my laptop, turn it on, type in my password on a broken keyboard, log in to a website, look someone up, and send them an email - all in my sleep! The best part? The email I sent was amazingly coherent and logical. And the message my subconscious needed to send was, "I was right and you were wrong." I'm pretty sure that says something about me, but I'm not going to dwell too much on what. 
Now, I need your help and a little love. Can you help a girl out? Pretty please?!
I have these other two blogs- Jobs by Erin and Cutting Back and Going Green. They need more love and traffic. Can you help me out and maybe, possibly, put a link to one of them on your blog or on Facebook? These two sites are how I make a little extra money while I'm looking for a job still. Any little bumps to them are greatly appreciated! 

Show me the love!

I wrote that little column I write on single life and dating this week. This week's topic? Online MEETING, and don't call it dating. Comments on the site are moderated, and the editors are out of town. So I'm secretly enjoying not seeing my comments yet. I know they will get read and approved in a few days, but until then, it is nice not knowing how many people disagree with me.
In other news, I had a legendary sleepwalking experience this week. This time I managed to get up, find my laptop, turn it on, type in my password on a broken keyboard, log in to a website, look someone up, and send them an email - all in my sleep! The best part? The email I sent was amazingly coherent and logical. And the message my subconscious needed to send was, "I was right and you were wrong." I'm pretty sure that says something about me, but I'm not going to dwell too much on what. 
Now, I need your help and a little love. Can you help a girl out? Pretty please?!
I have these other two blogs- Jobs by Erin and Cutting Back and Going Green. They need more love and traffic. Can you help me out and maybe, possibly, put a link to one of them on your blog or on Facebook? These two sites are how I make a little extra money while I'm looking for a job still. Any little bumps to them are greatly appreciated! 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Love for Home

When things get to be too rough, challenging, discouraging, whatever, I close my eyes and think of my little home back in Lehi, Utah. I loved the little house I made a home. I worked hard to make a strange little box my home. I decorated, gardened, and spent every last cent on furnishing my home the way I wanted it to be. I have no regrets.
Home these days is a foreign concept to me. It is a fleeting dream, something I want to have back, but it is just beyond my reach. Home is supposed to be a place of love, familiarity, comfort, and more. It is where you feel at ease, and recognize your surroundings. But lately I haven't had that.
My parents live in a country far, far away. I live in someone else's house, surrounded by their belongings. Aside from my clothes, and a blanket on the bed, the only other thing in here that is mine is a TV. My beloved white board, where I create and brainstorm, sits on the floor beside my chair. I can't hang it on the walls, because this is someone else's house. Someone else's home.
So I close my eyes and remember my cute little living room back in my old life that I miss so much. It is where "Little" and I did her homework, and snuggled while watching TV. It is where my dog used to "herd" the cats into a corner. It is where my brother would sit and tell me crazy stories. It is where I could look out the windows and spy on my neighbors. It is where my friends and I would sit and talk. It was my home.
My little house wasn't my dream house. In fact, I only picked it because it was the house I could afford. But I put a lot of love and hard work into that house. It wasn't a palace, but it was mine.
Just the word "home," conveys comfort and warmth. It is a place to belong and where you know who you are. It isn't necessarily your parents' house, or a family member's house. I never expected to find my home in Lehi, Utah, 2,000 miles away from everything I knew and loved.
There's the silly old saying that home is where your heart is. As true as this old saying is, I would like to change it some. Home is where you loved. It is where you put your love to work for others. It is where you learned to love. And it is where you feel loved.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Something not about love at all, just about me

Ever since the day after Christmas I have been on a diet. I had heard about the Ideal Protein Diet from a few friends in Utah, who had been doing it quite successfully. As you may recall, I have tried the HCG diet very successfully in the past. However, my last 2 attempts at HCG resulted in nearly no weight loss whatsoever. Whatever it is that makes that diet work so well seems to have worn off on me. So I quite willingly tried Ideal Protein. 
To describe the diet, it is like Jenny Craig meets Atkins meets HCG. You buy their pre-packaged foods, and supplement with foods nearly identical to HCG foods. This diet is all about finding the appropriate level of protein for you and your body. 
I have been very faithfully on the diet for 6 weeks, ending today. I lost exactly 20 lbs. I wanted to continue on the diet for another 3-4 weeks, so I could hit my goal of 30 lbs, but unfortunately this is my last week to receive unemployment benefits. I just can't keep paying for the diet. I'll be doing my best to continue with a low calorie, low fat, low carb diet over the next 4 weeks, and adding in a lot of exercise to try to reach my goal. 
I am at my lowest weight in years, and that does feel good! It seemed like it took forever to actually lose a dress size. I lost a bunch of weight, but it took a while to actually lose a dress size. My clothes just kept fitting the same as always, but I didn't seem to go down a size. This weekend I was happy to discover that everything felt big and loose on me. 
So today I am sitting in bed, day dreaming of buying new dresses off of (the only place to find dresses that fit my crazy, curvy body- did I mention I lost 12 inches off of my waist, and 2 off my bust, but barely even half an inch off my hips?!), but remembering I have no form of income, so new clothes will have to wait. 
From when I started losing weight 18 months ago, I am now down 40 lbs exactly! My hair is several inches longer, and it is far less blond (by choice) than it used to be. I'm barely recognizing the woman in the mirror these days. I used to be a plump, short haired, blond. Now I'm thin, with dark blond hair, and wear glasses. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

LOVE- comes in all shapes and sizes - Guest Blogger Ozy Mum

Another Guest Blogger on LOVE- a truly unique and different story today!

I love driving along the road with the wind in my hair, singing at the top of my voice to Foreigner's, "I wanna know what love is .. " . Apart from liking the song, I love that whilst my mouth is busy singing the words, my brain is busy asking " Do I really know what love is? "  

This is a question that frequently haunts my thoughts.  As a little girl, dreaming of white knights and honeymoons in Switzerland, I only thought of love as being what I needed in my childhood cocoon and, what seemed like an eternity away, that MAN who would sweep me of my feet and declare undying love for me and ME only ! .  My Dad's bear hugs when the whole world was against me (more likely my Mum telling me off !), a homemade biscuit when walking into an empty house after school, a book that I could lose myself in and dancing were the loves that I knew I could count on.  Later, when a week after my 14th birthday, my Mother left, those sureties lessened even more and love became something that for me, was difficult. I had no problem loving others but being able to accept that I was a lovable person was a whole other ball game AND a whole other blog.  

I wanna talk about love ... love between a HUSBAND and WIFE.

Except for the obligatory "falling out before they marry " , Hollywood would have us believe that LOVE,  a REAL TRUE LOVE,  is always GOOD.  ALWAYS happy, ALWAYS shining.  Nothing bad ever happens to two people who are TRULY in LOVE.  Not that this is anything new, because since time began, we have heard fairytales of TRUE LOVE  and HAPPY EVER AFTER from birth.  In these days of " I want it and I want it NOW", if there is even a slight smudge of a thumbprint on the shininess of TRUE LOVE , it's become a case of discard that love,  he or she is not the ONE. 

 Well, after dabbling in Hollywood fantasy and lust dressed up as "love and marriage" during my tender Twenties, and spending 20 years in contemplation of what LOVE between a man and woman should be, whilst raising my children single handedly, I thought that I was well PREPARED for my MAN to come thundering in and fly me to the Swiss Alps.   I thought that I had debunked the whole mystery of being in LOVE with HIM and was just waiting for MY happy ever after to BEGIN.  I knew that it takes TWO to MAKE a marriage and it takes TWO to BREAK a marriage. 

I had found ME during that time and discovered that not only was I stubbornly independent (a quality that I have most generously shared with my own daughter ), intelligent, sexy and strong ( yes, I shared those too!) but I was also LOVABLE.   

Drum roll, please.....  dadadadaaa,   and then I found HIM!  Now this is no small feat considering that I was all the way around the globe living in Perth, Western Australia and he hails from Utah, USA !!  We struck up a friendship in an online dating site whilst he was driving across his country in a white Peterbuilt truck and I sold fabrics in mine.  As an aside, it's actually amazing just how many people the inter (or as MY man would say entire) net has actually matched into couples!   We developed warm fuzzies for each other, got engaged, had the obligatory falling out, got together in the same country, said YES and committed to an ETERNITY together and then REALITY set in.    HORRIBLE, HARD, HURTFUL REALITY.  

Who was THIS man ??  Why, when we LOVE each other so much was it so difficult to LIVE together ?  How come I never got told that LOVE  hurt? That there were days when LOVE was buried under a tonne of words that harmed ??  That you can LOVE and HATE in the same minute????  That there were times when running far, far away seemed like the best solution??  (Certainly not an easy thing to do when living in a country that has not yet become home!) 

How can REAL love be so painful ?  Everything that I had learned or THOUGHT  I had learned about TRUE LOVE, ETERNAL LOVE  vanished.  Now, I told you I am stubborn, so giving up is not something that I really do well!!   Immigration stepped into the fight and soon I was returning to my safe place and my children, to figure out that age old question .. what is LOVE but more importantly if this is what LOVE is, can I LIVE with it ???  

Now, don't get me wrong, I am married to an amazing man. A GOOD man.  WE match on so many levels.  WE LOVE each other, it's just darn hard to live together. 

Six weeks later, that thumbprint smudge had covered any shininess and I was ready to discard and move on.  Then at 5 am on Thursday  9th October 2008, I answered the call that NO ONE ever wants to answer.  Life changed in a nanosecond.  In that lightning flash of horror that occurs, I  KNEW  that nothing mattered except LOVE.   I flew home to Idaho.   For the next 3 magical months, LOVE was HEAVEN.  HEAVEN was LOVE.   My MAN, slept deep in his coma for a few weeks and floated in sedation for a few more.  LOVE was EASY for the first time. I felt him, I heard him, I knew he was there, I KNEW THAT HE LOVED ME,  even as I dealt with staff telling me to think about THAT  choice, QUALITY VERSUS QUANTITY of life.  As his broken body and brain started to come together into some semblance of the man I said YES to,  his ICU room became OUR HEAVEN.  When he learnt to speak again just before Christmas that year, HIS first words were " I know I love you and I know we are married I just don't remember your name."   There will never be ANYTHING  he can utter that will ever be as sweet and  magical as those words.  

January 3rd 2009, our HEAVEN vapourised as a plane swiftly returned me to the land Down Under and REALITY and our PAST returned with vigour.  Along with the added bonus of dealing with the changes that Quadriplegia and memory loss bring to our LIFE here on Earth.  In the last two years, those kilometres/miles have afforded US the chance to sift through baggage and FIND the FOREVER US.  

LOVE, a REAL TRUE LOVE is not just a feeling. It's a COMMITMENT and a CHOICE.  Everyday we CHOOSE to LOVE and we CHOOSE to COMMIT.  Some days are better than others.  Some days are so BRIGHT and SHINY that WE can see FOREVER. 

The only thing my white knight rides now is an electric wheelchair and I still haven't had a honeymoon but do I know what LOVE is ???      OH, YEAH. 

Saturday, February 05, 2011

LOVE- the furry family members

As I type this the love of my life, a big black Australian shepherd dog named Kaya, is sleeping beside me, taking up way more of the bed than statistically speaking a 60 lb dog should. But that's okay. Because after last night's sad and heartbreaking events, I'm more than happy to spoil Miss Kaya and let her know I love her.

Last night we very unexpectedly had to put down my sister's beloved horse, Streaker. Streak has been in the family for about 7 years now I think. He was a rescue horse, saved from the glue factory, many years ago. But under my sister Stephanie's love and attention, he's flourished into her "Noble Steed."
Some pets are not just simple little furry creatures meant to keep the mouse population down, or to intimidate squirrels and rabbits from the garden. Some pets are members of the family. They look up at you with their big brown eyes full of adoration because you, their very special human, provide shelter, food, and belly rubs for them. Your pet loves you, and you love your pet right back.

Stephanie made Streak her world. Anyone who has ever owned a horse knows they are not cheap to buy (but rescuing them does help), tend to, or provide for. Ferrier appointments, shoe-ing, stable fees, feed, saddles, vets, etc. Horses do not come cheap. But Steph has worked hard to be able to provide for her horse. To care for and raise a horse is a labor of love. You must truly love not just horses, but your horse, to want to make the sacrifices.
And then there is learning to ride your horse. Not all horses are broken as easy as you see in the movies. Some take years to break and ride. It takes time and a lot of work. Again, it is a labor of love.
Steph and Streak had their own special language. When Steph would approach the barn and make her silly squeaking and clicking noises, Streak would run from some distant place in the field to find Steph. Streak knew Steph was his human. He came running for her and her only.

Steph's best friend has long been Streak, and he'll always be her first true love. He was there for her through everything.
I'm sorry to say that there was a sad accident last night and poor Streak was severely injured. Sadly, Steph was out of town when it happened. From the time she found out to the time the vet arrived and euthanized him was less than an hour. I rushed to the barn to be with Streak as soon as I found out. I held the phone so a sobbing Stephanie could say goodbye to her baby. Her goodbyes were the last thing he heard as he took his final breath.
We saved a braid of his tail for Steph. I'm glad that if she wasn't able to be there with her baby, at least she was with her human best friend when she got the news. There has been an outpouring of love from the friends that knew how much Steph loves Streak. And from the many friends that Steph had taken up to meet Streak and to go riding with her.

If you ever wonder if horses have feelings, let me tell you about Streak's horse best friend, Scout. Scout is another horse at their barn. They never leave each other's side. They are always found romping around the field together. When we take Streak out for a ride, Scout follows us right up to the gates, where we have to force him to stay inside the field, and not follow us out. These two horses are best buddies. Last night, Scout stayed faithfully by his buddy's side as he was put down. As 3 humans huddles around Streak, comforting him as he slipped from the pain, Scout never left. When we backed away, Scout went over to nudge and stay by his friend.
Some pets are more than just furry companions. Some pets are family members too. They have feelings. They love you and depend upon you for everything. They know and value the person who cares for them.
Goodbye Streak, we'll miss you.

PS- thank you to Brenda, Sarah, and Emily for being there last night! Your help meant the world to us!

Friday, February 04, 2011

LOVE Guest Blogger Ginny - To know love you first my know yourself.

Today's LOVE guest writer is my cousin, Ginny. She's a country wife and mother of three. Her blog is "A Peaceful Way," where she talks about learning to parent in a more loving and peaceful way to her three high spirited children.

Marriage is not something I can speak about without first closing my eyes, and remembering the girl I used to be.  My father was very critical of falseness. He always told me to just be myself.  But I never knew who I was, or worse, deep down I was afraid that the self my real self was, was worthless, boring, and not worth true friendship or love.

I muddled through my life, trying on one personality after another, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.The rare times that I relaxed and let my hair down, I didn't like me, and no one else did either. I was depressing and over-analytical. I would quickly stuff that person back away, and put on my false face again so at least someone would be my friend again.

I went through pain, lots of pain, and I learned that pain could be my friend in many ways, because it helped me forget myself, and wonder if anyone else had ever felt pain in just that way too.

Then I met Kevin, my now husband. I don't know why he disarmed me like he did. But for the first time in my life, I began to see myself through his eyes. His eyes cut through any need I had to hide my true self, and for some reason, I liked what they saw. I still put on a show for everyone else, but for him, I could not even if I wanted to. He could see me, as no one else, not even I myself, had ever seen me. And he saw something worth having.

Our first year of marriage was a full year of fighting. I am pretty sure I cried myself to sleep at least once a week, questioned my decision to marry at least every other day, and despaired that nothing would ever improve, at least once a month.

Then we learned the art of apology and forgiveness, the philosophy of live and let live, and the absolute value of a genuine, warm smile. (Perhaps I learned that last one first.)

Marriage, for me, explored all the wounds of my past, ripped open the unhealed corners of my psyche, and aired them out for my husband and I to see. It was excruciating, but it was also therapeutic. I learned to be humble. I learned to be okay with being imperfect and letting others see that imperfection, because we really can't hide anything from our spouse. Not really. Not who we are or what we feel.

(I find that more often than not, people who are hesitant to marry are usually those who are scared of facing their own demons. To them I say...when were you planning on facing them?)

My husband and I were such an imperfect pair, riddled with baggage, emotional scarring, and so much buried pain. You wouldn't believe the hateful words we would scald one another with. Yet there were moments, even in that first year, when we could let go and laugh at ourselves, forget all the hurtful things we'd just said, and embrace as everything else in the world melted away. None of the problems mattered in those moments. Only our friendship and love existed.

I can only speak for myself here, and not for him, so I will I began to heal as a person, our marriage began to heal as well. When I took responsibility for my part, without needing anything from him, our relationship began to become more often a source of comfort than pain.

My marriage, I discovered, is an exact mirror image of my inner self. If my inner self is in turmoil, so will my marriage be. If my inner self is at peace and harmonious, so is my marriage. If I feel self-loathing, I will loathe my husband. If I feel self-love, I will love him dearly. So the motivation to be okay inside is multiplied ten fold, because now our entire family hangs on the health of our marriage. Happiness is not a dream for some day in the future, it is a constant mission of greatest importance, day after day. It is sought for in all the ways we know how, but mostly by practicing unconditional forgiveness and love. It doesn't have to make sense, he doesn't have to be sorry, I can still forgive, because I choose to...because I choose happiness and love.

Maturity is taking power over who I want to be, and the life I want to have, and making the choices and changes to get there.

Maturity is absolutely necessary in my opinion, for a happy life at all, married or not. I love marriage, however, because it forced me to look at myself, and question my belief system. It forced me to ask myself if I love myself truly, and why? Marriage forced me to stop stuffing down my true feelings, deal with them, and let them pass so I could finally open up to other people instead of hiding behind a false persona. Marriage has taught me that I am worth loving. Marriage has changed me in ways I couldn't have dreamed were possible or necessary when I was single. I never knew the ugliness inside of me, or the beauty, until I was placed under the microscope in this, God's laboratory. I never knew that I had the power to choose to be beautiful, and to let the ugliness slip under like sand washing away from a cradled seashell.

If I could talk to my dad now, (he passed away a few years ago), I wonder if I would have the courage to be myself? I wonder if I would be able to tell him I want to be like him when I grow up-honest with myself, honest with everybody else, in every possible way. I know for certain that my dad would instruct me to be best friends with my husband, and let nothing and no one get in the way of that, not even him or Mom. He would tell me not to ask for marriage advice from anyone, because "you get what you pay for when you get free advice." He would say no one else is married to my husband, and no one besides me has more motivation to work things out. He would tell me, "Don't worry if you two don't fit together just right all the time, this life is the time to learn how to do that." And then he would throw his head back and laugh, because of course he just violated his own advice, and gave advice. I would relax in his warm company, and I would go home and tell my husband I was the luckiest wife in the world, and wonder at how many more transformations marriage has in store for me, in the many, many years ahead.

Erin's PS- I love you Ginny! Just the way you are!!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Love Guest Blogger Lindsey - "Could I love an adopted child as much as a biological one?

For our first LOVE guest blogger, I am thrilled to bring you one of my favorite bloggers and "old" friends, Lindsey. Lindsey is the fabulous voice behind "the r house" blog. She is also an adoption advocate. Every day she bares her soul and puts herself out there educating the world about the joys and blessings of adoption. I have loved her for years (since she was 12!) and love her that much more for living a life worth talking about now. 

Could I love an adopted child as much as a biological one?
By Lindsey Redfern,

mrs and mr r

I am married to the love of my life and the most hysterically funny man I know. He is my favorite Valentine.

As most newlyweds do (whether they admit it or not), we would often talk about what our future children would look like--super tall like my husband, blue-eyed, brunette, sassy and athletic with enormous lips and shoulders. (We both have really broad shoulders and lips to match.)

After five years of marriage, the last thing we thought the doctor would ever tell us is that we would never be able to have biological children. We were crushed as the dream of those children we had imagined slipped away. We cried ourselves to sleep too many nights to remember.

When we discussed whether the path of adoption was right for our family, I wondered if I could love an adopted child as much as a biological one. Would there be a difference? Would I feel bonded to them? Would they feel bonded to us? Would we really be a family? We discussed it as a couple and my wise husband pointed out that he and I were not biologically related and yet the love and bond that we had was unbreakable. So true! Biological love is not the only kind of love that makes a family.

We came to understand in no uncertain terms that adoption was how our family was to be created. What once felt so heavy and sad had turned into light and hope due to the miracle of adoption and the love of two brave birth mothers.

When I held my oldest son for the first time in the hallway outside his birth mother’s hospital room, I literally felt my heart leap. My eyes welled up with tears of joy and that undeniable feeling of motherhood filled me from head to toe. Those chocolate brown baby eyes stole my heart and continue to every day.

Lindsey holding Gavin for the first time! Look at her smile! Tell me that isn't love!

When my youngest son (Gavin) was born and I held that little bundle for the first time in his birth mother’s hospital room, his luscious lips and wild black hair won me over. Here was this perfect little spirit that needed us to fight for the life his birth mother chose for him. We were in court for the first 18 months of his life in a contested adoption with his birth father. We won and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t take extra time to love on the baby that we almost lost.

A Mom and her two darling boys!

Our family does not look alike. Not one of us share a common stand of physical DNA. But, the spiritual DNA that binds our family together is familiar to me. Those strands that I recognize in my children are the same strands that I recognized in my husband when we first fell in love. They are what make us a close-knit family. And all three of my boys are the loves of my life.


From Erin - PS- I currently work with the young women at my church. I often encourage them to be friends regardless of their age differences (encourage the high school seniors to get to know the 7th graders). I told my sister this and she couldn't think of who the younger girls were when she was the oldest. I admitted I couldn't remember who the 12 year olds were either from when I was 18. Which is silly because I know I was friends with them and nice to them! But I couldn't name any of them. Three nights later I woke up in the middle of the night and yelled "Lindsey!" Not only do I know exactly who those "little girls" were when I was 18, but I'm still friends with her now! I just haven't thought of her as a little girl in a very long time!

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