Friday, January 31, 2014

This Hypo-Allergenic Life

Last week I mentioned the multitude of things that were recommended to me by my doctor to rid my home of allergens.
It cost me a small fortune, but I bought everything, and slowly this week I've been putting them into place. Applying the carpet stuff seemed very easy, and it was. However, vacuuming it back up caused a series of problems, starting with a dust cloud so thick I had to open windows and turn on a fan.
I didn't have a lot of faith that it was going to work. But after cleaning the carpets, washing the dog, washing all of my clothes and linens, and putting up the vent guards, it finally hit me today- I haven't sneezed once. I haven't taken one decongestant. I haven't had a headache. I've felt just fine. I'd even go so far as to say I think this must be what normal people feel like every day.
It's pretty nice not being slightly uncomfortable and miserable all day long. I could get used to this.
But I won't get to.
Not for long anyway.
It's a long story for another day, but it looks like I'll be moving soon.

Erin Ann McBride is a writer, dreamer, and single woman. By day she works in marketing, and by night she hunts unicorns and writes romantic novels, “You Heard It Here First,” and the sequel “This Just In!” She makes new friends daily at https://www.facebook.comAuthorErinAnnMcBride

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Today was one of the reasons that God/man invented the power bar.

I've often said that if you want me to get one thing done, give me ten things to do. If you only give me one thing, it will never get done.
Give me ten things to do, and I'll finish eleven by lunch, plus have time for a Diet Dr Pepper break.
That's just how I roll.

Or better yet, that's just how I juggle.

Things I did today-
Organize/sell tickets for the big "Saratov Approach" premiere in DC on Thursday. (only a few left till we sell out!)
Found a venue for the awesome Mindy Gledhill to play in DC! (Monday, March 10- it's happening people!)
Arranged for the "Saratov Approach" to show at SVU!
Realized I should promote the Mindy gig at the Saratov gig.
Bought an awesome present for my nephew
Discovered and took advantage of Amazon Local. (And will get a massage for $30 as a result.)
Bought tickets to see the Dalai Lama speak.
My regular full-time job, where I was a firehose of productivity. 
Cleaned my carpets with special allergy stuff

And I still have much left to do tonight.

I'm already looking forward to bedtime.
Which reminds me- I've started using sleep apps on my iPhone. The app magically monitors you in your sleep and tells you how "effectively" you slept. Somehow this makes me feel like I've accomplished something while sleeping. This is probably a bad trap for me to fall into [feeling like I must be productive in my sleep], but I like it for now.

Just a few more days of this craziness... and then I sleep!

Erin Ann McBride is a writer, dreamer, and single woman. 
By day she works in marketing, and by night she hunts unicorns and writes romantic novels, You Heard It Here First, and the sequel This Just In! 
She accepts new friends daily at https://www.facebook.comAuthorErinAnnMcBride

Life's Little Instruction Book for Single Women

Growing up I was taught all sorts of lessons about the real world- assuming that the real world was a place where I would grow up to get married and have children. But no one ever taught me any lessons about what would happen if the ideal real world didn't pan out for me. No one ever prepared me for a world where I might not ever get married, and instead might find myself single and living alone for the rest of my life. In other words, in spite of a lot of preparation for the future, I woke up one day and found myself woefully unprepared for the future I am living.
I remember little life lessons handed down from the women above me that included things like, “Someday when you have a husband you'll ...” or “When you are a mom you will understand.” Or one of my favorites, “When you get married your priorities will change.” No one ever handed out advice that included, “When you are in your thirties and all alone, you'll need to be prepared to...”
Multiple times in my life I have woken up to these realizations, but never more so than when I am looking at my dishes. Why my dishes? Well, no one ever threw me a bridal shower. No one ever gave me all of those start up items to begin my adult life. I never got a nice set of matching dishes or towels, or pots and pans, or new linens. If I have it, I had to earn it. It is when I am looking at my mismatched set of dishes compiled from odds and ends left by roommates over the years, that I realize no one ever prepared me for what happens when Plan A (marriage and babies) doesn't pan out.
But then who was going to teach me all of those lessons? I can't think of one role model in my life that could have prepared me for my real life. My mother got married at age 19. She's never lived alone, nor had roommates. She's never been the sole breadwinner for the family. She's never had to make all of the financial decisions alone. I look back at my young women advisers, and I can't recall any single women among them. One of them had a job that I can recall, but only a part-time one. In other words, it isn't a surprise to me how completely inept I feel sometimes at how to be an adult, professional, single woman.
I am not surprised at the lack of role models in this area. But it does make me sad. I know there are fabulous great women just like me out there. I wish they were recognized more for how much they have accomplished, rather than always described as “she's accomplished because she never got married.” I think that does an injustice to all women, single or married. Why can't a woman be accomplished just because she chose to be? Why does her marital status matter? But I digress...
The list of things I have never learned could fill a book. The things I was never encouraged to learn to prepare for a life alone could fill five more books. And so I thought about it. What would I like to pass on to young women to prepare them for the future where things may not turn out to be all white lacy veils and bouquets of flowers?

Erin's Little List of Instructions on How to Live a Single Woman's Life
  1. “I'll get married someday and then I'll worry about retirement.” is NOT a financial plan. Get a real financial adviser- an unbiased one. Preferably not a member of your family. Why? Because people who love you and want to see you get married someday, might let “someday” influence your financial planning. An unbiased expert will help you prepare the right way.
  2. Not getting the full education you want because it would just be a waste of time and money “when you get married and settle down and have children,” and then never use your degree- will be the biggest regret of your life.
  3. Don't settle for “this will be a better job for me” because you can use those skills when you have kids, is not a career plan. Look into the future ten years and ask yourself do you want to be in that job still if you never have children? Instead, ask yourself “is this the job that will make me happy if Plan A doesn't work out? Will it financially support me and be mentally stimulating?”
  4. Explore your passions! Don't wait for someone else to come along to do them with you! Go find what you love and enjoy it fully.
  5. Decorate the way you like it and the way you want it. There is no rule that says you have to do it the way your mom/roommate/sister/brother/ex-spouse liked it. Do it your way! (My way involves calendars in every room. None of them on the right month, and none of them accurate.)
  6. I'd throw in my own little rule here about not shutting the bathroom door on principle, but it would embarrass my mother.
  7. Buy food storage that you will eat! I think not stocking up on food storage is one of the biggest mistakes singles make.
  8. If you don't live close to your own family, find a child to love in the community or in your ward. Having a child in your life is having a touchstone in your life to keep things real. It helps you remember that the world is not all about you, money, and whatever your job is making you do.
  9. Travel! See the world! Have fun!
  10. Buy good furniture. Say goodbye to Craigslist and invest in something you are proud to call your own. Make it something worth paying a moving company for!
  11. Send out Christmas cards. You don't have to have a cute little family card to send out cards.
  12. Insist on being treated like an equal. Don't let people treat you like you don't matter because you aren't married.
  13. Make something of yourself. Don't ever hold yourself back from being great because of what others might think. Be the next girl's role model.
  14. Don't be afraid to be yourself. There is an awful tendency to feel like we have to act or be a certain way in order to attract a man. Who wants to attract a man by being someone else? Attract a man by being yourself!
  15. Buy a toolbox and learn how to use it. Don't spend your whole life being helpless and depending on others to take care of you. Learn how to take care of yourself!
  16. Never, ever make a major life decision that you think will help you get a guy. This includes quitting a job, not getting an education, moving (cross town or cross country), buying a car (because you think he would like it), or spending more than $200 on anything (plane tickets excluded). Do what is best for you! Not what is best for you to hopefully, possibly catch him.
  17. Find role models at work, at church, and in your personal life. Especially ones that have been where you are now. Moms and sisters are great, but if they haven't ever been in their mid-thirties, single, and financially independent, their advice and viewpoint will be limited. Seek out people who have been there and understand your challenges.
  18. Have a guy best friend who will tell you the truth.
  19. Never, ever kiss your guy best friend unless he kisses you first. And don't even think about kissing him otherwise.
  20. Have a healthy relationship with food.
  21. Own one great pair of jeans that you look fabulous in. Own one great dress that you know turns heads when you walk into a room.
  22. Never let yourself become a manhater.
  23. Learn to cook for one. And don't eat Lean Cuisines and cereal for the rest of your life.
  24. Never be afraid to do it yourself. It doesn't matter what IT is. Go do whatever IT is you have always wanted to do.
  25. Remember that all the answers you really need come when you are on your knees. Don't be afraid to ask the One person who knows exactly how you feel.
Single women, help me out! What do you wish someone had taught you? What are life's little lessons that you never saw coming? Leave them in the comments below!

Erin Ann McBride is a writer, dreamer, and single woman. By day she works in marketing, and by night she hunts unicorns and writes romantic novels, “You Heard It Here First,” and the sequel “This Just In!” She accepts new friends daily at https://www.facebook.comAuthorErinAnnMcBride

Saturday, January 25, 2014

eShakti Saturday

eShakti has a whole bunch of new dresses this week. That's what I love about them most- if you don't like the stock this week, give it a few days and they change over to new stuff!
I'm in love with this cute little navy, coral, and polka dot dress. It's not entirely office appropriate, but since I have a casual dress office, I can wear it if I want to. And I could definitely wear it to church. If I were the kind of girl who wears fun girly dresses just to leave the house (and sometimes I am, especially in the summer), I'd wear this all the time.
(I would give it short sleeves, make it knee length (as shown is just below knee), and keep the neckline.)

Go take a look at all their new dresses and skirts and tell me which one you want!


A day or so ago I visited my sinus doctor and allergist for some allergy testing. This is the third time I've had allergy testing in my adult life. (These things change over time and different regions have different allergens.) In the words of the doctor, I'm "healing like a champ" from my sinus surgery last month. However, I'm congested and snotty all over again. Why? I'm allergic to everything.
No, seriously, you should see the results of my allergy testing. On a scale of 3-12 (don't ask me why it's 3-12, and not something more logical), I registered a 12 on cats, dogs, horses, dust, mold, and pretty much all trees that grow in Virginia. I was a mere 11 for grasses. Everything else on the test I came up as a 9 or 10.
In other words, I'm allergic to everything. It's rather ridiculous. And since insurance doesn't cover living in a bubble, and life happens outside the bubble, I have to take other measures if I want to spend just one day of my life not congested or sneezing. (Seriously, I can't remember the last time I went a whole day without sneezing, blowing my nose, or coughing. It gets tiresome.)
Things beyond my control causing me great difficulties-
1. I live in a very old apartment building. Heaven only knows when the last time they cleaned the HVAC system was, or if they have ever cleaned the vents.
So I bought this today-

As strange as it may sound, I'm actually looking forward to it. The idea of stopping and blocking the dust and dirt before it blows into my apartment sounds like a good idea to me. And for $12, it seems like a good investment.

2. I live in a very old apartment with very old, nasty carpeting. (Seriously, if I don't vacuum every other day, it looks muddy and gross. In my previous homes I've been able to get away without vacuuming for weeks. One person who walks around barefoot all the time rarely tracks in much dirt. My floors are very clean usually. But not in this old apartment.)
Between old carpeting and my dog, I had to buy this-

Between the doctor's recommendation and the reviews of the product, I'm hopeful it will make a difference.

3. My bed is actually fairly new (comparatively speaking), but I have a dog who thinks my bed is her bed. Actually I think she just thinks its her bed and she lets me share it sometimes. And so I have to wash my bed linens once a week in really hot water and use special detergent. (I've been washing them every week already, but using a very gentle detergent because I've been wearing out my sheets washing them so much. That has to change now.)
Which brings us to this-

I still need to buy a few more things like an air purifier and a better mattress encasement. But those things cost a lot more, so I'll be saving up for them.  And naturally I'm taking Zyrtec and Benadryl every day. (Yes, a daily Benadryl. Why? Because I'm just that allergic to everything.)
Basically without all of these extra measures, I can expect to need sinus surgery again in a year or two. And easy as the surgery was, I'd really rather not have to go through it again.
Oh and I need to invest in a better vacuum. I admit the one I most recently bought I picked for cheap price and size. (I live in a small space and picked a small vacuum that wouldn't take up too much space in that one whole closet I have.) Apparently it doesn't have a hepa-filter that I really need.
This whole living thing is getting expensive!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How the Sexual Revolution Killed the Common Date

Reprinted from Meridian Magazine, March 2011. 

Recently a story called “Sex is Cheap” ran on the popular news magazine Essentially the premise was that while women are gaining more independence, power in business, and making more money, that they are losing control in pre-marital relationships. In short, because women gained power and equality, men lost power in every place except in romantic relationships, which is to women's detriment.
It used to be that men had to work to find a good woman. In previous generations, men didn't meet women at work or at school. They had to try harder to find and woo a woman. There was competition for good women. But now, women are everywhere, and a man doesn't have to even leave his house to meet a woman (because he can find them online.) In short, men do not have to work to find a woman. And, as compared to previous generations, there are now more women than men. Its just not that hard to find women anymore.
The next problem is that men aren't faring as well as they used to. Young men used to know that hard work, some money in the bank, and an education was the key to a great future and a great job (and to winning a good wife). But there are no guarantees anymore. Young men have to compete with women to get good jobs. Men have lost the power and security of past generations, mostly in thanks to the sexual revolution.
The sexual revolution may have given women more power and equality, but in return, men lost power and stature. In short, this makes it that much harder for a woman to find a man who is a strong leader that can be her equal. Men lost their footing, and men are often below the women now in these areas.
So Then Why is Sex Cheap?
The sexual revolution told us that women could have “pre-marital relationships” casually, and on their own terms. But when the numbers changed, and there were more women than men, it was no longer up to the women when relationships would happen. Men get to decide if and when something will happen. And unfortunately, women- who want something (in this case, whether it be casual sex or a simple date), but aren't getting it on their own terms, are accepting offers from men whenever they can get an offer.
In short, women have no control or power, and are willing to just give men what they want.
In the LDS parallel world, where maybe sex isn't the issue, but just getting a date is, I believe we call this “settling.” Women are just willing to take what they can get, when they can get it. Even if it isn't what they wanted, or what they were worthy of.
One interesting statistic in the article stated that virginity is more common on college campuses where women comprise a smaller share of the student body, suggesting that [when there are fewer women and the men have to work harder to get a woman] women have the power in sexual relationships. Comparatively, on campuses with more women than men, women are more negative about campus men, hold more negative views of their relationships, go on fewer dates, are less likely to have a boyfriend, and receive less commitment in exchange for sex.
Why? Because men just don't have to work for it. Men pass over the women with scruples and morals, and go for the “low-hanging fruit.” Who wants to actually have to put forth effort at dating and relationships, when you can just get no-strings attached sex for free?
Now, in the LDS world, where in theory, sex isn't the bargaining chip, does this all still apply?
Oh does it ever!
Let's take, for example, the mid-singles activity I went to just last weekend. By my count, there were approximately 50 mid-singles there- 10 men, 40 women. I can tell you that the room was full of attractive, talented women. Each of them successful, accomplished, and enjoyable to be with. It looked like a beauty contest and fashion show all at the same time. The girls came to impress. The men? Well, they enjoyed the odds. But none of them came ready to impress the women. (No offense guys, but deep down, you know I'm right.)
Now, if the sexual revolution worked, all the women would walk away, proud of her independence, proud to be equal in the work place, etc. And sure, TV and Hollywood like to play with our heads and tell us that there are plenty of women out there who are revolutionized and happy with it. They tell us that the Revolutionary Woman is strong, smart, sexy, and likes it that way. And in those “romantic comedies” where suddenly she meets a man so not her type, and falls in love, and is suddenly able to still be revolutionized, she will never have to compromise on all that power and strength.
I'm here to tell you, that it doesn't work that way. Women aren't falling for men not their type, who are less successful than them, and being whisked away on the backs of motorcycles while wearing business suits.
Here's the truth.
Women are stuck with a difficult decision. Do they just take the first man that comes along, afraid of not getting picked for the team? Or worse, never getting picked for the team? Even if that man is not what she was hoping for? Or does she stick it out, waiting for a man to be her equal? Which is a lot like waiting for the chupacabra some days.
Will the men ever step up their game? Will men actually ever work hard to find a woman and woo her again? I'm guessing no. We've progressed too far. Maybe it will happen in an other generation, but it won't happen for my generation. Men have no need to step up their game, when there is always another woman to meet around the corner.
Porn Killed the Common Date
Another way the sexual revolution ruined things- porn. The sexual revolution told us that suddenly sex is good, sex is available, and its not so taboo to say sex. Sex, sex, sex. Porn used to be a terrible, seedy thing. Something to be ashamed of. Now? Not so much. Now porn is a joke. Now people talk about it in commonplace conversation. Now it is easily accessible, and it is killing my social life.
Men don't have to woo, bring flowers, get a good job, and impress a girl for sexual gratification. Nope, instead he can get it on his computer, at a bookstore, or pretty much anywhere he decides to look for it. Gone are the days when a man actual had to CONVINCE a woman that he was worth something in order to be sexually gratified, now he can just download it at home! Why bother spending $50 on dinner and a movie, with no guarantee of any action at the end of the night, when you can get it for free at home?
And we wonder why so many great, talented, attractive, accomplished women are sitting at home alone on a Friday night?!
I Blame the Men
When the odds in your average singles ward, or at a singles activity is 4:1 women to men, the problem isn't with the women.
If men wanted to be in relationships, they would be in them! There are more than enough women to go around. Men, STEP UP! You have no room to complain. If you are single, it is your own fault, plain and simple. I can hear you now, “I just haven't met the right one yet!” Yeah, well, that is because you aren't looking. And you certainly aren't trying very hard.
So women, what should we do? Do we compromise what we want? After all, isn't that what our mothers keep telling us to do- stop being so picky? NO! Maybe that was the problem back in their day when men were actually wooing them, and they were rejecting good men. But in today's world, that just isn't practical.
We live in a conflicted world. We, the women of today, believe and know we can be leaders in business, in the world, and anywhere we want to be. But we were also taught and raised to believe that a man is the head of the home. We are waiting for a priesthood LEADER to come and sweep us off our feet (or at the very least, open the door for us). We want to be the head of the class, director of the boardroom, and world leaders, but we choose to want a man to be the head of our homes.
Are there any men left who want to be the head of the home? Or are they all too busy at home watching porn and playing video games?
So how do we get a good man when the odds are stacked against us? Is holding out for a good one going to work? Should you pick up the phone and call? As a marketing professional, I want to tell you, YES! Do what you have to do to stand out in the crowd! Get noticed! Be proactive. But that's the sexual revolution talking again, and isn't that what got us here in the first place? I can't answer that one for you. How you get a date is up to you, but keep being great. Stand out and attract a man because you are great. Don't compromise or settle just so you can have a man. You are better than that.
And men, I'll only say this one more time. When the odds are 4:1 stacked in your favor, and you still can't find a woman- you have some thinking to do.
So tell me what you are thinking. Tell me I'm wrong, tell me I'm right. I know you have an opinion out there! Leave them below in the comments section!
Erin Ann McBride is a writer, dreamer, blogger, and a social media addict. Equal parts Mary Poppins, Carrie Bradshaw, and Mother Theresa, she goes where the wind blows, writes about relationships and dating, and is devoted to serving others. You can get more of her at the Story of a Nice Mormon Girl and on Twitter as @erinannie. She says that if you aren't friends with Meridian Magazine on Facebook, you are missing out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fitting in When You’re a Single Square Peg in a Round Hole Made for Two.


Reprinted from Meridian Magazine January 2011. 

It isn't easy to sit down every other week and come up with something to say to thousands of invisible other singles. Are you out there? Can you hear me? Sometimes it is hard to know if anyone is listening or cares. And yet, I sit down and do my best week after week.
In my estimation, I have written over 100 articles for Meridian over the past eight years. Of which approximately 99 were about singles, dating, and single life. Of those 99, 98 were written specifically to the singles.
But two weeks ago, for the first time ever, I wrote to everyone else. To the Not Singles. I said some very blunt, straight-forward, and direct things, trying as hard as I could to remain emotionless and polite about it. The responses did not surprise me one bit. The sheer number of responses did surprise me, but not what was in them.
Except for one thing.
Out of 105 responses (as of the night I wrote this column), just about 80% of the people made it clear they thought I was whining, and that I should be telling the singles how to better integrate themselves, rather than offering advice for how other people could better involve the singles. 97 columns written for the singles.
How sad is it that the majority of people have never bothered to read the 97 columns obviously written for singles. We all know why they haven't done it- they aren't single. It didn't apply to them. Why should they bother?
And yet the majority of these people think that singles need to buck up and involve themselves more in activities and lessons not geared towards them.
So today we return to our regularly scheduled programming, and speak directly to the singles.

How can we better involve ourselves? How can we fit in and find happiness as a square peg in a round hole?
May I first make this suggestion? (As silly as it sounds.) Be grateful for the hole. Be glad you have something you care about so much that you want to fit in. Be grateful for the Gospel, the ability to attend Sunday services, and that you have the freedom to attend.
Just be grateful.
Second, somewhere my dad is saying to me for the umpteenth time, “Just get involved.” He'll tell me and you, if you want to get involved go up to the Bishop and tell him you need something to do. He's saying if your home or visiting teachers never come to visit you, call them and invite them over. (I will argue in my head that I don't want to invite someone over who obviously doesn't want to be there. But I know I will lose this argument against him when he says to tell the Elders Quorum president to get me home teachers that will show up.)
Third, you don't have to fit in or belong. Sometimes it just isn't going to work. You can try and try, but if the other party doesn't want to accept you, it just isn't going to happen. Find an online forum, or friends in another ward or stake to be friends with. You ward is nothing but geography. There is nothing that says you have to have something in common other than geography.
Fourth, find outside places to serve. Some of my most meaningful service experiences have not been through the Church. Ask yourself what your interests are, and what you are passionate about. And go serve in those areas! I have greatly loved my time working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. My “Little” is the best thing that ever happened to me. It is because of my relationship with her that I am able to better understand the Young Women I now serve. Find something you love and are passionate about, and serve in those ways. When we read “the least of these” there was no footnote that said, “within the geography of your ward boundaries.”
Fifth, I recently sat through a very well-planned and thought out third hour lesson, taught by the Stake Presidency. The topic? Better communication in our families/relationships. I would venture that 90% of the lesson was about strengthening marriages through better communication. I could not agree more. Unfortunately, I live alone, and my dog does not appreciate my attempts at better communication. Throughout the entire lesson I kept thinking to myself, “I should go see if I can swap with someone in the nursery or Primary. Give someone else the chance to go sit with her husband.” I didn't do it, but I should have. By the end of the lesson I was really kicking myself for not doing it. Singles, make yourself useful when things get irrelevant. Go relieve someone else, go help in the kitchen, do something. You don't have to just sit there and doodle.
Sixth, do it yourself. If your stake or ward is seriously lacking in decent singles activities, plan something on your own.
Seventh, don't get left out because nobody knows you exist. Go up to the head of the quorum, or the class president, and introduce yourself. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that no one will take an interest in that lonely, bored looking person in the back of the room. You have to let them know you exist.
Eighth, enjoy yourself. Don't have anyone to join for family home evening? Here's my favorite thing to do! Monday nights tend to be pretty dead in most restaurants. I take a good book and go try a new restaurant. Because they tend to be slow nights, I can sit and read and relax by myself. Take your scriptures, and you'll be surprised how many conversations strike up with other patrons!
Ninth, pick a family to be your new family. Sit with them, bring their kids treats, say hi in the halls, etc. You don't have to tell them you made them your new family. Just start being nice to them, and wait to see what happens. A few years back I picked a family to be my new ward family and did this. Within two months, their little four year old boy was running down the hall to me, dragging me to sit with him. I often had to hide my tears, so he wouldn't see me crying, I was so touched and happy to be loved.
A few years prior to that I was in a different ward. There was a couple with many children, but only one still at home. The father frequently traveled for business and wasn't there. We had a crowded ward, and when there was just enough room for me to join them on their bench each week. Before long it became natural and expected that I would sit with them. The father and I began comparing Blackberry models. The mother began saving me a seat in Relief Society. Their son? I'll just be impressed if he ever learned my name. Just having someone who expected me to sit with them made me go from feeling like one, long, single person in a ward of 500+, to suddenly belonging. And it was because I chose to sit with them, and not because someone came to me.
Tenth, last but not least. Don't give up. Never surrender. Nothing lasts forever. Leadership changes, people come and go, and life marches on. What seems like a miserable circumstance today, will disappear completely in a week. And when it gets to be too much? Just send me an email and we can commiserate. I'm here for you.
That's all the time we have today, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for all your comments and insights last week. It was truly overwhelming to get such a response. Next week we'll return to our more light-hearted and fun fare. Maybe even talk about the ridiculousness that can be online dating. Or not. I'm not so sure the more genteel married folk are ready to hear the honest (and perverted) truth about online dating yet! We shall see.
Until then, singles, good luck and keep up the good work. If you are reading this, than you are doing something right. It means you care about the Gospel, and being true to the Church. Good for you.
Now help us all out, and leave your personal tips for getting involved in your ward below!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Saratov Approach Washington DC Premiere

Washington, DC Premiere of "The Saratov Approach," Thursday, January 30th, 7:15 pm

 This one night, exclusive showing will include a Q&A session with the film's director, Garrett Batty.

THE SARATOV APPROACH is the extraordinary, untold story of Elders Travis Tuttle and Andrew Propst and their week-long abduction in Saratov, Russia.
On what seemed like any other day during their two-year LDS missions, Elders Travis Tuttle and Andrew Propst are approached by Nikolai to meet a friend. But then the missionaries experience the unimaginable -- kidnapped, beaten, and held for ransom for nearly a week -- on the other side of the world in Saratov, Russia. While their family, friends and the world pray for their safe return, Tuttle and Propst are tested physically, emotionally and most of all -- spiritually.


eShakti Saturday

A few years ago I was invited out to a girlfriend's birthday party. She made one request of her guests- that the girls all wear "little red dresses." She said that everyone should have a little red dress for parties (not just little black dresses). I didn't really take her seriously because the thought had never occurred to me to have a little red dress. But I did have a dozen little party dresses, so I went in a cute little gray dress.
Before long I felt pretty stupid.
That was when and how I discovered that most (single) women do have a fun little red party dress.
Here's the evidence-

eShakti is here to save you from my embarrassment with a Valentine's Day sale! Lots of red dresses!
Here are 2 of my favorites-
This top one is the Hailey dress, which of course you can customize and modify for just $7.50 to add sleeves, change the neckline, shorten or lengthen the hem. Doesn't it just look like a fun dancing dress? The dress deserves a fun, sexy date to go on!

For the more traditional and conservative woman, there is the ruffle hem ponte sheath dress. Another dress that works for office, church, or a fun date or party night. I love it just the way it is. I don't know that I would change a thing to it.

You have time to order a new dress in time for Valentine's Day. In fact, you have time to get 3 dresses, with their ongoing buy 2 get 1 free sale. And first time buyers get a $30 off coupon too!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Being Single is Not a Curse!

The couple on the bench
Today I took a long walk in the woods with my dog. It was a beautiful and perfect afternoon. I brought my camera and a book and made myself comfortable on a bench for a few hours. It really was lovely. But I can't say "it was all I could have wanted,” because as I sat there on the bench, overlooking a beautiful valley, basking in my personal perfect day, all I could think about was how much I wanted there to be a special someone sitting beside me. How I longed for a meaningful conversation with a special someone. How if the right person were beside me I could put my head on his shoulder, and hold his hand, and just gaze on that view forever. But the bench was empty beside me.
I'm single. Very single. And there are many days when I wonder if there will ever be a special someone to sit beside me again. There are days when I question what I did to deserve to be single. Is this punishment for some sin I have committed? How much longer until I have repented? Is this the life my Heavenly Father wants for me? Will I ever have children? Will that bench forever be empty because of some choice I don't remember making? And I am not alone in my fears and concerns.
Questions of “Why am I still single?” “Why doesn’t anyone love me?” “Why does he get to be married and not me?” “How can she be married twice and I still haven’t found one husband?” “I’ve prayed for it and I’m a good person, so why hasn’t the Lord sent me an eternal companion?” “How am I ever supposed to fit in at church when it is all about families, and I don’t have one?” “Why should I have to sit through another lesson about parenting when I’ll probably never be a parent myself?” “Why should I go to another ward activity geared toward children and families? I won't fit in,” and so many other questions of doubt are common and not unusual in the minds of an unmarried member of the Church.
The Truth Hurts
Singles often feel alienated or left out of the general membership of the Church. Without children, or without spouses, what place is there for them at ward activities that are so often family oriented? When lessons and advice are given regarding strengthening family relationships, what do they have to offer to the lesson or to take away from it?
But maybe the most difficult part of being single, particularly for those individuals who have passed the more culturally traditional younger years of courtship and have entered into their thirties, forties, and older, is wondering why I have not found a spouse? Why have I not been so blessed? “Am I so hard to love? What’s wrong with me? Am I not faithful enough? Why doesn’t anyone want me?” All of these questions can be painful and difficult to ask, and at times can lead to an individual’s slow departure from activity within the Church, where so many discussions revolve around eternal marriage, faithfulness, and endurance.
Elder Neal Maxwell in his book “And These Things Shall Give Thee Experience,” counseled that we are not being punished when we do not receive that which we desire. Sometimes the Lord has other plans for us. It is our job to do our best, and be happy, no matter what the situation. I would like to think that the alternative to not getting married and being a mother should be a high-paying job with lots of adventure and excitement. Sadly, this does not seem to be the plan for me either.
The Secret to Happiness
To find happiness and contentment in our lives, no matter our situation, is often the ultimate challenge. Whether it be the family dealing with financial downturn, or an infertile couple longing for a child, or the desperate desire to find love and a mate, the challenge is to find “joy in the journey,” even when the journey is not the one we expected or wanted to take.
President Thomas S. Monson said it this way, “This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief.
Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not.
I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.”
So singles, I ask you this- are you finding joy in the journey? Are you happy? Are you living your life to the fullest, in spite of the fact that maybe you are not living the life you want to have? It can be hard. It can be really hard. It hurts going to church on Sunday and sitting alone. It hurts sitting in Relief Society listening to a lesson on parenting or love at home or when someone talks about the joys of marriage. And nothing is more irritating when a young bride half your age tearfully says,”I prayed so long and hard and waited for so long to find the right man.” All you can think is, “Honey, I'll show you what waiting forever feels like!” How is it possible to be happy and find joy in the journey when cards seem to be stacked against you?
Elder Maxwell described these challenges as one of the “hard doctrines” of the Gospel.  He quoted author C.S. Lewis in this regard, "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace."

Being Single is NOT a Curse!!
Being single is not a curse, or an affliction. It is not a trial that you must “overcome.” Your life, your mission, your Plan, is not a trial! It is simply that the Lord has other desires for you. What role has He carved out for you? What do you have to offer? The Lord knows you, your talents, and has provided you with the circumstances so that you may do your best. It is not an accident that you were born at this time and place. You must find your self-worth and be an instrument in the Lord’s hands. “The worth of souls is great in the eyes of God.” There was no postscript that said “Except some will be worth more than others because they got married and raised a family. Through no fault of your own you will not be worth as much.”  The Lord values you, and has put you in the situation where he needs you. Give yourself to the Lord so that you may be the person He needs you to be.
You must find your calling in life and magnify it. Some will be called to be mothers and fathers. Others will not be held back by the constraints of a family so that they may serve in other ways to the wards, communities, and even the world around them. Being single is not a limitation or condemnation. It is the opportunity to expand and do more, while living a Gospel-centered life. Marriage does not solve any one’s problems. Marriage alone will not make you happy. You must be happy with who you are above all else. Find joy in your journey!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How to Plan Activities for Singles over 30 (So They’ll Come and Not Resent You)

I don't like day old-zucchini bread, but I bought some anyway. Felt a special kinship to it because it's cheap, stale and never has any dates.
Question of the day- is it possible to plan activities for singles over 30 that they will actually enjoy, attend, and not roll their eyes at the mere suggestion of?
Answer- sometimes, but not usually.
Let’s dive in.
It is not easy to plan activities for singles over 30. Even more so, it is hard to plan activities that they will actually enjoy and want to attend.  Why? Because one size does not fit all. The larger the age span amongst the singles, the harder it is to include and entertain everyone. Add in all of the demographics and you’ll find it is impossible to please the masses. Some of the demographics include:
  • Divorced? Never married? Widowed? Still bitter over the divorce? 
  • Do they have children at home? With their former spouse? In another state? Are they toddlers or high schoolers? Are they grandparents? 
  • Careers? Doctors? Bus drivers? School teachers? Military? Long hours? Work from home?
  • Distance to the chapel? Distance to other singles? 
  • Financially stable? Struggling economically? In graduate school? 
  • Shy? Outgoing? Attractive? Overweight? Gym rat? Socially conservative? Socially awkward?

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when planning activities. Let’s get one thing straight- no one idea will appeal to all groups. Trust me, I’ve tried. It just won’t happen.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind when planning activities.
First and foremost- do not treat 40 year olds the same way that you would also treat 14 year olds. There is a very bad habit amongst Singles Representatives (whether they are married or single representatives) to forget that they are planning and working with singles, and they tend to treat the singles like they are still immature teenagers. Keep this in mind as well when deciding whether or not chaperones are necessary or just silly. In my personal opinion, this is the biggest mistake most planners make.
Singles over 30 are not the same as teenagers who are learning to socialize in mixed groups. Singles over 30 are very aware of the opposite sex and do not need chaperons to encourage such behavior. If the singles want to talk, they will talk. If they aren’t talking, it is because they don’t want to! Remember the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” I’d like to add on one more line to that when you are working with singles, “But you can remind him he’s thirsty!” You can plan all the activities you want, but you can’t make the opposite sexes speak to each other if they don’t want to. But you just might succeed in reminding them that they want to look more at the opposite sex.
Second, you can please some of the people some of the time, but you’ll never please all of the people all of the time.  So don’t try to please all age groups and all demographics of single adults at the same time. Plan some activities to cater to your older attendees, and plan some to cater to your younger attendees. And maybe (depending on the reactions of your locals) considering advertising it as such, to encourage the right target audience to attend.
Third, do not plan activities for 40 year olds that you would also plan for 14 year olds. Is there anything you enjoy doing in middle-age that you also enjoyed in your early teen years? Probably not. Keep that in mind as you try to plan activities.
Next, less structured activities are best! This brings me to my first personal example. I have attended very forced structured FHE activities, held in the chapel, and I have attended simple Monday night get-togethers in homes.  My favorite activity was when the singles of my family ward would get together at a popular restaurant on Monday nights for dollar burgers and dollar drinks. It was very informal, and attendees were welcome to show up late. We just sat around and talked and enjoyed each other’s company. No one was under obligation to order food or drinks, plan a lesson or give a thought. But everyone has to eat dinner, so why not do it together? These completely unstructured, unforced, simple, conversation friendly gatherings started small with just a few attendees and quickly grew to our largest activities.
Singles are busy with jobs, responsibilities, and many other things.
The activities that are planned for them have to compete against the “real world” facing singles. When you have worked hard all week, cleaned house, paid the bills, filled your ward calling, and walked the dog, do chips and fruit punch followed by a forced awkward conversation in the cultural hall sound interesting? Plan activities that excite people to want to attend. Give attendees something to look forward to. Consider doing fewer small, weekly, or monthly activities in favor of larger “outside of the chapel” activities instead. Give people plenty of time to schedule the activities into their lives and budget their money if necessary. Again, I will point out the obvious, life is different over 30, as compared to when we were teenagers, or young college students where all we had to think about was school and the opposite sex. Now we just wish that was all that we have to think about!
So what activities might actually appeal to singles? This is a tough and loaded question. Every demographic will have a different answer. Every different town will have different answers. The list below are nothing more than what appealed to me, a 35-year-old, never married, socially-outgoing, big-city woman, who likes good conversation and big outdoor events. And I can absolutely guarantee that someone is reading this article disagreeing with everything I have said- which actually only proves my point further- single adults are not a “one size fits all” category. What works in one town with one group of singles will probably bomb and be a disaster in another town.
Activity ideas
Service projects, service projects, and more service projects. Really, you can never have too many service projects.
Local sporting events- pick a local team, whether it is major or minor leagues, or even the local high school, and become supportive fans. Buying group tickets to multiple games usually means you can get a significant discount.
Outdoor concerts- especially free concerts!
Overnight camping trips
Beach or lake trips
Hikes- try not to do anything too difficult that will scare off the less pedestally gifted. Rent out a local movie theater for a private screening of a popular movie. Invite attendees to invite non-member friends to join them. Fill the theater with friends and allow for time for socializing before and after.
Potluck Sunday dinners (someplace besides the chapel)
Monthly dinner groups at popular local restaurants
When your stake organizes basketball/volleyball/softball teams, ask if the singles can be a team, instead of participating on ward teams.
Do look around and ask if most of your participants are single parents. Consider offering daycare during the activity.
Advertise, advertise, advertise. Call each individual ward bulletin rep and ask him/her to advertise the activity. You never know who will only learn about your activity that way.
Pick up the phone and invite all of your inactive attendees for every activity.
Things to consider not doing
Dances- dances are fun in moderation. But do you remember how awkward it was to dance in the church gym when you were 15? It doesn’t get less awkward at 35, especially when most of the opposite sex are the same age as your dad/mom (or older!).  Have dances, just don’t only have dances.
Activities that force people to talk to complete strangers while other people watch.  Always ask yourself, “If I was new here, would I want to be forced to talk to this person twice my age that I have nothing in common with while doing this activity?” If you have to stop and think about the answer, don’t do it.
Gear all your activities to the younger crowd/older crowd. Remember that what will be interesting to the over 50 crowd will not be of interest to the under 40 crowd. Don’t try to please both groups at the same time. Try to please them at different times.
Plan an activity just to impress or include one person. Come on, admit it planners, you have done this at least once. I know there are more than a few guilty parties out there who planned an elaborate or specific event just to catch the attention of one special someone. How do you think the rest of your attendees felt about that activity?
Speed-dating- here’s another great example of something that will sound fun to a select few, and will send the rest of the crowd running. Men in particular do not care to be forced into a situation where they have to talk to someone they don’t know, and may not care to know better.  No one appreciates forced conversation.
(That being said, yes, some people love speed-dating.)
Don’t hold all of your activities at the chapel. Try to get out of the ward building and into member’s homes, or outside, or into local venues.
Now it is time for a confession from me. I didn't go to a church sponsored singles activity for nearly three years. There was once a day where I was the activity planning queen and had vowed to support all of my singles activities, because I knew how hard it was to plan the activities.
So why did I stop attending? Well, first it was because I moved to a new town. I was the only single in my ward, and one of the very few singles in my stake. We didn’t have any activities, or at least, I never heard about any of them. I attempted to attend the activities of a nearby singles ward. But while I am outgoing and unafraid, I absolutely hate walking into a new environment where I don’t know anyone. I went to a few activities and felt so out of place that I gave up. That cycle repeated itself for the next few years.  I’d get up the guts to attend, find myself alone and out of place, and just leave. There weren’t any other singles in my wards, and I had to put a lot of effort into going to other ward’s activities. When I would hear about the activities, they rarely sounded like something I wanted to put a lot of effort into attending. So there I was a single woman, who really didn’t have many ways of meeting other LDS singles, who would have loved to attend activities, but the activities were what was keeping me away. I wish my stake had provided activities, or at the very least, that the coordinators from my stake (if we even had them) had tried to invite me out.
Single adult activities are often a “never give up, never surrender” trial. You may feel like you have bombed and everyone hates your activities. But somewhere, I can promise you, there is one single who was grateful you gave them the chance to get out and make friends that day. So don’t give up! Never surrender! Just get up and try, try again!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

eShakti Saturday

Maybe I should start making eShakti posts a regular thing? I shall call them "eSkakti Saturdays.

This week I'm in love with this "feminine floral dress"-

Feminine, modest, and a flattering cut (on any figure once you have it custom-fit).
Since my favorite part about eShakti is customizing it to my figure and my tastes, I would change the sleeves to "short sleeves." (The sleeve shown is called a "dolman cap sleeve." For me, this is an incredibly unflattering sleeve. While modest enough to cover the Mormon essentials, it cuts off right before the fatty part of my arm, and makes my arms look much flabbier than they actually are. The traditional "cap sleeve," is tricky with many shirts and dresses. It can be more comfortable than typical short sleeves because it is cut lower under the arm improving ventilation and arm movement. Unfortunately, the undercut tends to not cover the Mormon essentials, and on some women shows a good portion of the bra. But they are very cute, which makes it very frustrating!) I think I would keep the neckline as is. Making it a wide scoop or deeper V would just mean having to wear a slip under it to keep from showing off too much cleavage. And while I think the boat neck would be adorable on it, it wouldn't be adorable on my large chest (and tends to not cover the Mormon essentials). The style shown is considered to be below the knee. I would raise the hem to "at the knee."

I also love this cute yellow dress-

I love yellow, and I don't think I look too bad in some shades of it. But I do tend to stand out quite a bit in yellow. It's hard to not be seen with long blonde hair and an all yellow dress on. I would love to wear a dress like this for Easter or in the summer though. Maybe this year I will get up the guts to try.
As for customizing it, I would make the hem knee-length (shown: below the knee), and change the set-in cap sleeves to short sleeves. I love the sweetheart neckline, so I would keep it. If it is too low to cover the essentials, I'll just wear a slip or cami under it. Or maybe change it to a wide V, since that tends to work better with a slip/cami.

eSkakti has more than just dresses. There are also skirts, shirts, and now jackets. I'm trying to wear more professional clothing to work. (That whole "dress for the job you want" theory.) The problem with this is that most people associate professional clothing with wearing jackets. I hate wearing jackets. Suit coats or jackets are pretty much the bane of my existence. I'm short-waisted, so they never fall at the right place (the waist of the jacket always hitting around my wide hips), and the slim shoulders/large chest thing is never a good combo, and I hate it when my elbows feel constricted. All of which makes wearing jackets pretty much miserable.
Which is why I'd like to try eShakti jackets since I can get it custom fit. If the results are as I anticipate, it would be worth every penny.

I think this jacket is pretty cute and versatile. I wouldn't change anything, except to get the custom fit measurements on it.

eShakti is having a Buy 2, Get 1 Free sale right now. OR Buy 1, Get 25% off. And there is a 40% off Winter Clearance Sale in progress. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

So Why Aren't You Married Yet?

When I was 20 years old dating seemed pretty straight forward. I met a guy, smiled, flirted, chatted a bit, and maybe spent a few extra minutes after a church activity alone with him in the parking lot so that he could ask for my number. He would ask, I would share, and within a week or two we would go on a date. After two or three dates he would either make a move or he would stop calling. There was not a lot of guesswork involved.
I think this is what most of my married friends think dating still entails. But trust me folks, as much as I wish it was that simple, it isn’t. Now I find I have to know a man for several months, talking, flirting, etc, and then still have to tell him, “I’d like to go to dinner with you sometime.” Even then, he doesn’t always get the point.
But what has really changed about dating is the questions I get. This is an issue I never saw coming. Somewhere after my thirtieth birthday men started asking me, “So why haven’t you ever been married?” With the implication quite clear- there must be something wrong with me that I have never been married. This question is usually followed up with, “Have you ever been engaged or in a serious relationship?” I was raised to think that you don’t bring up your past or your baggage on a date. And you certainly don’t talk about your exes on a date. But I find that when I honestly answer, “Yes, I have,” (Both been in serious relationships and have been engaged), that there are invasive questions that follow.
But what I really never saw coming is that some people would consider this to be a strike against me. Having never been married somehow makes me broken or less worthy in the dating world. Some people prefer to date divorcees, over those of us who have never been married. Apparently who I am and what this new person thinks of me, isn’t what is important. It is what all of the other men who came before thought of me that matters to the new men. Personally, I find this perverse and very juvenile thinking, like elementary school politics.
And so dating begins a sort of cyclical behavior where the divorcees prefer to date other divorcees. And the “Never Beens” don’t date at much at all. The repeat brides and grooms keep the cycle going, while Never Beens hold out for their one and only, both sides thinking that the other side is broken.
Is there an answer to this? Probably not, because there is no one size fits all answer.  It’s like the old joke, “When you’ve seen one divorce, you have seen ONE divorce.” It is the same with the Never Beens. If you have met and know one single person, that is all you know. They are not all the same, and no two stories are alike. I am not still single for the same reason your nephew is still single. We are all unique with our own explanations.
I find I could give serious answers to this question. If I tried to my answer would likely be something along the lines of, “I have prayed often about it and feel strongly that the Lord has other things in store for me by way of serving others. And a marriage and responsibilities would hold me back from doing all of the things the Lord has planned for me.” But that is an incredibly personal and private answer that, quite frankly, I don’t feel a first or second date has the privilege to know. Especially since what most of them really want to know is whether or not I am interested in ever having sex, or if it is a lack of interest that has kept me from getting married. And trust me folks, I’m sure as heck not going to answer that. So instead, I prefer to give my favorite answer, “You haven’t asked me yet.” It tends to weed the weak from the strong, and I prefer a man with a good, strong, sense of humor with thick skin.
So I asked my friends, what do you say when someone asks why you have never been married? Feel free to borrow from my arsenal and use these for the next time you get an inappropriate inquiry.
“She was killed in the war in heaven.”
“Prop 8 ruined it for me.”
“Why aren’t you thin?”
“My mother says no one is good enough for me. “
“I suppose it doesn’t help that underneath my clothes my entire body is covered in scales.” (Paraphrasing Bridget Jones’ Diary)
“I’m still hoping for a shot at Miss America.”
“I just haven’t met you yet.”
“I paid for a lifetime membership on eHarmony, and don’t want to lose my investment.”
But seriously folks, why is it a bad thing that someone hasn’t entered into a bad union? I will be the first to admit that there are more than a few singles over 30 who are “Never Beens” with good reason.
And now I turn it to you, Gentle Readers. Is it a plus or negative when you meet someone who has Never Been married? Do you immediately assume they are broken or strange? Share your thoughts below. And if you don’t mind, can you be so kind as to indicate if you are a Never Been Married, Once Was Married, Repeat Offender, or Eternally Bound? Thanks!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Feelings, so many feelings.

What a bottle of Martinelli's looks like when chilled in a car to 7 degrees.

I'm tempted tonight to sit around and whine and complain on here. I'm trying to convince myself that I won't, but I see by the fact that I'm typing, I'm about to lose my internal battle with self. The angel on the right shoulder is saying, "Don't say it! Don't do it!" The devil on the left is whispering, "You deserve to vent!"

Decisions, decisions.

Devil it is.

Like the rest of the U.S., I'm feeling compelled to complain about the weather and comment on just how bitterly cold it is out there. But my two cents is just a little different from everyone else.
I just had sinus surgery. And lemme tell you, if I had had a crystal ball and could have seen that bitter cold temps were coming just a few days after my surgery (which granted was in December, and sure that should have been more obvious), I may have delayed a few more weeks. Or not. I did what I did when I did based on insurance deductibles. (That was a lot of unintentional alliteration.) Bitter cold temps on freshly scraped sinuses is not a pleasant feelings! At all! And for someone like me who is prone to nosebleeds on cold, dry days to start with, and the condition is exasperated by sinus surgery, all I'm saying is today was a bloody long day.

As for the other things I feel the urge to whine/complain/vent about, one would be my job. The non-specific entity on my right shoulder is trying to remind me that the "honeymoon is over" and that's why I'm so irritated. The non-specific entity on the left shoulder doesn't care, it's just tired of being underemployed. I've been underemployed in this position since the start. It was always going to be a fairly easy job to do. (Minus dealing with personalities- which has been my biggest learning curve. This place has some doozies, and they don't seem to know it.) Some changes were made recently that inadvertently took some of my responsibilities away. Now not only is my work too easy to do, I don't have enough work to fill the day. I've been trying to create new work to keep myself busy, useful, and needed, but certain other persons have made it difficult to succeed. (See: personalities- doozies.) Which tells me it's time to find some tactful and proper ways to handle this situation with certain other persons. Unfortunately, past history has never been kind in this area. I fear it.

Remember the ongoing drama with my landlord and neighbor(s) regarding the professional pogo stick jumping upstairs? Last I heard the pogo stick jumpers were supposed to move out before Christmas. But that never seemed to happen. However, the neighbors did go on a long trip for Christmas, which helped me maintain sanity quite a bit. But they are back and the noise is as frustrating as ever.

Today I happened to see my landlord. Before I even got the chance to ask what's going on up there, she told me. Apparently the landlord really is forcing (very nicely) the person(s) out. The person's lease isn't up until March, but the landlord is making them leave before then in order to get the necessary repairs made. But apparently the neighbor is not making it easy, which is completely within that person's right to do so.

It occurs to me that the neighbor is in an odd position. The noise isn't heard up there as bad as it is down here. There is a safety concern, but not a major one. S/he doesn't really have to worry about falling through the floor. There will likely be plenty of warning before that happens. Moving is not fun or easy, and is a major life disruption. So yeah, they probably don't want to deal with it. Can't say I blame them.

Which brings me back to the need for a tactful and polite conversation - this time with a person(s) I've never seen or met. I have wanted to avoid the confrontation for as long as possible. But right now my entire wall is shaking because the pogo stick jumpers have left their bathroom ceiling fan on. It has been on for over an hour. I'm about to lose my mind. If they don't turn it off soon, I may be forced to put on some pants and finally go up there and meet them. I really don't want to put on my pants. Not to mention, I hate confrontation.

So there you have it. My whining and venting. There is so much more I'd love to say, but I'm keeping my mouth shut for now. If I stop here I still have a chance of convincing you that I really am a happy person, I'm just stuck in multiple frustrating scenarios right now. You know what I mean?

What should we do with the singles?

Have you ever asked yourself, "What should we do with the singles?"

One way to "help" the LDS singles is to ask whether or not the Single Adult program in your area is helping single church members "choose the good part." Not too many years ago, Elder Marvin J. Ashton encouraged everyone, particularly the women, to "choose the good part."

Many single adult programs are set up to serve as a "meet market." This thwarts the purpose of helping the participants choose the better part. Just like all other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, singles are faced with the challenge of living life fully, richly, and joyfully. The only difference between singles and the rest of the Church is that singles must learn to do it alone.

In a family centered church, where it is expected that happiness depends upon a family and spouse, singles frequently feel as if they are not supposed to feel happiness or joy in their situation. Or somehow it is impossible to feel joy in their situation. In spite of their many accomplishments outside of the home, some singles feel they have somehow failed at life because they are not yet married. It is imperative to provide a program that allows singles to choose the better part.

The best council we can all seek is that of President Hinckley. He said to the singles who wish to be married, "Do not give up hope. And do not give up trying. But do give up being obsessed with it. The chances are that if you forget about it and become anxiously engaged in other activities, the prospects will brighten immeasurably.

"I believe that for most of us the best medicine for loneliness is work, service in behalf of others. I do not minimize your problems, but I do not hesitate to say that there are many others whose problems are more serious than are yours. Reach out to serve them, to help them, to encourage them. There are so many boys and girls who fail in school for want of a little personal attention and encouragement. There are so many elderly people who live in misery and loneliness and fear for whom a simple conversation would bring a measure of hope and happiness."

Singles programs need to reach out to include every single from every walk of life. Many singles feel that their lives revolve around nothing but themselves. Everywhere they go and everything they do they are reminded that they are single. Allow church to be the one place where their marital status is not their defining characteristic.

Tips for a Successful Singles Activity

If you are asking yourself why you have 500 singles in your area, and yet only 20 show up for your bi-monthly potluck and fireside and dance combo night, instead of adding another exciting element to the night, ask yourself first if your singles program is set up to fulfill the guidelines President Hinckley outlined above, and then ask the singles what they would like to do for activities. Give the singles the opportunity to meet in each other's homes. Give them the chance to serve each other. If the thought, "What do singles like to do?" crosses your mind, ask yourself how you would like to spend an evening making new friends. Singles are people too.

Elder John K. Carmack Of the First Quorum of the Seventy offered a few observations for singles ("To My Single Friends," Ensign, Mar. 1989, 27):

1. Marriage is more likely to come as a result of being involved in other useful activities and goals.

2. Keep a long-range, spiritual perspective.

3. Maintain a loving, tolerant mortal perspective, too.

4. Look outward and away from yourself.

Guidelines for activities might include the following (and these are applicable to more than just a singles activity!):

Create opportunities for new interaction.
Create activities that allow people to relax out of their comfort zone. When planning the activity, ask yourself how comfortable you would be in a room surrounded by new people attempting the feat at hand.
Be innovative; go beyond the ward barbecue.
Make sure the purpose of the activity is more entertaining than the best that TV has to offer that night. If you didn't have to be there, would you want to be?
Don't waste your budget on the decorations or food. Delegating these opportunities to the attendees to be involved in the success of the activity will up your attendance numbers and encourage participation.

What Not to Say to a Single

Singles frequently hear criticism that they are too picky and that is why it has taken them so long to get married. Relationships are not as easy today as they once were. This generation has seen divorce rates climb, as our parents', friends', and siblings' marriages have failed. Telling someone to lose their "high" standards is the equivalent of telling them to ignore divorce rates and the factors that lead to it. As a single I have frequently heard variations on the misquote "any two righteous persons can get married and make a marriage work." And then someone tells me not to be picky - that I should be able to marry anyone and be happy. A more appropriate quote was given by Elder Marion Hanks in 1984:

"I [wish] to testify that the principles and covenants of the gospel, particularly those of the temple, are the best possible basis on which to build a strong union; and that such a marriage never just happens. It is brought about not simply by ceremony or circumstance or chance, but by two mature, loving adults who are able and willing to learn the principles upon which a vital and durable marriage may be fashioned and who, day by day, year by year, work on that process."

How You Can Help the Singles Feel Comfortable in a Family Ward

Treat them like normal people. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Singles Are People Too

In summary, what can you do with the Singles? Allow them to serve you and serve them. Integrate them fully into all ward and stake activities. Treat them like any other adult in your stake. Provide them with a service and gospel-oriented program.

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