Thursday, May 27

Why 30 Will Knock My Socks Off

I still feel like I'm at the beginning of the first hill on a roller coaster--arms up, anticipation growing by the second, not sure when I should start holding my breath, and excited about the downhill slopes, loops and spirals that await me. When I was younger, I kinda always pictured 30 as old and nearing the end of the ride--still fun but with smaller hills and thrills and just kind of comfortably coasting along. But the older I get, the more I realize that we don't just ride the ride, we create it. So here's to making my own roller-coaster and deciding when I get to start feeling old!

30 Reasons Why Turning 30 is Gonna Rock:
  1. I get to check a new age group box on forms.
  2. I get to say, “I remember when I was in my 20's...”
  3. I still have 2 years to prepare for what Good Morning America considers to be the ideal age for a woman to get married (which also happens to be the age at which a woman reaches her sexual peak... hmm, coincidence?).
  4. I have stopped trying to find myself and started creating myself.
  5. I can write my age as "XXX" in Roman Numerals.
  6. The Mishna Brura explains that a 30-year-old is "humble and broken-hearted, and can pray sincerely from the heart."
  7. I can run for Congress and in 5 years, I can run for President.
  8. It is more exciting to say “I am 30″ than “I am 29 or 31.″
  9. I can celebrate BIG for this birthday... which means bigger presents too, right??
  10. "I may be thirty, but I'll always be flirty." - Dane Peddigrew
  11. Old enough to gamble, young enough to make 3-hour midweek trips to do so even when I have to be at work at 8 the following morning.
  12. Getting hit on by 25-year old men never felt so good.
  13. Getting a traffic ticket doesn't mean I have to live on Top Ramen for a couple months. Being 30 means not having to live paycheck to paycheck or donate plasma in order to go to a Backstreet Boys concert.
  14. I can get discounts on purchasing hair dye in bulk for the 6-week reapplication to cover grays.
  15. I am still young and healthy enough to get pretty good deals on life insurance.
  16. All the life lessons I learned in my 20's, I can now apply to my life.
  17. Don’t have to worry about being 30 because I just AM.
  18. Peak age for body building is early to mid-thirties which means I still have time to achieve top physical condition.
  19. "The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits." - Hervey Allen
  20. 30 is the new 20.
  21. Rashbam explains that at age 30 one is "worthy of leadership."
  22. People naturally take you more seriously when you are in your 30's.
  23. I can reminisce with others my age about how much more fabulous movies, music, and television cartoons were in the 80's.
  24. I have the option of whether or not I want to live with roommates.
  25. "Time and tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty." - Robert Frost
  26. I am okay with declining dates with guys I know I have no interest in.
  27. The Talmud declares: "At age 30, one receives strength."
  28. Instead of stressing about acne, I can stress about wrinkles and gray hair.
  29. "Everything I know I learned after I was thirty". - Georges Clemenceau
  30. There is only one option to not turning 30, that is death. I say, “Welcome 30!”

Tuesday, May 25

Ode to 29

In trying to think of something to continue blog about because 1) I think writing is good for me and 2) since they took Facebook away at work, there's nothing else to do during down-times, I thought I should focus on the future for a bit instead of reflecting on the past. So enjoy these next few posts on turning 30.

Believe it or not, I'm actually excited to turn 30. I just don't like saying it out loud. It doesn't feel like it fits me. The color orange fits me. Northern California fits me. Being an EFY counselor fits me. Monkeys fit me. Playing games fit me. Curly hair fits me. Dinner parties fit me. Freckles fit me. The Infiniti FX fits me (though I still have yet to own one). A double-scoop ice cream cone from Baskin Robbins fits me. But 30? Let's just say one of these things is not like the other, one of these just doesn't belong. Twenty-nine fits a lot better than thirty. I like hyphenated ages.

I have 29 days left of being 29. This year's been good to me and I will certainly miss it when it's gone. And I think it gets ignored way too much because the moment someone turns 29, all they can talk about is 30. So in my attempt to appreciate 29, here's a fun fact ode to you (because fun facts also fit me):

  • The atomic number of copper is 29 and in my opinion, a much prettier metal than zinc (30). Plus, I served my mission in Chile, home to the largest copper reserves in the world and I currently live 30 minutes from the largest man-made copper mine. I know, it's fascinating how I keep ending up near copper.
  • It takes 29 years for Saturn to revolve around the sun. If I lived on Saturn, I would be celebrating my first birthday. I would totally be up for eating cake with my hands again!
  • I'm a big fan of the night sky and I love being able to enjoy a full moon every 29 days.
  • I learned first-hand this year that 29% of all driving accidents involve cell phone use. The repairs from the accident cost $2,900. The two "29" lessons learned here will probably end up saving my life multiple times.
  • I pretty much thought that the skull was one large bone. It's not. It's made up of 29 bones. If there was one thing I couldn't live without, I'd say it would be my skull.
  • 2009 was the last year I was able to look at the first and last number of the year and say that's how old I am (well, for half the year anyway).
  • In my 29th year, I experienced over 75 things I've never experienced before. It brought me the highest highs and the lowest lows and without the wisdom gained from 29, I think I'd be rather afraid to turn 30.

Thursday, May 13

Some Final Thoughts, Part 1

So the month of reflection has come and gone. Okay that's a lie. I will still have occasional lapses of reflection and self-discovery, I just may not be blogging about them. I want to thank you all for reading and for the support that you've given me over the last month through emails and conversations and blog comments. More importantly, thank you for the love you've shared with me over the last year. It's been quite the journey and one I feel indeed grateful for!

Someone once said, "Everyone should experience a divorce once."

You're kidding, right?

"You may think it’s absurd now, but you will see what I mean. You will learn things about yourself and about others. You will learn how to appreciate the other person in your life more. You will relearn things you thought you already knew and your perspective will change.”

So I present to you, my dear faithful blog readers, a few things I've learned and how my perspective has changed:

I've learned that taking care of myself should be top priority. It sounds twisted I know, especially after being taught to "lose yourself in the service of others." When I began to reevaluate those teachings, I learned that we often skip over the selfish-sounding parts. For example, we read "love thy neighbor" but skip the last part of that scripture that says "as thyself." We cannot sufficiently love our neighbors if we aren't loving ourselves. I started to suffer physically, emotionally, and spiritually because I was focusing so much time and energy in trying to make the marriage work that I lost sight of trying to make me work.

With that said, I've learned that the most important relationship in a marriage is the relationship between me and God. Again, I spent far too much time reading books about how to be a good wife and how to have a happy marriage instead of the time I could have spent on my knees and reading scriptures. I know that sounds so cliche but even with all the self- and relationship-help knowledge in the world, there is still only so much you can do.

For one of my class assignments, I attended a support group that implemented the 12-step program. The first three steps involved admitting that we are powerless before God, acknowledging that He can restore all things, and deciding to turn our life and will over to his care. I didn't accept the principles immediately because it made me feel as weak as I feel on day 5 of a no-sugar diet walking into work and seeing that they're having a dessert buffet to celebrate everyone's birthdays for the month. I am absolutely powerless when it comes to celebrating birthdays. Or free dessert--I haven't really been able to distinguish between the two. But the more I learned to trust the process, I quickly discovered that all of my efforts to control my life weren't producing the outcomes I wanted (see also my "Unplanning Life" post). Paradoxically, I never experienced more strength and freedom than I did the moment I accepted my own powerlessness. All that broken-heart and contrite spirit talk finally made sense to me. It was teaching me to be humble so I could accept God's power to heal all things in my life.

The wisdom gained here led me to realize that it's okay for life to be messy. Based on the normal conditions of my room, my mom would probably be shocked to hear that I don't like my life to be messy. When I get to a trial that seems to upset the flow of things, I quickly accept it as a challenge to overcome or a problem to solve--or in this analogy, a mess to clean up. I've discovered though that in trusting God, we also must trust his timing. I learned to let go and allow myself to accept an otherwise messy situation, realizing that God has already accounted for a housekeeper with the Handi Wipes and Swiffer Sweepers to clean up the mess that sometimes we need to live with for a while to learn the lessons of faith, patience, love, forgiveness, and accepting the agency of others.

To be continued...

Some Final Thoughts, Part 2

And the final portion of my final thoughts...

I've learned that a marriage needs to be an equal partnership. Growing up Mormon can be difficult when you are surrounded by so many examples of amazing wives and mothers. I was anticipating my Florence Henderson transformation the moment after we said our "I do's," but somehow I didn't find the magic transformation potion in any of our wedding presents. We were both working and going to school full-time and as a new wife, I felt like I had to have home-cooked meals every night, a packed lunch ready to go every morning, all the laundry done, bills paid, house cleaned, grocery shopping done, homework completed, callings magnified, and be ready for some sweet married lovin' by bedtime. I had no idea how absolutely absurd and unrealistic my own expectations were. But I still attempted to do everything which made the marriage extremely unbalanced--and at no fault of his. I just signed up for every task because I had some silly image in my head that I needed to do it all. It took a good year or so to realize that it was okay to let some things on my to-do list go unchecked and it was even okay to tear that list in two and give half of it to him. He was content having much less of the perfect world that I seemed to believe marriage was supposed to be. But he was also more than willing to help me make it perfect had I just asked him. Hmm, asking for help. I won't write about that yet since I haven't quite learned that lesson.

I've learned that it's okay to be divorced. I dreaded being slapped with the d-label. Although divorcees are technically single, society is very careful to not let them stand under the same umbrella. Surveys, documents, and almost every form I've filled out asks me to check single, married, or divorced. It made me feel like such a failure. It made me feel like I just got back one of my college biology tests, one that I struggled to complete, that I thought I did okay on, only to get a big fat "F" written with red marker right there on the front page. Okay so maybe they don't really do that in college but those were the only tests I ever failed and that's the way getting those test results always made me feel. When I started to share my story, however, it was shocking to me how many impressive married couples--the "it" couples who had it all--had previously come from a divorce. It renewed my hope in finding love again and it gave me a sense of peace that it was okay to be divorced.

I've learned that it's okay to be single. One of my only complaints about going to BYU was the immense pressure I felt to get married. Among my peers I was voted the first to get hitched and secretly (okay, not so secretly) I wanted to live up to the challenge... hence one of the reasons I chose to go to the Largest Mormon Dating Pool South of Heaven. But I wish I would have taken a few years to learn how much fun being single is. I had a need to be loved in a way that I thought I could only get in a serious relationship. Well let's be honest, I still have that need but it's almost as if faith in the Lord's timing has replaced the intensity of that desire. One afternoon I was at the temple and one of the workers started talking to me and telling me how beautiful I was and how my husband is a lucky man. I told her I was flattered but I wasn't married. I told her I had recently been divorced and jokingly said that I was looking for a man and thought I might run into a good one at the temple. I guess my joke wasn't that funny because she pierced me with a serious gaze and said, "Do not look for a man. Prepare yourself and he will find you. Trust in the Lord's timing." Years of my mom telling me the same thing and it didn't click til this stranger said it.

Though I don't believe that everyone needs to go through a divorce to learn these lessons, for me it was definitely a refiner's fire and one that has led me to discover things that I don't know I would have ever learned--or been humble enough to learn--had I not gone through a marriage that didn't work.

I feel like I finally have an idea of who I am. I know how to communicate. I know how I need to be loved. I know how to apologize and I know how to accept an apology. I know how to forgive. I've learned how to love myself. I've learned how to see the other person's perspective. I know it's more important what's right than who's right. I've learned that just because I do things differently, doesn't mean that my way is the right way to do things, or even that there is a right way. I know how to be independent. I know how to let go. I know how to let myself be cared for. I've learned that the only person I can change is myself. I know how to be selfless. I've learned how to love even when it's hard to. And I continue to learn how to trust in God because it is through Him all things--especially love, marriage, and happily ever afters--are possible.