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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Disney Band-Aids and Vulnerability

Every blog needs a poorly
lighted picture. 
I pinched my finger last weekend when I was helping a friend move. With pliers.

It was a silly mistake, really. I was just trying to remove a bolt so we could disassemble a digital piano and get it moved out of the house. Of course, I knew I should use a wrench, not pliers, for the job. But all the wrenches I brought were metric and this was clearly an English size (Piano: 1, Liz: 0). The fastest way was to just go at it with pliers. Instead I clipped my finger. I kept working until I realized I had a pool of blood in my hand (Piano: 2, Liz: 0).

Oops.

But dish soap, water, paper towel compression, and a Band-Aid got me right back on the job. The piano got moved. The next day I was out of bandages so I resorted to my Disney princess Band-Aids.

Of course I have Disney princess Band-Aids. What single 30-year old doesn't? Gosh, the things you guys ask me.

So...I actually have them because several years ago, when I broke up with a guy, a good friend put together a break-up kit for me that included Disney princess Band-Aids. I don't hurt myself that often, contrary to the supposed carelessness shown in this post, so I still have a few left. They generally cover a knee, toe, ankle, or elbow...something inconspicuous. But a few weeks ago I had to use one on my palm for a blister. And now this plied open finger. Both times, I got some interesting reactions among my circle of friends at church. Because the princesses are so flashy and bright, it drew attention to my little wounds. Many people commented on my Band-Aid and asked what happened and some just pointed and gave a sad face of empathy for my tiny little ouchie. My little bandage brought a sense of concern from others.

I was slightly embarrassed and quickly vowed never to wear my princesses again. But then again...no...it couldn't be. A life lesson from a bandage? About the connections we gain with others from a visible wound? *cue the soft music and inspiring pictures of sunsets*

A lot of us have wounds. I'd even wager so far as to say all of us. Most of the time, these wounds are hidden and we cover them inconspicuously. We may even have a generic sticky bandage, but it's flesh-colored.

As I thought about how people saw my little bandage, immediately felt for me, and wanted to make sure I was OK, I also thought about some of the other wounds I have. And those of others. I thought of those invited to speak in my church this past Sunday. One sister walked up with a cast-wrapped arm. Another had just gotten out of a walking cast. Those were visible princess Band-Aids, the hurts that we can see and I hope we are able to respond to.

But another sister got up and shared about her struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. And another, whose story I'm only beginning to understand, spoke of a struggle in her life where she traded a hard experience for another hard experience, but one that will ultimately lead her on a better path. As they shared their stories, they pulled out their princess Band-Aids. They became vulnerable. It wasn't weakness they were showing, but courage. Courage to share. And courage to let us know that there was something that needed healing.

The remarkable thing is that when we see that bandage, we want to help and we want to understand. Vulnerability increases our ability to connect with people.

I've been reading Brené Brown's book Daring Greatly lately, mostly because I feel like if I had Brené Brown in my head all the time, I would feel a lot less shame and anxiety about my life. In her book, she defines vulnerability as "uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure." So, pretty much, everything in life.

She explains:

"Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable."

And furthermore...

"Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It's not oversharing, it's not purging, it's not indiscriminate disclosure, and it's not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process."

She also says vulnerability isn't just darkness or light. It's not just sharing the bad things, but the good things as well. But, it's just that the hard things are usually where we have a hard time sharing. I'm not encouraging a "social media information dump" from anybody, but I do believe we could all do a little better at opening up and building trust among us.

In the past year, I've had way too many friends who have lost loved ones (husbands, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, or friends). But I've watched what vulnerability can do. Listening to them share their grief (whether personally, in blogs, or in social posts) reminds me of the pain I've felt in my times of grieving, and the healing that can come. Since sharing some of my personal struggles, many others have shared their own struggles and we've gained understanding, opened doors of conversation that had previously been closed, and helped heal each other. Others have problems many of us haven't experienced, or that we may not quite understand, but opening up shows trust and leads to understanding.

The hard things are, well, hard. And they're hard to share. But there's a heck-a lot of people out there who are struggling with the same thing, and if they're not, they're struggling with other things. But all of us have a desire to build connections with others and help each other out.

Now, I'm not going to just start wearing my princess Band-Aids when I want some attention (and puh-lease, if anyone starts doing this because of my post...I just...can't...even...). But maybe we can all just put on our figurative princess Band-Aids every once in a while, let others reach out to help, and built more trust and connection. *end soft music and inspiring pictures of sunsets*

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 Dating Year in Review

Welcome to my 2015 Dating Year in Review. My regular year was great, filled with so many awesome things, like speaking at Women's Conference, another successful charity garage sale, new roommates and many new friendships, a new Church calling, a new niece, a new sister-in-law, fun hikes and trips (Kansas City, New Orleans, Montana, Canada), going to my sister's musicals, getting articles published, hunting, matchmaking, learning that I can run 13+ miles, two mission reunions, lots of "aunt"ing, family history, mentoring, getting the cops called on a house party, Pool of Music, and lots of other crazy fun.

My Dating Year, however, was unfortunately a lot longer than a calendar year. If you weren't aware, dating slows time down. Normal text messages that would take 2 seconds to respond to take 2 days. A one hour date takes a week to process. And so on.

I could have just posted this picture to represent my year
in dating, but that would have been too easy.
I shall introduce my year in Quarters, like in the business world. Mostly so I sound classy and smart, but also mostly because this year I totally quit my whole "write in my journal every day" goal... or even every week, and let's face it, not even every month goal. So I actually don't remember every date I went on.

You know, I used to keep a list of all the dates I went on, which was categorized with all my other important life documents. I can't find it right now. I guess dating went down on the "important" things to remember last year. It's probably filed in my "Jokes" folder.

My biggest concern with my year in review is that I'm actually friends with most of the guys I went on dates with this year. Shocker! Granted, it was mostly so I could get them all to sign up for my set-up service. But many of them read my blog, so I haves to be verys carefuls about hows I writes thingses. Or do I?

Quarter 1 (January-March)

It was a bleak mid-winter and I was still on Tinder (it sounds like a drug, doesn't it? Or a beginning of a horror story? It's kind of both). A few young chaps asked me out. Unbeknownst to them, I had been out several times over the course of about 5 months with a guy who lived long-distance. Like across-the-country long-distance. The guy was interesting to me. I imagined I was interesting to him since he liked taking me out every time he was in town (which was not really all that frequent).

I wasn't terribly interested in these Tinder guys. I told the Tinder guys I was interested in figuring out things with long-distance boy. Which meant I ended up dating none of them.

Quarter 2 (April-June)

Long-distance boy took me out for the last time and then totally ghosted me. Never to be heard from again (which is what ghosting means, for those of you not in the dating world). I didn't cry. He had been a very nice excuse for not having to go on dates I wasn't interested in. But seriously, ghosting? Why is that even a thing????

[To read more about ghosting, check out these articles: "Why Are We All Ghosting Each Other When the Alternative Is So Simple?", "Ghosting: When to Do it and When to Text Back", "The Five Stages of Ghosting Grief"...you get the point].

I recovered and went on a few dates with a few more fine young chaps.

I also went out on one of the craziest dates of my entire life. A random set-up by my aunt. Cowboy man turned out to be a friend's brother. He also lives long-distance, but not quite so far, and was going to be in town-ish. Meaning he was coming to take care of his cattle. (By take care of, I don't mean kill. They were branding, immunizing, and castrating the calves.)

He gave me three options. Option 1 was to help with branding the cattle in the morning. Option 2 was horseback riding in the afternoon. Option 3 was dinner in the late evening. I'm all for a horseback ride and all, but ANYONE can do that on a date (ok, I've actually never done that on a date), but who in the world has branded cattle on a date? I didn't know anyone. So I chose Option 1. A little known secret about me is I really love baby cows, so how could I turn it down?

The actual cows.
I jumped in with all the family and friends and helped with the event. Cowboy man roped like a boss, and I learned how to immunize and chalk the calves. I even taught another newbie how to do it because I'm practically a pro now. It rained/snowed/slushed on us the entire time so I was wet and frozen clear through, but we warmed up with a nice cup of cocoa at the local McDonald's after. Priceless. We never went out again, not for lack of cowboy man trying, but for lack of me wanting to go out with anyone at all, which leads me to...

Quarter 3 (July-September)

We shall call Quarter 3 the Dearth in Dating. The dearth was totally on my part. As mentioned, Quarter 2 had actually had a few solidly good dates, but then...life happened. In another post, I spoke more specifically about this, but Quarter 3 I was in the red emotionally and struggling hard core, trying to figure out what the heck I was doing with my life. It wasn't a good time to introduce the anxiety of dating.

It didn't particularly help that I had just started my set-up service. As I began to peruse profiles to set people up, I was dismayed at several profiles from the male-folk who mentioned they didn't want any girls with emotional problems. First of all, I don't know how I would know that from the profile information the girls gave me. And second of all, we are all emotional beings with emotional problems, and I didn't quite get it. So third of all, I just wanted to punch those guys in the face for being insensitive.

And then fourth of all, I got really down about it, and realized I may not be date-able material if I struggle sometimes. But then, fifth of all, I started going to counseling and understanding a little bit of how I am in relationships (all relationships, not just romantic ones), and not only found some ways to communicate better, but also discovered that I'm actually normal. Normal meaning that surrrriously, we all struggle. And the guys who don't want emotional problems probably have an avoidant attachment style and may need a dose of reality. Because they have "emotional problems" too.

The nice thing about me (there is at least one nice thing), is I tried hard not to ghost any guys during this time. I told them I was struggling and needed a break from dating and/or that I wasn't interested in them, instead of just not responding. It takes guts to tell guys you're not interested in them. And I wouldn't say I do it gracefully, but who said that was a requirement?

In Quarter 3, I also gained a stronger desire to find a guy who's in favor of the "in sickness and in health" idea. I intend to partner up and tackle whatever comes our way, no matter what it is. Based off my observations, life's not a piece of cake being married and having kids. I'll stand by his side in the hard times, so I need him to stand by mine.

Quarter 4 (October-December) 

I spoke in my YSA stake conference about family history. So many people loved my talk. Lots of gals said I surely would be getting lots of dates after such a great talk. But in my talk I'd mentioned some of my struggles. Sure as heck-fire, you don't get dates off of that. But you do get a lot of guys who need help with their family history. More people for my set-up service (bwhahhahahah).

To add insult to injury, Facebook reminded me of an ex-boyfriend's birthday. I got a reminder some weeks later about how long we'd been friends, too. I hadn't even looked at his profile in ages, and we had chatted online only a handful of times in the past 4 years. Darn algorithm.

But I made a goal to get back into online dating. I had a whole scheme where I would have my nieces and nephew help me create my online profile. And then they would choose which matches I should say "Yes" to. And the grandest idea of all is they would go on the first date with me and give a running commentary, reality-TV show style, during the date. We even recorded them creating my profile and swiping for me. It consisted of chanting as we swiped, "NO! NO! NO! NO! Wait...maybe? Does he drink? Then NO! Wait...he looks nice? He likes God? Ok, YES!" and massive cheering, "YOU MAAAAATCHED!!!"

Someday when I get bored I'll edit the video and post it for y'all.

Alas, the whole plan was not to be. But I did get back online.

Tinder

I burned out of Tinder really quickly. When you swipe through 200 people without even one that you'd even settle just a little bit to at least go on a date with, you know it's bad news bears. But my nieces and nephews did write a nice little profile for me. A profile which is now dead and deleted.

Coffee Meets Bagel

I hope downloading this app isn't against the Word of Wisdom... This new app gives you one choice a day, but it tries to give you a choice based off your preferences. I get well-educated Christians. But not too many matches. I did get an interesting match. But then it turned out he lives on the other side of the country. And I'd met him through mutual friends before. And he had insulted my intelligence when I had met him (btw, guys, girls DO know a lot about business, especially those girls who have MBAs). I do know how to forgive, and I actually thought it was a wee bit funny (maybe a Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley story? Or Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett?), but then again, I wasn't too heartbroken when he ghosted me. But the rest of my experience has been about like this:

LDSPlanet 

I got on LDSPlanet for a hot second and bought a three month subscription so that I couldn't wuss out of it. Within a few hours, I had inappropriate ads showing up on the side of my screen. I don't patronize the company represented in the ads, and so I knew it was targeted advertising, not cookies following me around from sites I'd visited. I was surprised an LDS-based site would allow such ads. If the women's side was targeted with inappropriate ads, what were the men seeing?

I ended my subscription and wrote to LDSPlanet three times asking for my subscription to be refunded. I only received auto-replies. Major disappointment for the suggestive ads, major disappointment in their customer service. Not trying them again.

LDS MatchUp

I also got on LDS MatchUp for a short while. The interface is less than desirable and they could use a real UX designer. I guess I shouldn't expect as much from free dating platforms. That ended quickly. Or did it? I should check to make sure I deleted my profile.

Bumble

Here's a new premise for an app. You swipe the same as most of the others. But if you match, the girls have to message first, and they have to do it within 24 Hours. What I found is what I expected. The guys don't ever respond. I should take back "ever". One guy did. But why get on the app if you don't intend to respond? It floors me. Regardless, this is the message I get just about every night.




I ended my year by going to a family ward and a mid-singles ward, just to see what my life will bring me in this next "transition" year as I age out of the YSA scene. I may as well have been handed a program that said "Looks like you're out of people" there as well. #hopedieseternal #imjoking #okbutitsalittletrue

In all, it wasn't such a terrible year in dating, which is somewhat unfortunate, as I didn't have as much fodder for blogging. What WILL I blog about if I ever get married anyway?

[Editor's Note: I have not given up. I will not surrender! I am not (very) bitter! Carry on!]

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Cling to Your Covenants

[Editor's Note: I was asked to speak in my YSA Stake Conference Saturday night meeting about family history, as I am the stake family history coordinator. (And then asked to repeat some of it on Sunday--the nerve!) My parents came to listen and it was awesome because I found out the pulpit I spoke at was the same pulpit where my dad gave his mission farewell, the same pulpit where my Grandma Helen gave her senior missionary farewell and the same ward building where my dad was attending when President Tingey (his stake president and father of  a member of my current stake presidency) kicked him out the ward and told him to go to a student ward, where he met my mom and they got married. So yay for marriage and run-on sentences!]

Just this week a friend posted a meme on my Facebook Wall. “Why did the Mormon cross the road?” it asks. “To go do temple work for people on the other side.”

She commented, “This screams Liz Stitt.”

I have been set up on dates before because,“He likes family history and you like family history, so you’re perfect!”

I regularly field Facebook messages and late-night texts or phone calls from people searching out their ancestors and hitting a rough spot or needing help figuring something out. I’ve been known to stalk my friends’ family trees just to find them a place to start on their family history.

And in a recent fireside, President Featherstone said if you want to know something about family history, you just need to know two words: Liz Stitt. Talk about pressure! Now I would correct that and say those two words should be “Find cousins!” But nevertheless, it is true, I am a bit of a fanatic about family history work.

There are worse things to be known for than spending a lot of time seeking out dead people. And it can be to your advantage because thankfully I found out Cam and Adam Poulter in this stake were my second cousins before I ever considered going on a date with either of them.

So tonight I would like to tell you why I’ve got this fire and I pray that you will feel the excitement, power, and vigor from the Spirit. My message tonight is this: Find the joy in family history and cling to your covenants.

Mary and Joseph Pruss family
I would like to begin by taking you on a journey. My story is about Mary and Joseph. And about Mary Magdalene. Now you may think you know this story, but most of you probably do not. Mary and Joseph were Catholic emigrants from Slovenia whose adventures landed them in Salt Lake City, Utah in the early 1900s. They had a large family, the oldest of whom was my great-grandmother Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene grew up and married Carl Christian Larsen, a nice young man from a family of disaffected members of the Mormon Church. They became the parents of my grandmother, Lillian Clara Larsen. As a Catholic, my grandma swore she would never marry a Mormon boy.

But in high school her best friend Pat—a member—started dating a great young Mormon boy named Paul. And Paul had a twin—Grant McEwan Cutler. Paul and Grant were enlisted in the Navy and when they came home on leave, Paul and Pat doubled and set Grant and Lillian up on a date. Then Grant returned to training. While he was in training, Grant’s life would change dramatically. His brother-in-law was killed in the war and then his best friend and twin, Paul, went missing on a flight training mission. Paul was never found. Grant’s father then died soon after due to a serious illness. As the only living male in the household, he returned home from the navy to a heartbroken family. Although he had been ordained an elder before entering the Navy, Grant was no longer very active in the Church. He started picking up the pieces of his life and moving forward, which included meeting back up with the beautiful young Catholic girl Lillian. They courted and were married in the Cutler home on Holladay Boulevard.

Some years after their marriage, they moved in with my great-great-grandmother Marian Cutler—a very faithful and active Church member. She encouraged Grant and Lillian to go to Church. Largely because of Marian’s example, they began attending regularly, and the stake missionaries taught my grandma the lessons. My grandma felt the truth and because the missionaries weren’t bold enough, she called them and asked when she was going to be baptized. Soon after, my grandpa had the opportunity to baptize my grandma.

My grandma was still growing in her testimony of covenants. She was called as Primary president and served just as the new children’s songs “I Am a Child of God” and “Teach Me to Walk in the Light” were introduced. These songs touched her heart and she felt it was time for her family to go to the temple and be sealed. So in 1958, my grandparents were sealed together and my mom and her two sisters were sealed to my grandparents. They were sealed in the Salt Lake temple by Harold B. Lee. He took my mom and her two sisters into the Celestial Room of the temple and then told them that all three of them would be married in that temple one day—a statement that proved true.

For my grandmother, these were the beginnings of a covenant path in her family. For my grandfather, it was a return to the covenant. For my mother, it was a beginning of understanding covenants. And when my mom was 13 she felt a need to seek out her ancestors and often rode the bus to the family history library to start researching—a fire in her that has never stopped burning.

All this while, my great-grandmother Mary Magdalene was still in the picture. I don’t know exactly what she thought about my grandmother marrying a Mormon boy, what she thought of my grandma’s baptism, or what she thought when they were sealed. But I do remember my great-grandmother. She passed away at the age of 96 when I was 6 years old. I clearly remember her sitting in her designated chair every time I went to visit my grandma. As she got older, she would attend Catholic mass with her sister in the morning, and then go with my grandma to Sacrament meeting. She told my grandma the reason she didn’t join the Church was because she was just too old to change.

I remember that a year after my grandmother passed away, my mom prepared the temple work for Mary Magdalene. This dedication to providing proxy ordinances for my sweet great-grandmother left quite an impression on my 7-year-old brain and may have been the first understanding of the importance of my own covenant path and the need to provide those ordinances for others. My mom taught me the importance of record-keeping and family history from a young age. And she showed me the importance of providing ordinance work in the temple for those who have passed on.

And my little Catholic-turned-Mormon grandmother and reactivated grandfather never shied away from their covenants. My grandparents served 10 years in a sealing group in the Jordan River Temple. And then they were asked to serve as ordinance workers in the Salt Lake temple and served 10 more years helping others make covenants. These family members and so many others I haven’t mentioned today have provided a legacy of faith and an extraordinary example of clinging to our covenants.

For me, the fire to do family history came as I helped my mother work on family history growing up. In college, I learned about research methods, sourcing, and historical contexts of genealogy. But at the time, family history was a lot more time consuming: searching microfilmed records was more common than searching online, FamilySearch as it exists now had not even been invented, and indexing was a relatively new idea. This makes me sound ancient—but the changes in technology have made huge strides in just the last 5 to 6 years!

Sarah Cubbe Smurthwaite
Sarah Stitt Smurthwaite
For example, for years, I constantly had the name of Sarah Stitt on my mind—my great-great-great-grandmother. I searched and wondered and waited and tried to figure out why she was so important to me. She had been baptized in 1873 in England and had immigrated to Ogden, Utah. Her family had been sealed in the Endowment House and she had done the work for her family members who had passed on. So why did her name keep coming to me? Why could I not get her off my mind?

Then just a little over 3 years ago, I found a break-through census record that had just been indexed, showing me the name of her half-brother’s wife and children, whose work had never been done.. It was just over 3 years ago that I found on my own—without the help of my mother—my first entire family that I could take to the temple and do the work. My ancestor Sarah has been less bothersome to me since finding those records and completing the work.

The number of records indexed and the ease of technology now makes it so that I can find a family member or two or seven who need work done nearly every week. Almost all of my family lines are full of pioneer members of the Church—and I am finding work to be done on those lines. The days where we thought everything had been done are gone. There are cousins and aunts and uncles and half-siblings and spouses who need their work done in family lines we’ve never thought to look before—and in methods we’ve never been able to easily research before. The time to work is now. And we all have work to do—I have not yet encountered someone who has “all their work done”. And we can help you find your loved ones.

In the scriptures, there is one scripture that shows up in every canonized book. It is the promise, with some variation, that we hear in the Bible in Malachi (Malachi 4), the promise the Savior reiterated when he came to visit the Nephites (3 Nephi 25), the promise Joseph Smith recorded in Joseph Smith History, and the promise that is canonized as the earliest revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants section 2—this promise. “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming” (emphasis added).

I believe in the promise worded in Malachi that as we turn our hearts to our ancestors, they will turn their hearts to us. In fact, I believe our ancestors’ hearts are turned to us and they are just waiting for us to turn our hearts. Our ancestors are very much alive and excited for their work to be done. This is our covenant to work with them in bringing them the ordinances they so desperately want and need. This is not just part of our covenant and part of the plan—eternal families are the covenant and they are the plan.

So who can help?

In April 2010, Elder Holland said, “Ask for angels to help you.” In another talk, he spoke of the power that those on the other side are given to help us in times of need.

I believe in this in a very real way. I have felt the influence of my ancestors as I have sought out their names. Over the past year and a half, a wonderful couple from my hometown Phillip and Barbara Hale have served in South Africa helping members with family history. Every single week there was a story of a member who came in and said something like, “Last night my uncle came to me in a dream and told me he wanted his work done.” Or another who said, “My grandmother appeared to me in a dream and told me her name and when she was born.” Who can contest that? Angels are real. And they are anxious to make covenants.

Let me close by sharing a very personal experience, which I felt prompted to share the moment I was asked to give this talk. I ask for your understanding and for your compassion as I share a part of this story, the details of which have only been shared with a handful of people, and which I will share only in part here.

In a very real way, this past year, I have felt heavenly angels strengthening me.  I have struggled with perfectionism for as long as I can remember. This past year seemed to pit me into deeper despair than I have ever been in. And just a few months ago, I was seriously questioning my reason for being and why I needed to live any longer if I just couldn’t get things right in my life. These dark weeks and even months were contrasted with many impressions, though. Every time I felt like I was no good, I was reminded of the names of my family members whose work had not been done. I was reminded of the books of family names that I had yet to work through and organize. I was reminded of the many people in our ward and stake who needed help finding and seeking out their family members. Was I still needed?

“We need you” was the answering plea I heard from these angels anxious to make covenants. In response, I replied that I needed them too. I asked for my Father to let these angel family members come and help me. “Cling to your covenants” was the overwhelming impression I received from the Spirit. And then another clear impression: “You need help.” I finally admitted I needed intervention. I started to change things. I started taking better care of my health and exercising. And I turned to professional counseling which has been a major blessing in my life.

What does this have to do with family history? I asked God to send me help and He sent angels—people whose hearts had been turned to me because I had turned to them. I felt encouragement from my grandmother who passed away a few years ago. I felt strengthened by those I performed ordinances for in the temple. I feel there is real and tangible help from thousands who have gone before us and who are rooting for us to stay strong and carry on. By doing my family history, I have forged a bond that in many ways has saved my life.

In this year’s BYU Women’s Conference, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, wife of President Russell M. Nelson spoke similarly on this topic.

She said, “[Pray] to your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, for those on the other side to be “dispatched” (Elder Holland’s word) to assist you. Perhaps a loved one or two could be sent to help you with whatever you need. Can you imagine the effort it took those angels who pushed from the rear of handcarts as they helped the pioneers over the steep, snowy, windy, freezing, jagged terrain of Rocky Ridge? If angels can manage that, they can certainly help you and me over our present Rocky Ridges. We know the Lord gets His work done with the help of His angels. So could you use a little more help in your life? If so, keep your covenants with more exactness than ever before. And then ask for angels to help you with whatever you need. Or ask for them to be dispatched to help those you love.”

Cling to your covenants, brothers and sisters. Keep your covenant to help in the great work of redeeming the dead. Seek out and come to know your family members. As Sister Nelson said, “If you’d like a little more joy in your life, a little more meaning, more heart-to-heart connections, more focus, energy, motivation, more of so many wonderful things, make time to help those on the other side make covenants with God. The power of God will flow into your life as you do.”

I know this is true. And it is all possible because we have a loving Father in Heaven and because we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, whose life, mission, and Atonement quite literally bind us to our families. I bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
My roomie Emily Thatcher and I
both had to speak at Stake Conference
because we know too many people. We're
so happy because our talks are over.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

30 reasons why I'm still single at age 30


In any type of normal conversation in which someone finds out I am single and [now] 30, invariably I hear a comment to the effect of "I just don't understand why you're not married."

I appreciate it. I do. Well, I mean I think I do. I am guessing that means they think I'm awesome and awesome people should be married (this is not true, by the way. I mean, it's true, but it doesn't always happen. I know many mucho awesome single people). Nevertheless, I appreciate the vote of confidence on my behalf.

However, when they ask this question, this is how I feel: Pick me, pick me! Please pick me!
I KNOW WHY I'M NOT MARRIED AND I'LL TELL YOU! 

(P.S. It doesn't help that my nickname was Hermione in the 8th grade).

So for those of you who have ever wondered (there are at least 3 of you out there), I have compiled a list of the top 30 reasons why I am 30 and still not married. Trust me, it was hard to limit it to just 30, so you'll see where I cheated.

  1. At the end of my first date (a Harvest dance) at age 17, I shook the guy's hand. Granted, he was dating my friend and she couldn't go to the dance but he wanted to go and he knew that I knew that he knew it was only platonic, and I had permission from my friend to go, etc. But I certainly wasn't going to go in for a hug. At least it wasn't a high five? #facepalm
    1. Ooh, this is fun. My second date, I asked a guy to a dance who I later found out had a sort-of girlfriend. I don't think she was as cool with it as he was. #awkward
    2. And my third and final date in high school (another harvest dance), I kept drifting off on the drive home because I was so tired. #impressive
  2. Getting flowers from guys doesn't impress me. The meaning behind them is too confusing and the $20-40 dies in 3 days. One time when I got flowers, I took them to a friend in the hospital instead of keeping them. #ididntevenfeelbad
  3. Sometimes I pray that a guy won't ask me out again. Is that praying for that which I ought not?
  4. I'm not that interesting to spend time with. 
    1. One time I put together a group date and went to meet my date at his house. He wasn't there, so I sat on the benches outside until he came gliding in on his bike, followed by a girl he had just been on a biking date with. He made sure to bid her farewell before coming to talk to me. Some months later, they got married. Pretty sure I even got them a wedding gift. #notbitter
    2. Another time, I set up a group date and while we were all gathered at my house and I was busy making the dessert, my date went off and got dinner with another gal in the group. I am quick to forgive. #notbitter
    3. I don't plan group dates anymore.
  5. A guy and I were back and forth about whether we wanted to date each other for over a year. Finally, I thought we were on the same page about trying things out. The next thing I knew, he was dating someone else. #classic. But I'd done that to him, too, so...#deserved.
  6. I broke up with a guy/he broke up with me, because he told me he didn't like me and that I wasn't a priority to him. I'm a little picky like that. After we broke up, I helped him with his essays to get into grad school so I wouldn't have to see him anymore. #kindnessbeginswithme 
  7. I broke up with a guy because...I don't know. It wasn't "right"? What does that even mean? But it was true somehow. Again, super picky. Soon after that, I helped his next girlfriend, who then became his wife, find a job. Who am I?
  8. I broke up with a guy/he broke up with me because he told me he couldn't handle me emotionally. I asked him if he realized he was dating a girl. I hope he enjoys being married to a lamppost. #notbitter
  9. I tried a matchmaker service once. Within the first 30 minutes of the first date, the guy started an argument and attacked me on some of my most fundamental religious beliefs and moral values. And then, to put salt on the wound, he took me to a bookstore and told me he didn't like Harry Potter. That was the last straw.
  10. I asked my nieces if they wanted to a) play with me forever or b) let me get married so they could play with my kids. They said they wanted to play with me forever. #greatestauntever
  11. Whenever I turn on my heathen music (aka the radio), Michael Buble's song "I just haven't met you yet" is playing. Every time. A prayin' woman looks at those kind of things like they're signs. 
    1. Also, I call radio music heathen music. Really mature. And Pharisaical.
  12. A legitimate quote from my mouth: "I'm far too practical for love."
  13. The link to "Add Husband" on FamilySearch is broken. Has been for years.

  14. I started writing this list 5 months before I turned 30. #hopedieseternal
  15. That one Brazilian drunk that I met on my mission in Brazil and asked me to marry him... not my type.
  16. Refer to my First Date Anxiety post.
  17. Then refer to my Second Date Anxiety post.
  18. I am working on a Third Date Anxiety post.
  19. Someone once told me I have a pattern of ruining relationships. So, you know, there's that.
  20. If I go on a good date, and the guy doesn't ask me out again, I try to set him up with one of my friends. I just have a good heart. And no patience. And it's obvious I clearly don't gauge dates well if a "good" date doesn't ask me out again. 
  21. I have a reputation in my ward for being the girl who doesn't like to be hugged. I have no defense. 
  22. If a friend tries to set me up and the guy doesn't call/contact me within a reasonable amount of time, I send him a Facebook message to get to know him. First of all, I don't want my friend to ever think it's my fault that nothing happened. Second of all, what the heck do I have to lose? (except my dignity of course). I'll give you two guesses as to how well that works out. #stillsingle
    1. PS--every time I do something bold like this, it comes back to haunt me later. Why, why, why?
  23. My dating posts are the most popular posts on my blog and the posts Deseret News likes to pick up. I need good, quality, nightmare-of-a-date material.
  24. I stopped going to my stake institute class last semester because I was tired of running into guys I'd gone on dates with and who might still be interested in me, but I wasn't sure, and it was all confusing and so it made things awkward. Also, the "weird" guys. 'Nuff said. I've repented, though, and we'll see how this semester goes.
  25. I live in the Pool House--the most popular house in Unincorporated East Millcreek Township proper. And I've always been about popularity, as you well know. 
  26. I started a Set-Up Service, which requires me to have single friends, which requires a single network. Want to sign up? Click here!
  27. I recently went to a stake activity where there were potentially hundreds of guys I didn't know. So I obviously sat down with my group of girl friends from my own ward. When I finally decided to talk to some guys, I invited them to sign up for my set-up service. Good businesswoman. Bad flirter.
  28. It takes me a really long time to make big decisions. I researched and looked at Kitchen-Aid mixers for about 2 years before I bought one. I narrowed it down to just a few months when I bought a new mountain bike. My current months-long debate was whether to buy the Harry Potter books in hardback or softback. Just imagine trying to decide who to marry...years, I tell you. Years. #hardbackwon
  29. Speaking of Kitchen-Aids...I bought my own Kitchen-Aid. This is something I'd always thought I'd get as a wedding gift. But I could wait no longer. Once I have a nice set of knives, I literally will have no more reasons to get married.
  30. I deleted all of my online dating accounts at the beginning of the year. I didn't want to go on dates with crazies anymore, even if we got to ride elephants, because crazies try to hold your hand when you hardly know each other and then I just get mad. Hypothetically. That being said, I've set a goal to get back online by the end of the month. #tindernightmares #prayforme 
Ok, but seriously.

The real reason?

Well, let's start off with the fact that I do want to get married. But I have struggled long and hard to realize that my singledom is actually my own choice. I am not a victim of circumstance nor am I even a pawn in some great malicious game God is playing. I have always had and still have my ability to choose. But I just haven't found someone who I would want to be married to and who would also want to be married to me.

Have I met guys before that I think I was compatible with? Yes. Did they think they were compatible with me? No. Has the reverse happened? Most definitely. But, I would be unhappy being married to someone I was unhappy with. And he would be unhappy with me in the reverse. So I'm grateful that I haven't just married to get rid of my single status. I'm looking to marry someone to build a relationship, life, and a family with. And that sometimes takes a little longer. And, no, I'm not looking for perfection, which is the next thing you were going to ask me. How could I honestly expect perfection when I'm a fruitcake myself?

And to those who think otherwise, being single is not a curse. I have an excellent career, wonderful callings in the Church, family and friends who surround me, plenty of opportunities to serve others, and in general, I lead a pretty good existence. Yes, I struggle with massive issues of perfectionism. Still. Every day. And you know what? I bet I would struggle with that being married as well. Do I sometimes feel lonely? Sure. So do married people. Marriage is not a "fix" for most problems and could even intensify them. I'm still in favor of it because there's the potential for greater joy as well. And because the family is central to God's plan. And because I love me a good man. (And because...childrenzzz!)

Overall, I know that God knows where I am. He knows what I am doing. And our plans are in sync. It's tempting to ask, "Why?" And sometimes I do. But when I ask "why?" the real answer is not, "Well, it's because you turned that one guy down on a third date." It's more like, "Remember that sister in your ward who you helped when she was lonely? I needed you there for her" or "Remember how you were available to help your family when there was an emergency? I needed you there to help."

I know I could certainly help and serve being married with children, and boy howdy, I fully intend to do so. But since I am where I am, I have chosen to do what God would have me do and be where He would have me be right now. In this moment. I am astounded nearly every day that if I choose to instead ask, "Am I doing what you want me to do?" the answer is, "Yes!" (except for when I am a basket case and beat up on myself emotionally. Or maybe not when I fail again and again at holding my tongue. You know what, though? Maybe even in those moments because those moments humble me and turn me to God and others. And to professional counseling. Hahaha...).

Does God want me to have my own family? Of course. Does He know I want a family? Assuredly. So we've got that covered. What else do I need to worry about?

I'll tell you what I worry about--working to believe Christ and trust in God. I work to be a better person and develop Christlike attributes. I work to love others more and serve others freely. I work to eliminate pride and bitterness from my soul. I work to avoid judgment and get rid of grudges. 

I probably have a million "reasons" why I'm still single at 30. And maybe even some of them are legitimate enough that I need to change myself to be the kind of person that my future companion would want to marry. And if that's so, thank the heavens I've been given some extra time. And if it's just because God has other places for me to be, I'm so grateful for those other enriching and wonderful opportunities I've been given. And if, which I also suspect, God is just letting me figure it out, well, then, go ahead and try to set me up on a date. Just don't be surprised when I shake his hand, when he calls me too emotional, or when I blog about my frustrations with dating (side note: dating really IS the worst. No battle.). 

God knows me. And he knows what I need. And he also knows what some future husband of mine needs. If the crazy who will want to marry me someday is anything of what I imagine him to be, he's also out there on his knees somewhere, praying that He can do all that God wants him to do. And he's out there serving and getting answers to his "why's" as well.

Or maybe he got hit by a bus and died so we'll meet in the next life. And that's ok, too. #nextlifeplan #notbitter

Also...this. That's me on the right.
I won Miss Ugly 2003.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mercy, Miracles and a Cafeteria

About three years ago, I had what I thought to be a brilliant idea. I wanted a forum for anyone in the world to share gratitude to others who had been Good Samaritans in their lives, whether anonymously or knowingly. I wanted to highlight moments of gratitude, mercy, and miracles.

My motto would be a quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who said, "Heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

So I started a blog called "Mercy and Miracles." But I never shared it and I only posted four times. Not because I didn't see miracles, but more because I didn't actually know how to make something like that work. Luckily, the rest of the world picked up on my slacking and you can find pages all over Facebook talking about the good deeds of others, the #sharegoodness campaign, and many websites highlighting random acts of kindness, including my personal favorite, AnonymousThankYous.com.


So as a tribute to those who believe in sharing this goodness, I wanted to include here one of the stories that prompted this idea.

A few years ago, I was in Provo, Utah to do a work training for some senior missionaries for my Church. During lunch, I found a nice spot to eat with the missionaries in the cafeteria. A few tables away from us sat a teenage boy with severe disabilities.

He sat by himself with a large bib on as he tried to feed himself the best he could. His disabilities made it very hard for him to control his flailing arms, but he was able to get some food in his mouth. Some of it didn't make it and instead landed on his tray, his bib, or spread somewhat on his face. I didn't intend to watch, but my heart was filled with compassion. I was chatting with some other missionaries, but I felt like I should go and sit by him.

However, as I was about to go, a middle-aged woman came walking toward him. She appeared to be one of the cafeteria workers and as she approached him, I wondered if the boy was her son. She had a towel and she gently wiped the boy's face and cleaned him up. She carried his tray to the dish return area and then returned to take off his bib and clean him up some more. This woman noticed I was watching her and she apologized. She told me how sorry she was that I had to watch him eat and that it was a mess and she was embarrassed. She quickly escorted her son away.

I was the one who was embarrassed. I was not intending to stare, but instead was observing a Christlike woman in action. As I watched that mother clean up her boy and carefully take care of him, I imagined her doing that every day, every meal, week after week. I imagined her thinking she had to apologize every time someone looked at her son. And I imagine her never feeling like she was doing a good enough job.

I wish I could go back and say, "Do not be ashamed and do not apologize." I wish I could go back and just listen to that mother's story. My observation was not that of astonishment for the way the boy ate. It was not intended to elicit an apology. It instead was a swelling in my heart and a new understanding of the word charity. Without a word of thanks or brilliant accolades for her service, this woman works day in and day out to support a child who she loves. By the way she treated him, I can tell he is a blessing to her, too. I hope someday I will find that mother again and let her know what her example taught me of love. Or maybe somehow in my wide network, someone knows this woman, too. If you do, give her a hug from me.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why I Went to Slovenia: My Slovenian Roots

Perfect is the enemy of the good. I've been trying to craft the perfect blog post about Slovenia, but I have now been home from my trip to Europe for about six months and haven't finished.

For ze childrenz, I have committed to write this.

Back in December 2014, I went to Slovenia to visit my family. My third and fourth cousins live in Ljubljana and Metlika, Slovenia as well as in Graz, Austria, and probably in a number of other places, since I don't know all of them.

Not so long ago, one whole side of my family lived in Slovenia, mostly in the beautiful town of Metlika.

Mary Margaret Prus, Joseph Martin Pruss
great-great grandparents
Mary Margaret Prus
Joseph Martin Pruss


My great-great grandfather, Joseph Martin Pruss was born in Metlika, Slovenia in 1866 (although at the time it was part of Austria and then became part of Yugoslavia but is now Slovenia). He immigrated to the United States in 1888. He found employment in Canon City, Colorado and then sent for Mary Margaret Prus (born: 1872-different spelling of the last name) to come. Mary immigrated in 1893 and they were married on October 18, 1893 in the Roman Catholic St. Michael Church in Canon City, Colorado.

Joseph F. Pruss, Mary Margaret Pruss,
 Mary Magdalene Pruss, Justina Pruss,
Albena Pruss, Joseph Martin Pruss,
Bertha Pruss, Angela Pruss, Aloize Pruss
On January 16, 1895, my great-grandmother Mary Magdalene Pruss was born in Rockville, Fremont, Colorado. Soon after, my great-great grandmother was expecting soon-to-be Joseph Frank Pruss. Joseph Martin had heard that mining conditions were better in Butte, Montana than in Colorado. He moved the family to Butte as he began mining copper in the Leonard Mine. Joseph Frank was born in April of 1896.

In Montana, the family enjoyed company with a large number of other Slovenians--many in the mining industry. More children joined the family--Albena, Aloize, Justina and Angela. But Joseph Martin felt it wasn't a good place to raise his family. So Mary and Joseph (yes, I love my very Catholic ancestors) decided to leave Montana in search of other opportunities in San Francisco. As they traveled, they stopped in Salt Lake City, Utah, just at the time that news came of the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Concerned with the destruction in California, they decided to stay in Salt Lake. They built a home and added three more children--Henry, Bertha, and Helen--and Joseph found employment prospecting gold and silver in Nevada. He eventually worked for the City Water Works department in Utah, staying there until he passed away in 1923, after struggling with lobar pneumonia (black lung) attributed to his mining days.

Fast forward through many stories and marriages, births, and deaths to the later life of my great-grandmother Mary Magdalene Pruss, the oldest child of Joseph and Mary. She grew up and married my great-grandpa Carl Christian Larsen, and they had several children, including my grandmother, Lillian. Great-great grandma Mary Margaret lived for several years with my great-grandma Mary Magdalene while she was raising her children. My grandma Lillian remembers sharing a room with Grandma Pruss in their home. I imagine there were many stories of the beautiful land of Slovenia. There were certainly many traditional recipes created, such as Potica, a typical Slovene bread.

Surely inspired by years of these stories, in 1978, Grandma Mary Pruss Larsen, then a widow, wanted to return to the homeland and meet her cousins. She and her sister Albena joined a tour group and trotted off to then-Yugoslavia. They were able to go to Slovenia for just a day in their travels, and made it down to visit relatives in Ljubljana.

?, Frank Prus, Albena Newman, Justina, Mary Larsen, Tomaz Prus
They were greeted by Frank Prus, her cousin, and several of his extended family members.

Apparently unsatisfied with just one visit (I know the feeling!), Mary and Albena planned a second trip in October 1979 and met more of the family and visited the ancestral land of Metlika.

?, Tomaz Prus, Maria Prus, Frank Prus, ?, ?
Front: Albena Newman, Mary Larsen, Justina 
Home where Mary Prus was born.
Mr. Oberman, Sanja, Mrs. Oberman, Mary Larsen, Frank Prus
Mary and Albena rekindled the family relationships and kept in contact until Grandma Larsen passed away in 1991. At her passing, my mom found her address book and sent a letter to all those Grandma had known, informing them of her passing.

Because my mom is amazing at keeping in contact with cousins, this included our cousins in Slovenia. My mom found out about what was going on in their lives and began writing them to learn about our ancestral lines. I have a binder stacked with letters back and forth about their correspondences. It is like gold to me. While my mom corresponded largely with Tomaz initially, along the way, we heard news from some cousins who were in Bosnia during the Bosnian War (early 1990s). One of our cousins was able to escape with her son because she worked for the airlines. Her sister was stuck for some time but eventually escaped through some harrowing circumstances. And then our cousin's husband was finally able to make it out of the country into Metlika (our hometown on the border of Slovenia and Croatia) through a series of extremely miraculous events, including crossing through the mountains with a group of monks and narrowly missing a check for papers.

They had escaped but had left all behind. For quite a while, my mom researched our ancestral lines to prove our relationship to them and help sponsor them as refugees in the United States....to no avail. No relation was close enough to allow them to come, so they remained. But my mom sent care packages and kept in contact with them.

Then, in 1996, these same cousins were able to visit the United States, through some connections in their work with the airlines. They came to our home and stayed with us. We met our 10-year-old cousin Sandro who could speak 5 languages (Americans are so lazy!). We took them to the Great Salt Lake and then our cousin Svetlana had to leave but Nijaz, Sanja and Sandro came camping with us in Yellowstone. I was only 11, so I didn't understand all the significance of this event, but they were family, and they represented my Slovene roots.
Nijaz, Roger (my dad), Sanja, Sandro, Tenney Stitt,
Katie Stitt, me in Yellowstone National Park
Liz Stitt, Aaron Stitt, Tenney Stitt, Sandro Ibrulj, Chris Stitt,
Kyler Stitt, Katie Stitt

Jump forward again 18 years. My mother and I have desperately wanted to go to Slovenia for as long as we could remember. Grandma Larsen must have put that bug in us. We just wanted to see it, to meet the family members my mom had corresponded with for so long, and to visit those we had met previously. It was such a deep longing in our souls to go there. With my aunt and uncle serving as mission presidents in Hungary (neighbors with Slovenia), it suddenly gave a new reason for going to Europe. After two failed attempts to plan a trip, my mom and I finally sat down at our laptops, got on Skype to talk to each other, and pressed the "purchase" button at the same time. We were finally going to Slovenia.

The rest is for another post. But as a prelude, Slovenia was home. A part of me is from that land. A part of me stays there with my cousins. As we stepped off the train in Ljubljana and greeted our dear cousins who we hadn't see in 18 years, it was like no time had passed at all. It was one of the sweetest experiences, and I hope that all reunions with those we love are just like that one. I have never felt enveloped in so much constant love as I did when I met these dear family members.

So much family, so many not-so-good pictures, haha
Liz, Svetlana, Leslie, Sanja, Nijaz
These are the dear relatives who visited us in the U.S. in 1996.

Maria, Tomaz, Aleksandra (Maria & Tomaz's daughter),
 Leslie (my mum), Katerina (Tomaz's sister), Janus (Katerina's husband)
Hvala, Slovenia. Hvala, my cousins. Hvala and nasvidenje. I already miss you, so I think I'll probably be like my grandma Mary and visit you again.

The motherland of Metlika, Slovenia, December 2014

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Second Date Anxiety

Nearly two  years ago (next week in fact), I wrote a blog post about First Date Anxiety.

The time has come for my follow-up post: Second Date Anxiety.

It took so long because it's been two years since someone asked me on a second date. Ok, I lie. I have been asked on several second dates in the past few weeks alone and I've been freaking out about it and turned some of them down (don't kill me, mother), and figured the only way to face it was to blog about it.

So let's get some background information. I still get first date anxiety, but it's not nearly as bad as it used to be. I'm still not super comfortable chatting with my friends about upcoming dates, but I'm much better about not throwing things at the wall before he shows up at the door.

Now, a second date? Intensified experience.

You must realize I have done several amazing things in my life that should give me immense courage, confidence and bravericity:

Proof of my selfie and evidence
that I should never take one again.

  1. Ate a little tiny fish in its entirety in one bite (ok, I choked on it and had to go to the hospital, but that's another story)
  2. Bought a car with 400,000 miles on it (it's still running at 470,000!)
  3. I once took a selfie...of myself...after I cut bangs.
  4. Oh yeah, I cut bangs! (well, technically Chelsea at 27th Street Salon did, but...semantics).
  5. Wrote an email to an ex-boyfriend's mom after we'd broken up, telling her I wished we had met (he still doesn't know this, but he might if he reads this blog, bwhahahahah).
  6. Started a tradition of wearing ugly Christmas sweaters in December for about the past 18 or so years.
  7. Jumped off a 3 foot waterfall into a gently flowing river.
  8. Competed in a social dance competition in college and took 453rd place.


You get the picture. I'm pretty amazing.

So I shouldn't really be all that worried about second dates when I have a great track record for amazing things.

But I am.

Second dates mean something. Don't try to tell me they don't because I'm on to you. They definitely do. But here's the kicker. We don't know WHAT they mean.

It could be that the guy didn't realize I let him talk the whole time during the first date so that's why he didn't discover that I'm a crazy-face.

It could be that the guy heard I write blogs about dating and he was curious enough to see if he could get into one (pretty sure this is why one guy wanted to ask me out again since he sent his counter-blog-post to me).

It could be that the guy couldn't get a good pulse on me because we only met up for an hour (my preference for most blind/online dates) and, again, he spent most of the time talking.

Or it could be that he thinks I'm interesting and wants to get to know me better.

YIKES. I can't handle that. I don't even want to spend time alone with me most of the time, what's this loony-bin boy got in his brain that HE wants to spend more time with me?!?

Ok, I'm not that self-deprecating (yes you are, Liz). But really, it's horribly intimidating. If he asks on a second date, the world has pretty much come to a conclusion that he wanted to and was not forced into it by his mother (although I do question some of the second dates I've gone on for that reason...)

Breathe.

So that's fine. I get it. BUT ARE YOU SURE HE ISN'T ALREADY THINKING HE WANTS TO MARRY ME? BECAUSE I'M NOT SURE I'M READY FOR THAT YET.

Yeah, pretty sure. That's jumping the gun a leeeetle bit there.

Right, right. Of course it's not because he's already thinking marriage. Girls would never do that, so clearly guys would never do that.

But let's suppose that girls DID do that (hypothetically)...

And let's not even get into the guilt of dating (another post, another day; it's the worst). But let's do get into it for a second. If I didn't particularly feel like a guy and I had much to talk about or I didn't feel a particular interest, I don't feel like going on a second date. I feel like it's fraudulent behavior, worthy of the guillotine. I mean, he's spending his money and his time on me. So I should make sure that it's worth it to both of us. And what if I do go? Does he then think that I like him?  Do I even know if I do or not? Then what?

It's just a date, Liz. They say.

Give him a chance. They say.

This is why you're not married. They say.

Bah humbug. Who said second dates lead to marriage anyway? Didn't you just tell me he was NOT thinking about marriage so I could calm the heck down? And besides, I have set up plenty of these guys I wouldn't go out with again on dates with my friends. So I'm contributing to the good of society by building my network so I can set more people up.

But, to help you feel better, I've started researching Second Date Anxiety and reading lots of good articles about how it's not really a big deal. Like How to Ace Your Second Date and Surviving the Second Date. And someday I want them to pay me for affiliate marketing by the traffic that I drive to their websites, but that's beside the point.

The real truth of the matter is that nothing really helps. It's all still a mystery and the older I get, it seems the more anxiety I feel in the matter, rather than the hoped-for reverse. When you've gone on hundreds of dates (or at least one hundred), it's exhausting to keep giving chances when you feel you do a pretty good job at first-date judgment calls. And it's exhausting to invest in people who could smash your heart with a tennis racket (Do I even have a heart anymore?) And it's exhausting to keep justifying to others why you don't want to go out again with the person they set you up with.

But as the old Chinese proverb says, "Exhausting at least means the car is moving forward." (I just made that up). So I still carry on, carry on, carry on.

Is there hope for me? Perhaps.

But let's just be honest about a few things.

I've actually taken several selfies in my life, not just the previously mentioned one. Another one was in one of my lovely Christmas sweaters. I'm obviously too much for a guy to trust on a second date anyway when I hide these kinds of things. (Are those jingle bell earrings I'm wearing? Yes, yes they are).
Miss Stitt circa December 2014