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Sunday, April 24, 2016

3 Ideas for when you're "past feeling" in dating

This wouldn't be a blogpost without me saying that dating is the worst.

The worst of it is that it keeps getting worse even when it's sometimes better.

I have been on a lot of bad dates in my life (the date where the guy didn't tell me it was a formal dance and I wore khakis and a jean jacket; the date where I found out the guy had picked up the ring THAT DAY for his soon-to-be-fiance (long story); the date where I was fasting (Fast Sunday was the next day), but he took me to a restaurant (not in the original plans) and I felt awkward so I ordered something, and THEN he told me he wasn't ordering because he was fasting *blergh!*; the date where the guy attacked my religious beliefs even though we share the same religion, and so on).

But this is not about those dates.This is about my current repertoire of dates, which, if categorized, would go in the "good date" category.

I get set up a fair amount. And I venture back into online dating every once in a while. So I do go out on dates. But of late, this is how the date goes.


  • Talk to guy.
  • Be wildly interesting and super funny 
  • Set up time to meet.
  • Go to lunch, dinner, ice cream, or smoothie.
  • Talk a lot and get to know each other.
  • Be wildly (and genuinely) interested in the conversation
  • Say goodbye.
  • The end.


I come home and it was just another person. Another one to two hours spent getting to know someone I probably won't see again (but who I will probably try to set up with one of my friends and it won't work out for them either...), and that's it.

The date is fine. The guy is a genuinely good guy. The conversation is fine. It's all fine.

But I just feel like I am past feeling.

And lest ye misunderstand, when I say past feeling, I mean that I don't feel anything. It's just like talking to a new acquaintance. But it's worse because it's a situation where I am trying to feel interested and there's just nothing there. I'm indifferent as to whether or not I want to go out again. I'm pretty much indifferent to everything.

You could say I'm cold-hearted. I would probably agree. I didn't always use to be this way. I used to get legit excited about certain dates and be nervous and everything about whether the guy would call back. But that didn't serve me well. Too many hopes dashed and too much emotion that hurts after nearly 15 years of going on dates *yuck*. So now I'm just...dead inside.

But in speaking with many of my friends (both guys and girls), we all feel the same way. It's a plague of our generation, I guess.

So here are three ideas to get past the "past feeling":

1. ....
2. *awkward silence*
3. *shifting eyes*

Ok, so I don't have any idea.

Mostly, my "dealing with it" consists of me coming home, going to my room, holding back tears that I can't feel anything (and sometimes not holding back tears), feeling angry at myself, wondering how if I can cry and be angry surely there must be some feeling left in me, praying to never go on any dates again ever, and then going to bed.

I really don't know how to get past it. But I welcome ideas. However, I've already heard, "It will change when you really like someone" about 4 billion times. The problem with that is that I would have to really like someone. I can't reasonably imagine that there are no human beings I already know who could fit this category and that I still just need to find "the one" who's out there hiding under a bushel. (But I do feel that way because I can unreasonably imagine that).

I always feel like I should add a photo to my blogs.
The blue screen of death felt appropriate. 
I have also heard, "Give it some time." Time is not on anyone's side here. Us 30+ers who are still single have got the patience/God's timing quotes memorized. But perhaps the main thing the over-30 club has learned from giving more time to someone you don't feel anything for (I'm talking about not feeling one little iota) is that you end up even more frustrated with more tears and more sad prayers.

Lastly, please don't say, "You're lucky you're even going on dates" because that's #nothelpful. Sometimes going on dates when you feel like this is worse than not going.

So give me some real suggestions on how to get "past feeling". Or just tell me it's ok because this is life. And life is like that. #notbitter #really

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Passings: Something of the Sacred

For many years, I have been a regular visitor to local care centers. This probably started when, as a child, I went with my grandparents as they served in an LDS branch at their nearby care center. And perhaps much of it stemmed from my dear friend Grace. I have found care centers to serve in wherever I have lived, and for the past 6 years, I've been going to the local care center with a group in my YSA ward to sing to the residents. In all those years, many of my dear friends there have returned Home. It is a fresh pang of grief at each passing.

Close to the beginning of this year, I got a call from the care center asking for us to come in and visit one of the residents. The family of our dear Doris Barker had requested that we be called. DB, as she was known to many, had become extremely sick and she was on her way Home. My roommate and I dropped by that evening to sing her a few hymns. Some of the family was gathered and they were waiting for us to come.

DB had been one of my first friends at the care center. When we first started going, we visited residents individually and sang to them. I learned of her life of trial...a young DB had a stroke in her early 30s, just around my age, and she miraculously raised 5 boys with her limited physical capabilities. She loved to hear us sing and her high praises of our group caused us to be in high demand around the care center, so we started gathering residents as a group so we could sing to all of them. With a twinkle in her eye and a funny grin, DB always told us she was "mean and ornery" when we asked how she was.

As my roommate and I visited that evening, we hoped DB would make it just one more day, as her family wanted as many singers as could come, to say goodbye and bring peace in her final moments.

When we checked in the next day, DB was barely hanging on. We gathered a group of us around her bed and we sang her favorite hymn "O My Father" and a few other hymns. She was there, and yet not there at the same time. She was headed on Home. Many tear-stained eyes sang the beautiful refrains of "When I leave this frail existence, when I lay this mortal by..." (O My Father, Hymns 292).

DB passed away later that evening. Her family asked us to sing at her funeral and 17 of us gathered to sing to her memory. We still miss her "mean and ornery" self.

DB with my roommates and me at our annual
 Big Band Night for the elderly single adults in our area

This past Sunday morning, as our singers went to our weekly visit, we heard of another dear fan of our singing, who is fighting for her last moments of life as well. This beautiful lady is an artist and painted many pictures for our singing group. She always supplied us with candy and brought us all sorts of treats on her birthday. But as she struggled to hang on this past Sunday, the family, who has been there every week when we've come to sing, asked us to come to her room and sing to her as well.

Our group of singers surrounded her bed and sang the refrains of "The Lord is My Shepherd", "Nearer My God to Thee" and "Where Can I Turn for Peace?" It was another one of those moments where words don't define the feeling and you know you're standing on sacred ground. It was hard to hold back tears.

I have had such sacred experiences as these before. They have made incredibly deep marks on my soul. When the veil is thin, you can almost see the angels who surround us welcoming their loved ones home with open arms. It is a moment when I am reminded of the peace we gain from believing in and living for the life yet to come. These moments have reminded me this is not the end. This is just part of an eternal beginning.

As a young woman, I frequently babysat a neighbor family with several children. In 1999, the mother of this family found out she was expecting. Her baby had a serious genetic condition and he was not expected to survive much beyond birth. When the baby was born, my mom and I took the other children to go meet their brother and see him for whatever moments he would be on earth. This sweet mother let me hold her precious, tiny, and struggling baby for just a few moments. He only lived for 6 hours and she shared a precious handful of those minutes with me. It was beautiful and poignant. A little boy, so new from heaven and so close to returning. A holy child, a holy place.

Three years ago, my Grandma Helen was recovering from pneumonia in a rehabilitation center. She didn't seem to be recovering as well as she should have. On a Saturday evening, I felt that I should cancel my plans and go and see her. I went to the center and sat with her for a few hours. She was so sick and seemed to struggle to find relief. My dear grandma's feet were old, worn, and she had so many problems with them. But I felt she needed them rubbed. So I rubbed and massaged her feet and sang to her. It was sacred for me to spend that time alone with my grandma. Her situation worsened overnight and she was taken to the emergency room the next day. She passed away with our entire family gathered around on that Monday. As we gathered together and sang and prayed and held each other, we watched my dear friend and grandma slip peacefully away into the next life.

In these and other moments, I realize I don't completely understand what happens when someone passes from this life to the next. But there is something sacred about it. I know many passings are not peaceful. Many are alone. But to some of us, at certain points in our lives, is given the opportunity and blessing to share in those final moments. And in those moments, there is an almost certainty that God is real, that heaven is real, that angels are real, and that life continues on. The nearest approximation to words that I can give to the feeling is "something of the sacred."

Friday, April 1, 2016

Best April Fool's Day Joke

I feel like pictures help
add spice to a blogpost.
So here are some pics of
artificial flowers in my house.
I have never been much of a prankster. A joker, yes. A tease? Yea, verily. But I've never been into those prank wars especially because TPing and the like seem like such an enormous waste of resources.

On the other hand, I do remember putting a rubber band around the sink sprayer thing for April Fool's Day one year (this was before Google was popular so we thought ideas like this were clearly original). And I do love hiding in dark or obscured places to jump out at friends, family members and roommates (the best was hiding in the shower and turning on the water when someone walked in. Guys, it's the BEST reaction. Seriously. Although you might get yourselves kil't). And last year for April Fool's, I may have pulled a mean joke by telling my roommates I was moving out and rigging the whole thing with other people so that it seemed real enough that there was real sadness on their side (I still feel a little bad about that one).

But all joking included, I can't live in prankster deceit for very long. Unless, well, unless this.

For the past many of my single years, I have had a recurring April Fool's Day joke. It's hard to give it up here, but I feel the days where I can pull this off are gone...mostly because I have so few guy friends (I'm sure this is not correlated at all).

Every year, I text nearly all my guy friends a sweet little message!

"Hey! Thanks so much for the flowers and the note! I didn't know you felt that way...we should talk. :)"

Oooh, yeah. I'm a little bit evil. (Also, I think this warrants a reminder that Reason #2 of my 30 Reasons I'm Still Single has to do with my lackluster appreciation of flowers as gifts.)

There are a few categories of responders to this text.

Dye love!!!!!
The non-responder
The non-responder is the one who just...can't...even. And so he doesn't.

The immediate suspicion-monger
This type of man-cub is one who immediately texts back "Haha. April Fool's!"

The sorry denier
This type is ever certain of keeping a good name, and immediately texts back. "Um...was that meant for me? I didn't send any flowers. Sorry!"

The gentleman
Always willing to share a compliment, but not sure what this is all about, "Sounds like you have a secret admirer. I wish I could take the credit, but I can't!"

The take-the-praise-man
I feel like this is the immediate suspicion-monger with just a bit more secret/not-so-secret love for me, "You're welcome! You deserve them! And I'm willing to talk anytime."

All of these are good, normal, and expected responses. Every year I wonder which of my new targets will be which type of guy. I can usually peg them, but every once in a while I'm surprised.

Well, the prank doesn't end there, because what fun would there be in that? I usually let the non-responder be. And the take-the-praise-man? If he were serious, we would already be dating, right? But we aren't. So...yeah.

But to the suspicion-monger/denier/gentleman?

Me: Oh my gosh, this is so not funny. I feel really embarrassed now.
Man-cub: What? Why?
Me: Because I thought you sent them, and if you didn't then someone else is pranking me because your name is clearly on the flower card.
Man-cub: Oh my gosh! Really?
Me: Yeah, I mean you're the only [insert name] I know, so I naturally assumed it was from you...I am so embarrassed.
Man-cub: Don't be embarrassed! That's so dumb someone would do that to you. I really am sorry. It's ok, I won't think anything of it.
Me: I'm so, so embarrassed. Please forget everything I've said.

(and sometimes carried on for a few more texts, #mots (mots=more of the same) JK. I. just made #mots up because I didn't want to type more of the same and then I did it anyway. Twice. Mots really=pithy or witty saying. So, mots it is).

Scoreboard

Me=1. Man-cub=0. Win.

Around 11:30 pm I like to send a follow-up text. "JK about the flower ordeal today. Didn't you know it was April Fool's?"
Dyed-egg emoji of death.

The most frequent response is to the tune of, "Why I oughta!"

#whyimsingle

Well, what goes around comes around. About 4 or 5 years ago, on VALENTINE'S DAY!!! (aka NOT April Fool's Day), I received a bouquet of tulips at my work. Admission from a self-confessed non-flower-girl: they were quite pretty and I do love spring tulips. Well, thus ensued some major moments of embarrassment as co-workers peppered me with questions about who they were from. The flowers had a name, but I couldn't peg someone I knew well enough to have sent the flowers.

Immediate suspicion: my mother. I told my co-workers about my yearly April Fool's Day joke and how my mother knew about it. And, how she would probably love an opportunity to show me some love on Singles Awareness Day while also hearkening back to the cruelty suffered at my hand by those poor unsuspecting boys of years past by providing a fake name.

Multiple texts and calls to mom and dad denied any such doing, but implied that I should think harder about where they might have come from.

And, indeed, upon thinking harder, it was easy to peg the name with the culprit.

Mr. E-Man (see what i did there?) was a victim of one of my previous April Fool's Day jokes. And he had waited for some time to sort of "get back" at me, but with kindness. Now, I assume he also wanted it to be on a special day, at work, so that I wouldn't get off so easily with my flower jokes anymore. And so that I'd have to endure some sort of real embarrassment from my co-workers. Truthfully, I believe this culprit was too innocent to have ever thought of the repercussions of his actions. But I guess I had never thought of the repercussions of mine, either.

Well-played Mr. E-Man: you were the first to follow through.

So after many years of fun, I think I shall retire this game (or will I? can I? Are there any guys I know who won't read this blogpost so I can continue the joke?). But no...let dead flowers die. #mots.

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.