12 November 2013

Living Alone

Let me tell you about why i love living alone:

* The whole closet is MINE!
* i can take as long of showers as i want without feeling guilty. No one is there judging me, no one else needs the hot water and no one else is paying the bill for it.
* i only have to clean up after myself.
* i don't have to worry about finding the oreo package empty when i get home from work.
* No one stinks up the bathroom right before i have to get ready for the day.
* Things stay exactly where i leave them.
* My bedroom can be decorated super girly.
* i never have to shut any doors in my house.

However, a couple incidents have happened (always at night) that have made me jump so high i had to scrape myself off the ceiling afterwards.

*For a time during the summer, i had no screen door on my slider. i still opened my slider wide once i was in bed to let in the cool breeze. One evening i was lounging and reading in bed when a cat jumped on my bed. i don't have a cat. Terrifying.

*As the fall weather started, i loved sleeping with the cool night air drifting through my house. i slept with all my doors and windows open and my house would smell so clean. i would kick all the blankets off of my bed and leave only a sheet thrown across me. In the middle of such an autumn night a storm swept in while i was sound asleep, turning the gentle breeze into a fierce wind. One gust flew through my house, slammed my bedroom door while simultaneously blowing the sheet off of me. Scariest way to wake up...ever.

*Just the other night i came home from a long exhausting day, didn't even turn the lights on in my kitchen or living room, went straight back to my room and climbed under my covers to get lost in a novel. In the beautiful stillness of my house, a digital watch beeped the hour. i don't own a watch. i knew someone was in my house. Holy Crap. Turns out one of my friends had left his wristwatch in my living room the evening before. But it was a horrible ten minutes until i discovered that.

That will get your heart pumping. No need for cardio those days! Haha!

07 November 2013

Goal Update

There is something innately satisfying about seeing progression. Here is what i have worked toward in the last month.

#1: Get Completely Out of Debt
i spent the whole month religiously recording my expenses. My spreadsheet is simple, but effective. i love having it saved on my Google Drive so that i can access it wherever i am.

#4: Run a marathon
i love running. LOVE it! It is empowering! i'm slowly but surely creeping on up! Four days a week i pound the pavement and it's hard not to run the other three days. None of my runs are less than three miles now. My long runs are up to eight and i complete them easily; it's time to up it again! i transitioned to minimalist running shoes which i adore. The snow has made some appearances, so i invested in some warm running gear; the winter won't slow me down!

#5: Forgive Jacob
i kept looking at this goal and struggled with where to start. i didn't feel angry toward the ex (usually). But i still feel hurt. How do i define "forgiveness?"

About three weeks ago i had a bit of a revelation. i attended a conference for women who have spouses or ex spouses with sex and pornography addictions. Wow. I will have to write more about what i learned. One thing that hit me was that i do not have to be completely healed to forgive. i can still hurt or still know that what i went through was tramatic. Forgiving him does not mean that what he did was "ok" or that my pain was (and is) any less intense. It doesn't mean that i am excusing his behavior.

John Gray said "To forgive is to release another from being responsible for how we feel." This rings true to me. i can feel whatever i want to feel. Not forgiving the ex is using him as an excuse, a validation or justification for letting myself feel angry or lonely or depressed. Forgiving him may not take away those feelings, but it makes ME responsible for them! i have to own up to my own feelings.

With AMAZING Jacy, the organizer of the
Togetherness Project
Why do i love this? Because that means he has NO CONTROL over anything in my life. And THAT feels GOOD! i don't want to blame anything on him because i don't want him to be part of my life anymore. i am in control--of the good and the bad. Ok, so i'm not quite taking complete ownership yet, but i am getting closer!

i am also trying to keep a spiritual perspective on forgiveness. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." To be honest, i have never tried praying for somebody to whom i felt resentment. i would pray for MYSELF to be more compassionate or to have more charity. So i started praying for the ex, by name. i also try to keep his name on the Rexburg temple prayer roll. Sometimes i feel like my prayer is not as sincere as it could be...that i am just praying for him because i am supposed to. But that is changing. i am getting closer to forgiveness.

#9: Read 100 Novels
My reading has been woeful, but i did finish "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli

#11: Take the GRE
i started researching study guides to help me prep. A couple are added to my Amazon Wish List.

#13: Read Bible from cover to cover/#16: Scripture study nightly for 1 year
Plugging my way through Deuteronomy!

#18: Get down to 125 pounds
While i'm not there yet, i'm dropping. Since i am at a pretty healthy weight, i have to fight for every pound. i am right at 128. However, i am still losing inches. i am down to a size 4 pant size and not very many of my clothes fit me anymore. i feel pleased with how i look!

#22: Master Making a White Sauce
Done!!! The first thing i can check off. My mom gave me advice over the phone and my peas and potatoes turned out perfectly. i have done it a couple of times since and feel confident in my skills :)




01 November 2013

Goodbye, October

It was a divine month. Halloween feels to me like the last parting shot. And my family goes all out. Here we are:

Charlie Brown Dad
"I got a rock."
Ariel Stephanie
Guest starring Flounder and Sebastian

Mad Scientist Erika

Angelic Jennifer

THE BEST FOR LAST


BO as Snow White
Cutest Jane Princess EVER!

15 October 2013

All about France

Here are portions of my story from my time in France...

Once I believed that a picture is worth a thousand words. The reason for this is that I made a life changing decision as a result of old photographs of my father’s. Glimpses of France, frozen into slides, inspired me to venture to Paris. Upon wandering the streets, I discovered that Paris tugged at my soul, not because of my father’s priceless images, nor the beautiful buildings adorning the streets. France kindled a desire in me to find out who my Dad really was. What I mean is that I felt my father’s time in France, captured in his slides as it was, not only revealed him, but defined him as well, For instance, his romanticism surely started as he wandered the fairy-tale castles of ancient France. Yet as I became more deeply connected with my father, I discovered that my motivation to understand him was only a yearning to truly understand myself.

As a result, I snappped pictures everywhere I went, trying to uncover my soul in the buildings and art around me, as I believed my father had done. Although I felt pictures would be worth more than words, the words I poured into my journals, describing the whimsical surrounding of Paris, have more importance over the photographs I shot. My writing about France is a tribute to my father, and as such it is a confession of the impact that his life had on mine. It exposes how much I felt connected to him as I walked the Parisian streets. The pictures I took in France are worthwhile to me but they cannot capture who I am. Those words, on the other hand, bare my soul.

I have always had a special bond with Dad. He has been my idol as long as I can remember. As a kid, late at night Dad would slip into my bed, lie there next to me and we would have whole conversations without saying a single word. Our already strong relationship grew even more when I was about 12 and Dad pulled out his mission boxes. Because of our unique bond, I felt drawn to these boxes that contained two years of my father’s life that I knew nothing about. Dad explained to me his goal of organizing everything and it soon became ‘our project.’

The biggest obstacle to conquer was the massive amount of pictures. He had taken hundreds of pictures; instead of developing and printing all of his pictures, he had them printed on slides so that he could project them ten times the size of a photograph. We borrowed a forgotten projector collecting dust on the back shelf of the church library and carted the old machine home for a week or two.

At home, the best place to project the films onto a white surface was in the corner room upstairs that I shared with my older sister. We squeezed into the minuscule space between two beds, a dresser, and a desk, propped the machine up with books from my shelf, flipped off the lights and pointed the projector at the blank door of my closet. with a click and a whir, Dad flipped on the projector and inserted the first slide. From the moment that the chateau Azay-le-Rideau popped into focus on my closet door, something in my soul stirred and France left its first imprint on my little almost-teenage heart. The farther into the stacks of slides that we got, the more and more enthralled I was with the images of France flipping in front of my eyes.

Night upon night, Dad and I stayed up late, spending hours going through his pictures. We sat on the bedroom floor with the ceiling fan on full blast to stir the air in the roasting heat while he clicked the slides and I attempted to label his images in a language I didn’t know. The two of us crammed into that upstairs room in the middle of the summer in Vegas with a machine going. But the stifling bedroom and the heat pouring out of the projector didn’t flush my cheeks-- I burned with the growing desire to visit the places that kept appearing in my bedroom. Click. Champs-Elysees. Click. Eiffel Tower. Click. Notre-Dame. Flickering images burned into me.

As the slides ticked by, one at a time, Dad began to talk. With every slide there was a story. They were not the typical walking to school uphill in the snow stories that usually come from parents’ pasts. These stories started with ‘When I was living in Tours, France...’ which is enough to make any young girl’s head spin. I was captivated all the way until the climax of the the stories-- ‘And that is when the French man opened the door in his underwear and swore us away.’ I listened and laughed and learned from my Father. I loved the light that was beginning to reflect from his eyes to mine when he spoke of the Loire Valley and the castles. And through the heat and the stories, there were always the images, shimmering unreal shadows dancing across the closet-- lines from cars spinning in a circle around the Arc de Triomphe, a doorstep in a narrow street in a small town in France, castle torrents scraping the sky, bridges stretching over foreign rivers. I knew I had to go to France.

When I finally arrived in Paris at the beginning of 2006, I ventured out into the city with several girls in an attempt to prevent major jet lag. The other girls anxiously searched for food to quiet their grumbling stomachs while I tagged along behind them in a daze. I still do not know if the fog hanging over my head was from a lack of sleep or from amazement at where I was. we headed to the Latin Quarter to find a cheap crepe stand and, on the way, darted past Notre Dame. Although the other girls had visited Paris before, I still could not believe how fast they passed the cathedral with hardly a glance up. I struggled to convince myself that I was not dreaming and that the facade flying by in front of me was not a projection of one of Dad’s pictures.

My first glimpse of the Eiffel tower was also hazy-- literally. As I glided down the Seine River on a boat tour on an overcast, grey and rainy day, monuments slid into focus and back into the gloom. At the end of the tour, and by the time I was drenched from the spray of the boat and the sprinkling from the air, one massive leg of the Tower poked out of the cloud, only hinting at the size of the monument it held. I did see it in its full glory less than a week later. It ducked in and out of behind apartment buildings, giving me quick glances as I zipped along Metro Ligne 6. I almost believed the Eiffel Tower was not really there-- I must have been imagining it.

My unbelief at being in France never faded, and that was fine with me. I do not understand why, but everything seemed more romantic in that dream-like state. I am a romantic, just like Dad, so it was perfect for me. my imagination had more room to go nuts. I was sure that in Paris, the pianist I could hear playing classical music in the apartment above mine was a young bachelor trying to write a symphony.

Taking pictures is the one thing, besides the language, that I struggled with when I first got to France. I could not bring myself to snap my camera at anything. I tried to explain to Dad on the phone that I knew my picture would not do the originals justice, so I took very few pictures. My wise Dad explained, ‘You will never capture the blues of Chartres-- but perhaps you can capture an image that will make you remember how you felt standing and looking at the stained glass.’ And I remembered sitting on my bedroom floor, looking at Dad’s pictures and listening to him describe the places, introduce the people, laugh at the stories. Through those pictures, Dad started talking and sharing emotions with me that I somehow understood, even at 14. Through those pictures, I decided I had to go to France. I had to go for me-- to learn a new language, to see these places, and to discover who I was. But I had to go for my dad too-- to understand who he was and to make him proud.

After I realized that Dad’s pictures pushed me into going to Europe, I went camera crazy. I took pictures of everything-- streets, buildings, funny tee shirts, smart cars and interesting people. Only once in awhile did I find that I struggled to pull out my camera and try to capture the moment. That only happened in museums. Over and over I went to the museums and stood in front of paitings with tears streaming down my face. There I was, standing in front of a Monet, a Van Gogh, a Delacroix, a Rembrandt.

When I returned to the States, Dad and I sat down with his projector and with my computer and watched Paris blink before our eyes, one photo at a time. We laughed and told stories, and cried and shared experiences. And sometimes we didn’t say anything at all, but just looked at the shadows of France that we each captured with a click. Without a word, we both understood. I went to France so that I could have that connection, that moment of understanding.

Today, I understand that somehow I never developed that deep of a connection with Jacob. We knew each other, we loved each other but at a deeper level, I do not think that we ever really understood each other. France has helped me be able to bear my current life, in a way. Not only because of what I discovered about myself while I was there, but also because of what I learned about connecting to another person’s soul. I have to believe that someday someone besides my father will understand me on this level.

12 October 2013

The Story Continues

Here are more bits and pieces of my novel. i've cut and pasted parts so that you can follow along my journey:



Fall of 2005. Looking back, I believe that it was in this semester that I really grew up. I had just turned 20 and somehow that resonated with me. I was no longer a teenager. While I was still goofy sometimes, I stopped acting like a teenager. My style had been evolving slowly, but it was in the first month of this semester that it really softened. Without realizing it, my closet of hot pink and black and studded things had turned to soft blues and greens and lacey things. I gained a confidence in myself as well-- although I still spoke a little more blunt than I should have (then again, I still do that). Somehow I ended up almost being the ‘organizer’ of the apartment, even though I was the youngest and my roommates did baby me a little. Because of my suggestions, we developed a cooking plan to eat dinner together each night, a cleaning standard that kept our apartment spotless and a goal to read in the scriptures and pray together every morning as an apartment. On a personal level, I also pushed myself to grow more than I ever had before. My dreams of living abroad had always seemed so far away. That semester I made them a reality. I looked into the money it would take to spend a semester in France, I applied for BYU and then for the semester abroad program. In French classes, I dedicated myself to master the language as much as I possibly could, even though I had no idea yet if I would be awarded a place in the program. It did not seem likely, considering the fact that I was not even a student at BYU.

My roommates became my family that semester. One of them, Tara, had just barely gotten off of her mission. We worked out together everyday and spent hours talking about her mission and I listened to her wish to be back again. In conjunction with her influence, I was also enrolled in a Doctrine and Covenants class. My habits of scripture study over the summer carried over into the semester. Between roommate study and personal study, the Spirit guided me those months like I had never experienced before. As I read about mission after mission in the Doctrine and Covenants, the idea to serve a mission wormed its way into my head. Of course, I turned to Tara, who did nothing but sell me completely on the idea of serving.

Previously, I had thrown the idea around a bit, but it was mostly to be shocking or to act like I was going to do something no one expected me to do. On one of our first dates, Jacob took me out to a chinese lunch buffet (he was slightly obsessed with ‘all you can eat’ dishes or buffets--probably because he really got his money’s worth). As we piled our plates with orange chicken and egg rolls, he questioned me about my future plans and goals. Of course, I informed him of my life long dream to spend a semester traveling abroad and spending a semester in Paris. ‘Have you thought about serving a mission,’ Jacob inquired. ‘Yeah, I could maybe serve a mission,’ I casually responded. But in my mind I was really thinking, ‘Are you kidding me? That is so unlike me to give up one and a half years of my life to go and TALK to people. I would not even know how to approach people.’ His answer surprised me, ‘I support any girl that decides to go on a mission. I loved the sister missionaries on my mission and looked up to them. I always thought that I would like to marry a returned missionary.’

When I went to tell him that I was seriously considering a mission, I remembered that conversation in the chinese restaurant and if he will still feel the same now that we were talking about ME and about US-- it was not a generalization anymore. This was a ‘it will be at least another year before I even START my mission and that's a long time for you to wait’ conversation. When I finally got up the nerve, I blurted out to Jake, “Jake, I am thinking about serving a mission.’
He seemed taken off guard. ‘What about France?’
'Well, the mission would be after France.’
Slight pause. There was not even a long pause-- he took it all in stride.
‘I think that if you want to go, you should go. I would be the last person to stop you.’
A huge weight came off my shoulders; when it came down to make the final decision of whether to serve or not, even if he had asked me to stay and I felt I needed to go, I would have left. But knowing that I had his blessing made it easier to think about making my decision.

I still had just under a year until I turned twenty one, so I was not in a hurry to say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ yet. Truth be told, I had already received my answer, really. Sometimes I still chalk it up to the fact that I was studying the Doctrine and Covenants which is full of mission calls and verses about white fields ready to harvest. Also, I started praying about if I should leave on a mission. Since that time I have learned a little about prayer-- I believe that some questions one should never ask God about. For example, if you ask God if you should have children, the answer is always going to be ‘yes.’ I think maybe my mission was the same way; God would never tell me not to be selfless and serve His other children. Either way, my answer was a very distinct feeling that going on a mission would be a wise choice for me. I kept these celestial promptings to myself for the time being, still telling people I was just thinking about a mission.

To my amazement, after I told Jacob, I received a phone call from his mother, Linda. They had conversed, mother to son, and Jake had confided in her that a mission was most probably on my horizon. This did NOT sit well with her agenda of when she wanted us to be married. Forward woman that she is, Linda called me to discuss with me the situation. I was appalled as I listened to her.
‘I just don’t understand why you would be going on a mission if you are in love with my son,’ she said.
‘Well, this has nothing to do with him,’ I replied, ‘I do love him, very much. But my decision to serve a mission stems from my love of the Lord and I feel strongly that I am needed and wanted in the mission field.’
I tried to share my testimony with her and the very personal revelation that I had received and had not told anyone about.
‘I have prayed and I have asked God if I should serve a mission. The Holy Ghost has whispered to me repeatedly. I feel as though I am being prepared to be a missionary. I KNOW that God wants me on the mission. This is what the Spirit is telling me.’
She was still sad, thinking that I was blowing off Jake and the bigger picture of marriage and family. Perhaps what I said next was too harsh, but I found the words spewing from my mouth:

‘If I know anything at all, I know this: If I decide to serve a mission, whether I marry Jacob or not afterwards, I will NEVER regret it. On the other hand, if I marry Jacob and do not serve a mission, I will ALWAYS regret it. And whether we end up together or not, Jacob will win; he will either find someone that he loves more than me while I am gone, or if he chooses to wait for me, he will end up with a better wife because the mission will make me a better person.’

Looking back on this conversation, I feel that my words really were inspired. I do not know where I received the strength, but I believed what I said. I have many regrets in my life already; Even though I try not to focus on regrets (since I realize that there is no way to change the past) I know that there are words I wish that I could take back, items in which I would never have invested, decisions that now seem hasty or irrational. But one thing in life that I know I will NEVER regret is being strong enough to say, ‘I know I have a boyfriend. I know he loves me. I know I love him. I know we could get married. I am going to take the chance of losing that relationship because I want to serve the Lord on a mission.’

Shortly after this conversation, I received a phone call from the BYU Study Abroad program. Their application process had been rigorous, full of paperwork, essays and even phone interviews about why I wanted to go (and this was after all the applications and getting accepted to BYU in and of itself). My work had paid off; I had been accepted to the program and they had offered to let me travel with them to France. The arrival of this news caused me to scream louder than I ever had in my life. It was if the Eiffel Tower had appeared right then in my bedroom. For years I had dreamed of living in France. My father served his mission in the Paris, France mission years before. When I was a young girl, I had spent hours with him pouring over his mission pictures, letters and journals. He told me stories about castles and museums and cathedrals and stained glass. My dreams were filled with impressionistic paintings, ‘la vie en rose’ and crepes. We poured over art books together and even went to small exhibits that came to Vegas. The first time I stood in front of a real Monet painting at the exhibit in the Bellagio, I cried.

In my dorm room I had a tack board where I kept pictures of my family since they were far away when I was in school. Once Jacob left for training, pictures of him were also tacked up to keep his face fresh in my memory. I also pinned up silly cartoons or things that made me smile. Always in the top right hand corner was a picture of the Eiffel Tower all lit up in the night sky. The more I dreamed, the more pictures of French monuments surrounded the Eiffel Tower-- they inspired me to do everything in my power to reach my goal of living in France. I had even declared French as my minor in college and pushed as hard as I could in Idaho to learn the language. Now it was all coming true. All I had to do was pay the program fees, sign up for classes, buy my plane ticket and pack my bags. Within three months I would be there. It was too good to be true-- and yet it was true and that was fine with me.

Before the mission idea had solidified, Jacob and I had briefly discussed getting engaged before I went to France in order to be married upon my arrival back home. But even then I had a desire to venture through Paris without a ring on my finger. It was such an old dream-- such a life time longing of mine-- that even though I had no intention of dating while I was abroad, I could not stand the idea of having anything tying me down while I was there. Now that a mission was in the works, there was no question that I would head to Paris officially unattached.

Jacob returned from all his training and our few months together raced by. Before I could blink, Christmas had come and gone and I was packed--my life for the next three months fit into two enormous suitcases, which would completely fill up the entire tiny European car of Madame Boudemange, with whom I would shortly be living. Even though I had wanted to go to Europe and live in Paris my entire life, now that I was on the brink of fulfilling my dream, I was terrified. I was about to board an airplane by myself and end up in France, by myself. I doubted myself and my ability to be independent at all. It was actually the Christmas present I received from Jacob, along with his promptings, that got me on my plane. Though many people thought Jake would hold me back from doing exciting adventurous things in my life, at that particular moment, it was only his encouragement and faith in me that gave me any faith in myself.

For Christmas, Jacob handed me an absolutely stunning leather journal. In the first pages, he had written a beautiful dedication. His words explained how much he loved me and how even though he would miss me, he knew that I would love France. The words expressed how proud he was of me and how he knew that I would excel at everything I tackled. He concluded by saying ‘You will always have Paris.’

How right he was. When I was abroad, I wrote him an email every week and sent a letter or two. Jacob was not the best correspondent when I was away in Paris, but I did receive a few letters and usually at least one email a week as well. Plus, he made the effort to call the cell phone issued by the program about every other week for an hour or two. But when it came down to it, France was my time. From January to April 2006, I did not focus on anyone except myself. It was about me. Me, and, I found out as I was over there, my father.

10 October 2013

October Love: I never get over it

All this on a 5 minute walk from my doorstep.



"Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile." -William Cullen Bryant

05 October 2013

You know you're a runner when...

UPDATED

* You jump straight from bed into your running shoes

* Half of your laundry is running clothes

* You know the exact mark of a mile in any direction from your front door

* Your friends automatically include "How far are you running?" when asking about your weekend plans

* You get jealous when you're driving in your car and pass runners

* You get up earlier to run on the weekend than you do for work

* When your trainer tells you to run less, you groan

* The words "It's only four six TEN miles" come out of your mouth

* You are bummed on "recovery days" when you aren't scheduled to run

* You crave Power Bars

* Your Amazon wish list consists of running shoes, sports bras, nice socks, running tights, hydration systems and iPod arm bands

* Your toenails turn black

* You burn through a pair of running shoes every three months

* You run more than 100 miles a month

* You have a race scheduled every month all summer long 

*All your social events have to be scheduled around your runs/races

*You see a sign on the highway telling you how many miles away an exit is and you think "i could run that!"

*You can run 10 miles nonstop and still feel out of shape

*You see 50 degrees and overcast for the weather prediction and think "It's going to be perfect weather!"

This morning i woke up at 5:00am. When i couldn't go back to sleep, i decided to just go running. And i found myself in 24* weather at 5:30 on Saturday morning, running six miles under the stars. i finished before the sun even thought about rising. i never thought i would ever be able to say that.

i never thought i would ever call myself a runner...but all of the above statements are true.

04 October 2013

30 before 30: One Month Update

It's been just over one month since my birthday and when i posted the goals i have before i turn 30.

i keep a little moleskine notebook in which, at the end of every day, i have written what i accomplished that day to help me reach my goals. Here is what i have accomplished towards meeting those goals so far:

#1: Get completely out of debt


i cut up my credit card. i figured out exactly how much debt i had (including my car) and made a plan to pay it off as soon as possible. i set up a budget and updated it several times a week. At the end of September, i had lived below my budgeted amount and had a *small* amount extra to put into savings.

#4: Run a Marathon

Starting in June, i have followed a very strict running schedule. i run four days a week. i am addicted. Last Saturday i competed in my first race. It was a temple to temple marathon--a team of eight people that relayed from the Rexburg Temple to the Idaho Falls temple. The shortest leg was 2.6 miles and the longest leg was 7.2 miles. My leg was 6.5 miles. It was invigorating and empowering...even though i ran against 20-25mph head winds!



#7 Finish a twin sized quilt

My fabric is all cut out and organized. Last week i sewed the first square.


#9: Read 100 Novels

Finished: "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
Working on: "The Silmarillion" by JRR Tolkien
and "The Pipwick Papers" by Charles Dickens

#13: Read Bible from cover to cover and #16: Scripture studay nightly for 1 year

i haven't missed a night and i am almost through with Leviticus

#17: Do a yoga headstand

This was attempted. Much laughter ensued. Downstairs neighbor came rushing upstairs to make sure i was ok (she heard massive bangs, one after another on her ceiling). Someday...

10 September 2013

You are irreplaceable

Today is National Suicide Awareness Day.

Throughout the teen years, when so many people feel angst and depression, i was gratefully spared. i couldn't comprehend why ANYONE would ever even CONSIDER suicide. The idea was foreign, unattractive and frightening to me. i never expected to ever view death as an alluring option.

Then my world shattered. i got lost. i had been living for my husband and he didn't want me anymore. i didn't know what to do with myself. All at once i felt like i had no purpose to existing and that i was completely on my own. i felt unloved and useless.

i never really wanted to kill myself, but i wanted to die. As i drove to work i thought, "If i just fell asleep right now, i would get in an accident and never wake up." i thought about how nice it would be to stop hurting. Sitting alone in my apartment i would plead with God, "Please please let someone just call me or text me right now. i need to know that i matter to SOMEBODY."

One night i remember curling up in bed in the tightest ball possible with my blankets pulled all the way up over my head. Laying there trembling, i felt like the darkness was sinking in and suffocating me and that the weight of the world was crashing down and i couldn't breath. All i could do was pray to survive the night; i honestly felt like i couldn't.

But i did survive. Even if no one called me. And i am finding myself again; i am finding purpose again. Discouragement still finds me, but i am no longer paralyzed with that deepest despair. The days go by, the weeks go by, the months go by and soon the years will go by. Here i am. Healing and becoming a better person. And i can honestly say that i am happier here single on my own than i was the last 6 months that i was married.

However, i don't think i will ever forget how i felt during those times; the horrible that it is to believe i was utterly worthless. That is why i love the push that To Write Love On Her Arms is doing for National Suicide Prevention Week this year: You Cannot be Replaced. They challenge us to write about our worth and share a reason why we can't be replaced, as well as telling others why they are irreplaceable. So here i go.


I CANNOT BE REPLACED BECAUSE:

*No one else could make "geek" look as classy as i can.

*Who else would be able to tell my story?

*i'm the only "Bennski" my dad has.


Please know that i love you and that you cannot be replaced. If you need a reason, ask me and i will tell you why you are irreplaceable in my life.

05 September 2013

Morning Run

i almost always run alone.

When i first started, i ran with Morgan, but now my distances are too great.

Recently, i found a running buddy; not for all of my runs, but for a couple a week. The only problem? He has to run in the morning. EARLY.

Yesterday i jogged over to his house to meet him for one of my long runs. i stepped out of my house and the air was cool and crisp. The sun hadn't even begun peeping and the stars were bright. Since i wouldn't be alone for most of the run, i forgo the iPod and ran in the silence of the morning.

Once i met up with him, the miles flew by as we chatted and the sunrise was warm and beautiful. It was pleasant to have a running companion.

Arriving home i had plenty of time before i needed to leave for work. i showered and stretched out on my hammock to relax and let the morning sun dry my hair. As i contemplated the run, no matter how pleasing the company was, the best part was the first mile.

There is something magical about jogging alone through the dark streets of a still-sleeping town with the morning silence all around and only the light of the stars above.

i think i prefer running alone.

28 August 2013

30 before 30

i turned 28 on Monday. It was an incredible day. But that's a different story...

i've always been a fan of bucket lists. A way to dream and wish and imagine. Some things will get crossed off and some ideas are far-fetched. It's fun to believe that some day i will complete every thing on my bucket list.

This is not a bucket list. This is a "To-Do" list. As in, i MUST do these things. And there is a time limit; i have two years (less two days). They are in no particular order. i will post developments as i go.

30 BEFORE 30
1- Get completely out of debt
2- Visit one place on my bucket list in country
3- Visit one place on my bucket list out of country
4- Run a marathon
5- Forgive Jacob
6- Go fly fishing
7- Finish a twin sized quilt
8- Master making delicious sushi
9- Read and keep an accounting of 100 novels
10- Grow my hair to mermaid lengths
11- Take the GRE
12- Go skydiving
13- Read the Bible from cover to cover
14- Go vegetarian for a month
15- Transfer my entire music collection to digital format
16- Scripture study every night for an entire year
17- Do a yoga headstand
18- (Originally: Get down to 125 pounds) Accept myself no matter what my weight is
19- Become an ordinance worker
20- Print out a copy of my novel
21- Go scuba diving somewhere new
22- Master making a white sauce
23- Clean and organize every drawer, every cupboard and every box in my house
24- Snowshoe
25- Get rid of gossiping
26- Learn to do a loud two finger whistle
27- Read all 7 Harry Potter books again
28- Make an origami paper crane
29- See a great concert
30- Learn how to take a compliment

What would you have on your list?

19 August 2013

Togetherness

Some people have made a difference in my life just by being themselves--open and honest and loving and giving. One of these people is Jacy.

i found her in the depths of my darkest days. Since then, she has been there for me. i don't know her individually, but through her blog i feel like i have gained a support and a friend. At first i just quietly followed. Then i started commenting. Then Jacy reached out to me and invited me to turn to her if i ever needed anything.

As if that didn't make her amazing enough already...she is organizing this:
As the website says, it is "A community of love, validation and the rarest of friends, The Togetherness Project is a sisterhood of empowerment, healing and hope. We proudly present our very first one-day women's conference in Salt Lake City at the South Towne Exposition Center on October 19, 2013."

The classes include:
"Picking Up the Pieces and Moving On: Creating a New Life"
"Dealing with Disappointment"
"Forgiveness, Recovery, and Hope: You CAN Make it Through This!"
and
"Beauty Redefined: Learning to Recognize and Reject Harmful Media Ideals"


It is specifically for women who have spouses, ex-husbands, boyfriends, or loved ones who have dealt with or are dealing with pornography/sexual addiction.

i am doing everything i can to be there. If you know of anyone who would benefit from this conference, please please please share the link with them.



15 August 2013

How many times can i break till i shatter?



It should have been 5 years today. Sometimes pictures are better than words...











"Forever Hurts" series by my amazing sister.

08 August 2013

Countering Stress with Happiness

The last two weeks at work have been some of the most stressful and emotional i have experienced in a long time. i have certainly worked more hours than ever before, with 12+ hour days (one of them was a 16.5 hour day!), no days off and phone calls from my employees all night long.

In order to keep my sanity, here is a list of things to remind me that life isn't all stress and craziness:


1- Baby birds that aren't afraid of humans yet

2- My niece does yoga. Nice downward dog, Bo!


3- Barbie cupcakes. Something about bright pink and sparkly is always happy...it's a girly girl thing.


4- Roommate reunion at Snowview #2. Even after 10 years, i love these girls.

5- i have matching shoes with my dad :)


6- Siri makes me laugh

7- i love where i live (Taken by my dad at Mesa Falls)

26 July 2013

What i've learned this week

1- Sometimes the strongest people in the morning are the ones who cry themselves to sleep at night.

2- i CAN go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. i just have to turn the lights off and walk away very quickly.

3- It's not a good idea to read a dark, disturbing, intriguing gothic novel late at night when i am by myself. i won't be able to put it down and then i will get creeped out and won't be able to sleep even after i stop reading.

4- It still hurts to be rejected.

5- i don't like John Philip Sousa. No matter how un-American that makes me.

6- Sperry's are some of the most comfortable shoes ever.

7- i miss the intimacy of a solid relationship. Sure, the physical stuff, but mostly the emotional. And i'm not the only one that feels this way:

"You will arrive at an age when what you develop this insatiable need for the conversations that come at the end of the day.

Oh, you’ll want the other stuff too—this kisses and the sex and the Sunday morning coffee runs. But there is a thing so particular about needing a person in which to empty secrets big and small. To tell the really banal stuff. And you’ll go on all these dates, so many dates. Bad dates and terrible dates and lonely dates and good ones too, but at the end of them you’ll just want to go home, crawl into bed, and tell your person just how hard and funny and ridiculous it all was. But they won’t be there. In fact, you’re only going on those dates to get to that person. And the irony of this is a sort of insult to injury. But that person—your person—will be born of these dates, both bad and good.

Or so you are told. And so you keep going." Meg Fee

8- Having family come to visit is bittersweet. i have a blast while they are here. Then they leave and the loneliness is worse than ever.

9- i'm obsessed with the Royal Family. i think Kate Middleton is gorgeous, loved her wedding dress, loved how she dressed during her pregnancy and i love the name "George" for the royal baby.

10- i look forward with anticipation to the first day of the new month...a new calendar page and a beautiful "1" everywhere. And i am anxious to start my new journal...a whole blank book that might be completely different from the last one.

23 July 2013

Trying to internalize this...

"The fact that you’re struggling doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you unloveable or undesirable or undeserving of care. It doesn’t make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a difficult time coping, and at times, we all fall apart. During these times, we aren’t always easy to be around — and that’s okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time. Yes, you may sometimes be unpleasant or difficult. And yes, you may sometimes do or say things that make the people around you feel helpless or sad. But those things aren’t all of who you are and they certainly don’t discount your worth as a human being. The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved. You can be difficult and still be cared for. You can be less than perfect, and still be deserving of compassion and kindness."


— Daniel Koepke

17 July 2013

Summer Storm

Last night i watched the most beautiful lightening storm i have ever seen. It was close. It was bright. It lasted forever. i could still see the bolts flashing across my eyelids after i closed my eyes. i stood there, hanging out of my bedroom window, listening to the booming, feeling the electricity in the air.

Then it started to rain--that warm summer rain that drips off the leaves, brings the smell of fresh earth, and gathers in delicious puddles. i moved to my back porch, watching, smelling, listening.

Before i knew it, i was out there, running through the streets, splashing through the puddles, spinning under the storm, laughing at the tickling rain. It didn't matter that it was 11 at night. i didn't care that i was barefoot. i didn't think about the fact that i was alone. i probably looked insane out there in the dark and the rain jumping like a fool all by myself. But i don't care. It was a moment of pure delight.

Grinning, shivering, and soaking from head to foot, i finally retreated back to my home, my pajamas and my white fluffy bed. i drifted off to sleep with the sound of the rain outside my open window and the smell of it still lingering in my hair. i am sure i was still smiling. i love summer storms.


Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...
it's learning to dance in the rain

 image

15 July 2013

Per your requests, the story continues...

"As we rushed into the winter semester, something alarming happened to me. I realized that my emotional involvement in this Texan was way deeper than a casual fling; I had gotten to the point that disentangling my life from his would be painful. In short, even as I had promised myself not to get committed or develop a serious relationship, I had fallen in love with Jacob.

Love is such a slippery thing. How can one even begin to define it? How do people fall in love-- and even more mind boggling to me, how do people fall out of love? My love for Jacob at this point meant that I liked who I was when I was with him. I felt like he helped me to be a better person and I felt like I could be myself around him. We had so much in common and enjoyed sharing those things. But at the same time, I felt like he completed me-- his strengths were my weaknesses.

This revelation terrified me, especially because I had no idea how Jacob felt. Often I had the impression that he loved me too-- he certainly acted like he did, but I could not be sure. I did not want to be the first one to express my feelings, so I waited. And waited. And waited. I think that Jacob knew what I was waiting for-- that I was antsy for him to say it first. A few weeks into February we were snuggling on the couch in his apartment building and watching a movie with one of his roommates. I had my head leaning against his chest and was listening to his heartbeat.

‘I can hear your heartbeat,’ I whispered to him.
He replied, ‘Well maybe it will tell you what I can not.’

That did it. In that moment I knew it was silly to wait for him to tell me how he felt-- if I loved him, I could say it. So I leaned up close to his ear and said, ‘I love you, Jacob.’
‘I know,’ he responded, pulling me close.
And in that moment, the tension I felt was gone.

The next day when we were walking together in the snow, Jacob admitted, ‘I love you too, Jennifer. I just did not want to say it.’ In a way we were both scared. We did not know what was going to happen in the Spring when I went home. Plus, Jacob had a long road of military training in front of him. Together we decided to not worry about the future, but to revel in the present-- and to be honest about how we were feeling, even if it was scary.

February, March and April flew past faster than either of us wanted. Our happiness, it seemed, had an expiration date. Even as we tried to ignore it, the future snuck up on us and we finally had to make a decision as to what to do. Jacob was going away in May to Army Basic Training and then to Advance Training. He would not be back until October and I would have no opportunity to see him. Although we were still very much in love, when the semester ended, we parted with each other’s addresses, but no promises of future commitment. It is true that both of us wanted something to work out, but I think for the first time we realized that we had been living in a bit of a dream. There was no telling what would happen while we were apart for so very long. Jacob knew that he would have no access to email and very limited access to a telephone. Any communication was going to have to happen through letter. He explained to me that he was an abysmal correspondent; I explained to him that I was not sure if I was going to date while he was away. It was a bitter parting with nothing sweet for either of us.

Jacob headed to South Carolina for his basic training and even though we were apart, I found it to be an incredibly romantic situation. After all, I could tell everybody that my boyfriend was in the army and going through boot camp and we could only communicate through written letters. It is extremely easy to fall madly in love with a person when you only need to love them for thirty minutes a day while you write and/or read a letter. I already loved him, but the absence helped me to romanticize every aspect of him. I wrote him Every. Single. Night. The letter would then be plastered with lipstick kisses and mailed off once a week. In return, there were very few nights that Jacob would go without writing me as well. I checked the mailbox every day and almost squealed each week when there was a letter in it for me. Soon, I created binders with plastic covers and filled them with the letters I was receiving so that I could read them over and over.

I still have that binder-- along with many others-- full of love letters. It is sitting in a box in my storage room. This spring I thought I would clean out the room for my spring cleaning. Knowing that I would come across pictures and letters, I thought I had prepared myself for finding them. When I pulled out the binder of all the letters he wrote in basic and I saw his beautiful script, line after line and page after page I realized that nothing could have prepared me for the flood of emotions. All I could do was sit there and cry. I cried because I had lost him. I cried because I remembered the days those letters came and I ran to my room in a tizzy and shut the door to pour over the latest news from South Carolina and felt my “heart breaking” because Jacob was so far away. Little did I know that eight years later I would be crying over the very same letters, for a very different reason. Nor did I know then what real heartbreak felt like.

Regardless of how much I have learned since then, that was not an easy summer for me. I missed Jacob. He had become my best friend and I missed his companionship. Being a very communicative person, I struggled not being able to actually speak with him and tell him the details of my days. The army did give him permission to use the phone; he had the ability to make one two minute phone call every Sunday. Because we were not married, he needed to call his mother and therefore I received one two minute phone call every other Sunday. In order to accommodate his call, I attended the young single adult ward; my parent’s ward had sacrament right in the middle of the time frame when he normally called me. I would wait at home by myself while my family was at church with the cordless phone right next to me. The two minutes I was on the phone with Jacob were the highlight of my week. In many ways, the calls catered to my dramatic nature. We would say ‘I love you’ as many times as we could and in as many ways as we could think of in two minutes while the whole time in the back ground I could hear his drill sergeant screaming ‘One minute left! Thirty seconds! Ten seconds left.’

Jacob’s birthday is in July and mine is in August. Somehow, Jacob got it into his head that for my birthday present he wanted to buy me a plane ticket to fly out to his basic training graduation at the end of July. For his birthday, he wanted to ask his parents (who were driving out to see him graduate) to pick me up at the airport, cart me around and let me stay in their hotel with them. Since we had been apart, one of the things I had realized was that I did not want to be apart. For the first time, I started letting myself consider long term. Although I did not linger on it, I realized that Jacob was bound to be a part of my life for a very long time. I wanted to see him graduate.

Jacob had two days that he could spend with family. I flew in the night before his first "free day" so as to get every possible second with him. I woke up in the morning all in knots-- I had barely slept. We drove to the base and all friends and family gathered in a large building, waiting for the soldiers to arrive. The sargents put on quite a show as they marched the soldiers in. The privates came jogging in their lines, shouting cadences as they entered. As much as I tried, I could not pick Jacob out of the crowd; all of the soldiers looked the same from far away. They were in fatigues, heads shaven-- their hair as short as possible. All privates with glasses, which included Jacob, wore identical ‘BCGs’ or ‘birth control glasses’ that were military issue. We sat sweltering in the building while too many people that no one cared about (drill sargents, captains, whomever) were introduced and given ‘honors.’ Finally, they told the crowds to exit the building and we could meet up with our soldiers outside. Just to show off, they made all the privates ‘drop and push’ or do push ups, and then they released them.

All of the sudden there was a massive rush of people and soldiers pushing and hugging and searching for one another and reunions all around. I started jumping up and down, trying to find Jacob over the heads of the crowd. At the time, I had a very tight perm in my hair. Jacob later said he could see my curly red hair bouncing up and down. He decided to sneak up from behind. One moment I was bobbing up and down, the next thing I knew, his arms were wrapped around me. My knees completely buckled as I collapsed into his chest. To this day, our reunion there is probably one of my favorite Jacob memories. Nothing felt better than being there with him and having him kiss me, even though we were surrounded by strangers, dripping with the heat of the day and being watched by his parents and his sister. I knew right then we needed to be together.

After I got off of my mission, I felt so much pressure to hurry and get engaged and marry Jacob. His parents were asking us for a wedding date before I had even been home for two weeks. I bucked against the pressure and refused to talk about weddings and getting married. If I did, I would say ‘Well maybe in six months or a year or so.’ I was whining to Chad about it one day, saying, ‘Why can’t they just leave me alone? Why do they want us to set a date so soon?’ Being ever wise, Chad asked me, ‘How long have you known you were going to marry Jacob? Just do it Jennifer. It has nothing to do with anyone else.’ The answer to his question? I knew that I was going to marry him since the summer of 2005-- the moment I felt myself in Jacob’s arms again at his Basic Training Graduation and I felt my heart stop and realized my life had been incomplete without this man."

12 July 2013

Summerfest

Something strange happened to me on the 4th of July; i realized that it was difficult to seperate my love for country from my love for Jacob. i also realized that i didn't know how to handle NOT being an army wife! i didn't realize how much that had defined me...that i sacrificed for my country and now that sacrifice and pride was no longer a part of my life. It made me feel unpatriotic and empty; i wasn't doing anything special for my country anymore.

Then this week the Summerfest happened (formerly known as the International Dance and Music Festival). i had put about 40 hours into the project before the week even started. i was the chair person for two of the major events--a Youth Culture where the kids of the community would come and interact with the different foreign dance and music teams. It took time, effort, creativity and a few tears to pull it all together. i even ended up on the news to promote the festival! Besides my events, i volunteered at almost all of the other events happening.

Last night at the street festival and parade down Main Street Rexburg Idaho, i watched the locals come out and cheer on these dancers. i remembered seeing them teaching the kids about their cultures at my youth activity. i met the dancers and they hugged me and thanked me for pulling those activities together. i realized that in a very real way, i served my community. i felt like i could still contribute--in a different way, but it was rewarding. 
New Zealand

China
Colombia
Guatemala
South Korea
Israel

10 July 2013

Still title searching for this story of mine

"I did not want a boyfriend when I met him. I had so much that I wanted to do and see and experience. However, there was no walking away from Jacob; I thought he walked right out of a romantic comedy and into my life. I told him on our first date that I was not on the market for something serious. His response?

‘I understand. But I want you to know that I really like you and I think you are beautiful. I want to take you out again.’

So he did-- the next night, and the next night, and the next night.

We had been dating for about a week and a half when I met up with him after class, took him out for hot chocolate and sat across the table with him at Hogi Yogi to explain to him just why I could not have a boyfriend at the moment.

‘I understand,’ he said. ‘Would you still like to meet up on Friday and hang out?’

Two nights later as he dropped me off at the doorstep of Snowview #2 and gave me a goodnight hug, he whispered, ‘I know you don’t want a serious relationship. Would I scare you off if I kissed you goodnight?’

Before I could answer the affirmative, he took my face in one hand, pulled me in for one soft, gentle kiss, turned around and walked away. Jacob later confessed that he thought he blew it in that moment-- that he would never hear from me again. Little did he know that I walked into my apartment, shut the door, and promptly slid all the way down the back of it until I landed on the floor while my roommates looked on in confusion.

‘He kissed me’ was the only explanation I could give. They all agreed-- I was toast.

Most women have an idea of how courtship ought to play out and what a gentleman should do to sweep them off their feet. I fell oh so perfectly into that category. Years of love songs, fairy tales, musicals and romantic comedies had filled me up with expectations. I had a coworker who said, ‘We just have this idea of how a man is supposed to act. Funny thing is that men never act that way. Dammit.”

But Jacob did. He met my expectations-- even the non realistic romantic musings of my fairly inexperienced nineteen year old mind.

The first few months were full of chats in front of the fire, flowers delivered to my house, silly notes left in my backpack and earfuls of sweet talk. I remember walking through a snowy Rexburg and Jacob stopping to write ‘Jake + Jennifer’ in the snow. When I started stressing out about school, he would calm me down and when I got anxious about roommates or family issues, he would laugh it away with me. However, although we were serious and dating exclusively, there was no talk of love or marriage or future--that was strictly taboo.

During this semester of twitterpation, I had the best roommates ever, with whom I am still very close. One evening the four of us sat around discussing those subjects that were taboo with Jacob and me. We were trying to decide who was going to be the first one of us to bite the dust and tie the knot.

‘All I know is I DON’T want to be the last one!’ Grace kept repeating over and over. She had a boyfriend that had just left on a mission.

‘I’m probably never getting married,’ was Laural’s thought. Katie thought she was going to be an old crazy cat woman.

When I announced that I was definitely going to be the last one to get married, they all threw pillows at me. Each one of them was convinced that I would be married first. Even in the newest stages of dating, something special surrounded my relationship with Jacob and they could see it. I knew it too, even if I tried to deny it then. I had even written in my journal after only a month with Jake, ‘There is something different about this one. It feels real this time. I am going to keep him in my life for a long time.’

I was right, though. Grace was the first to be married (although it wasn’t to her missionary) and Katie followed the next week. Laural lasted longer, but she too got hitched while I was still serving a mission. Even though I was already dating my future husband and none of them had even met theirs, I held out the longest.

The thing was I really was not ready for commitment-- and I was terrified of marriage. To me it seemed like I had life still to live and in my eyes, life ended when marriage started. It all seemed so dull and adult to me-- I still wanted to play. On top of that, I was stubborn. I did not want to be that mormon girl who got married at nineteen and had three babies by the time she was twenty two, who never finished her degree and never did anything with her life. Jacob knew how I felt-- I was very vocal about my feelings and he seemed to respect them. The subject was never broached.

Some memories are easier to relive than others. I can talk about the past without getting too emotional-- it is what it is and there is nothing that I can do to change it. For the most part, I feel very neutral toward our past life together. I laugh at the funny stories, I remember with fondness the good times and I sigh at the rough patches we went through. But there are some stories and some memories that cut deeper-- that still can bring tears to my eyes and still hurt to think about.

For example, I wonder if I will ever be able to remember, without feeling like my heart will explode in pain, a June night in 2012 when I felt like I was drowning in life. Nothing seemed to be going right and I was terrified of what the future would bring. I lay in bed with the emotions tucked down tight deep inside me, staring at Jacob’s back. Then he turned around, looked deep into my eyes, did not ask what I was thinking or feeling, but wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in so that my head was resting on his chest. I felt him sigh and he whispered, ‘My little wife.’ I had no idea what the coming months would bring, but in that moment I belonged there in his arms as his wife.

Our first Christmas gift exchange (in 2004) also brings tears to my eyes, even though it was much more light hearted. Part of his Christmas present (and Crystal’s present to Hugh) was a dinner that we put together for them. We decorated Crystal’s apartment with snowflakes and twinkle lights and made tomato basil soup and salad, which was quite an accomplishment as neither of us had ever really cooked before. After dinner, we all gave out our presents.

Jacob’s present to me was last. Before he handed me my present, he said, ‘Crystal, get the camera ready. You will want pictures of this.’ Confused, but intrigued, I expected him to hand me a wrapped box. Instead, he faced me and began a speech, ‘Jennifer, I know we haven’t been dating for very long, but you are like no other person that I have ever met before. I am happy when I am with you and when I am not with you, all I want to do is to find a way to be close to you again.’ About here in his speech I realized that this sounded like a proposal and I thought, ‘It can’t be! He hasn’t even said ‘i love you’ yet!’

Jacob pulled a jewelry box out of his pocket and got down on one knee in front of my chair. My whole body literally started recoiling from him and I muttered like a broken record, ‘I’m going to punch you. I really want to punch you. I am just going to sock you in the face.’ Crystal captured a great shot with Jake on his knee, box in hand and a huge grin on his face, while I am leaning as far away from him as possible and gripping the edges of my chair.

‘I have a question to ask you,’ he continued, ignoring my protests. ‘Will you accept this locket from me?’ Then I did smack him in the shoulder for teasing me-- and I accepted the locket. It is beautiful-- still laying in the back corner of a drawer in my jewelry box with two pictures inside, one of Jacob and one of the two of us together. Inscribed on the back are the words ‘Jennifer and Jacob.’

But the significance and emotion of this moment lies not in the laughs at his prank or even the beauty of his actual present. Rather, even as I contemplated punching his lights out as he “proposed,” I also thought ‘What am I going to say?’ My desires to get married hadn’t changed any as I had dated him. And yet in that absolutely horrifying moment of realization that I was going to have to say ‘No,' I also realized that I did not want to say no to the man in front of me. I was still far from being ready to marry him-- I was not even sure that I loved him yet-- but for the first time the idea seriously entered my head. To this day, I believe that even though I didn’t admit it to myself, it was in that evening when I first thought that I was going to end up married to Jacob one day."

05 July 2013

More Excerpts From My Story

"If I believed in fate, then I would have thought that Jacob and I were destined to be together. For a time I did believe this to an extent-- it certainly seemed as though the universe pushed us into each others' paths several times. And it was fun to think that he was the “one.” I guess for a long time, he WAS the one.


Looking back on it now, Crystal could have very well ended up with Jacob herself (well-- considering their personalities it probably never would have developed much). She came to me all in a twitter one day about these two boys in her ward. Her dilemma? One was cute and one was funny-- she didn’t know which to pursue.

‘Tell me all about the cute one,’ I asked, trying to get a good grip on the situation.
‘Well, his name is Hugh, he has dark hair and he is really good looking and he is from Ireland...’
‘Stop right there!! Ask him out!’

I didn’t need to hear about the “funny one.” After all, I was picturing Hugh Grant, accent and all. It didn’t take much work to convince her and Crystal started dating Hugh.

One week or so later, Crystal made an announcement. ‘I want to set you up on a blind date and you can double with Hugh and me.’ Never before having blind dated, I was skeptical.
‘Ok....who do you have in mind?’
‘Well, Hugh has this roommate that I think would be perfect for you!’
All at once it hit me.
‘No way,’ I exclaimed, ‘There is NO WAY I am going on a date with the funny one that you rejected for Hugh.’

After much persuading and convincing that he would be an amazing fit for me and he really wanted to go out with me, I finally succumbed-- more to get Crystal to shut up about it than because I really wanted to go.

In the end, all the begging was worthless. The “funny one” bailed on the date last minute. He didn’t break my heart; I was free to spend the evening with my roommate and one of her childhood friends who was *darling,* attending the Airforce Academy and showed up at our apartment with a few smoking friends.
‘Katie,’ I whispered as soon as they walked in, ‘I am going to marry a man in uniform.’ Famous. Last. Words.

Shortly after "the funny one" cancelled the date he had apparently so ardently desired, BYU-Idaho was throwing a Halloween carnival. Crystal and I both love Halloween, but for completely different reasons. Crystal would love to be Edgar Allen Poe. She believes in ghosts and hauntings and is enthralled by scary movies and anything supernatural. I am a pansy. Once, during a scary movie, I was lying on Crystal’s floor with my hands covering my face so I didn’t have to see anything happening, while Crystal sprawled on her bed soaking in every jumpy moment.  We got to the part of the movie where all goes silent for an agonizingly long time and then someone pops out and the music flares up in a crescendo; even though I could only hear what was happening, Crystal and I both screamed so loud the neighbors down the street probably heard us. We did, however, scream for different reasons-- I bellowed because of the movie; Crystal shrieked because, out of nowhere, at the very climax, I went flying from the floor, clear over her, and came crashing down on the other side of the bed to bury my head completely in the stack of pillows.

She still makes fun of me for that.

Despite my hatred for creepy flicks, haunted houses and pretty much anything designed to freak you out, Halloween is still my favorite. Although the candy is a nice perk, it’s not even the chocolate that excites me. Something appeals to me about dressing up; children and adults alike can leave normalcy completely, be absolutely silly, or get glammed out and society finds it acceptable-- at least for this one season.I adore dressing up and appreciate the brilliancy of a witty costume.

That year, neither of us opted to be witty in our costume choices-- we were going for smoldering (as much as our mormon standards would allow, anyway). Decked out as a sexy pirate (Crystal) and an enchanting witch (or so I thought I was) we hit the hopping town of Rexburg. The carnival was fun, but we were soon disenchanted with the lack of single men begging for our numbers and decided to call it a night. On the way home, Crystal wanted to stop by Hugh’s to show off her outfit. Knowing that our other option was to watch a scary movie, I was more than eager to swing by-- besides, I wanted to meet this Irish stud.

When Hugh walked into the living room of their apartment, two thoughts simultaneously jumped into my head. The first was, ‘Oh my! Certainly not Hugh Grant!’ The second, ‘If he is the hot one....I am SO glad that I didn’t go on a date with the funny one!’ As we chatted with Hugh, other roommates wandered in and out of the apartment, popping into and out of our conversation. We had been there for quite awhile when a lump under a blanket on the couch started moving around and Jacob emerged. I noticed three things-- his ridiculous Hawaiian shirt, a mop of dark curly hair and the strangest shaped and very prominent cheek bones that I had ever seen.

And then he smiled and started talking to me. Within minutes my stomach ached from laughing. He was witty, charming and smart-- and he made me feel like I was the only one in the room that mattered.
‘You are the cutest witch I have ever seen,’ Jacob said as we left to go, ‘and I would love to take you out on a date.’

Crystal overheard and before I even had time to properly say, ‘Yes’ they had arranged a double date to watch a scary movie together in the boys’ lounge.

‘I knew you would be perfect for each other!’ was all Crystal could say for the next two days. I had a date with the funny one after all.

Sometimes I fall into the “what-if” game. What if Crystal had gone after Jake instead of Hugh? What if I had dressed up like a scary witch instead of a cute one? What if we had gone on a blind date and I felt like the relationship was forced instead of him charming me by asking me out personally? What if I liked scary movies and we had rushed home to pop in “The Ring” instead of stopping by Hugh’s? How would my life be different now?  

But I am learning that the questions and possibilities are endless, and asking them won’t change the truth. No matter how many circles I run around in now, at the end of October 2004, I found myself on the first date with my future husband."

29 June 2013

New Experiences=New Knowledge

My date and i went mountain biking today with a group of friends. It was my first time and i was nervous. It didn't help that my date is ridiculously athletic (we are talking 5% body fat. Seriously. No exaggerations this time). i was assured that the trails would be easy and graveled and that even my little cruiser could handle them. Then, yesterday, we decided to both rent nicer mountain bikes from a place in town to make the ride a little easier (better gears and better shocks).

Now, at the end of the day, this is what i learned:

1- There are no graveled, super easy, flat trails at Harriman State Park.
2- i am so glad i rented a mountain bike instead of taking my cruiser. i would have died. Multiple times.
3- One should not decide to take up mountain biking on the hottest day of the year.
4- i have bruises in places that people shouldn't be bruised.
5- If all the girls decide to go one way and all the boys decide to go another way, next time i should follow the girls.
6- Another clue: two black squares at the beginning of the trailhead= experienced bikers only.
7- Ten miles mountain biking is a lot harder than ten miles street biking.
8- Boys won't slow down for you. Even when you are flying down a very steep, very narrow trail covered with boulders and tree roots. Or climbing a very steep incline that never ends.
9- My date doesn't like me-- he was out to kill me.
10- i can do hard things. (Even keep up with the boys on a "two black squared" ten mile long mountain biking trail.) i did keep up. i did not fall down. i did not walk my bike. i did not whine. i am proud of it.

Last, but definitely not least-- if you are accident prone on your feet, adding tires, hills, tree roots and a skinny trail does not help. i seriously did SO well....until out of nowhere the back tire fell completely off my bike.

True.

The entire tire ended up three feet away from my bike.

It shook me up quite a bit; i considered walking the bike back to the car (once we got the tire back on) but i am too proud and too stubborn. And i'm glad i didn't quit. Look where i ended up.

Harriman State Park (by Island Park, Idaho)

i loved it. The view. The biking. The rush.
It was a blast.
::grin::