I feel this is true. I know there are many of you right now out there who are already composing a lengthy response with many many many examples of all the opposite sex friends you have and that they are, in fact, JUST friends, and nothing of attraction or consideration of attraction or "more than friends" feelings has ever transpired between you. Compose all you want - because I feel somewhere deep down - you know what I'm about to say is true. It has some merit. And it will cause you a little self-reflection... which you know I'm all about.
But we must define the type of "friends" I'm meaning here.
This isn't your neighbor, acquaintance, work-pal, church buddy, groupy, Facebook contact, or volleyball chum. We have a tendency to label many types of relationships as "friends" but when you get down to some nitty gritty categorizing and synthesizing... there are different types of "friends." And the type I mean - men and women can never truly be... because I don't think it was really meant to be that way.
Let us turn to Mr. Webster for some clarifications:
Acquaintance: a person whom one knows but who is not a particularly close friend acquaintance
> - I feel this would be much of my Ward comrades, co-workers, and that group of people you like to bike with or play frisbee with. There may be a smattering of "closer" acquaintance than others - but the term platonic very much applies in all of its forms here. Sure your "friends" but you're not like.. hang out, call each other up for a movie, types. And that's okay. These are the types of "friends" everyone can be - because it's not really REALLY friends.
Neighbor: one living or located near another 2. Fellow man
I feel this is rather self-explanatory. You help shovel each others sidewalks, perhaps watch their cat or borrow a cup of sugar. But you wouldn't necessarily name your fist born after them. Yet, like the acquaintances, we'll label them "friend" as well. Why not?
Groupy: there isn't an "official" definition for this - so I'll tell you what I mean. These "friends" are the ones you generally see in groups. It's very rare you would see any one of these group-members one on one in some sort of planned situation you both agreed upon. That's starting to look like one of two things: you're close friends, or 2. it's a date and if it isn't 3. one or both of you feel kinda awkward without the other group members around for a buffer. After all, platonic doesn't really "work" between men and women unless they're in one of the above categories.
Life-Groups: This is only slightly different from Groupy and Acquaintance in that it encompasses co-workers, classmates, Bikram yoga group, or your cycling community. Sure you're "friends" with these people - but again - you maintain that wee "group" wall and would find it unnatural to do anything to familiar one on one or even outside of your group context. Seeing each other at the grocery store sometimes is a little weird. They belong in the context they belong in and only a few can make the cross-over to hang out friends... and that cross over is only made by girls to girls and guys to guys. Tell me I'm wrong. And I'll tell you, you're kidding yourself.
Friend: one attached to another by affection or esteem; 2. a favored companion
And of course, we could categorize friend into friend, close friend, best friend, only friend, apparently musketeer (wtf? I'm going to start calling my friends my Best Musketeers!)... you get the idea. The point is - we're a little fast and loose with the term "friend" when we say things like "I'm friends with everyone" what you really mean is - I can get along with everyone and treat all I meet with a level of comradery and even familiarity - but you're not necessarily attached to "everyone" by affection or esteem.
Now that we have the definition out of the way. Lets talk about what it looks like when you are "friends" with someone. I feel in friendships there are a lot of indicators that demonstrate friendness - one such indicator is a desire to want to hang out with each other, and doing so comfortably one on one. It's spending time with another person because you enjoy each other's company, have similar interest, and have formed a relationship that is affectionate, but here's the key definition, purely platonic. We love our closest girlfriends - but you sure don't want to make out with them. That's saved up for those opposite sex types (or however you roll) and THAT is what separates the "just Friends" from the "more than just friends" - it's sex. i.e. it's attraction. The difference between your boyfriend, fiance, and spouse and your best friend - is the desire to touch each other and form a more intimate relationship. We categorize that friendship from platonic to romantic simply because you want to hold hands and snuggle. A key distinction.
This is why I don't think heterosexual men and heterosexual women can be just friends; i.e. one-on-one hang out friends. One of them, at some point, finds the other one in SOME respect appealing on a sexual level; i.e. they're attracted to them. I guarantee you - GUARANTEE you - this is the case. Again, I realize your response to my claim is becoming longer and longer with even more examples of the many many opposite sex friendships you think you've been able to maintain. Before submitting that response - I'd like you to call up these people who are maintaining a platonic "close" friendship in your mind and ask them point blank if they've ever been attracted to you. They may lie - and if they do I guess I can't convince you of my theory - but if they don't - well... ;) I win. OR! Perhaps you should be honest with yourself and really reflect on your feelings for this opposite sex "close hang out" friend and just admit - somewhere deep inside there - you nourish a small seedling of hope that this person might, just MIGHT, realize how much they actually find you very appealing beyond friendship levels (a note to girls - men rarely change their mind on this front. Though women - they seem to more easily fall for friends. We like friends :) We want to marry friends).
I've fallen for friends before. It didn't start out that way really - but I kept saying "oh we're just friends" and wanting that friendship to continue because yep, somewhere deep down inside, I hoped that he would see me as a "gal" and not just a "pal." In my scenario, because I was acting like the pal, saying I was okay with pal, so why would his lens ever change? Well, as you can imagine, it never did. Apparently this was a lesson I had to learn TWICE. And BOY, have I learned it. Why do we torture ourselves like this? I find hope a very cruel thing sometimes... beautiful and cruel. A post for another day. I now avoid all such possible scenarios. I was even hanging out with a "friend" the other day and he said something about some dates he was going on and it BOTHERED me. Ding! Ding! Ding! Red alert! And... unfortunately... I knew I had to back RIGHT out of that "friendship" because fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice... shame on me... fool my THREE times and Seriously, girl? How do you not see this coming?!?! Well I could see it coming... so I nipped that sucker RIGHT in the bud. Saved myself some potential future heartbreak. No way was I taking a risk like that again.
There are songs written about men and women being friends, movies produced, and oodles of books where you want so much for the man to dump whatever ho-bag he's dating and realize the amazing woman he's been friends with for YEARS is the woman of his dreams. Cough... how often has that REALLY happened? I'd like a percentage. Like, 3%? AND! It still holds my theory that men and women can't be just friends - because in those scenarios - someone is already in love with the other. Platonic over if one half finds the other even remotely attractive. You've crossed the realm of friends to touching friends - i.e. more than friends. Men and women "friendships" don't exist - because I bet anything one finds the other attractive, or both realize they should date each other and get married, or one tells the other they love them and the friendship is over. Are there any friends you'd like to touch? Then you're not just friends.
I've also had a few guy friends - the one-on-one hang out types - who have considered the same of me... wanting to attempt the dating situation when for me, it just wasn't ever going to happen. I thought it was purely platonic for both of us - which now I know is basically impossible. What's hard about these situations is once that's "out there" - you can't really ever go back to "how it was." I'd like to meet the person who ever successfully did that and truly did not still have some wee remains of "maybe they'll change their mind" floating out there still. I'm just sayin... I've yet to be convinced it's possible. "We can still be friends..." is a nice way of saying "you're dumped." Sad ;)
I've also had some recent conversations with an acquaintance in which he has agreed with me on this point. He mentioned something to the effect that men don't really "want" to be "friends" with women - they either want to date them or they don't. They're not going to "invest" any sort of one-on-one hang out time or plan things for just you two to do unless he is attracted to you in some way. Think about it. Think of that friend you had a wee crush on you wouldn't even admit to yourself. Women who do this invite the men to these one on one things and yeah sure they men will go. I mean why not? It's like hanging out with a dude friend - he's not investing anything. Women do this to themselves CONSTANTLY - thinking if they hang out enough and invite him enough and bake enough brownies - he'll decide he "sees them in this whole new light" and I say... wrong. He'll always be polite and nice and help you when you ask - but his mind isn't going to change - especially if you keep inviting him to crap. And you're inviting him to crap NOT because you're "just friends" but because... somewhere in there... you find the boy attractive and want him to love you. Notice that he doesn't invite YOU to one-on-one things... if he's a good guy anyway. The playa's will. That's a nice story for another day.. "The Date that Wasn't a Date... Apparently."
Men and Women - They Can't Just Be Friends. And we should stop trying to be pals all the time and be gals. It would help this whole dating mess we're in a great deal if we let the natural way of things take their course and STOP pretending like we can maintain something we can't - platonic heterosexual relationships/friendships. You're fooling yourself I tell you!
But don't take it from me - let Harry and Sally convince you:
So, at the weekly worship service today, we had what we call a Mingle after the traditional 3-hour block. I've not attended a family ward in many many years, but in a Singles ward this means there is some sort of sustenance provided for ward members every 3-4 weeks with the idea that we will sit together and build ward comradery and in the case of Singles wards, talk to someone of the opposite sex with whom we would like to consider for eternal matrimony. Nothing says forever like a pasta line or potato bar, am I right?
Today we had such a Mingle and the food provided fluctuates from legitimate meals to dessert or snacky type selections. Cinnamon Rolls, HUGE Cinnamon Rolls, and hot chocolate was on the menu today. Now listen, I'm not one to complain about my Ward preparing and providing free food, in fact I encourage it! But I also am aware that the Holidays amongst other life things over the last 3 months has not been kind to my physical appearance, that is to say, I'm one chubby bunny.
So having even half the cinnamon roll and cup of hot chocolate with accompanying marshmallows I did wasn't the most thought out decision if I truly I'm trying to get back on the "feel better about my self and at least pretend like you care" wagon. To further this sense of sugar-guilt, a wardy I was sitting by felt compelled to tell me there is some Ward Activity in the works that will involve hot springs. And if it involves hot springs, it will involve... oh dear heaven above... wearing a swim suit. Wearing a swim suit among many other singles wearing a swim suit who all have the same goal in mind - to become NOT single in 2013.
The. Pressure. Is. On.
Mid-March, apparently, is the time frame I'm working under. It's time to get serious about getting dead sexy. What? Lets not beat around the bush - sure I look "meh" in some jeans and baggy sweatshirt now - but THOSE days are about to end (thank heavens, we've been living in a icy hell), and soon it will be time to show what your mama gave ya! At least... some of what mama gave ya. And mama didn't give no love-handles and saddle bags. Mmm hmmm. No sir.
Thus, starting TOMORROW it's time to get serious. It's not that I haven't been going to the gym and making an attempt to eat better - but those efforts have been half-butted (what? Remember how I'm not swearing anymore? This is what's left - butted). No more of THAT! If I'm not going to faint, puke, or DIE... then I am not working hard enough. Tomorrow begins my first attempt at fainting or puking... I'll leave the dying for when I finally can buy a pass for Bikram Yoga. Dear Tax Return, chop chop. I've got a deadline.
So if they're any secrets, thoughts, advice, or suggestions you have that would make me truly commit to becoming the next Jillian Michaels, don't hesitate to share!
So though I've become a blogging failure in general, I can at least say I maintain general bloggery consistency with posting on those occasions which all good bloggers post, like Thankful lists on Thanksgiving, some pictures of a Summer Vacation that makes me look more exciting than I am, Birthday reflections/laments, and New Year's Resolutions. When the universe hands you a blogging idea - you can't just say no - not to the Universe at any rate. I mean, it's the UNIVERSE. Plus, since I don't blog about recipes or food stuffs, post millions of pictures of my kids no one else cares about, marital anything (ya know, cause I'm SINGLE), or DIY's, you could say I'm not even a "real" blogger anyway. Just someone who checks in once in awhile. Perhaps one day I'll go nuts and invite my super best girlfriends to a DIY picture frames for those millions of oober unique kid pictures featuring just their legs or the top of their head with a big red balloon or their first doodie in the big kids toilet and we'll eat "and they're good for you!" mini-kale brownies of which I will document from egg carton to my "totally found this plate at a garage sale and then spent only 6 hours stenciling vintage birds and branches on its surface", complete with recipe and open mouthed pictures of my super best girlfriends eating them with surprise and excitement. Doodie.
But... I digress... New Year's Resolutions! I actually have some. And they're actually legitimate. So that's pretty big in and of itself. After my stark realization that my brain/soul/happiness suck was attached to a very negative environment, suddenly what once seemed to take too much energy and enthusiasm (like New Years Resolutions... and life) actually seem appealing, nay EXCITING! So let's begin with the recap... and go from there.
2012 Resolution Recap - or Wow, there was something seriously wrong with me.
1. Come-up with more creative titles for my lists - Sure! Check! I can't believe this was my #1 Resolution for 2012. Doesn't bode well - does it? The depression deepens... 2. Stop calling my Internet friend(s) morons...Well, you may have to be the judge of that Internet friends... but I'm pretty sure I kept my moron calling to my real friends. So... check! 3. Run that *&!%$!! half marathon or stop setting it as a goal - Okay so... like I signed up and like... didn't do it. BUT! I DID do a Sprint Triathlon so I think this is a half check because uh... Triathlons are hard! 4. Grow my hair out to my shoulders but keep the bangs... something rather Zooey DeChanel-esque - Oh it's getting there. I know I should give you photo-proof - but I look like crap right now PLUS my hair is a in a pony tail. You hear that?!?! Pony tail! Yay. 5. Set better goals for self-improvement than "growing my hair out" - That's about to happen! Super CHECK! 6. Travel to a few more places I've never been. - CHECK! So this goal was actually not depressing and I actually accomplished it! Good for me! I ventured to Washington D.C, New York, and North Carolina. In fact, as per the goal, I'd never been to New York in my life and ended up going twice in 6 months! Good for me! CHECK! 7. Work on that novel. And I mean really work on that novel.Fail. But to be fair, clearly I was pretty depressed. Which means creativity suck. Which means it wasn't my fault. You hear me? Sob! I did get a book entitled 642 things to write about to get the juices flowing though. So perhaps I'll start using it! Eh? EH? I'm getting ahead of myself. 8. Make the Summer of 2012 the most campingest, outdoorsy, non-schooled summer I've ever experienced! - I'm pretty sure I didn't go camping once. No not once. Alas.
9. End Lazy Period and do stuff - Eventually yes - this happened I'd say.The Lazy Period sort of overlapped into the Dark Period which generally has the same lack of motivation effect - but I did start working out more. So... half check.
10. Come on, get happy. By happy I mean content. By content I mean grateful. And by grateful I mean humble. - I'd say this one probably goes on the "life-long" goal list. So... work in progress this one. But hopefully I'm closer today than I was yesterday. The clear pattern with the above list and accomplishments... oh... I mean "accomplishments" is that I wasn't in any way trying to significantly and realistically progress in anyway. I think what that list innately conveys is "just maintain... just make it through... just push on" which lets be honest - that happens sometimes. Sometimes, all our faculties are focused on maintaining for awhile. And that's okay. Some progression isn't entirely quantifiable... but it does happen and those years are the best worst years of our lives. HOW-ever it's nice when the maintenance part is taking care of its own a little bit and you can look beyond just treading water to actually moving towards something. Taking some significant strokes if you will. So, regardless of the Resolution list to follow - I'm happy just to be excited about trying harder instead of just survival. 2013 is already a win! Duh.
Resolutions 2013 - or Raising the Bar
As lists go - I like them. I make them. I refer to them. I encourage others to do the same. I've now started categorizing my lists to further enable my OCD tendencies. Which, by the way, seem to be taking root a lot stronger. Old age.
Spiritual - because if this isn't in line, first in line, and aligned (see what I did there? So smart), then nothing else will be.
Attend the LDS Temple twice a month. This I can do. This is #1! Much better than "think of better names for my lists." Eye roll.
Make time for a Spiritual thought, message, or scripture study in the MORNING. There was one year where I was really good at this - and then - as tends to happen with all really good things - I fell out of the habit. Reflecting on that year, it was an incredibly busy and could've been a very stressful year as a wee Undergrad - but it wasn't. I made it. And I tell you it's because I made time for God in the mornings. So let it be written! So let it be done.
Stop Swearing. HA! What? Listen, I'm not saying swearing is some horrible sinful act... but I realize I just shouldn't do it... as a word-smithy particularly. I can think of better things to say! I quote "Profanity is the act of a feeble mind trying to express itself forcibly..." David O. McKay. I will replace such words with ones like "Egad!" or "Holy Bananas!" Or "Drat!" but never, NEVER will you hear "fetch" come out of my mouth unless it is in reference to Gretchen Weiners. Just because I don't want to swear doesn't mean I'm some BYU Zoobie fool yelling out fetch and doing that stupid wrist snap thing they do. Noooooooo thank ya.
Be Still. I've very much learned this year to let go, and let God. It's a hard one for me because I always like to be planning and moving and pushing forward with some concrete plan or adventure or idea. But sometimes, we should just do ourselves a favor and be still... let things go... let things happen. I'm working on this.
Pay off my University of Utah student loan - this will be done by March!
Pay off my car - July!!
Gulp... siiiigh... reduce... sniff... clothes shopping. :( I can't talk about it. It just... needs to be done.
Eat better - so original! Specifically - I can only eat "out" two times a week and I'm really kicking the sugar to the curb. It's bad for you. So bad.
Train for.. are you ready? Here it comes... The Salt Lake City Half Marathon! No listen, I'm doing it. April 20th. Look for me. Cause I'll be there!! Also - if someone wants to run it with me - I won't say no. In fact, I'll say "YES PLEASE!"
Train for the San Rafael Triathlon AND - beat that swim. Because I almost died in the swim - it beat me - but this year... I WILL beat it. Supplemental - I will beat my time by a full 5 minutes! Oh hey step up Boss!
Sign up for Bikram Yoga. I'm excited about this'un! I've really needed something that helps me "center" myself, focus my thoughts, and I also wanted to do something I was really bad at. I am REALLY bad at Yoga. As the self-proclaimed least flexible person alive (or dead - a corpse is more flexible than I am) - this is TOUGH! It's double tough in a 120 degree room... but for some reason I really love it. So when the old tax return rolls in - there will be a sum set aside for Bikram Yoga. Namaste.
Personal Goals - because somethings can fit everywhere and no where
I want to do this - http://kaiizen.org/ Do you want to do this? If you want to do this - tell me and we'll do it. Together. I'd like India or Thailand - but will accept any.
Exercise greater mercy - give people the benefit of the doubt. Always.
Find small ways to help people around me with small things.
Never make anyone feel small. Ever.
Take the GRE... so I can...
Begin applying for PhD programs for Fall 2014. Yep - I just threw that out there. It's time... already... hyperventilate.
And there you have it! I mean, if anything this year's resolutions are by far and away more ambitious and in every way more optimistic then that pathetic piddle I posted last year. Right? Right!!!?
2012. What a year, eh? Meh. I guess as years go - At first glance I wouldn't say it was particularly stand out sort of year. I went a few new places, but nothing to earth-shattering. However, upon closer inspection, I've discovered I've learned something very valuable this year. You might even say I've learned something about myself that will likely change my life henceforth. Isn't that exciting? Sure it is. Don't we all want to look back on what is past and see that we have moved forward from where we were? Changed somehow, ideally for the better? If you don't then you're either perfect in every way already (i.e. only Jesus can say that - so now you're a liar!) OR, a huge loser. So if you're Jesus, a liar, or a huge loser, this post may not hit home for you. Okay, Jesus probably gets it cause ya know... that's what He does, He "gets" things... but the other two groups - back to your video games and Manga comics! Go on, then.
What lessons did I learn this year? Well, several fold - but it all surrounds something called happiness. Or, to put a finer point on it, choosing happiness.
I learned this year that I'm not invincible... even if I'm choosing to be invincible... I can't be. I'm still human and therefore not only flawed in a myriad of ways, but also boasting a good amount of mortal weakness as well. That's probably why we love hero's - they rise above the "natural man" and do extraordinary things. They give us hope in our own potential. Of course, each of us struggle with things that perhaps someone else doesn't. Thus the need for patience and kindness towards each other - because don't we want others to be patient with our weaknesses? Oh that golden rule - always swooping in and making its point! And here's another point - because I'm not invincible, I have to choose my happiness. Chew on THAT gem while I explain myself...
Here is how I'm not invincible and thus, must choose my happiness:
1. An overall positive environment is essential to my living a good life
2. It's okay to choose my friends
1. I used to think I could handle any sort of situation because I've always been a very rational/logical person. I used to think I didn't let emotions get the better of me nor would I give up on anything just because it was "hard." There's pride for you. I've never dropped a class or given up or quit because the pressure was mounting. A very "do your worst, for I shall do mine!" sort of mentality. How very heroic - or so I thought. I thought giving up on anything was a weakness - and I wanted to be strong! Committed! See things through no matter what the odds! I would've gotten that ring to Mordor! Won the Hunger Games (or die... cause that's uh.. the rules)! Survived the Zombie Apocalypse! This seems like a good thing - doesn't it? Well, turns out, sometimes strength is knowing when to let things go - to know when it's time to choose a different route, to weigh your options and go down a path less traveled.
Strength is choosing your happiness by sometimes choosing to walk away. After all, happiness IS a choice, right? It's something we can choose to feel despite the circumstances around us. Easier. Said. Than. Done. But that doesn't make it any less true. Thus, my realizing I require an overall positive environment to live a good life. Positive environment can be defined in a lot of ways - physical environment, mental environments, spiritual environments, etc. When I say positive environment - I mean the aura, "vibe", overall "feel" of my physical surroundings need to be more positive than negative for me to truly thrive. I think most of us are like this - I just didn't think I was one of those. It's intrinsic and extrinsic. It's knowing the only person you can control is yourself. It's realizing that as much as you resist being effected by those around you - it wears you down. At least, I found out that despite my best intrinsic efforts - I was wearing down... slowly and steadily... wearing down. I found out that though I was trying my best to intrinsically "choose" happiness in a very negative environment, I was starting to slip. My surroundings were unearthing my intrinsic limits... turns out there actually was only so much I could take. I wasn't invincible after all... and was beginning to very acutely feel it. I was letting the vapors of gloom seep into my soul.
This environment was effecting every faucet of my life. What's crazy, is I didn't realize it until I was finally removed from that environment - plucked out of shadow and into the light. In this negative environment, I didn't want to participate in anything that I used to enjoy - I was always too exhausted to even stomach the idea of going for a run or being creative in any capacity or writing (see blog disappearance), discovering new hobbies or even summoning the energy to plan a nice relaxing weekend away. Everything around me was heavy - and I was having a hard time lifting anything "extra" beyond getting up and going through the steps each day. All my strength was laser focused on being patient... patient patient patient... controlled... and conquering the "natural man" of not giving up. I was battling my own weakness - my own lack of capacity to be surrounded by misery and choose happiness. I will tell you, most days I won that battle, but it didn't leave much left for anything else. Misery loves company - and I was beginning to be it's weekly lunch date.
In the end, the seams started to break, the rafters were buckling, and something needed to give... or I was going to join the ranks of Prozac dependents! Oh sunshine pills - cast thy rose colored glasses over my toiling soul! (Andrea original. Take that Shakespeare)
And then... give it did... but not in the nervous break down sort of way. I was mercifully removed from that environment and wouldn't you know it? Suddenly, I wanted to... well.. don't take this in some morbid "red flag" way... but I wanted to LIVE again! Not trudge through, but I suddenly got the energy to do those things I enjoyed doing and what's more, I even started setting meaningful goals again! Rather than seeing a goal as yet another burden I didn't have the energy for, I saw it as something exciting and attainable! The past month has been one of the brightest spots of my year! I had NO idea how deeply that negative environment was truly effecting me physically, mentally, emotionally, and physically until I was suddenly beyond it and saw a bright sun shining onto my world. It is bittersweet to be taken right to the very edge of your capacity... and even a little beyond it... and be saved by the tender understanding of an all-knowing God. And I tell you Internet, that's exactly what happened to me!
I also learned, there are things that you can't change - situations that just "are" - but having had this experience - I learned that I can choose how to contribute in the most positive way - to opt in or opt out of situations or scenarios that effect the little individual circle I'm standing in. Choosing to with hold rather than react.
Which leads to...
2. It's okay to choose my friends
I always feel I've had a proclivity to become friends with anyone - and in fact- felt it was my Christian duty to be friends with one and all - no matter who they are, how they live, and what they choose. However, I've learned this year that I do not need to be blood-binding friends with everyone - that I don't need to automatically add every enjoyable conversationalist to my inner circle of comrades to let them know that I see them as my fellow-human. No, there is a separate internal "safe space" that I am not required to let everyone into. My Christian duty is to be kind, patient, charitable, generous, tolerant, a good example, sisterly, and all those other positive attributes that emulate the Christ in Christian, but I don't have to be every one's best friend - and I don't have to give up what's most important to me to accommodate less important things. I simply can't be every one's best friend and maintain my positive environment - or maintain the highest standard of who I know I am. Some influences and relationships, because of human weakness and capacity, just can not be - they can not go on. I've learned this several times this year in sometimes very painful ways. It's a tricky thing - human existence - but I think I'm starting to grasp a few things surrounding my little piece of existence.
I've also learned to prioritize my relationships: God, family (i.e. spouse when that happens), and good friends. That's how it lines up for me - so if family or friends are getting in the way of my relationship with God, then they must be cut loose. If friends or even other family members are getting in the way - or to put it more softly - negatively effecting my relationship with my spouse (you see the optimism already? It's almost PRESENT tense! Woah.), then they must be adjusted, distanced, and unfortunately if necessary, cut loose. I hope that doesn't sound too harsh. It's definitely a very difficult situation to navigate and many times, a sorrowful decision to cut someone loose because the relationship is not jiving with what's most important to me. I CAN choose happiness in the "have to deal with this for awhile situations" - but I also have a choice to put myself into certain situations and in relationships that would effect the balance of happiness in my life. Now that I know I'm not invincible - I can make more informed choices. You can only walk with someone so far, before you have to stop and let them carry on alone. I guess that's why God is God, because He is the only one that can walk with you the whole way.
2012 was a tough year -but a good sort of tough. No one wishes hard things to happen, but WHEN they do, you can be certain that you'll eventually look back and understand why it was how it was. I feel those kind of years are some of the greatest gifts life gives us. No year is a waste if you can say you're a little better than you were the year before.
So long, 2012! May I remember the lessons you've taught me and may 2013 be one of those really smooth sailing sort of years filled with sunshine and roses! And... dates. Good dates... ;) That lead to engagement and marriage. HURRAY!
Ahoy! Yes, it is I! You didn't know I was taking a bloggery hiatus did you? Well, neither did I, but there it is.
I've mentioned in previous posts my random bouts of creativity-suck that seem to happen periodically and as a result the bloggery world is not graced with my wisdom for sometimes several weeks... months even. I generally try to pin this down on spectacular busy busy busyness or, head exploding stress. See school for example. School will suck everything happy and creative and discretionary right out of you. You could say - its a soul sucker. Probably why I'm thinking I'll head back down that dark path soon - apparently all academics are also masochists. Makes sense - otherwise no one would get a PhD.
This creativity-suck could mostly be attributed to those dark places we must go sometimes. It's like swimming with cement shoes - all you can think about is not getting pulled under.
But lately, I've felt the sunshine seep back into my soul! School had nothing to do with it because oh happy joy joy! I graduated from that soul suck over a year ago... after which I entered the "lazy period" and then one of those dreamy gray times where life's kind of floating about eerily. That generally happens right before... dun dun dun.. the dark zones. I also find you don't realize things are a soul suck or you've just waded through a personal dark zone until you close that chapter of your life and then look back - weeks, months, maybe so much as a year later and think, "yep... I was drowning and that's why I didn't blog, have motivation to do anything ever, and felt like the entire world was frozen and empty." Some things do that to you. And those things, though good for us in the long run, eventually need to be stamped out. Endured. And then squashed like a BUG! Enduring is a tricky word, isn't it? I think sometimes we don't really understand what it means until we've had a nice healthy round of endurance. Perhaps you long-distance runners can relate to this idea since you rely so heavily on endurance to finish the race. To push through because you know there's a finish line. You know after "x" amount of miles - you no longer have to endure. You've finished. You're done. Now for a big plate of pasta! It helps to know the end from the beginning.
I think what takes endurance to the next level is not knowing - but just having to believe that the finish line is there and that when you finally make it - there's a big plate of pasta waiting just for you. Not knowing how far you'll have to go, if that steep uphill climb is the last of them, hoping that around this corner, or this corner, or this corner, the finish line will appear in the not to far off distance and being disappointed again and again - that's when endurance takes on a whole new meaning - it's called faith. There's some choice in this I suppose. You can hop off the track - try and find a short cut or get lost in the winding streets or simply just plop your sad self down on the road. After so long, it just seems like there is no finish line, so what's to be done? I think this idea of endurance is something you can only wrap your head around once you've had to do it. Once you've decided to dig your feet in and decide no matter what lies ahead, you're not only going to keep at it, you're going to do it with whatever you've got. Even if that means walking sometimes to catch your breath. Slow progress is still progress after all.
Another excellent point! Enduring isn't just muddling through though is it? - it's trudging through! with character! Self-discipline, unfailing humility, a deep well of patience, turning the other cheek, long-suffering, not being reactionary, and reminding yourself that one day, you WILL look back and see the beginning from the end. That's when you'll know that what's more important than stretching across that finish line, is knowing you didn't push anyone down, stomp on anyone's toes, or cut any corners to get there. Even if your toes were stomped on, you were pushed down, and your claims for justice would've been completely acceptable - you restrained, you kept your wits about you, and you never let reaction dictate your actions. No. It's better to maintain your own self-respect in the long run than secure fleeting feelings of triumph because of one reactionary word, one justifiable quip, or one hearty slap to the face. SMACK! Even when you think that hearty slap would feel ohhhhh soooo goood.
I read something awhile ago that has completely changed my interactions with everyone I meet and gave me a new perspective on what it means to endure. It was particularly poignant when facing those who find happiness in the failures of others - those who during my own dark zones - were heavy burdens for me to bear. It is one word.. and that word is Genshai (GEN-shy), and it means that you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small. This struck me in a very powerful way - it took the idea of "treat others how you want to be treated" and elevated it. Genshai is brotherly love and charity combined. It's purity of interaction and it allows us to walk a mile in each others shoes - it bounds us together in common experiences - and elevates us all to a higher plane. The timing of my discovery of this word helped me not only endure - but to endure without regret. I wasn't perfect - but I was aware and that awareness kept my self-respect in tact. And though there are many more races ahead, I think I will be able to endure them even a little bit longer and feel little bit lighter if I apply Genshai - that I will never treat anyone - and I emphasize ANYONE - in a way that would make them feel small.
As many of you know, dating is usually a feast or famine sort of exercise. At least for moi, sometimes I'll suddenly have a lot ("a lot" in comparison to... say... the translucent hairy fat 30 something living in his parents basement who only ventures out to restock his Manga comic and Ding Dong supply... every three months) of dates (many of them first and once in awhile second dates) and then just as quickly, I will go months without so much as a nibble. At these times I redouble my efforts at the gym thinking it must be the love handles and nothing to do with my early disclosure as a self-proclaimed Trekkie. Ahem. Also, knowing that it's "famine time" and hoping the next round of "feast" will bring something a little more long-term say, 4 dates and a make out sort of long term (a girl has needs), I try and find ways to appreciate that good guy when he comes around.
THUS! Approaching probably the end of another "feast" sort of timeline and seeing the famine ahead, I've mentally made a list of things it would be nice to have a male companion around for. That only sounds like I want a man around to put him to work because I'd like a man around to put him to work. OR! Because when think of companionship - I think of sharing the load. "Shaaaare the loooooad" (two e-high fives and a thumbs up for whomever can name THAT obscure movie allusion). It also helps me remember to very much appreciate a man for his manly qualities by doing the man-jobs I'd like a man around to man-do. Man.
The Man List of Man-jobs I appreciate in a Man
1. Taking out the garbage - I'm such a girl when it comes to taking out the garbage. I hold it away from me as far as I can, nose wrinkled, opposite wrist popped, scamper out to the trash, lift the lid by not touching as much of it as possible, toss in the bag of nasty, and then scamper off sniffling at the injustice of it all.
2. Rolling the garbage to the curb - see afore mentioned scamper and prance and sniffling. I don't like touching the garbage. It's grossy. It's garbage. Like, ew.
3. Hauling in groceries - I'm a wee sort of person and also somewhat lazy when it comes to taking more trips than I have to. Even when I SHOULD take more trips I try not to. So stringing groceries all the way up my arm, staggering to the door, fumbling with keys, and staggering in grunting under the load of 8 bags of groceries makes me inevidtibly long for the musuclar biceps and stamina of a man. A man who can haul in the groceries is the man of my heart.
4. Reaching things - I can't reach things. Or, I can't reach things without my stool. Yes, I have a stool. Back off. I look forward to the day when I can say with a sweet smile and bat of my eyelashes, "Dearest, will you reach that very high bowl on the second shelf for me? You're so tall... er than 5'1." Giggle.
5. Unscrewing things - given
6. Outside jobs - particularly ones that involve bushes or dead foliage that could house spiders.
7. Killing spiders - Be a man! Kill a Spider! And win my affections for all eternity. And possibly a home made t-shirt with that very mantra.
8. Lifting heavy things and moving them over there and then back again just to see how it looks. Do you know how LONG it takes me to move things - heavy things? It's because it takes me double the trips (and you know how I feel about multiple trips), not to mention a wall nick, stubbed toe, or bruised shin, it would take a manly sort of man to accomplish. This extends to moving "tall" things that may not be heavy, but because they are large in general, sure put up a fight! In fact, I had to call a man friend to help me haul a mattress up some stairs that I tell you Internet I tried and tried and tried to navigate myself and simply could not DO IT. The two of us though - mainly him - we moved that mattress like it's never been moved before! That's what she said. OH! Snap!
9. Checking on that weird noise in the backyard/basement/bathroom/sunroom/bedroom... Currently, I just turn on the TV to drown out any indicator of potential home invaders, rapists, zombies, etc. If I can't hear it - it doesn't exist sort of psychology. But with a man and perhaps a sturdy bat, my mind would be put much more at ease in a more practical sort of way. Gasp! I heard something... will you go check? I'll dial 9 then 1 then wait to press 1 if you scream!
10. Anything to do with my car. I don't like messing with my car. Sure, I could learn to jump my car or change a tire. In fact, as an independent woman living on my own, by heaven it's my Super Woman DUTY (and just plain common sense) to learn how to do those things. But I feel that would take away a very manly job from a man who wants to show his man-ness! And who am I to take that opportunity away from a man? Add change my oil to that list and I'm yours!
11. Man-hugs. Girls like to feel smaller than their male counter-parts as well as protected. I'm sure it goes back to some innate basic instinct cultivated in the cave people days and a good man-hug helps fulfill that basic need in some fashion now that there's no need to go club a wooley mammoth for our winter vittles. At least, for me it does. I will shamelessly admit that a good strong man hug - siiiigh - that's just the ticket to ease the anxiety of a very bad day. Makes me feel all snug and safe for some reason. In fact, you could call me a man-hug hoe if you wanted! Go on! DO IT! I don't mind. I'll accept a good hearty man-hug anytime, anywhere. Er... but maybe not from anyONE. Man-hug is a good man-job. One of my favorites!
There you have it! A man list of man-jobs I'd like to have a man around to do. Now, of course I CAN do these things myself and have for quite a loooong time (except man-hug myself - it's just not the same). I just will very much appreciate when I have someone around to help with those things once in awhile. Make this complicated and sometimes difficult existence a little simpler and a little easier. And for my part, I promise to shower most of the time, bake banana bread sometimes, and rub your man shoulders once in awhile. Eh? Eh?!? Pretty good!
Anything I've missed you appreciate about having the mens in your life around? This is a wee list, but it's really the small things, isn't it? I think so.