Friday, December 18, 2015

#HeForShe Recipe

A photo posted by #HeForShe (@heforshe) on
Two of my coworkers were enlightening another of how our fathers empowered us as young girls so that we could grow to be confident, strong women. Growing up, I often heard how proud my dad was of me for being smart, getting good grades, and being a good big sister. He and my mom entrusted me at an early age to help care for my younger siblings and let me make all of my own decisions, supporting me each step of the way. I was blessed to grow up knowing that I was not limited because I was a girl. And that I could do whatever I set my mind to. It has made me the uncompromising, demanding (but only in the best of ways--I think) person I am today. With expectations that might be a little too high.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Why I'm Glad I Didn't Marry at 19

I know that I blog about how dismally sad that I'm not married and I'm childless and all these other things at the age of 30. But the truth is, I am infinitely more grateful that I didn't get married at 19.

At the age of 19, it's hard to have a true understanding of what real life is like. 

If you're lucky, you graduated from high school with little to no challenges. You weren't struggling to find creative ways in which to meet your basic needs. Shelter, food, and clothing were provided. The hardest thing I had to do was find a way to balance my part-time job, some homework, and wake up at 4:30 a.m. for early morning seminary. Once, I ran out of gas on the way to Edison. Once, my tire went flat at midnight on a country road. This was all before I had a cell phone. See? My life was hard.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to move out of my parents' house, and into an apartment. This is where it became critical to learn how to pay my bills. I had to balance my needs (rent, food, tuition) with my wants (those pants that fit because I wasn't actually buying food and that double-feature movie procrastination day). I lived a bunch of kids my own age and to varying degrees of success. Some of my roommates were gems that developed into long-lasting or lifetime friendships. Others were straight up trials, that helped me figure out how to deal with difficult people.

Life has been one barrel roll over a waterfall after the other. From my cars falling apart at the most inopportune times, to health or family challenges, and job changes, it seems like nothing is ever easy. That there's always something. And it always happens at the worst time.

But inbetween the trying times, there's the trips, the laughing fits with your best friends, the cozy meals, and the exploration of the city/state/country or the world. If I had been married at 19, I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences that have colored my life with happiness. I would not be friends with any of the men and women that I associate with now. It was during the ages of 19-25 that I really was developing into the person who I am today and to have been married during that time would have changed so much. And I'm not convinced it would have changed for the better.

At 19, you're still trying to figure out who you are. 

How can you possibly know who you are if you have never lived on your own? If you have never dealt with anything outside of your comfort zone? If you have only a few years of part-time employment experience, and spent the rest of the time in a classroom studying things that you're guaranteed to forget instantly?

There's so much to know. And so much to experience. Trying to figure out a way to support a young family before you've learned how to support yourself seems ludicrous to me.

At 19, you haven't had enough relationship experience to know what you're doing.

I equate picking a spouse at the age of 19 to blindly picking out a boat before you know what kind of water you'll be in.

And honestly, it doesn't hurt to test out some of the boats, before you know how they'll handle the crash of the waves, or the bends in the rivers. Do you really want to take that rowboat into the open ocean? Or try and fit that cruiseline down a mountain stream?

Sometimes you choose correctly. I do understand that. But at 19, how can you have really had enough experiences in relationships, to know you're making a choice that you are going to be happy with 10 or 20 years from now? In what other scenarios is is appropriate to just pick the very first thing to come along and go with it in full confidence?

I think it should be illegal to marry before the age of 25. (Ok, maybe 24.)

This seems extreme, but I really believe it. Even in Mormondom, where we expect everyone to save sex for marriage, I think that it doesn't hurt to experience a little bit of life outside of college, outside the realms of these very temporary blips of our life stories. Once you've graduated, and found at least the first step in the ladder of your career, things start to settle. You start to realize that life is always going to be crazy, and if it isn't one thing, it will be the other, but you'll have a strategy with how to deal with it. You'll know how you handle all kinds of life situations, and know what kind of person you'll need in a life partner in order to help you be successful. Or in helping you become a better person.

I believe that every relationship you're a half in, should help you become a better person. If there are people that are dragging you down, then you shouldn't continue with the relationship. But if you don't know what kind of person you are, then you don't really know where to set the bar! And it should be equal. You should be encouraging those around you to be better people and to grow in some way. If you don't know who you are, then you won't know what kind of influence you are on other people, either.

There are sometimes I wish that I were married, and that I had begun this other stage in my life. I get tired of what I feel like is ACT I. Marriage and babies would be my ACT II and I do feel like I'm ready for that scene change. But the thought of starting ACT II at the age of 19 would have been a huge detriment to my story. There would have been too many plot holes, and too many characters cut. Yes, ACT I has been long-going, but, I wouldn't cut anything from it. It makes me sad to think that there are so many that do without truly weighing in what they are losing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Birthday Month Part 2 - The Biological Clock

Posting about something that you logically know is ridiculous, but can't help how you feel anyway, is always conflicting. On the one hand, you don't want your most inner thoughts and feelings public. And on the other, you can't imagine going another minute without making sure that someone knows exactly how you are feeling. When you write on a blog, you make yourself vulnerable and open to others' judgments, their advice, and their criticisms.

Of course. I've always been one to lay it all out there, regardless of what someone else is going to say.

Which is why, when I was sitting in a team meeting the other day, and my coworker had finally had it about my complaints about my upcoming birthday and snapped at me, I shrugged and nothing changed. Despite his reassurances that I'm fine, and that I have nothing to worry about, I don't really believe him.

Despite the fact that most of my friends have hit this upcoming milestone, does nothing to assuage my own fears and anxiety about it.

I turn 30 soon. Less than two weeks away and I am freaking out.

I don't want to freak out. I would love to enter into my 30s gracefully. But instead, I feel like the reluctant cat being dragged into the bathwater. I'm trying to grab at anything that will give me more time, and Time just keeps pulling me right along and out of my 20s like it's no big deal.

That's what everyone would have me believe, anyway. That it's no big deal. That so far, their 30s have been THE BEST. Any maybe that's true for them. And maybe it'll be true for me. But I'm having a hard time accepting it. Especially when it comes from those who have married and started having their babies (or not having their babies, if that was their choice). Of course being 30 is no big deal when you have your partner in crime to be there with you.

The problem is that when I turned 24, then 25, 26, and then 27, I said to myself, "It doesn't matter that I'm not married. That I haven't started having kids. At least I'm not 30." Every year that things haven't happened the way that I wished them to, I've reassured myself that I have plenty of time. That I'm not 30, and therefore, it was OK to continue on. That somehow things would be different by the time I hit this particular date.

But nope.

I can't say that things are really much different at all.

And so I'm panicking. Because even though I could probably transfer all this dread and worry onto the age of 40. "At least I'm not 40!"

I worry. I worry because the last decade has gone by SO quickly. And if it has happened once, who is to say it won't happen again? And how can a decade blow by and nothing change?

“Today we tell girls to grow up to be or do whatever they want. But the cultural pressure to become a mother remains very strong; rare is she who doesn’t at least occasionally succumb to the nagging fear that if she remains childless, she’ll live to regret it.” —Kate Bolick 

I wonder if I were raised differently if it would matter so much. People are quick to accuse the fact that I've lived in Utah for the last 11 years, watching 19 year old girls marry; or that I've been raised Mormon where the emphasis on being a wife and mother and a part of a perfect little family unit; and that is why I am so hung up on all of this.

But I find that hard to believe as a full explanation. My earliest memories are of me mothering my younger siblings, writing stories about two lady bugs that fall in love and have babies. Playing house....

Being a wife and mother has always been something that was important to me.

I wish I could be content with the thought of not. I wish I could be strong enough to be OK with the idea that if it happens it happens and that is great. But if it doesn't happen, then that's great too.

I'm not though.

What happens if 40 comes, and everything is the same again? Then there is no hope. Even my doctor told me, "If you were turning 40, then I'd be crying with you." I just can't seem to leave the timeline of events alone. No matter what I do, I can't negotiate with Time to give me more. I don't want to go back to when I was younger and more naive. I don't want to have to relive the years where I wasn't quite sure of who I am, or remake some of those same mistakes. But I do not want to be 30. Not yet.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Birthday Month Part 1 - The List

Things that I thought I'd accomplish before the age of 30:

  • Graduate from college
  • Travel
  • Know who I am
  • Have my finances under control
  • Own a house
  • Kiss men
  • Fall in love
  • Have my heart broken
  • Fall in love again
  • Introduce my family to "the guy"
  • Go through the temple
  • Get married
  • Have a baby
  • or two babies
  • Have my own family traditions established
  • Drive a car that works
  • Move out of Utah
  • Live closer to my parents
  • Write something
  • Lose weight
  • Be important to someone
  • Have my health under control
  • Have lifelong friends
  • Feel content and ready to leavy my 20s behind
Things that I will have accomplished before the age of 30:

  • Graduate from college
  • Travel
    • Scotland
    • Hawaii
    • Japan
    • Canada
    • Utah
    • California
    • NYC
    • Florida
    • Idaho
  • Know who I am
  • Have my finances under control
  • Own a house
  • Kiss men
  • Fall in love
  • Have my heart broken
    • By a friend, not a boyfriend
  • Fall in love again
  • Introduce my family to "the guy"
  • Go through the temple
  • Get married
  • Have a baby
  • or two babies
  • Have my own family traditions established
  • Drive a car that works
    • Have my car totaled in a car accident
  • Move out of Utah
    • Fall in love with Utah
  • Live closer to my parents
  • Write something
  • Lose weight
  • Be important to someone
  • Have my health under control
    • Have surgery to remove an ovary
    • Go through cancer treatments
    • Lose my hair
    • Regrow my hair
  • Have family members go through cancer
  • Have lifelong friends
    • Watch lifelong friends move away
    • Have lifelong friends move back
  • Feel content and ready to leave my 20s behind

Monday, October 26, 2015

One Year

I passed the year mark of my surgery on September 19. Tomorrow will be the one-year mark from the day that I went in and discussed my chemotherapy just before I started treatments. (And then bawled in my car for a good 30 minutes before I could call my mom. FYI: NO ONE should go to those appointments alone. They are the worst.) As I hit these little anniversaries, I've been trying to be really introspective about it all.

What have I learned in this past year? What have I really experienced? Am I as strong as everyone keeps claiming I am, or have I just been really successful in deceiving them all?

The truth is, I feel like I'm a failure of a cancer survivor.

I'm only introspective because other people keep bringing it up. I don't feel like I've learned any major life lessons. I haven't developed lasting, supportive relationships with the women I worked out with for 12 weeks in a study up at Huntsman, or with the doctors and nurses who treated me. I tried really hard not to need anyone during the whole ordeal.

I saw some friends that I hadn't seen in probably a year, and they asked how I was feeling. People ask me that all the time. Not in a "hey, how are you?" question that everyone asks everyone. But a "So. How are you feeling?" I know exactly what they mean, of course. But my health is never high on my list of concerns and so I don't think about it. Ever. Until someone asks, and then I don't want to think about it because I'm feeling fine. I'm tired because I didn't go to bed until 2 a.m. I'm lonely. I'm stressed because of work. But I'm not anything because of cancer.

I'm done with all of that. (Minus the millions of worthless follow-up appointments.)

I don't like being associated with cancer unless it is to my advantage. (Yeah, so what? I still try to play the cancer card when it suits me. Never mind that it hasn't worked for me much.)

For something that can be so earth-shattering and life-changing for some, has been a relative nothing for me. If it weren't for the fact that my hair is still the bane of my existence that I have to deal with every single morning, I think that I would literally forget that any of this happened a year ago. It would be on the radar the same as when I crushed my hand in a falling window. Or that time I checked in the hospital for bleeding to death. (A precursor to everything else I've dealt with turns out.) Something that sucked while I was going through it, but aside from the medical bills and follow-up appointments, has nothing to do with my day-to-day.

Every reason that I've come with as to why I had to go through all of this has been shot down as the year progressed. Did it fix any of the medical things I was dealing with before? No. Did it exempt my family from having to deal with cancer? No. So perhaps there is no reason, except that life sometimes sucks, and that we have to go through sucky things.

And then we're done with them. And they are a blip on the radar of life. Here, and then gone in a year. And in its wake leaving a path of insecurities, debts, and not a whole lot more. Something that you would totally forget, if others did.

Even when I was going through treatments, it was not always the highest on the list of woes in my life. When listing out the trials of my life, it usually landed on spot number two or three or four. (The exception being the second or third day after treatments, when I'd forgotten to take my Dex. Those days truly did suck.) Unlike so many true survivors, I never thought of myself as in a battle or as if I were fighting off cancer. I hate being grouped in with those who have had it so much worse. Who have tried treatment after treatment, only to find that their cancer morphed into something different and had to switch up their meds or add treatments. I lost an ovary. But the physical evidence is limited to a scar that no one will likely ever see, and the scar left behind by my port.

I also hate how much I care about my stupid hair. I'm obsessed with it. I talk about it all the time, but I hate whenever anyone else does. I hate what I see when I look in the mirror. I obsessively look at pictures from a year ago when I had long, blonde hair and cry over the fact that I'll be 32 before it looks anything close to that again. I hate that it matters. I want to want to embrace my short hair, and instead, I just get angry about it all.

So have I learned anything in the past year? Am I a better person? Have I grown? Am I really that strong? I think no. I remain me. Unchanged. Unhinged. Shorter hair.




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