IMO

I started out kind of shy. I always felt incredibly nervous in a situation with people I didn’t know. The thought of introducing myself was enough to make me run away in petrified fright. I am super outgoing once I meet someone but the idea of breaking the ice has always scared me silly.

At some point I realized that this was stupid. I guess I talked to enough people to realize that we all feel intimidated by meeting others for the first time. I also was “the new person” enough times to know that there are very few things as wonderful as being in a new place or sitting by a stranger and having someone reach out a hand of friendship*. At some point I decided I just need to put the scaredness behind me and say hello to strangers.

Everyone feels shy sometimes. Nearly all of us feel slightly bashful about initiating a conversation or meeting somebody new. I was surprised to find out that even my mother–the most outgoing person ever born on Planet Earth–feels shy sometimes.  Here’s what I have to say about shyness: get over it. All shyness will ever do is hold you back in life.

I’m sure some of you will swear that this isn’t the case, but I really feel like being shy is just another facet of being scared. Whether it’s being scared of rejection, or being scared of making a fool of yourself or being scared of simply trying something new, it all boils down to getting over yourself.  You aren’t the prettiest or the funniest or the smartest. So what? You’re still an interesting person and your views on things are just as good as the views as the person sitting next to you. So stop being a quiet little mouse.

I know, I know. It’s easier to just tell yourself that people won’t like you or you don’t know what to say. Here’s the secret: people don’t really rememeber what you say, especially if you’re in a crowd or busy place. Think about the last time you met someone. Do you remember the exact conversation you had with them? No? I can’t remember either. I pretty much just remember that the last person I met was interesting to talk to and that she had just moved here from out of state. That’s it. So don’t overanalyze what you say when you meet someone, just say something. Don’t try to hard to be funny or interesting. Trying too hard is a recipe for disaster. Being a good listener is the ticket.

So what do you say? How do you start? It’s just like jumping into a swimming pool. It’s best just to do it; the more you think about it, the more freaked out you’ll get.  Here’s a scenario that works pretty much anywhere that you might be sitting next to a stranger. This could be at a concert, at church, at a meeting, at a college lecture. This is what you do: turn to the person and say, “Hi, I’m [insert your name]”  Hold your hand out to shake if it’s appropriate (not so much in High School English). Then pay them a compliment of some sort (this is for women, I don’t know that this works the same way for men. Probably men might be a little weirded out if you tell them they have nice hair). Here are some examples:

I love your sweater.

That purse is so adorable.

Your eyes are the prettiest shade of gold.

That necklace is really cool.

Don’t go overboard and don’t start talking about yourself and how you hate your purse but your sister bought it for you so you have to use it anyway. Or how you have blue eyes just like your grandmother. It’s our natural nervous reaction to talk about ourselves. Fight it. Please, please fight it.

Next, ask them something about themselves and how it relates to the place where you are.

Have you been to a concert here before?

How do you think this class is going so far?

Do you come to blog conferences a lot?

WARNING: if you are meeting someone new at a place you’ve been going to forever, it can be a little tricky asking them if they’re new. It can seem really terrible if they’ve been going to the same church/yoga class/book club for three months and you just barely noticed them . It can really sting when someone asks you if you’re new and you aren’t. So try not to ask, “are you new here?” They may be, but if they aren’t it’s going to seem really awkward. If you honestly haven’t noticed, try a phrase like, “I don’t think we’ve officially met” This is especially good when you’ve seen the person around but you’ve both been too shy to make introductions.

After the person has answered this question, I find that admitting how nervous you were about the situation creates instant camaraderie and let’s them know that you are honest and they can relax around you. When people feel like they can be themselves around you then you will both feel a lot less shy.

“I was so nervous walking in here. Everyone seems like they know what they’re doing”

“I’ve never been to this club and I was so nervous about where to park”

“I always feel so awkward sitting next to a total stranger”

“I was so nervous that I might not be smart enough to come to this book club.”

The awesome thing is that when you admit something that you were nervous or scared about, the other person will agree or show some sort of empathy. Always. This is just the American way to communicate. If you don’t live in America, you can try this but I have no idea if it works. If you are shy in the U.S., though, give this a try. Admitting you were scared is a fantastic ice-breaker.

After this you should be able to come up with some things to say. Remember, though, to ask questions of the other person. Don’t just talk about yourself. It’s tacky and boring to the other person. If you suddenly find a lull in conversation, ask them about themselves: where they grew up, if they have kids/siblings, what they studied in college. I’m sure you can come up with something.

I still get butterflies when I have to introduce myself to a complete stranger. Due to my job at church, though, I pretty much have to. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a funk or if they don’t look like someone who might not be my type. I’ve come to realize that we all want to feel like we belong. It’s your job as a decent human to put that shyness away and try to be friendly. Seriously, being shy is lame. I’m speaking as a sometimes-shy person. Really, the title of this post shouldn’t be “how to not feel shy”. Because I don’t really know how to to just not feel shy. I still feel shy all the time. Really I want you to learn how to get over it and be friendly even when it’s scary and you’re not in the mood. So what if you don’t want to? You’re a grown-up, do it anyway!

If it helps you can repeat this saying that I made up for my chronically bashful children:

Be the first one to say “hi”,

Even if you’re feeling shy.

 

*To this day I will always remember and be grateful to Suzie Cavolloro who stood next to me in the lunch line at my new school in 11th grade. She introduced herself, asked if I wanted to sit next to her in the lunchroom (YES!!! There is no event as horribly intimidating as the first time you walk into the lunchroom at a new school), and even invited me to a party she was planning that weekend. Your kindness has stayed with me all these years, Suzie!



 

Here are ten things that make me really happy (In no particular order):

Looking out the window. I could sit for hours and just look out the window. Any window, really.  I just like to let my mind wander and think about whatever. Sometimes I’ll walk by a window and can’t resist stopping and staring. And staring. and thinking. I don’t know why this is. But it also explains why I like road trips, since that’s nothing more than sitting and looking out the window for hours on end.

Presents. These are my love language and I just love them. I cannot resist a present. But it can’t just be any old present; it has to actually be selected thoughtfully. I don’t care if it’s expensive (actually, I prefer it not to be), as long as it’s thoughtful. My husband is the king of thoughtful presents. That’s really what won me over when we were dating. He can give a better gift with $20 than most people could with $200. My mom, on the other hand is not a good gift giver (sorry, Mom!) Mostly because she either leaves the tags from Goodwill on the item or she does something like this: I found a prettily-wrapped present on my pillow earlier this year and unwrapped it to find a pair of cute earrings. When I thanked my mom she replied, “they came with a necklace I just bought. Since I don’t have pierced ears I threw them away. But then I decided to give them to you instead.” Great! My present is your garbage! Way to make me feel special.

My family. No duh, right? But there is nothing that fills me with happiness and joy quite like my immediate family. My kids and my husband are the best. My extended family, though? That’s a little iffier.

Flowers. I love flowers. Love, love, love them. Especially if they are from a florist or growing in some place other than my yard. I mean, I love having flowers grow in my yard but I hate gardening. It really takes the magic away. If I could have a gardener I would be a very happy woman.

Cookies. Let me clarify: good cookies. I will not eat most store-bought cookies. But a great homemade cookie is a beautiful (and rare!) thing. They’re not as messy and overly sweet as a piece of cake, not as sloppy as pie, and more interesting than a piece of candy. Cookies are perfect. I think my cookies are the best but my favorite cookie not made by me is the Cadillac cookie at the Rolling in Thyme and Dough Bakery in Dripping Springs, Texas. It an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie with caramel and maybe some toffee. If you call ahead of time, they’ll make a fresh batch for you.

Going to the Movies. And I mean going to the movie theatre. Not just watching a movie on Netflix. The movie is often a let-down but there is nothing more magical than escaping to a dark theatre. I adore movie popcorn with lots of butter and I never, ever miss the previews. Actually, I like the previews more than the movie most of the time. (Funny how I can always make it to the movies on time, but church is quite another story.) The best thing is going to see a movie that I know nothing about and have zero expectations. And then having it be good. (Just saw Mud with a scuzzy looking Matthew McConaughey and that’s exactly how it was.)

Friends that Are Easy to Be Around. We all have friends that are fun but high-maintenence. They are not who I am talking about. I’m talking about friends that you start talking to and an hour slips by without even noticing. Friends that you can actually count on, that you know will help you however they can. People that leave you energized and excited, not bummed out and disappointed. Sometimes these friends are people you’ve known forever, sometimes they are people you’ve just met. But a true, easy friend is a joy. I would pretty much do anything for my friends and once we have a relationship I am stalwart to the end. It’s been a sad realization that many people aren’t this same way.

Making stuff. I’m actually quite crafty although I never put my projects on my blog. Usually because they’re total rip-offs of something I saw elsewhere on the internet. There is such a thrill when I buy stuff to get ready for a project. And then when it’s done and it looks good? Heaven. Seriously, is there anything more satisfying than finishing a crafty project that looks good? (And is there anything more maddening than finishing a crafty project that looks bad?)

Church. Please don’t roll your eyes. I love being at church (although I love it more when we start at 11 and not 9 am). I love the sense of community. But I especially love going someplace where I am encouraged to know God, to ask questions, and to search for personal meaning in everything. It makes me happy going to a church where my questions are answered.

Downloading a new album. This is so exciting I can’t even listen to the whole album straight through. I listen to about 30 seconds of each song before I impatiently fast-forwarding to the next. Then I can go through and listen to the whole thing. Speaking of which, Vampire Weekend has a new album. I’d better click over to itunes and buy it right now!

 

Today we were on our way to church when a car pulled up beside us at s stop sign. It was a nice new convertible. The woman in the passenger seat was wearing a bathing suit and there was a young boy in the back. I heaved a big sigh because some Sundays I would much rather be hanging out and having another Saturday. Mormons are big-time Sabbath keepers. Sunday is the day for church and family, thinking about God, napping (being the Day of Rest and all) and maybe taking a leisurely stroll. There is no eating out, no swimming or sports and absolutely no shopping. The idea being that we don’t want to cause anyone to break the commandment of keeping the Sabbath Day holy.*

When we were travelling home from Arizona a couple of months ago, our trip spilled over onto a Sunday. Obviously if you’re travelling you have to buy gas and food and all even though it’s the Sabbath, so we decided to stop at the Costco in El Paso to grab some hot dogs. Holy Cow! Costco on Sunday is even crazier that Costco on Saturday! Maybe the El Paso Costco is always that way. But we could barely find a parking spot! Is this what Sunday is? The day of shopping? I had no idea!

Part of me really likes having a day that we don’t have to worry about most of the cares of the world. We don’t have to think about errands or kids’ birthday parties (a Sunday invitation is an automatic no). It’s a day to recharge ourselves spiritually and physically. I also love having my kids around me for an entire day without everyone scattering in a million different directions.

I needed to talk to one of the women in the ward when I was at church today. I hadn’t seen her during Sacrament meeting so I asked one of her friends if she would be there for either of the other meetings (church is three hours long and consists of three separate meetings). “No, she was really tired and wanted to sleep in and just have an at-home day”, her friend told me. I really felt like screaming. I would like nothing more than sleeping in and having an at-home day too! What makes her think that we all love being at church? It’s like being on a diet and having someone tell you that they can’t diet because they like sweets too much. I like sweets too!

A lot of time doing the right thing is the harder, less fun choice. And yes, I think going to church is the right choice. No matter what religion you are, spending time thinking about something other than yourself and what you feel like doing is a good thing. Especially if you’re encouraged to be loving and kind to other people. But it’s not a fun choice. It’s not entertaining. It’s like eating vegetables. It’s the best choice as far as eating goes, but it’s not exactly the tastiest choice. Some people really love veggies–to the point of being a vegetarian–but there are a lot of people who go days–or even weeks–without eating their veg. I think we could all agree that vegetables will never taste as good as a cookie.  But you need to eat food that is nourishing. And church is kind of like vegetables. Maybe not the funnest or most exciting but it’s the thing that will keep your spirit healthiest.

And so the family in the convertible turned right today; going to the lake or maybe to the water park. We turned left as we always do and went to church. Just like every week.

 

*There are plenty of crappy Mormons who shop/go boating/eat out on Sundays. If we see them we usually shout, “booooo” and thrown rotten food at them. Just kidding. I’ve struggled with Sabbath-keeping at different points in my life. We all make choices and will have to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. But it’s one of the Ten Commandments, so you can’t really argue with that.

I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to quotes that I love. If I could I would print them up and post them everywhere around my house. The sad thing is that when you post something around your house it quickly becomes commonplace and ignored. So instead I will read these every once in a while and be totally inspired for about five minutes.

I absolutely worship Anne LaMott. She is what I wish I were as an author: intelligent, observant, witty, and spiritual without being heavy-handed. I love this quote because sometimes I feel like sharing something that happened in my past isn’t exactly flattering to the other people involved. But I do own the events that happened to me! And she’s right, if people didn’t want to be written about negatively, they should have acted better.

 

I see soooo many parents who do everything for their children, thinking that they are making their kids’ lives better. It’s appalling to see how many parents are still waking their teenagers up, doing their grown children’s laundry, carrying their children’s backpacks home from school, and catering to their kids whims. Moms and dads aren’t meant to be maids or cruise directors. It starts out that way when we’ve got babies, but by the time the kids are late teens they should be pretty self-sufficient. If they’re not, college and grown-up life are going to be mighty rough.

 

I love, love, love the idea that the Lord does indeed answer prayers and it’s usually through another person. Wouldn’t you like to be the answer to someone’s prayer?  This is an eternal truth: helping other people is the most instantaneous way to feel happier and better about your life.  Being of service is the key to being fulfilled and happy.

I went to see that new Jackie Robinson movie yesterday. I snuck out in the middle of the day and went to the fancy theatre that has super cushy recliners. It was all fine and dandy until I spilled an entire Coke Zero on my pants. But I’m a tough broad so I just ignored the soaking wet denim. I was actually wearing a raincoat but do you think I spilled the Coke on that? Of course not.

The movie was good, if formulaic. It’s always so crazy to see how racist people used to be. (I’m sure there are still incredibly racist normal people–normal, as in “not skinheads”–but it’s got to be pretty underground.)  When I see movies like 42 or The Help it’s very hard to understand that’s how things were for black people not that long ago. Part of me wonders if was really that bad because how could people have been so hateful because of someone’s skin color?

I grew up in a different environment than most white people, I guess.  Detroit, where I was born and raised, is mostly black. I lived in the first suburb north of the city. It was lower- to middle-class and was probably the first stop when people wanted to move on up from Detroit proper. I would say that the schools I went to were pretty evenly split between black and white, especially as I entered my teen years. Unlike the South, though, there really was no sort of “us vs. them” mentality. The most popular boys in my fifth grade class were Jahmod (A black kid) and Jason (a Jewish kid). (Oh yeah, there was a huge Jewish population in our town too. Which meant white Christians were totally the minority. We loved Jewish kids because that meant we got a whole bunch of Jewish holidays off of school too; not just the regular Christian ones.) Being Mormon and white? Super minority. I was pretty much the only one in middle and high school.

The mall closest to our house was called Northland and was the first modern shopping mall in America.  I remember going there and being the only white person I’d see. It didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or weird; it just was the way it was. I took Mister to that same mall when we went back to visit Detroit for my dad’s funeral back in the early 90′s. Man, did he almost have a heart attack! Being from Portland, OR, he was never exposed to many black people. He thought for sure someone was going to attack us. I just laughed and told him how I’d been shopping there dozens of times by myself at night. I can only blame the media for giving him the idea that young black men are all thugs; how else would he have developed that opinion?

We had lots of black people at church. Our bishop was eventually a black man, as were some of my primary teachers and Young Women Leaders. Our ward spread deep into Detroit and we had a real variety of members.Not just blacks but some members of Arabic descent too. It all seemed completely normal. I don’t recall the race card ever being mentioned.

When I look back on the relations between blacks and whites growing up, I wonder if maybe I was just clueless. But I remember blacks and whites sitting at the same tables at lunch; blacks and whites going to dances together and hanging out. Maybe our town was unique or maybe I just remember things differently, being a white girl.

 

*Yep, that’s me, Jennie Hildegard Davis, in the third row of the school picture; rocking the braces and feathered bangs. Viva Eighth Grade!

 

Let’s talk about fashion first: Watching the Oscars is a bit lame when you don’t have cable. You can’t switch between four channels to make sure you don’t miss a single dress on the red carpet. Instead I had to sort through pictures on the internet this morning to see if there were some stunners I missed.  There weren’t. My opinion is that color is good. Neutral tones really don’t flatter many people. I mean, some of those grey/white/bronze dresses looked nice but think how much prettier they would have looked in a nice peacock blue. Especially that knock-out Jessica Chastain (At least she had some bright lips to perk things up). And Amy Adams hair? It looks Nanny and the Professor. Ew.


I guess I should amend the above statement to say that white girls shouldn’t wear neutrals. My favorite dress of the night was on Zoe Saldana who is one of the most gorgeous women ever. It’s a pearly grey but it doesn’t look washed out since Zoe has that lovely cappuccino skin. Love the layers at the hem and the flowers up top. LOVE!

 

Normally I hate everything about Jennifer Aniston but she looks 100% gorgeous.

I thought everyone looked pretty decent. This isn’t like the Oscars of the 80′s when everyone looked ridiculous. But there were a few things that caused me to raise my eyebrows:

Oh Anne, the satin and the darts combine to create the perfect storm. I’m sure your nipples are lovely but we really don’t all need to know. Her diamond necklace is adorable but I hope the “necklace on backwards’ trend ends quickly. It’s weird.

And then there are a couple of ladies taking a footnote from the 80′s. Halle Berry gets all Alexis Carrington while Jane looks like she’s on her way to the Captain’s table on The Love Boat.

 

But enough about clothes. Let’s talk about movies. I haven’t seen most of them. Although Mister and I did catch a screening last weekend of all the live action and animated shorts. It was three hours long but completely enjoyable.

I’m still not sure who Seth MacFarlane is but I quite enjoyed him. And what a nice singer. I loved the stage set. So bright and pretty. But I’d have to give the broadcast a thumbs down. Why? Too much singing! This isn’t the Tony’s! It’s like the producers said, “Oh look how popular Les Mis is. People must like singing. Let’s have lots of singing!”

No, people just want to see the awards. And who could possible agree that Chicago is the best musical of the last 10 years? I hate Chicago! And that lady singing Goldfinger? She rocked the last note but what a waste of five minutes. Same with Barbra Streisand. I was like, “I’m going to go make some cookies. Tell me when the singing’s done.”

I love that Jennifer Lawrence tripped on the stairs. She is such a funny, honest person. She recovered beautifully. I’m sure if it had been a prima donna like Catherine Zeta-Jones she would have promptly committed suicide.

Daniel Day Lewis is the best actor ever. Anyone who could give us Abraham Lincoln, Cristy from My Left Foot, Hawkeye from The last of the Mohicans and Cecil from A Room With a View is completely brilliant. Tommy Lee Jones, on the other hand, was nominated for an award despite playing the exact same grumpy jerk that he plays in every single movie he’s ever been in. How is that even acting?

I was really hoping Ben Affleck would win because I really feel for him because of all his struggles. And I love Jennifer Garner. His acceptance speech was so humble and touching.

And the whole Michelle Obama thing? Odd. Especially with that passel of footmen (and footwomen?) surrounding her. Although it makes sense considering the love affair that Hollywood and the Obamas have with each other. That relationship also explains how Obama can blame everything and everyone for the violence that is exploding in our society EXCEPT for blaming Hollywood. People like Quentin Tarantino aren’t chastised for making horrendously violent films that glorify murder, torture, anger and revenge –they’re celebrated and honored for it. It really sickens me.

OK, sorry for the outburst.

Let’s lighten the mood by discussing the ubiquitous aging European men with flowing blond hair. In case you were wondering what Legolas would look like as a middle-aged man:

 

Even more bizarre? The mystery of Renee Zelweger’s scrunched up face. Maybe she needed a Claritin? And Kristin Stewart? How does this person have a career? She is peevish, sullen and thoroughly detestable. She couldn’t even pretend to be charming for three minutes while presenting an Oscar. I think I hate K. Stew more than any other actress.

What were your highlights and bombs of the Oscars this year?

Well, looky here, it’s  Valentine’s Day. When I was younger Valentine’s Day was so incredibly important. Only a naïve young thing would really base the feelings of the person she likes and/or loves on how he behaves on a certain day. But then, that’s who Valentine’s Day is really for–people who are unsure of their partners. Either that or for men who are so lackadaisical about being thoughtful that they must have one day each calendar year to make up for it.

This day has become so contrived and ridiculous. Everyone is encouraged to buy red roses (yawn!) or worse–balloons (how are balloons romantic? Maybe in the same way that Chuck E. Cheese is?) You must go out to eat at some place “romantic”, knowing that the staff are panting to get you out of there so they can seat yet another couple. And that’s if you found someplace that takes reservations. Heaven help you if you show up at the Olive Garden tonight.

Not to brag or anything but I pretty much won the lottery when it comes to thoughtful men. I get flowers ever few weeks, a date every Friday night and a husband who always does the kindest things for holidays. Even when we’ve been broke he comes up with fantastic, sweet ideas. And he is a great present-picker-outer as well. So I don’t really feel the need for Valentine’s Day. I know my man loves me because of the things he does the other 364 days of the year.

No, I will probably not get flowers today. I am thoroughly ok with that. Don’t get me wrong, though; I love, love, love presents and if I happen to get one today I’ll be thrilled (Mister, if you’re reading this there’s a serger I’ve had my eye on.….).

If you’re freaking out that you husband or boyfriend didn’t  spend $80 on a dozen roses, ask yourself why it’s so important that he gives those to you. Maybe you need to relax on the holiday stuff and demand that he pamper you all the rest of the year. (And yes, sometimes you do have to demand it until he gets with the program. Much the way you demand your kids to put away their shoes or do their homework; not to be bratty but to get them to form a habit. See also: how to get your husband to bring you breakfast in bed on the weekends.)

Mister will be firing up the grill tonight (it’s 70°. Lovely.) and making us some superb ribeyes (on my tombstone it will say, “Can’t go wrong with a ribeye”. By far my favorite cut of steak.) and we will have a romantic candlight dinner with all the kiddos. Seriously. They get so jazzed to eat by candlelight. By then the crowds will have thinned out and we’ll go have dessert at my favorite dessert spot in Austin, Chez Zee. Their butterscotch pudding is my favorite dessert on the entire planet. (Don’t think jell-o butterscotch pudding; imagine the most heavenly dish of smooth, creamy, caramelly goodness sprinkled with sea salt. Oh my goodness, I can hardly wait. After that, well, we’ll play it by ear.

Whatever your partner situation, I hope Valentine’s Day makes you happy this year. But remember, it’s not the thing to gauge your entire relationship on.

Dear Newly Engaged Lovebirds,

Congratulations on getting engaged! The first question everyone asks is, “when will the wedding be?”  By this point your Pinterest boards are probably bursting at the seams with wedding ideas and you’re going to have to narrow your options down. The thought of when to have your wedding is probably not that much of a consideration to you other than wondering if you should go with red roses and a plaid theme, or maybe a spring wedding would be prettier. But other than the groom, your wedding date will most likely be the most important decision you will make. (If you’re Mormon you’ve got the whole Temple issue which is super important too, obviously.)

Here are the facts:

Ultimately nobody cares what food will be served. In two years no-one will remember. Nor will anyone care what flowers you picked or what kind of band was playing. People will maybe remember that it was nice or tacky, but for the most part weddings are forgettable. I’m sorry to burst your bubble but there you are. Most people won’t even remember what the bridesmaids wore. As a matter of fact, in twenty years you will be utterly appalled at the bridesmaid dresses you chose and probably your own wedding gown too. I know you don’t believe me but ask anyone you know who got married in the 80′s or 90′s. They will all tell you it’s true.

You wedding isn’t about the two of you. It’s about two entire families. The TV shows and magazines may tell you that it’s all about the bride (and maybe the groom a tiny smidge too), but honey, it’s not true. You are going to have to give in more times than you want in order to keep the peace. Get used to it because compromise is what marriage is all about. If you refuse to accommodate anyone’s needs or wants but your own you might have a prettier wedding but everyone–including the groom and especially your mother–is going to hate you.

So let’s talk about the date. We’re gearing up for the Christmas season and there are always a jillion weddings this time of year. Sometimes it coincides with school breaks for the happy couple, but sometimes a date in December is picked for no better reason than the couple thinks that falling snow seems romantic. Here are all the reasons why a December wedding is a bad idea:

1) It’s super inconvenient. Unless everyone you know lives within two hours of you, your wedding will require travel by guests and participants. Not only is it more expensive, but the weather is pretty iffy. Nobody wants to get stranded at an airport or shell out $2000 to fly out the week of Christmas.

2) Schedules are packed at Christmas. Especially for people with children. There are work, church and school parties, not to mention recitals and concerts. If you are expecting high schoolers or college students to come, it’s not going to work if you plan the wedding during finals week. No matter how special you are, people really don’t want to cram one more thing onto their calendars in December. It’s just too much. Instead of feeling joy for you they’ll probably be worrying about their to-do lists.

3) Everyone will be freezing during pictures. Yes, a bride in the snow is so lovely. All that white; it’s so dreamy and ethereal. Unfortunately Grandma isn’t so thrilled about it. Neither are your bridesmaids who will be wearing the strapless dresses you chose. Neither is your adorable flowergirl who is screaming in every picture because it’s 27º. This may all seem dumb but pretty much the only tangible proof you’ll have that the wedding took place will be photographs (and bills). Plan accordingly.

3) People’s budgets are tight. You want a nice wedding present, right? Well, there’s a lot less money to spare at Christmas. People are usually stretched thin, money-wise. And if they’re about to max out their credit card, do you think they’d rather spend the money on their son’s Christmas or on a wedding present for their cousin’s daughter?

4) Your anniversary will suck. This is certainly the strongest argument for not getting married at Christmas. You and your fiancé might be years away from having children now but at some point you probably will. And guess what’s going to happen then? You will not be able to take a week off from Christmas festivities to go on a fantastic anniversary trip. You will have way too much going on (see point #2 above). You will be spending money on Christmas presents for those kids and it probably won’t work with the budget.

Why do you think so many people get married in June? All the best flowers are in season, families are a lot more free to travel and you’ll be able to take anniversary trips when the weather all over the world is gorgeous. At the very least you could pick the end of January. Sure, it may not be the best for you, but it’s not all about you, remember?  Just whatever you do, don’t get married on Valentine’s Day (all the restaurants and hotels are booked solid and your anniversary will forever more be a pain. And flowers are out-of-the-world expensive so forget your husband ever getting you an anniversary bouquet.)

I’m not trying to burst your bubble, sweet Engaged Couple. I’m just trying to keep your wedding guests from cursing you under their breath.

Love always,

It’s Red Ribbon Week. Oh joy. I love to rant and rave about how stupid it is (you can read about it here). There is no way that having weird hair/crazy socks/wearing pajamas is going to keep my kids off drugs. That’s the whole point of red ribbon week, right? To get kids not to take drugs? But this year I’m not feeling quite so irate. It’s true, I did find myself at The-Store-That-Must-Not-Be-Named at 11 pm on Monday buying slippers (“Give drugs the slip!”). But even so, I just kind of shrugged it off.  Today the kids are supposed to wear a shirt with a sports team logo. You might think that’s a no-fail category but when you have a houseful of nerds who don’t like sports, that’s a tall order.  Ada likes the University of Texas Longhorns so she always has something burnt orange to wear. However, Mister and I are BYU alums. It’s not so easy to find BYU shirts in Austin.  And don’t even suggest for a second that we own clothing items from a professional sports team. The mere thought is hilarious.

Yesterday the kids were all talking about the various plans about what to wear for crazy sock day. Jasper mentioned that the Principal of the school never wears anything for red ribbon week, not even a funky hat. “Yeah, she’s not very festive,” Arabella noted. But Ada drew the most obvious conclusion, “I think it’s because she takes drugs.”

Well, there you go.

Some of you may be disappointed that I’m not going to keep going with my story I started yesterday (you might want to scroll down and read it first). Partly because there’s not much more to tell (in a nutshell I was really sad. And then I got pregnant a few months later and had a healthy and wonderful baby girl.  And then a couple of years after that I got pregnant again and had an even worse experience which you can read about here. Pregnancy is the craziest roller coaster there is). Partly because I merely wanted give some background on why I believe what I do when it comes to abortion. It’s weird to me that abortion has turned into such a polarizing political issue. I wish we could just clear away all the politics and discuss the topic without it turning into The Hatfields and The McCoys.

Let me say that I am neither a Republic nor a Democrat. There are things I like about both parties and things that make me roll my eyes. I guess I would say that I’m more a Libertarian than anything; live and let live, as I’ve said before. Mostly I just hate politics and Washington D.C. in general and really believe that 98% of national politicians are weasels.

I am mostly against government-sanctioned death in all forms. I hate war and will always be against sending our sons off to fight unless ChinaRussiaCrazyArabs are crossing the Canadian border to invade us. Not that I hate soldiers. I love soldiers! Which is why I want to keep them alive. Especially now that I have teenage boys. I think there should be a law that any politician who suggests a war should have to stay in the to-be-invaded country the entire time the war is on. Maybe then those power-hungry war mongers would think twice. I also oppose killing old people whom we are tired of caring for. And babies whom we don’t want to start caring for.

I don’t really mind killing killers, though. They had their chance. Either kill them or try to rehabilitate them. Don’t waste my money keeping them locked up, bored and angry. Or at least have them pay their grave debt to society by allowing drug and makeup companies to do their testing on them.

Anyhoo, this was supposed to be about abortion. I would like to take special offense at all the women who assert than men have no say in abortion matters. Last time I checked, a man was kind of a necessity for pregnancy. And as a partner shouldn’t he get say? How totally rude to say that men shouldn’t have an opinion. Of course they should! Half of that fetus is theirs, after all.

As I mentioned yesterday, there was a woman I spoke to at the abortion clinic who was on her tenth abortion. I don’t know who paid for them or what her background was. I’m assuming she wasn’t raped ten times. But this was the thing that I kept thinking after I left the clinic (besides how unjust the world is. I wanted a baby, and here were all these women who couldn’t wait to get rid of theirs! Not fair not fair not fair!!!) I am absolutely not a judgemental person. You can ask Mister; he says that’s my most positive quality. I just go with the flow and take it all in stride (unless you’re a killer. I am very judgmental of killers.) So I am in no way suggesting that that woman at the clinic was a bad or evil person. (Irresponsible, though? Obviously.)

It does not seem right to treat abortion like it’s a form of birth control.  There are emotional consequences to having an abortion and it’s wrong to not inform all women that there are. Abortion should not be treated like it’s no big deal, emotionally. It is a big deal!

I do believe that a fetus is a baby once there is a heartbeat. People have all sorts of opinions on when life starts but to me it’s when the heart gets going. Ask any woman who’s had a miscarriage and she’ll tell you it’s a baby.

HOWEVER

Women have the very unusual job of being the custodians of life. We can decide what to eat or drink while we are pregnant and that is our right. And as custodians we can decide that we don’t want to take on the job of parent. It’s sad to me that a woman wouldn’t want to have a baby, but not everyone is in the right place physically, emotionally or mentally to raise a human.  God gave us stewardship when he designed the whole pregnancy plan. I don’t think the government has the right to tell you that you have to stay pregnant when you don’t want to.

I also don’t want women to have to endanger themselves by having to go to seedy backwater abortion clinics. You know women will have abortions. It has been thus since probably the beginning of time. If abortions become illegal women who don’t want to have babies won’t suddenly become dewy-eyed mothers in blissful supportive relationships. In other words, abortions are going to happen. Whether you think they are murder or not. And women have the right to decide. I know from my experience that pregnancy termination my be the right decision when there are severe health risks. We cannot say that all abortion is wrong any more than we can say that all abortion is right.

HOWEVER

I don’t think it’s right to expect the government to pay for abortions. Birth control, yes. Abortions, no. Not when there are so many people who are morally against it. As I said yesterday, I am incredibly fertile. I’ve gotten pregnant nine times. Not once have I gotten pregnant accidentally. I managed to make it happen when I wanted to. I know, I know– your cousin was using two forms of birth control and still got pregnant. Let’s encourage people to be responsible. Birth control really works a lot of the time!

I am a mother and it breaks my heart to hear of children born into abusive or neglectful homes. I don’t want babies to be born into horrible circumstances.

HOWEVER

I do believe that babies are a blessing. And babies can be powerful changers for good. And that the chance to obtain a body is something that every spirit child of God deserves. I believe that more girls/women need to give their babies up for adoption. Now that the stigma of teen pregnancy is pretty much gone, let’s see more girls being courageous and giving themselves and their babies a better shot at life by allowing a mature and loving set of parents raise their child. And hopefully we’ll see fewer grandparents who feel like it’s a just punishiment to make their pregnant daughters keep their babies.

So am I pro-life or pro-choice? Both, I guess. I wish there were some way to address this problem holistically and try to find what’s best for a woman who is stuck with an unwanted pregnancy instead of feeling like only one opinion is right.

I am not trying to convince anyone of my beliefs not do I want any of you readers to rant at me. I just get really angry when I hear abortion discussed so one-dimenionally and just wanted to air my opinion.