Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Change is coming

A couple of months ago, after reading a post by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), I decided to create a dream board. I was excited about having all of my long term goals and hopes in one place. Something to help me stay focused on where I wanted to my life to go. This is what it looks like today:

You can see its all coming together...I have pictured quite a future for myself.

The problem is, I've been totally stuck. I loved the idea of creating the board, but when it came to having specific ideas to put on the board I drew a blank. When I was younger it was easy.  I knew I wanted to get my college degree, find a good husband, and be a mom. Once I had kids I would be a stay-at-home mom, volunteer at the school and create a nice home. Years later, when my kids were grown, I imagined teaching at a preschool and volunteering, maybe finding time to write. I did not anticipate working full time when my girls were small, running a business, and then ending up divorced. Since then it's a daily battle to keep my head above water. There just isn't a lot of time to ponder dreams and goals. My day starts at 4:30 AM and I collapse around 10:00 PM. But, like it or not, I have to find the time because change is coming...yet again. In one year Kristen will be graduating from high school, I'll be selling the home I love, figuring out where to live and what kind of long term career path to create for myself. And, I'll admit it, I'm scared. The easy thing to do is to NOT think about it. Except, of course, at 3:00 AM when my eyes flip open and it's all that fills my head.

A couple of weeks ago I was preparing a lesson for the young women I teach at church. It had to do with prayer and building a stronger relationship with the Lord. In my reference materials I was supposed to read a few chapters in Ether (Book of Mormon). Now if you have read the Book of Mormon you may be familiar with the story of Jared and his brother and their journey to a new land. You may find that you always focus on the end, when the brother of Jared, under direction from Heavenly Father, builds barges for his family and friends to sail across the sea; but what caught my attention was the middle part of the story. You see, Jared, his brother, their family and friends are commanded by the Lord to leave their village. They pack up their belongings, gather seeds, honeybees, and their animals and begin to travel across the country following the divine directions they are being given. After a long journey they arrive at a beautiful beach where no one has been before. They must have been exhausted. I can't imagine traveling with all of those animals, the kids, the bees...how do you travel with bees? Anyway, they come to this beautiful beach and they settle in. They settle in for 4 long years. I don't blame them. The beach is pretty much my favorite place. It must have been so peaceful. There was probably lots of food, nice areas for the animals...I bet the bees even stuck around. It became easy and comfortable.  After 4 years, however, God had enough. He came to the brother of Jared and chastised him for not turning to Him for guidance any more. God had already told him about the ultimate destination. A land of great promise and blessings, one far greater than even this beautiful beach. After 3 hours, the brother of Jared repented and began again to seek direction from above.

Now my life these past 4 years has not been easy, but I have found comfort in the routine. Enough comfort that sometimes I forget who is really in charge and also forget that I should always be progressing, not just enduring. While there is comfort in this routine, there is also more room for fear and doubt to creep in when I am mindlessly going through each day.

Although the upcoming changes scare me, I have a renewed faith that the Lord is guiding my path. I just need to stay focused on Him. (And I do have a year to prepare.) There is more in store for me than this current beach. Things that may bring me more peace, fulfillment, and happiness. So now I have at least one thing on my dream board.

I'll figure out the rest as I move myself off the beach. ;)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Social Anxiety Induced Mini-Stroke part 2

My social comfort at parties began at a young age.

Kristen and I were out one day and found some calling cards you could give out that said, "Please stop talking." Which got me thinking that what my cousin and I need are calling cards that say:
Please START talking.
 (At some point I'll join in and in a lame attempt at wittiness, say something awkward and disjointed.)
Too long? How about:
Talk. Now. Please?

Yes, I really am this tall. No I did not play basketball or volleyball.
Okay, that one is for my cousin. She is fabulously tall and gorgeous. The two of us going out is like Igor and Giselle Bundchen having a night on the town. I sort of feel like I should be clutching to the hem of her dress while I drag one leg behind me. The fact that she is tall seems to both attract and baffle men. She's quite beautiful, so men come up and talk to her, but can't seem to talk about anything other than her height. Like she has any control of her height. It would be like coming up to someone and discussing the fact that they have arms or legs or a face...or elbows. Let me explain how the conversations usually go...but I'll replace any height reference with the word "elbows."
Man: Wow...you really have elbows.
Cousin: Yes. (Her patience for these conversations is spectacular.)
Man: With those elbows you must play basketball!
Cousin: Nope.
Man: Volleyball? (Clearly thinking..."she has elbows, how could she not at least play volleyball?!")
Cousin: Nope, no volleyball either.
Me: Hey look at me! Look at me! I'm down here!!
OR....there are the men that like to argue with her about her height...again substituting elbows.
Man: You must have more than two elbows...what do you have like three elbows?
Cousin: No...just two.
Man: No, really...You say you only have two but that can't be right.
Me: Here, take this card....it says, "Please stop talking."
I do admit that I'm impressed with their courage to come up and talk to her. I like watching the whole thing unfold. First, they casually walk by from a distance and check her out, and decide whether or not they want to come in for a closer look...which they do, because she's rather amazing. Then the fun really begins. She is busy chatting with me and trying to keep herself from randomly tossing her beverage my way, so she doesn't usually notice the series of ever shrinking laps they take in an effort to get closer to her. There is always the slow circling approach...like sharks, before they come in for the killer conversation. Perhaps my (least) favorite was the man who circled in right up to me and said, "Hey, know any tall blondes?" Which made me realize those "Please stop talking" cards really do have  place in society. Now I could have responded with something witty, but, thanks to my inability to be clever, flirtatious or charming in front of single men, even ones like him, I believe I said something like, "Her?" Your welcome, dear cousin, your welcome.
When people say or do odd things it often catches me so off guard I temporarily freeze or say something unexpected. One day at work a man in the cafeteria ran his fingers through my hair and said something slightly creepy. So what did I do? Just stood there, dumbfounded, thinking, "He is touching my hair! Why is his hand in my hair?" I never actually said anything to him - like, GET YOUR HAND OUT OF MY HAIR! I just stood there. When I was in 6th grade a flasher came up to me and said, "Want some?" to which I replied, "No, thank you." and ran away. On the plus side, all of my mother's efforts to train polite children really came shining through in a crisis....at least I had the sense to run away.
Anyway, I felt like I somehow should have been able to protect her from "know any tall blondes" guy, instead of just mumbling and gesturing in her direction. Especially since he went on to discuss why she couldn't be the height she claimed to be since he thought he was so incredibly tall. (Which he wasn't.) At one point it was all I could do to not laugh out loud as I listened to him explain why she was taller than she claimed. He was quite the debater. Shockingly, this did not help him in the way of getting any kind of contact information for her...so he went back to circling the room.
And so, cousin and I have learned that this is, perhaps, not the venue in which we are going to be making any new friends. Fortunately, I have my genius calling card idea that can fill my non-existent spare time in which I fantasize about having a social life.
On a more serious note, the beautiful thing about my "life is full of miracles" realization (go back two posts), is that I'm not worried about my current inability to have any kind of dating life. Before my paradigm shift I felt as though things wouldn't ever improve...I just had to endure. But now I know that Heavenly Father wants good things for me and the hopes I have will happen. (Some things I thought weren't possible have all ready started to change!) Cousin and I will continue to try different ways to meet people and will eventually find one that fits who we are and the way we think. But, in the meantime, I will keep you apprised of our adventures.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Social Anxiety Induced Mini-Stroke

I spelled my last name wrong today. It is not a complicated name....I've been spelling it correctly for some time now. I haven't had to sound it out or anything. But today, while purchasing some music for my piano students, I misspelled my name. The conversation went something like this:

Me (to the clerk): I'm a piano teacher. (I don't go around telling people this, it just happens to get me a discount at the music store.)

Clerk: What's your last name?

Me: Denney.

Clerk: Is that D-E-N-N-I?

Me: No...I-E.

Kristen: Ummmm....Mom....(she looked both afraid, embarrassed, and amused.)

Me: Oh my gosh! That's not how you spell my name...it's E-Y! I'm so sorry....it's D-E-N-N-E-Y.

Clerk: You are clearly unstable. (Okay she didn't actually say this but I could see it in her eyes...I have gotten this look before.) She gave me a polite laugh and continued the transaction, while giving me furtive glances...checking for any twitching or sudden movements on my part.

I finished my purchase, but had to show ID, probably to verify my identity and to provide a record of the mental patient in the store.

Here is my excuse for spelling my name wrong: I am single. I know that doesn't make sense at first, but come with me on a journey of my thought process and you'll understand. (Wear a helmet.)

I was distracted during the transaction because I was thinking about an LDS church singles' activity my cousin and I are going to attend tomorrow. Thinking about it had me so flustered I either mini-stroked, as all good middle-aged Americans do, or my synapses misfired...or stopped firing completely.

In the past I have written about awkward dates, usually making the man seem like the odd one, but I am completely inept at human interaction with single males. (I'm not sure why I had to specify human...but sometimes it's questionable. Shoot...I'm doing it again.) People that know me don't believe this at first, mainly because a single man in his forties is not usually around when they interact with me. (They are an elusive species.) After all, I am completely comfortable speaking in front of large groups. I enjoy telling stories and can talk to pretty much anyone...unless I discover they are single (and male) and in their forties. I then lose control of my limbs and have the conversational abilities of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Still don't believe me? Allow me to share an example. I was on the elliptical machine at the gym, attempting to chat with a cute guy next to me and I fell off the machine. Yep. Fell off. It has handles and I still fell off. There I was working out, proud of myself for not saying anything stupid when suddenly I realized, "Hey, I'm tipping over." This is the graceful kind of flirting I can put out into the world.

So, anticipating the upcoming social activity, I mini-stroked and temporarily forgot how to spell my own name.

Fortunately, my cousin is equally skilled in her interactions. At one of our previous "singles' activities" she got so flustered she forgot she was holding a cup of water in her hand and ended up throwing it at me. We are quite the unstoppable team. Fortunately, most men never actually discover our awkwardness since we never have the courage to talk to anyone. We tend to stand somewhere on the outskirts of the room and discuss what we would say if we actually peeled ourselves away from the wall. I asked my soon to be 20 year old how to start a conversation with someone at one of these events. She recommended introducing myself, "Hi, I'm Michelle." But I now realize that is too challenging of an opener for me. So, stay tuned, and I promise to let you know how it goes.