Monday, May 24, 2010

We are all Samson...sometimes...

So, I haven't really made it any secret that I am a Mormon. I love my religion, it is a large part of who I am and I see how it blesses me everyday. I have friends from all walks of life, that believe many different things. I was fortunate to be raised in a house where we were taught to look for similarities rather than differences when it comes to other religions. I have learned so much from all my friends, and I hope that I have been able to teach them a few things as well...just in case I haven't, I'd like to start now.

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday, and I think it is something we all can relate to, so I decided I had to share.

I was sitting in Sunday School yesterday. We started the book of Judges in the Old Testament. We made it through to the story of Samson and Delilah. Now, I know not everyone believes in God, or the bible, but I think the moral of the story that hit me in the face yesterday is a lesson that can be universally learned.

You'd think the story of Samson and Delilah is pretty cut and dry..I used to. Samson made some bad choices, started hanging out with the wrong crowd, trusted the wrong person and it ultimately brought him to his downfall... That is the story, atleast that is the story I always remember reading....

As we were reading, it struck me that even though it was obvious that Delilah was trying to take away Samson's super human strength, even though it was obvious that she was focused on helping to bring about his destruction, Samson kept going back. Not once did this happen, but 3 times! I was so confounded...why on earth would you want to go back to someone that keeps trying to hurt you? Why would you freely keep walking into an obviously dangerous situation?

I was sitting, contemplating this. Well the universe heard my thoughts. The teacher of the Sunday School class posed the same question. Of course, the standard answer came from somewhere down the row from me, "Samson probably thought that because he had already been misbehaving and the Lord hadn't taken his strength yet, that he was invincible."

Hmmm okay. I guess that works...but no. You would have to think that there would be another reason. Why keep going back to a situation where people are obviously wanting to destroy you? Why would you spend time with those people?

Then, a quiet answer came from behind me. A girl spoke up, "His faith in his strength might be the answer, but that doesn't tell us why he kept going back..." At this point I was wondering who had put the bug inside my brain and was listening to my thoughts.
"Samson went back because he loved Delilah. He trusted her, he didn't believe that she would ever really hurt him, which is why he ultimately told her the truth about how to take away his strength. Samson had finally learned how to love unconditionally, but he loved, and trusted the wrong person." Oh my goodness...I am Samson! This thought seemed to blast through my brain...because it seems to be the story of my life...but hang with me for a minute here.

Let's look at Samson's track record. Samson was used to things being handed to him. When we read his story in the bible, we find that he married outside of the covenant (he lusted after a girl he saw at a well and had his father go ask for her hand in marriage.) His parents tried to help him to understand that this would not be the best marital situation, but Samson forged ahead. Obviously, it didn't fulfill him, because we also read that he frequented the beds of harlots as he traveled. Finally, Samson meets Delilah, a Philistine. He spends his time with her, perhaps for the first time he felt like he could be at peace...but was it really peace? I have thought about this over the last 24 hours and it almost seems like even though his life had been plotted for him by God, even though he knew he was destined for greatness (the man killed a lion with his bare hands for goodness sakes!), he didn't know if he wanted the future that could be in store for him if he would be faithful. It seemed like he was running from his greatness. With Delilah, he didn't have to think about the future, or his family, or what he was running from. I can see how it would be easy to fall in love with this ideal. But what good is love if the people around you that love you can't share in the excitement?

I think we all can be like Samson. We all have a tendency to revisit situations, places, memories, or people hoping that our individual strength will see us through. We also want to love and trust way that we want to be loved and trusted. Sometimes, we make mistakes and loving and trusting the wrong things, or people. Whether you're like me, and allow yourself to be taken back in by people in your past that maybe don't have your best interests at heart, or whether your problem is situational and you have an addiction, or an old habit that you just can't manage to break.

We are all Samson. We all inside of us have the potential to be great. We run away from greatness...we fear it because of the responsibility that comes along with being great. Why we fear it is beyond me. Sometimes the thought can be overwhelming, but think of what a blessing it is and can be in our lives if we could just accept our greatness and embrace it.

Samson didn't have to die, captive and blind to the world around him. He realized too late how much God loved him and how, even though he kept running from his greatness, God had continued to bless him.

How often do we allow ourselves to be held captive by situations, emotions, and habits? How often does this captivity blind us to the world around us?

How different might Samson's story have been if he had made the decision to trust and have hope for his future? How different might it have been if he hadn't let his strength go to his head, if he had just remembered where he got that strength? How different might it have been if he had recognized the toxicity of his relationships and recognized that the people he was surrounding himself with didn't really care about him the way he cared about them. How different might it have been if he had trusted the right people when it really mattered?

Just some food for thought.

How are you like Samson? What dangerous situations do you keep returning to out of love, or out of the misguided belief that you are strong enough to withstand anything?

I am like Samson.

But, now that I recognize it, I know how to change the ending of the story. I won't allow myself to be placed in captivity. I won't realize after its too late that I am loved and that because of that, I am great. My story will end happily because I am going to make it a point to no longer fear my potential for greatness.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Adventures in Babysitting

( Just in case you don't get the obscure movie reference in the title...this was seriously one of my favorite movies growing up. I always wanted to be as cool as Elizabeth Schue, minus getting into crazy situations that I Macgyver my way out of....)

First off, I have to gush a little bit. I have the best job on the face of the planet!

Every other day (and next week, almost every day) I get to go nanny for the three most amazing, creative, and sweet kids on the face of the planet. Now, I may be a little biased, as these little darlings just happen to be my nieces and nephew, but I still say they are the best.

Today, I was late. I slept through my alarm. I felt horrible. I pulled into the front yard, my phone was mom. Kelly had called her to see where I was. I wasn't THAT late, but I guess he was a bit concernicus...

I was in my jammies, my hair in a ponytail, I was carting around my makeup case, my clothes for the day, my purse and my phone. I was ready to hunker down for the day and get to it.

Today wasn't my first day nannying, in fact I've been at it for a few weeks, but today I feel like supernanny!

I rushed into the house. Did Macee's hair, and of course she and Austin were eager to play out front on their bikes while they waited for their walking party to walk by. (They walk to school across a very busy street, but they walk in a huge group so I feel at ease when I watch them ride away in the morning, chattering with their friends.) Of course, on this particular morning, neither of them had eaten. Once I found this out, I rushed to make them some toast. I took it out to them while they were riding their bikes and offered bananas as a side. Macee eagerly accepted, Austin wrinkled his nose in disgust and shook his head (he isn't much of a fruit/veggie connoiseur....)

While I knew the walking party was coming, I didn't feel right about letting the two of them play in the front yard unsupervised, so as Addie begged me to pick out an outfit for her for the day ("Come on Aunt B. You always pick out the most prettiful outfits!" She said over and over again while batting her huge precious moments eyes...she looks like a precious moments figure I KID YOU NOT! and yes, she really did use the word prettiful)

Walking party came and went, then I was off to the basement to find an outfit for Addie. Came back upstairs...she liked the pants but not the shirt...never fear, what's another trip down the stairs for supernanny (let me remind you I am still all grunged out and fabulous in my jammies with my messy, rushed ponytail) Second option was a sensation! Addie eagerly dressed. I put Spongebob on the tellie (thank the Lord for that yellow sponge...seriously, I have never seen any of my nieces or nephew more content to watch a show and pay attention).

Now was my was time for supernanny to become superhottie! I watched Grey's Anatomy last night, and amidst all of the edge of my seat sitting and nail biting moments I did have one random thought..."Wow, Lexie's hair is so cute this episode!" My inspiration for the day, I went to bed last night know that this was how I was going to do my hair. I braided it a few times, a few different ways, trying to get just the right combo. Voila! Masterpiece...struggled with the messy bun in the back a bit, but a few strategically placed bobbypins later and I had near perfection sitting on my head....ahhhh hair!

Now for the coup de grat...I picked up my makeup kit, found a mirror I could easily fit between my knees and went into Amber and Kelly's room to do my makeup. Addie's attention instantly turned from Phineas and Ferb (thank you DVR, you always change the channel to record at just the right time) to me and my makeup. She loves to watch me put on my makeup. She loves it even more when I lightly dab some blush on her cheeks and give her some "lipstitch". "Aunt B. , you look so always look so beautiful Aunt B." ( Okay, so maybe half the reason I went into the bedroom to do my makeup was for the ego boost...she always says that when she watches me.) As I was putting the last touches on my face (trying to do a delicate eyeliner job and perfect fanned lashes with my mascara) Addie began to get restless...she started digging under the covers of the bed. "Aunt B.! Aunt B., come find me !" She would call out. I would lift the pillow she was obviously hiding under, she would laugh hysterically and try to dig herself into the covers even deeper, contorting her body into yoga poses I only wish I could do... We giggled, we laughed... We put on our shoes...I realized I had forgotten some vital items at home.

Turn on the car, the radio is on...Ke$ha's "Your Love is My Drug" comes new jam...I turn it up...Addie, always the constant performer joins me in the best rendition of musical shouting you will ever hear as we dance with our upper bodies in the coolest hip hop motions possible when limited by a seat belt. The next song, the new one by Train...not my favorite (I don't even know the name) but Addie exclaims, "Oh Aunt B. I love this song!" She continues her crazy dance in the back seat. We pull up at mom's halfway through the song.

We open the door to mom's house. Mom is sitting on the couch, watching the Cosby Show, taking her nebulizer treatment. Sheika, my mom's Shih Tzu jumps off the couch and follows Addie around like a love sick puppy until she pays attention to her. Addie leans over and grabs Sheika's face, rubbing her snout and ears...Sheika eats it up and kisses Addie like she never thought she'd see her again, wagging her tail more than I've seen her wag it in the last year. We grab the necessities, bid our adieus and go to Wal-Mart...I had plans for today, big plans.

We buy berries, and Sherbert...necessities for smoothies later, and Addie helps me pick out potting soil and flower seeds, we are going to plant a butterfly garden in some plastic cups and set it up in the backyard when the kids get home. Addie is super excited. We also pick up some bubbles for everyone, a treat for them being so good and doing their chores right away when I asked the last time I was there.

We go home. Time for chores. Addie asks to watch "Odette" which is her way of asking to watch her favorite movie, "The Swan Princess" always makes my heart happy when she watches this. It once was one of my favorites. I can still sing all the songs from memory. I put on "Odette" and head upstairs to tackle the kitchen. I clear the table, I empty and reload the dishwasher, I wipe the counters...I look at the floor...lovely juice splashes are scattered all across it. I look in the living room. The mops are out, Amber must have mopped not long ago, but in a house with 3 kids, you can't expect it to stay clean for long. Mental note...Sweep and mop later! I was getting ready to tackle washing the windows in the living room when Addie came upstairs...her words at this moment could have the power to crush an ordinary nanny...but not supernanny!

"Aunt B. I'm bored! Come play a game with me."

I had 2 choices...well 3...

1) Tell her to go back down and watch her movie and that I would be down shortly
2) Forget about my supernanny glory, and not finish my chore list left by "the boss lady"
3) Be supernanny...

I picked number 3!

I told Addie we couldn't play a game right this minute, but I had something even more fun in mind. I was going to teach her how to wash windows! (its all in the delivery folks, I'm telling you!)

Addie squealed, jumped up and down and exclaimed, "YESSSSSSSSSS!" I grabbed her a rag, I sprayed the windows, showed her how to wipe it, and she went to town....I created a monster...a good monster, but a monster...

"What can we clean now Aunt B.? This is fun!" (I know, I'm a miracle worker...I have converted a 4 year old into a cleaning machine!)

"Well, I need to clean the Bathroom now." I said...clever supernanny...

"YESSSSSSSSSSS! She exclaimed again. We get out the cleaners and make our way to the upstairs bathroom. We put away the various knick knacks, combs, and brushes sitting around the sink and spray the disinfecting cleaner. We leave it to sit, I look at the clock, wash my hands, and throw chicken nuggets and tater tots in the oven (it is the lunch of supernannies everywhere!) Addie jumps up and down with glee, "My favorite! You're the best Aunt B." Yes...I am...

We scrub the bathroom, I teach Addie how to clean the toilet...I lift her to wash the mirror...the bathroom sparkles...Macee walks through the door. Home from Kindergarten...this may be daunting but not for supernanny...lunch is already done. The girls sit at the table and chatter as I dish up the nuggets, tots, and for a balanced meal I also throw some peaches on their plates...(clever clever supernanny) the girls devour their lunches. I ask them to bring their plates to me. We make a human conveyer belt. Addie hands the plates to Macee, who clears them off into the garbage, I then rinse them and place them strategically in the sink for easy placement in the dishwasher that is at that moment running and washing the breakfast/dinner dishes from last night.

"Time for me to go to preschool!" Addie exclaims, I look at the clock. No....still 45 minutes. I bring this to Addie's attention.

"No Aunt B. Its always time for me to go to preschool right after lunch." A regular nanny might be stumped. How to handle this situation? The clever supernanny knows. "Well sweetie, I think Aunt B. got lunch finished a little faster than usual. How about we play that game you wanted to play?"

"Yesssss!" both girls jump and exclaim almost in unison.

Disney Princess Chutes and Ladders. We set up. Macee complains her foot hurts....I examine the foot in question...GIANT SPLINTER! Uh oh...Giant Splinter, and no tweezers...what to do? Never fear, the clever supernanny remembers her girls camp training. She finds a way to push the splinter out. Macee is a trooper, she is brave. Her eyes well with tears, she flinches, but she doesn't cry out as supernanny removes the offensive piece of wood that is causing such does of Neosporin and a Disney Princess Band- Aid later and the game is on. Addie wins...time to leave for Preschool (supernanny somehow managed to go down the same chute 4 times...her charges took pity on her when she was about to go down it for the 5th and let her roll again to avoid the peril...see, they're the best!)

Drop Addie off, and get back to home base. Macee doesn't want to watch a movie, she wants to spend time with her Aunt B. "Well Macee, I have chores to do." "Oh, oh! Let me help! Let me help!" What an awesome supernanny, they bend to my will without even asking. The Glee Soundtrack Volume 1 blares over the speakers of the I-pod player. Dancing and singing along as we went, we begin our tasks. I teach her how to vacuum, how to sweep, and then let her mop with me. The upstairs is sparkling clean now. We move to the basement, on the list of things the "boss lady" left was to vacuum there as well. We pick up toys and put them back in their homes. We scrub the basement bathroom, even sweeping and mopping the floors...Macee is on a roll, she looks up at me with her big, pale blue eyes full of excitement, "Aunt B. What if we cleaned Austin's room and my room and could play a trick on Austin and Addie!?" I knew what she wanted to do. We cleaned and planned what we would say. We decided to tell Austin and Addie that since Macee had helped me clean all afternoon long that they would have to clean the basement together and their rooms. All the while, waiting for them would be a sparkling clean basement and bedrooms.

Austin gets home, we jump in the car to go get Addie from preschool... we deliver the first blow. Austin gets dejected when he hears that he and Addie alone will be cleaning the basement (best joke ever) We get Addie. We deliver the news again...Addie complains that Macee should help...I explain that Macee has been helping all afternoon (again, best joke ever)

We get back to the house...both Austin and Addie walk down the stairs like condemned men walking to the electric chair. Austin goes into his room to clean and stands in silence..." room...its already clean?!" He says, half exclaiming half questioning. He turns to look at me and Macee as we laugh harder than we'd laughed all day. Addie runs to look at her room, starts to scream and runs out and plows Macee over with a hug. Austin joins the doggy pile. We go upstairs. The kids beg me to help them set up the tents to surprise their dad when he gets home (they were planning to camp out in the backyard tonight)

Does supernanny guffaw and say no! NEVER! Supernanny pulls the tents out and sets up each one...2 hours later, my plans for the butterfly garden are pushed back. The kids are playing in the tent. Austin is playing a Roman guard that has come to the tents to protect the princesses inside. I sit on the deck and listen to their game. The butterfly garden can wait. Supernannies know that when kids are being creative, and using their imaginations, you need to just let them go.

About 20 minutes later, my supernanny senses are tingling as the giggles that were once heard in the game are turning into contemptful pleas of "Stop it!" and general unhappiness. Does supernanny get are kids after supernanny, is supernanny.

"Who wants smoothies!?" I cry out, interrupting their tiff.

"Hooray!" The kids whiz past me and into the house.

We put together the blender and pour the berries, some bananas, some leftover peaches from lunch, sherbert, 10 ice cubes, and about a cup of pomegranate juice in. A few pulses later and our Jamba Juice-like creation is prepared. The kids eagerly drink it down.

"Aunt B. You're amazing!" Austin cries out.
"Aunt B. You're amazing!" Addie cries out right after. Macee, not wanting to be left out cries out, "Yeah, Aunt B. You're amazing!" (eat your hearts out all you normal nannies...supernanny...yes, yes...I am...)

I give them all a huge hug and sit to enjoy the fruits of my labors. "Aunt B. can I have some peaches?" Austin asks. Of course he can, I get up to dish some out. The girls chime in that they would like some too. I dish them all out peaches and put them on the table. They eat up and run back outside to play in the tents some more. I clear the table, and load the dishes into the dishwasher. The kitchen survived the smoothies still sparkles as sunbeams peak through the gray clouds outside. I pour the leftover smoothie into a cup for their father to drink...he will be home soon...

The kids rush in! "Aunt B. Can we have our surprise now!"

Good heavens! How could I forget the bubbles I bought them earlier for behaving!" The kids close their eyes. I give them their bubbles, they eagerly run into the front yard to play with them. Amidst the bubble popping frenzy and giggles, Kelly pulls up in his white sedan. I tell him that I hadn't cooked dinner (as usual) because I had been told that he as cooking steak on the grill, he looks dejected....apparently he loves my cooking and has told my sister so...I tell him that if he isn't in the mood to cook steaks, I'm sure there is a pizza parlor or chinese restaurant more than willing to cater to him. He laughs and says, "Well, if the kids want steak, then we will have steak." Macee pulls Kelly inside the house to show him how it sparkles, and tells him all about learning how to vacuum and sweep. Kelly admires the freshly vacuumed carpets and clean kitchen floors. I grab my purse and tell him about his smoothie in the fridge. Macee runs back outside to grab her bubbles and play more.

"Thanks Brittany. You did a great job today!" Kelly calls after me as I step into my car. The kids interrupt their giggle session and bubble blowing to call out, "Goodbye Aunt B. We love you! Thank you!"

A job well done, a day well spent!

Yes...I am super!

Hugs and loves until next time!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Finding Bliss

Sometimes, as human beings, we have a tendency to want to "keep up with the Joneses." We have the desire to have things that perhaps aren't meant for us to have. Lately, amidst the stresses and strains that the life monster has thrown at my ankles, waiting to watch me fall so he can laugh, I have been trying to make it a point to focus instead on me. In all this self reflection, and tripping over the stuff that life is throwing at my ankles, I think I have uncovered the one thing I need to be less stressed. So of course, I want to share it with you.

I am now on a quest.

What is this quest, you might ask?

I am on a quest to find my bliss.

I think I'm a heck of a lot closer than I originally thought.

Stay with me here for a minute. Let me ask you some questions. Look at your life? Are you finding yourself restless? That seems to be the story of my life as of late.

I look at my life and sometimes I think, "Holy cow, this is awesome!" Other times I look at my life and think, "Is this living, I don't think this is living." Atleast not the living I'd hoped for.

But I look at my life, when the life monster throws things at my ankles, and I usually find that if I am looking in the right place, there is always someone standing there. Someone who isn't laughing at me, with a hand extended waiting to help me up and dust off, so that I can once again be my fabulous glorious self.

My last blog post got tons of response through facebook, email, phonecalls, and I want to say to everyone who approached me, thank you so much for your support and heartfelt stories. I have learned without a doubt that I am not alone in my secret thoughts and fears. I have also heard stories from some of you who have been exactly where I am and I got wonderful advice. You helped me to see that, no, I am not crazy.

But moving forward, after realizing that I have some of the best friends in the world, some of that very good advice came from what I thought would be an unlikely source. This individual who gave me the advice, had never struck me as someone who had felt the way that I feel sometimes, but she assures me she has and that she too had done some pretty stupid things in the search for "Mr.Right". We sat in her beauty room (yes she has her own room in her house, her husband gave it to her so she could have her own space.) and over diet 7 ups we talked about life, love and the pursuit of happiness. When love came up, I hesitantly shared with her my fears, sorrows, and concerns. She said, (and I'm paraphrasing here, some of the words are word for word, but it you'll get the jist)"Brittany, you need to focus on you, you need to focus on what makes you happy. If along the way you meet someone and you marry and become a mom, then blessed be, but if it never happens then blessed be. What makes you happy? Chase that, hold on to that and never let go. Find your bliss Brittany, find it!"

Now, this is no new idea. Its the same advice that many people had already given me, just in different packaging, but her words "find your bliss" struck a chord.

Well, after much thought, I think I have found my bliss. I know what it is. I know when I am happiest: Give me a piece of music, a practice room, and let me have a few hours to create something new. Music is my bliss, its how I am emotionally fulfilled (and its a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy, then again, if you look at my student loan bills, you may not say that.)

I'm already on the path to my bliss. To me, music is almost as vital as air. I think I already reached the conclusion when I was finding myself restless and unhappy in Missoula, MT that the idea of having a day job with music on the side was not an option for me. I needed to find a job where I could have music all day every day. Enter going back to school for my education credentials, and since then the doors and windows have been opening, I've just been too blind to see them.

I knew I belonged back in Idaho, I knew I needed to go back to school, but that secret part of me was hoping that the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach (you know, the one when something big is about to happen and your soul just knows it) meant that perhaps I would finally be the fish in the sea that the fisherman caught and took home for I would find my glowy hunk and live happily ever after.

I look back and feel so dumb for not seeing all the opportunities, all of the blessings that I have been given because I allowed myself to be so blinded by the rest of my hopes and dreams. Hopes and dreams are awesome, until they blind you...

I have one of the most amazing voice teachers in the world. She won't let me get away with anything! She is genuinely one of my biggest fans. Her support and funny whisperings in my ear after I sing make my heart happy, they give me hope, they help me to see why I do what I do. I am going to school in one of the best music education programs in the state (I think its the best, but I may be biased) I got to take classes that I technically shouldn't have been allowed to take because of my advanced degree and I learned so much about music, about education, but more importantly about myself and the kind of teacher and person I want to be. I have made some incredible new friends, and have grown closer to old ones. These friends have been there for me no matter what, whether I'd done something stupid and needed to be reminded that I was human and its okay to mess up, or whether I was having a diva dust moment backstage and needed to be reminded that I'm human and I don't have to be the best all the time...I am so so so blessed. These people are a large part of my bliss.

Thank you to all of my friends, old and new. Thank you for being there for me no matter what, and loving me, and cheering for me. Thank you for your wonderful advice and words of encouragement in my darkest hours. I have taken much of that advice, and I will tell you that I realized today that my joy is full. Thank you for helping me to see that I'm not alone. Thank you for asking me for help. It has been through helping you that I have started to help myself.

More importantly, I am so thankful for a loving God. Some of you might not believe in God, some of you might not worship him as I do, but I can say for myself that I know that there is a higher power at work, there has to be, or there would be too many coincidences in this world. I look at my life, and I see his hand. I see that he has been leading me all along. I can see that even when I mess up, he still loves me, in fact, he still blesses me- he wants me to be happy. He wants all of us to be happy.

So some self reflection. Find your bliss. You will find that the things that you want will still be there, they will still be a want, but they won't blind you to everything else.

Not saying I'm perfect at this yet. I know what my bliss is, I'm trying to keep hold of it, but bliss can be slippery and hard to grip when you're new to grabbing it and not letting go. All I know, is that the first step is recognizing your bliss, and trying to make sure, when times are tough and dark, that you remember that its there.

And that my darlings, is the lesson of the day (atleast its been mine...)

Hugs and loves until next time!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Expiration Date?


As you all know, I was contemplative earlier about my situation in life, and inspired by Jane Austen (sister Jane, as I the hopeless Mormon love to call her in groups who would know why I call her that.) I have concluded that I am hopelessly attracted to Willoughby's... yada yada...

I have had in the last few weeks several interesting conversations with various groups of people, and I have another theory... unfortunately, this theory doesn't really have a sunny side (well, it can, but we will get to that later.)

I look around my single's ward, I look at my friends...and it seems like everyone is getting younger and younger while I get older and older. I'm beginning to feel like that jug of milk sitting in the front of the cooler that everyone passes by to reach back and get a newer, younger jug of milk. I laugh to myself when I think of the comparison, but it was the best I could come up with when I concocted this theory/question/ whatever... and here it is:

Do we as women have an expiration date?

I know, after women's liberation and fighting for the right to vote, we've come so far- how dare I pose such a question! But it really is starting to feel that I'm close to, or have passed mine.

Some of you laugh- Brittany, you are 26 1/2 is what you have so much time...if I was living in Boston, New York, or some other Metropolitan area where the average age of marriage is in the late 20s and early 30s, I might agree with you...unfortunately, I am in Idaho...

land of Potatoes and BYU-I(do)...most of my friends are married with several children, friends my age, friends that are younger than me...much much younger than me...and they keep getting younger.

I took a poll of my male friends. They told me point blank their thinking. Perhaps this isn't true of all men, but it seems to be true of the ones I associate with. Here are a few points they made that may cause issues when it comes to dating:

1) I am educated.- Now you wouldn't think this was a bad thing (hello it is the 21st century) however, it intimidates most men my age or slightly younger because, as much as we hate to admit it, guys want to feel like they can be the protectors, the a girl with a Master's degree when you are still working on your bachelors can be a real ego burster...

2) My age- Okay, as previously stated I am proud to say that I am 26 1/2 years old...I will be 27 in a few short months. Guys, as much as we don't want to think they think about these things, do in fact think about these things. When they see me, yes- they see how awesome I am (I can say I'm awesome because they told me I am) however, they also see my age. They want a wife that they can have some fun with ALONE before the pitter patter of little feet come into the picture. They see marriage to a girl of my age as a sentence for an instant family. Let me say that, yes, I do want a big family, but I can also see the importance of growing together before children come along, I wouldn't be in any hurry, but everyone assumes that I am....go figure

3) I am driven and determined...apparently it is intimidating to date a girl with a plan...go figure... we have expiration dates? Do I need to sit on the shelf waiting for someone who is in a hurry and just rushes to grab what's at the front of the shelf? Seems like this isn't a very pretty or fun other words, if we go with the jug of milk analogy, I have to wait for the type of guy who is in a hurry to find a girl and he doesn't care about the substance behind the eyes, the personality, he just wants a body, he wants to check off the next thing on his list of things he has to do...I really don't like this analogy...but I had started thinking that perhaps this was the case.

Perhaps that is what Willoughby's are,perhaps that is why it seems like this is all that I date... they rush into the store, grab the milk from the front of the cooler and then realize that they could have had something better if they'd dug a little further back so they rush back to the cooler, and put you back....

This is kind of depressing isn't it? I am an intelligent, well grounded, well rounded woman with substance. I look at the world, and, as an artist, try to see it for the beauty. I try to use my experience to make me better, to give me more to draw from when I look at a sheet of music and bring to life the ideas and emotions that someone took the time to write on paper hundreds of years ago, I get free therapy courtesy of Mozart, Brahms, Strauss and other famous dead dudes...I have the best job in the world because, not only do I get to do this for myself, I get to do it for the people who sit in my audiences. If we believe the idea of the ancient Greek model, the audience comes to a theater to purge themselves of negative emotions by partaking in the drama of the theater or music. Let me say it again, let me shout it again! :I have the best job in the world- granted, I haven't been paid much for it, but it still is the best job in the world. I love what I do- its therapy for everyone, it polishes the soul...

Knowing all of this about myself, should I believe I have an expiration date? I've been told that perhaps what I need is to leave this corner of the world. But how could I do that? I love it here, I love that my family is here, I love that I grew up here.

I know, grow up Brittany...for real...just because you leave a place doesn't mean that it ceases to be home. You can come home again- anywhere that people love you is home.

So, I've been thinking about my expiration date...letting it depress me...accepting my worst fear- I will tell you all what it is...

I see myself, 75, living in a nursing home all by myself, with no one to care or come visit me because I was never lucky enough to draw the marriage/family card.

I shared this fear with my older sister. She guffawed (at me...yes Guffawed...yes I do live in 1910, thank you very much..I like my old slang, get used to it people! haha) She said, "Brittany, we'd never let that happen to you." My thought was, "Well, you can't do anything about it if you're dead..." Of course, I didn't say this out loud.

I know there are strong women, amazing women, who never marry and still lead very fulfilled and wonderful lives...the Mormon church has a few awesome examples (the incomparable Ms. Sheri Dew...) but I don't know if I can accept that as my legacy...I don't know if I want people to look at my life and say, "She never married, but look at how much she accomplished!" I don't know if I want to be that poster child...

I know, some of you are laughing...perhaps you were older than me before you found your mister right, perhaps you think I am just allowing myself to be consumed by thoughts about things that I have no control over...

This is the conclusion I've come to: you are probably right...

So, I don't like my new analogy/theory/whatever thingie...

So what do I do? I need to change it! I need to twist it to make it more positive. I need to stop worrying about becoming a poster child for spinsters and old maids everywhere and just focus on living my life... I need to focus on gaining experience and feeding my soul in positive ways.

Its still a work in progress...

but I have come up with a new analogy, its my hopeful analogy, but I am still working to believe it. Here it is: (Warning, its not a very "Mormon" analogy, but you'll understand why its good)

I am not a jug of milk...I am a bottle of fine wine...I get better with age...the reason why no one has picked me up yet is because they just can't afford me. Sooner or later, someone with deep pockets will come along and decide to make an investment because he really likes his fine wine..

Okay- I'm not saying I expect my future husband to be independently wealthy in the temporal sense...perhaps he has spiritual resources that I can't even comprehend...

I am working to stamp out my expiration date. In the meantime, I am going to do all that I need to do to gain experience, to gain knowledge, to grow as an artist and a human being. No one could ask more than that, right?

Ladies, we may have an expiration date according to some people, but there is one person who loves us more than anything, and he won't leave us on the shelf...and that is God. No matter how you worship him, he loves you. I know for a fact that we are all his daughters. Stop worrying about deformities, and focusing on the negative...change your analogies...

Yes, it takes time. I know I won't go from thinking of myself as a jug of milk to thinking of myself as a fine wine over night, but every day it gets easier. Every day, I find myself being negative about myself less and less. That, my friends, is the victory. That is when we can be who we are destined to be.

Hugs and loves until next time!

(P.S. Here is my new song of inspiration, when I find myself being down on myself, I turn it on and crank it up! I think we should all find our own source of inspiration, don't you?)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A BIG Rant


I know when it comes to politics I'm usually more liberal than most of the people in my neck of the woods (blame my parents, they taught me to think for myself and make up my own mind based on actual facts....crazy, right?)

But I can't keep my mouth shut about this. Yesterday I saw a sign sitting in the front yard of one of my neighbors that made me sick. It read "No new debt Vote NO for the District 93 Levy." I wanted to go knock on their door and ask them a few questions.

I wanted to ask them how they expected their district to recoup the losses that the Legislature so lovingly bestowed upon them, I wanted to ask them what programs that keep their kids out of trouble after school they'd be willing to see go, I wanted to ask them if they'd like to go to a meeting with the teachers and tell them which ones will not have a job next year.....I wanted to punch them in the stomach and run the other direction.

But....I didn't, I just kept pedaling my bike on past their disgusting sign.

Then, yesterday, one of my best friends found out that because the Bond in her school district in Hansen, ID got a big fat NO vote, she will not have a job next year....that made me wish I really had gone to punch the ignorant person with the big yellow sign in the stomach...she is a wonderful teacher. She instituted some awesome programs in her English classes that the kids had never experienced before. She works hard to be creative and to make sure the kids are successful....why her?

Then, this morning, a Facebook invitation to join a group in support of the District 91 Bond. Of course I joined, and left a little message about why I support it.

Well people, knowledge is power. So, I feel the need to educate all of you.

For those of you in District 93-

What is a levy? defines it this way: "

Levy definition

To collect or assess money that is due.

Investopedia Commentary

An example of levying is the government assessing how much tax you owe, or a regulatory agency fining you for not paying what you owe.

In other words, you may not owe any money, a levy just gives the city the right to assess if you would owe any more money to help out the school, to prevent them from losing programs, to prevent them from having to fire teachers.

For those of you in District 91 here is the definition of a bond:

A written and sealed obligation, especially one requiring payment of a stipulated amount of money on or before a given day.

This definition is pretty straight forward. The school district is basically asking you to invest in your community and the children in it.

Why should you vote in favor of a Bond or Levy? Well, for starters the money that they end up collecting is going to keep teachers in the classroom. Your child will get more one on one attention because the teacher doesn't have a class of 50 kids to take care of. Classroom sizes have already grown considerably in the last few years, losing teachers would cause them to grow more!

Losing teachers also means the possible loss of programs. For example, your music teacher may be the newest teacher, because of this (last hired, first fired), they might feel that they can cut the music teacher and with them the music program all together in order to stretch their funding. Your child may not be a musician, or in one of the music classes, but what about the other 200 kids that do participate?This is the reality in Hansen, ID. Except their music teacher, in fear of losing her job, went and found another one, and the last discussion I'd heard on the matter, they were not going to open a search for a new music teacher, thus killing their music program effectively. Or perhaps the most recent hire was a baseball coach, but they had yet ANOTHER losing season. Perhaps your district decides to do what Snake River School District did a few years ago, they decide to cut the "unsuccessful" sports programs. You then would be in the same position as parents from the Snake River School District and be forced to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars each year to keep the program alive.

These are just a few scenarios, but they do happen.

In bigger school districts like 91 and 93, they could also cut those all too important AP classes. These classes allow your children to take classes like Biology, Chemistry, English, Anatomy and Physiology, and many many others, for college credit. In order to save money, they just might decide that your kids can just go ahead and spend more time in college, this costing YOU more money in the long run.

I urge everyone to go to your district websites, and school board meetings and get the FACTS! Don't let the bias of the way you were raised influence you.

I understand these are tough economic times, but do we really want to ask our kids to suffer? That is exactly what would happen. Public education for everyone is a wonderful thing. It gives people opportunities that they had never dreamed possible. It gives a little boy or girl the opportunity to raise above the circumstances they were born to to become something better. If structured correctly, it allows your child to explore all their options to become the person they want to be.

With massive budget cuts and the loss of teachers, we run the risk of upsetting a very delicate balance. Your child might be at risk! Your community is definitely at risk. Often times, programs offered at school or through the school are the only things keeping kids out of trouble.

Even more importantly, a good teacher can change the world! (Why do you think after 7 1/2 years of college I am back for another 2 getting my teaching certification.) I have had so many wonderful teachers influence me for the better. What if that teacher, the one who has the power to get through to your child, is the one who loses their job?

Please support your local school districts.

Furthermore, write your congressman, write the governor, write your legislative representative- tell them how disappointed and upset you are that the decision was made to make these cuts to education. One voice is a fly in the ointment, but thousands and thousands of voices can cause the wound to fester (in a good way). They chose to endanger our public education system with one vote. We can vote to save it.

Get educated, make up your own mind. God bless.
Hugs and Loves until next time!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dating Lessons from Jane Austen

I know...I'm a horrible person. I haven't updated my blog in so long, but you have to understand what my life has been for the last little bit. The opera (Three Penny Opera by Kurt Weill) took over my life for a few months, as I brought to life my own version of a bitter old lush A.K.A. Mrs. was phenomenal fun, but its over and I couldn't be happier. Then, I had about 2 days to rest before the Brahms Requiem took over my life. I joke, but seriously in my heart of hearts, believed that Brahms from beyond the grave somehow managed to pay for my vocal cords to take a luxury vacation on a cruise ship, and he didn't bother to invite me. After this weekend, they came back from their long vacation just in time for my voice lesson final and finals week.

I've also been consumed by a social life that is a little more active than I'd like.

In the last three months I have been accosted by 3, count them 3 ex-boyfriends, all with a desire to get back into my good graces. I hesitantly bestowed my good graces upon them again only to have them run screaming for the hills.

These three consecutive experiences have taught me two very important life lessons:
1) Break Ups suck (a lesson I thought I'd already learned, but apparently God wants to make sure that I have the memo)


2) Exes are exes for good reason

Lesson Number 1 (break ups suck) finds me in a contemplative mood. I'm at the stage in the break up grieving process where I want two things : truffles and Jane Austen.
This contemplative mood coupled with Jane Austen has brought me to a baffling theory that I think everyone should hear, because, GASP! I think its true....

Here is my theory-

My name is Brittany Ann Winberg, and I am addicted to Willoughbys....

You think I'm crazy, right? Well, here is what I have come to understand about Ms. Austen's writings.

In her books (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park) our dear friend Jane has perfectly categorized the different types of men.

From Sense and Sensibility we get three types of men:

1) Edward- loyal to a fault, this type of man will keep his promises even if it causes him great unhappiness. If you develop a friendship or an attachment with an Edward, you will find that even if he has great feelings for you, if he is dating someone else he will brood and painfully let you go for the sake of honor because he feels he has promised himself to someone else. Barring remarkable circumstances that allow him to break his previous attachment, you can forget ever having more than a friendship with an Edward.

2) Willoughby- young, exciting, romantic. The Willoughby type promises you the moon, the stars, and all the passion that you want out of a love affair. Beware the Willoughby. While they make promises, they leave a trail of broken hearts where ever they go. A Willoughby may form an attachment with you, but the first sign of true love and responsibility, he will turn his tail and run, convincing himself that there are "greener pastures" awaiting him. Girls with more money, more prospects, or that are prettier

3) Colonel Dashwood- the Antithesis of Willoughby. Colonel Dashwoods are generally older, but steady and firm in their resolve to protect and adore the women they love. They love deep, they never forget the one that got away, but are hopeful that they will find someone to make them forget the hurt and pain of what they've lost. They have passion, but it is under many layers of decorum and propriety. Colonel Brandons have a tendency to save the day, and the women they love from sticky situations whether it be in public or private.

From Pride and Prejudice we get 4 types of men again:

1) Mr. Darcy- apparently, according to most Austen lovers, Mr. Darcy is the epitome of manliness. He has much goodness, but hides it behind brooding eyes. He is bound to his family and all of the responsibilities of life. He feels that he must marry someone who can live up to his families expectations, but he longs for passion and love. He hopes that he can someday find someone that will meet both his expectations and his families, but has good enough sense to follow his heart when its slapping him in the face.

2) Mr. Bingley- jovial, a Bingley is bound and determined to love the world, everyone in it, and everything about it. Bingleys form deep attachments to the women they admire; however they rely heavily on the advice of their friends and family. If you form an attachment to a Bingley, be aware of this and work to get into the good graces of the people he will trust most. If you fail at this you run the risk of losing him but not being able to be mad at him for it because he is such a good guy you won't be able to think of anything mean to say about him.

3) Mr. Collins- the creeper...the Mr. Collinses of the world usually end up marrying girls who wish to settle...just don't go there.

4) Mr. Wickham- the wolf in sheep's clothing. A Wickham is all charm but seeks only for his own advancement in life. He tries to blame everyone else for his problems and tries to get you to pity him. If he succeeds, he will try to find a way to get you to shortcut your standards so that his petty needs will be met instantaneously...beware of the Wickhams, they are the kinds of men that will cheat on you repeatedly, but will get away with it for years because they hide it with their charm and compliments.

From Persuasion we find 2 types of men

1)Captain Wentworth- this is the man that you knew you loved but you let him get away because friends and families encouraged you to believe that this would be a bad idea. He comes back into your life, he wants to hate you, but he can't so you settle to be friends; however, underneath your friendship is a passion that will not die. With any luck, he will not be able to contain his feelings any longer and he will confess that he is still in love with you, allowing you to have a second chance.

2) Mr. Elliot- Usually, the Mr. Elliot type is someone who you know from the past, or who has connections with your family in some remote way. The Mr. Elliot type always has ulterior motives. He seeks to marry only when it will benefit him (he wants arm candy or money) his affection might be real, but at first he chases a woman only because he feels it will help him in his career or life in some way. It is unknown whether the Mr. Elliot can be changed, but rest assured he has options on the side and won't be too hurt if you choose to go another direction and leave his sorry keester in the dust...

Finally from Mansfield Park, we get 4 types of men

Edmund- An Edmund is brilliant. You crush on him for years, but never dare tell him the truth about your feelings for risk of ruining your perfect friendship. He almost doesn't see what's under his nose. If you are in a relationship with an Edmund, it generally takes a heartbreak or a traumatic experience in which he can turn to you for comfort for him to realize what he's been overlooking. If you manage to snag an Edmund, you will find you never lack in love or respect. He will adore you and worship the ground you walk on, and because you were friends first he will know you better than you know yourself at times.

Tom, Jr.- This boy is all about play. He doesn't care much for work, and you find that much of what he has in life has been handed to him. There generally isn't much substance to a Tom, if you have a crush on a Tom, try to find a nice Edmund, Colonel Brandon, or Edward immediately. Its for the best honey!

Henry- For an Henry its all about the thrill of the hunt and chase. He wants only to leave a trail of broken hearts. If a Henry happens to marry, its only because he is forced into it. You will know a Henry because all he wants is instant gratification. He is much like a Willoughby, except he doesn't have good manners or decorum in private. If you are stand-offish enough, you might persuade an Henry that he is in love with you, but after a final rejection he will leave and find someone to help him heal his wounded ego.

Mr.Rushworth- Clueless, a Mr. Rushworth will believe anything you say. He looks at marriage much like he would a business proposition. He isn't very romantic but he is tolerable. If you choose to marry a Rushworth, look out- they aren't prone to being very forgiving.

So....after all that, allow me to reiterate- My name is Brittany Ann Winberg, and I am addicted to Willoughbys.

Let me explain. As I look back at my recent dating past and all of the men who "done me wrong" I find that all of them have been Willoughbys.

I blame my romantic notions....I want passion, I want romance, I want someone who tells me that I'm amazing and perfect....I just don't want them to run away, but they do...they always do because they are Willoughbys and that is their nature.

I can conclude then, that Jane Austen tells me that I should seek for a Colonel Brandon- but here is my problem...I don't know if I can handle a Colonel Brandon. I don't know if I have the patience to peel back the layers to find the passion. I could grow fond of a Brandon, and all of his steady assurances, but I fear that I wouldn't be truly happy unless I had passion....

(you see what I mean about being contemplative?)

I'd love everyone's input. I know I should resolve myself to look for a Colonel Brandon, an older, steady, sweet, doting man who conceals in public what is felt in private, but its so difficult to give up the Willoughbys.

After this most recent wound has healed, perhaps I will be able to refocus my efforts. I undoubtedly know that Willoughby is what attracts me, but I need to find a Brandon...does anyone know any Colonel Brandons?

Hugs and Loves until Next time!