Amazement: Empathetic Friends

Day 18 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement

Sometime around 2010 a commenter on That Wife challenged my assertion that anyone who can’t make Mormonism work just wasn’t trying hard enough. I called her a Cafeteria Mormon and told her she was a poor representation of the faith, and if she couldn’t do it “right” then she shouldn’t attend at all. Somehow I felt like she was ruining it for the rest of us.

A few years later I had a close friend tell me the exact same thing. I was going through my faith transition, sharing my evolving viewpoints in the Awakening series*, and she didn’t like the way it was portraying Mormonism to the general public. She told me to stop talking about it, and eventually she stopped reading my blog altogether. I understood where she was coming from, acknowledging that I had done the same thing to someone else, but it was a bitter pill to swallow.

These two experiences, among several others over the last five years, have dramatically affected how I view the world and the people in it. I came out of my childhood with a bootstrap mentality (as in, pull yourself up by them) and don’t think I was someone who made much effort to listen to and validate the experiences of others. The change came from being exposed to the stories of other people, and really taking the time to think through how different my life experiences were than theirs and what it would be like for me if I walked in their shoes for a bit. Yet another way blogging has made me a better person.

I haven’t always been an empathetic friend, but I’m trying to act as one now. Life is hard, for all of us in different ways. I want those close to me to know that they can come to me when they need someone with an open mind and kind heart. So many things circle back to kindness.

*If you’re new, you can read why I left Mormonism entirely here.

Amazement: Feminist Friends

Day 17 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement

Becoming a feminist can be a little like giving birth to a new identity. The buildup to the pinnacle of the journey is long and uphill, and once the new feminist self is born the world feels like a different place. All of life’s experiences are altered slightly as they are processed through a new lens. Friends who knew you might not understand the new identity you’ve taken on.

I have a lot of relationships with people who have been very patient with me through my feminist. Some of them are feminists, taking the time to nurture me through my feminist-in-embryo period (I consider myself a sort of pre-teen right now). Some of them are not ready to classify themselves that way, but they still took the time to listen and reflect on my ideas and push me as I tested out my wings. Some of them are men who disagree with me but are willing to debate and challenge in a way that isn’t diminishing or defensive (to be honest, I’m the one that struggles with defensiveness).

My feminism has benefited greatly from multiple perspectives and I’m glad whenever people are willing to offer up their ideas when I voice my own. Well, initially I’m frustrated that everyone doesn’t agree with me. Then later I’m glad. (Sometimes much later, but just give it time.)

The conversation needs more contributions if the movement is going to progress! Join in, even if you don’t feel ready to claim that title yet. There’s more equality still to be found.

Amazement: Candid Friends

Day 16 of NaBloPoMo: Married to Amazement

I walked into the kitchen and said “I’m happy. Really happy.” TH looked up from his lunch and said “Oh really? I wasn’t sure. I’m glad.

TH didn’t have any negative intentions when he responded this way, but his reply sent me off into an abrupt bout of confusion and sadness. In high school we did a word game where we turned each letter of our friend’s name into an adjective to describe them. My partner wrote “J – Jubilant.” Bubbly, extroverted, happy, full of life. Those are the ways other people described me, and it was something I really liked about myself. To hear the person who knows me best express that they didn’t know I was enjoying my life was largely what inspired this month of gratitude posting. I want to shift not only the way I perceive my life, but the way I express my feelings on a daily basis.

At first I thought I had morphed into a pessimist, but a candid (fairly recent) friend described me as “cynical.” She hasn’t known me any other way, and so I think it’s interesting to hear her description. I’m not thrilled with that either, but it does feel like the best way to describe how I was/am being perceived. I’m trying to combat this by taking more deep breaths, refocusing on what energizes me, vocalizing positive reactions and feelings more often, using NaBloPoMo as a writing exercise focused on gratitude, and enjoying the good moments as they are happening without any expectation about how many there will be or how long they will last.

“You can never know the good if you never know the bad, you can never be happy if you’ve never been sad.” – My Turn on Earth

This is why I’m grateful for frank friends, the kind who really know me, and are willing to push me to be better when I express a willingness to change. This week I had a close friend ask me for some honest feedback, and speaking candidly felt scary because I was worried that I might hurt her or damage our friendship with my opinions. I think friendships grow when they experience tension like that. I’m hoping that my friends will sense that they can be real with me, because I’ve got a lot of changes to make. Diminishing my cynicism was just the beginning.

Amazement: Connection

Day 15 of NaBloPoMo 2014: Married to Amazement

For about a minute yesterday I thought about sacrificing some of my (precious & rare) time with my husband in order to meet my goal of posting every day in November. Then I shut my laptop and did no such thing.

The second week of October I focused on opportunities I’m grateful for, and this week I wanted to focus on friendships. There are a variety of connections I have made over the last few years that have helped shape me into who I am in 2014 (a very different sort of person than I was less than five year ago) and I feel very lucky to have encountered such a wide variety of people. I’m proud of myself for the ways I have opened up to a variety of viewpoints and allowed these exchanges to smooth out my wrinkles and enhance my strengths.

A lot of the friendships I’ve formed over the past few years have come from That Wife. ┬áThe internet is full of interesting, intelligent, fascinating, delightful people to get to know. One reason I want to keep writing in this space is because I know there are more bonds to be formed! Already I can see the readership turning over from what it was since I was last posting regularly. I look forward to a day when I can interact and respond a bit more to get to know those who are taking the time to interact with me in the comments section. A lot of times my evening routine is about choosing to squeeze in That Wife comments or be mama/wife.

T2 is playing peek-a-boo with me. This post doesn’t feel finished. That’ll have to do for now.

Amazement: San Francisco

Day 13 of NaBloPoMo 2014: Married to Amazement

My great-grandma once played the song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” She was so sentimental, and I didn’t get what was happening. I get it now. My other grandma told me about dancing on the pier with Lawrence Welk, but that may have been in Los Angeles.

Back to San Fran! This place, the entire San Francisco Bay Area, is my first choice for location to live. I think in the entire world. The opportunities, activities, food culture, proximity to forest and ocean, unique city culture, and access to cool new services are enough to fill several lifetimes. All of that comes at a significant financial cost though, and so I’m mentally prepping myself to leave this perfect place* behind and start over again somewhere new as early as 2016. Each time I think about leaving I feel a renewed dedication to make space for more beach trips, more redwoods, more Ferry Building, more hiking, more single-origin pour-over coffee, more wine tasting in Napa, more hilltops, more Karl the Fog, more conventions, more random nudity in downtown SF, and more of everything techie geeky hipster chic.

I could go on, but I’ll stop. And if you are one of those people who know me in real life and have been saying “I really want to visit you!” – DO IT! You can sleep in the boat bed** and fall in love with this place, just like me.

*perfect in all aspects except cost of living

**My son sleeps in a boat bed every night, left here by our landlord. What a cool renters perk, right?