Monday, February 20, 2012

Kissing Don't Last: Cookery Do.

So, still getting that alphabet post together; this weekend had some unexpected twists and turns.  In the meantime, I actually cooked a meal!  It's the first real "meal" I've cooked in a long while, so I thought I would share.  I've even included some along-the-way snapshots and some loose instructions. The title of this post is a quote by George Meredith, an English poet from the Victorian era.

Delicious Noms
The first step was to assemble, wash, and rep all the ingredients, because I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing.  I put the chicken on to cook as I was prepping the vegetables. 


 <--So, here we have young white mushrooms, half a yellow onion, garlic, a green bell pepper, young asparagus spears, a red potato, and some fresh cilantro.


Don't soak mushrooms, they get gross. Rinse them quickly, or, better yet, wipe them off with a damp paper towel or a soft brush. Or, you know, leave them out all together, because the whole "fungus" idea is a little weird. I just felt a strange, culinary obligation to put them in.  This dish CALLED for mushrooms--I could feel it...


^^I sliced some mushrooms, diced part of the onion,
Here we have inexpensive versions of paprika,
 basil, ground mustard, lime juice, and sea salt.
NOT pictured here is my 

ever-so-delicious extra-virgin cold-press olive oil. 
Yum.
minced a clove of garlic, julienned half the pepper, and then sliced the potatoes really, really thin...I was going for a variety of shape, but I also wanted to maximize the color of the potato.

You also need a variety of "potions  and powders," as someone once called them.  [So if I use them all the time, does that make me a Potions Master? I might be okay with that.]-->





 Meanwhile, our boneless, skinless chicken breast steak is cooking on the stovetop. A little water to steam it up (I like moist chicken), some basil, a shot of lime juice; add a little ground mustard and a dash of sea salt. Cook it over medium heat, while we turn our attention back to the vegetables.


Sweat the onion in some of the delicious olive oil. Add the pepper strips. Cook for a little bit. Add the asparagus and the garlic [At this point, I cheated a little bit and added just a titch of water to the pan, to steam the asparagus.  Probably not the best plan, especially if there is oil in the bottom of the pan.  I didn't have a problem, but just a fair warning].  As the stove top mix is cooking, put the super-thin potato slices in the microwave, with a little bit of water, for about 90 seconds. Add to the pan; cook for about a minute.






When the vegetables are just shy of crisp-tender, add the fresh mush and cilantro. I also added a dash of paprika and some sea salt.

YES

~ALMOST DONE~

Hey, yeah, also, at this point, your chicken should look kind of like this:
To get the nice brown color, add some of that delicious cold-press olive oil to the pan just before the chicken is done. 

Now, just turn the heat off, pull everything off of the stove, and plate up.  
I made a bed of veggies on the plates, then sliced each breast into seven-ish pieces and laid it over the top. 


Dressed it with some feta cheese, added a sprig of left-over fresh cilantro, 
then sprinkled the whole thing with some grated Romano.

So pretty! 
 Now, go feed it to someone else, and get them to help clean up. 

Yeah, just kidding. There isn't too much clean-up, actually, just the cutting board and two pans. 
But, there IS enough food for two or three servings, so feel free to share. . . or pack it for lunch. . . or whatever you want. 

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.  
~ Virginia Woolf,  "A Room of One's Own"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friends in Far Places


Today, I met up with a friend for a Jamba Juice.  
Not an uncommon occurrence. 
What WAS uncommon, though, is that is was my very best childhood friend, Amanda Yockey!

Except she went and got married to some fantastically wonderful Finnish fellow,
so now her name is Amanda Fristrom. 


New York!
It was wonderful to see her again. She is living in Stockholm at present, so for her to be in the States is a a treat; for her to be in my town in Utah is particularly fortuitous.  I have not seen her since before I graduated from high school!

We talked of our lives, our travels (okay...her travels), our interests; of politics, opinions, and passions. Our conversation went in and out and around and through a plethora of fulfilling topics, and we learned so much. Intellectual conversation with people we care about brings so much joy!  I am so blessed to know such intelligent, loving, exciting people. I am so glad we were able to renew our friendship; a renewal I believe will stay strong even across the globe.

So, dear reader, you will of course excuse me for one more day?  We will pick up on the Alphabet series on the morrow. 


****************



Also, crazy random happenstance: I was sitting in a class today, and realized I had done the wrong reading--somehow I had mixed up the dates on my syllabus.
  ::momentary panic:: 
 Then I looked at the correct reading for the day. What was it? 
 "The ABC--D,Es of Dating and Relationships," by G. Levinger.
hahaha, how convenient!  And completely unexpected!  I knew at that moment that it was going to be a great day. 
And I was right. 



Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Valentine Tale

 So, once upon a time, I realized it was February 7th.


And I had to have a full order of Peanut Butter Bon Bons shipped to Rexburg in time for Valentines.



<--Oh noes!!
 How had time snuck up on me like that??


While normally just one order of bon-bons wouldn't be that big of a deal, with everything going on with my life lately, it felt like a very daunting task.


Who to call at such a time???
Obviously such a crisis required a super hero.
Or maybe two super heroes. 

Luckily, I had the best superheroes of all time at my disposal:
BATMAN

And me.
Duh.
 

So, I set to work. 
I made some pretty tasty bon-bons.

<--very special, shaped bon-bons, for 

                                                 very special people.



Some of them did not turn out as well. 
The Abomination.  This is why I need taste-testers, to get malformed candy out of my sight as soon as possible. ;-)


This time around, it took me a few days to get them done.   make the centers, sleep...shape the centers, sleep....dip the centers, sleep...look at them, go back to sleep...et cetera.




<<--Not feeling it.




But, I conquered, at length.




                                                                        So I put those chocolates inside of a box


and then I put that box inside of another box, and then I MAILED that box


...to these two. ^^

And then the prince got down on one knee...


and they lived happily ever after. 
Congrats, Cecilia and Brandon!!


Psh. And you thought *I* was the heroine of the story. ;-)


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The (Not So) Easy A: Attraction

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!!  
Today's topic seems particularly appropriate on such a holiday. 

Much of this material comes from an original post from a couple of years ago, found here.  However, some items have been edited, shortened, expounded upon...you know.  Kind of like when a professor says "You really, really, have-to, must buy this NEW edition of the textbook, the old one just won't cut it...yes, I know it's $227.83 more than last years' edition...but you really need it..."
And then, it turns out that they just re-ordered some of the chapters (without changing any content), fixed some punctuation, and added, like, two sentences...yeah.  Like that.


Well, this is a little more than that.  Plus, I mostly wanted it to fall in order with the rest of the alphabet, and add some actual research to back it up. So here you go, the 2012 edition of
The (Not So) Easy A: "Attraction."


Ofttimes we hear the phrase "Why don't boys date me?" "Why do the same few people get asked out all the time?" "Why is everyone so in love with so-and-so?" "How did SHE get a boyfriend, while I am still SINGLE?"

or, on the male end of things: "I'm asking girls on dates, but I can't seem to make it go on from there." "Why is it that the girls that I'm not attracted to, like me, and the girls I'm attracted to, like me--'as a friend, or a brother'?" "Ugh...I'm stuck in the Friend Zone!" "Why is it all the girls I want to date, are already dating someone else?"

And other such variations on a theme. Well, kids, here's a question for you:

How do you find someone you are attracted to, convince them that they are attracted to you, too, and then date that person?

(voice)I don't know. How DO you find someone you are attracted to, convince them that they are attracted to you, too, and then date that person?

The answer?

YOU CAN'T.
 First, you must BECOME the person that someone you would be attracted to would date, thus attracting someone you would be attracted to, and then each of you get up the courage to enter that relationship of your own free wills.

(voice) Well, THAT'S not an answer to the question!

Well, did I promise you an answer to the question?

All poorly written allusions aside, I honestly think many of us ask the wrong questions. People are so focused on finding someone they want to date, of finding the one-and-only that will give them their long-sought 'happily-ever-after.' Truth is, they are only your 'one-and-only' AFTER YOU ARE MARRIED.  Not one minute before. You choose your own soulmate. We've heard all this before.

I disagree that we need to (put on your best Mia Maid Instructor voice here) "BECOME the person we want to marry." I don't know about all y'all, but I'd like to marry someone who, well...isn't me. The key is to
 become someone to whom our ideal would be attracted.

So, that's great. But what does that mean? That sounds suspiciously like changing myself. Aren't we supposed to be loved for who we ARE?

Absolutely. We need to be loved for who we are, not in spite of or because of any characteristics of self, but simply for the whole of it. On the flip side, though,
we have an obligation to be the best version of ourself that we can. 
On a brilliant social comedy called "Community," a favorite character of mine, Abed, explains it this way:
 "Let's face it; I'm pretty adorable. I got self-esteem falling out of my butt." 
(friend) "Well, if you like yourself, why did you change?" 
(Abed): "Well, when you know who you are and what you like about yourself, changing for other people isn't that bad."

Abed understood what many of us miss: That as long as he knew who he was, knew what he liked about himself, and kept those qualities, he was able to use that as a anchor point as he tried some new things. (Moving past the Community analogy now) As we apply this to the dating scene, we can start to ask those previous questions honestly, and actually expect answers. ("Why" questions are often statements in disguise rather than actual questions).
***This can be dangerous for those not grounded; however, if the changes are good ones, that make you a better person (as they should be, otherwise the person you are trying to date isn't worth it) it doesn't really matter if the relationship works out. You've been left a better person, and better able to attract you future spouse!  Yay!  

There is a quote by President Spencer W. Kimball that I have heard repeated or paraphrased often over the pulpit or in talks. It can be easily misunderstood, and is not for the emotionally squeamish. 
"How nice and easy would it be if we had a magic wand! But we haven't. You might take a careful inventory of your habits, your speech, your appearance, your weight, if it is heavier than most people appreciate, and your eccentricities, if you have them. Take each item and analyze it. What do you like in others? What personality traits please you in others? Are your dresses too short, too long, too revealing, too old-fashioned? Does your weight drive off possible suitors? Do you laugh raucously? Are you too selfish? Are you interested only in your own interests or do you project yourself into the lives of others? Do you have annoying mannerisms? ... Do you repeat old stories till they are threadbare? Are you too anxious or too disinterested? Can you make some sacrifices to be acceptable? Are you dull or are you too exuberant? Are you flashy or are you disinteresting? What do you do to make yourself desirable? Do you overdo or underdo? Too much makeup or too little? Scrupulously clean both physically and morally? Are you in the right place or have you pegged yourself? "What are your eccentricities, if any? I think nearly all people have some. If so, then go to work. Classify them, weigh them, corral them, and eliminate one at a time until you are a very normal person" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], pp. 295-96. Emphases added).
Woah. Way to call it like it is. 
Many of us in the world today bristle a bit at the word "normal."  I would assert that in this case, "normal" can easily be relative to the social group which you are attempting to attract.  "Normal" is not synonymous with "unoriginal," nor should it give the connotation of "cookie cutter." We can--and should be--outstanding. We should excel at being whatever it is that we want to be. For many of us, that pursuit of excellence drives us to look in a full-length mirror and really decide who it is we want to be. As we become that person, we will attract other people of the same sort. As we build our friendships and continue refining ourselves, we will be in a better position to build lasting relationships.  Our spouse can and ought to be our best friend. 

Some things to consider: 

--Dating is often about first impressions, and the initial contact people have with you. How close is your appearance (both physical and manner of conduct) to who you really are on the inside? If you come off as harsh or bullying and on the inside you're a marshmallow, are you accurately portraying yourself? Think of the person you want to attract. What are THEY looking for? Are you giving off that kind of image? 

--Don't fret about the situation. As a friend of mine put it once, "It's only a matter of yes, or no." 
For example: "Do I like her? (yes.) Does she like me? ('maybe' is not an answer-- it's merely saying you don't know the answer yet. So, "answer unknown") Should I ask her out? (yes) Will I ask her out? (if yes, then do it. If 'no', then move on)."
First date went well? Great. Now it's "Did I have enough fun to try this again? (yes--repeat above process; no--move on)."
It's really that simple. It gets a little tougher when it's "Do I like her? (yes) Does she like me? (no)." The only way to get things working again is to change one of the answers. It's a lot easier to change yourself then to change them, but that doesn't always mean changing your answer to "no." Sometimes that means understanding yourself enough, and wanting them enough, to critically analyze yourself and make some changes, in an attempt that their answer will then be "yes." (see *** comment above.^^)
And, a new take on a quintessential song about attraction, to send you on your way:

(I know I posted it before, but it's really too perfect to NOT post today) [maybe ignore the part about never, ever changing. haha]

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday Special: Charity and Romance

Yes, I know, "Sunday Specials" should probably be posted on Sunday, but...I fell asleep. Here it is.

In yesterday's post, "LOVE:  the "M" Word,"  we briefly talked about mature love in terms of relationships.  In that post, I say this:
[F]or a marriage relationship to be successful, perhaps one could infer that a couple must share a common foundation, direction, and priority for such a love [as President Kimball describes] to come to pass. Such deep, abiding, joyful love does not just "happen."  It is an extension of charity-- the pure love of Christ. 
That begs the questions:  
What is charity? 
And what does it have to do with romance?

Let's crack open the sealed portion of our Bible, everyone. That's right--it's Bible Dictionary time!

The Bible Dictionary
"Study like a scholar, scholar."
Here's what it says-- 
Charity. The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ. It is never used to denote alms or deeds of benevolence, although it may be a prompting motive (1 Cor. 8:113:1–4, 81314:1. Cf.Moro. 7:47). 

Alright, there we have it-- a simple, but powerful, definition of charity. Notice, it is not talking about deeds or organizations, even those prompted by love.  This definition speaks of love itself--the highest, the noblest, the strongest kind of love.

...That sounds a lot like the kind of love needed to support a marriage and family life...
Great. Three minutes of writing, and we've already answered our two big concept questions. 
That was easy!

Well, as Princess Mia puts it in the recently-aired-on-Disney-Channel (don't judge) rom-com, Princess Diaries 2,
 " The concept IS grasped!  The execution is--a little--elusive..."

Story of our lives, Mia.  Story of our lives.
The fact of the matter is, knowing what charity is doesn't grant it to us.  We ask "Great. I know I need 'mature love' for this marriage thing to work out.  I know I need charity as the best foundation for a mature romance.  So?  How do I get from Point A to Point B?"

Moroni answers this question by teaching us to "pray unto the Father with all energy of heart," so that we can be "filled with this love, which he [Heavenly Father] hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ." (Moroni 7:48; emphasis added).  As Sheri Dew teaches in her book, If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard, charity is something that is given to us--any and all of us--as we ask for it with all energy of our hearts. As we go through our lives, we can be granted greater measures of charity as we ask for it. 

Sometimes the challenge comes in not fully understanding what it is we are asking for. Perhaps it is good to clarify what charity is NOT:  Charity is not an emotion.  It's not happy-warm-fuzzy feelings for someone who annoys us or someone who injured us in some way. Charity is not an action or a good deed. It is not something that we feel, do, say, or think.  Charity is who the Savior is.Charity is part of what makes Christ God. When we pray to have charity, we are not asking for the symptoms of the natural man [or woman] to be removed (help me give to the poor, help me not be jealous of that one girl/guy, help me not yell at my fiance, help me act nicer to my students).  We are asking instead that our very natures be changed--that the natural man itself is transformed in us, that our dispositions and characters be closer to the Savior's. As this metamorphosis occurs, we literally can feel as the Savior feels, and thus, do what He would do. 

In the first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul states that of faith, hope, and charity, "the greatest of these is charity." (1 Cor. 13:13)  Sheri Dew expounds further with this thought:

The implications of [Paul's] declaration are spiritually staggering. Could charity possibly be greater than faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Or greater than hope in the Atonement? Or greater than hope for happiness in this life or hope for a better world and a place at the right hand of God [see Ether 12:4]? Yes, because charity defines who and what we are seeking to become. Charity defines the nature of godliness. (Dew, If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard, 58)

She continues with a thought that really ties this back into the "mature love" issue that we were talking about. She says it better than I can, so I will continue with another excerpt: 

Charity changes us. It transforms us. It is as a healing balm. When we plead with all the energy of our hearts to be filled with the pure love of Christ, the increasing, continual bestowal of charity not only changes our natures, it heals us from the emotional and other wounds created by the buffetings we experience in this lone and dreary world--wounds such as insecurity and jealousy, resentment and fear, a propensity for anger and an unforgiving heart.  The healing power of charity, bestowed by our Father and made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, can make it virtually impossible for us to even feel emotions common to the natural man. (ibid, 55-59; emphases added)

It is in this passage that the connection between romance and charity is clearly illustrated.  What Dew suggests here as wounds of the world also appear in Noller's characteristics of immature love--damagers and plagues to happy, successful romance and marriage. Thus, as we pray for and receive true charity, we grow in our capacity to love each other and continue building our happily-ever-after. 
  INSERT VOICE OVER (Kronk's voice, Emperor's New Groove):  
Oh, yeah.  It's all comin' together.

I feel personally inadequate to expound too much on this subject on my own; thus, this post is filled with quotes from others possessing greater ethos than myself.  I will end with yet another, a little long--this one from one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis. 
He describes his feeling when, while reviewing his day in evening prayer, he realizes how often he has committed "...some sin against charity.  I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to mind is that the provocation against me was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself....On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for the sort of man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth....If there were rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am....And if (as I said before) what we are matters even more than what we do--if, indeed, what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are--then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about....I cannot, by direct, moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realise  that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.  (Mere Christianity, 164-165; emphases added)
As we established before: charity is a bestowal from Heavenly Father to all those who choose to follow his Son, Jesus Christ. Ask we pray fervently for this change of heart, the Lord can bless us with this gift that holds with it the key to successful families.

Dew, If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard, and Other Reassuring Truths
LDS Scriptures
Lewis, Mere Christianity
***********************************
Alright, stay tuned for our next post, where we move forward into G. Levinger's Relational Alphabet.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

LOVE: the "M" WORD

In rhetoric study, particularly addressed when speaking of ancient Greece, there is a concept called kairos (καιρός). This concept is frequently addressed by the fictitious Cap'n Jack Sparrow as "the opportune moment."
Well, my friends, this weekend marks a kairotic moment in the rhetoric of LOVE. Not only is it broadly social applicable, with Tuesday's holiday, but it is applicable to the collegiate sub-culture in which I reside (V-Day typically marks a spike in new engagements and kicks off the spring/summer 'marriage season'). As a family scientist, my academic studies have focused recently on dating and mate selection. As a human being, I recently had a relationship "not work out" (it's not you, it's me, lets still be friends, and isn't it great that we are mature enough to handle this). [That sounds a bit sarcastic, but it really was quite civil, and really are still very close friends.  Which leads me to my topic].

 In summation:  

Valentine's Day + engagements + marriages + love fest + class assignments + personal life =
 post on LOVE.



We'll start at the very beginning; it's a very good place to start. 
When you read, you begin with "A, B, C--"
And in LOVE you begin with--what?
Well. "A, B, C, D, E." 

That's right, folks, we have ourselves an Alphabet of Love. 

(And, it is worth it to note that this alphabet may more accurately be described as the "Alphabet of Relationships," but that just doesn't sound as good as "The Alphabet of Love."  Seriously.  Say it out loud, stretching out the vowel length in the last word:  "The Alphabet of Loooooove." So, we'll sacrifice a bit of accuracy for the sake of flourish. Just in the title, though, not in content).

It could be argued that the "Alphabet of Love" actually begins with the letter M. (So, the little song allusion up there should have ended with "M, A, B, C, D, E." Apologies.) Frequently, when people mention the M word in the context of love, they are talking about "Marriage,"  however, the M we will be talking about is "Maturity." 

Now, maturity in terms of relationships is not to be confused with maturity as a human being. There are many, many highly capable and mature individuals who still struggle with the concepts of mature love in close relationships.  Emeritus Professor Patricia Noller, of the University of Queensland, reviewed dozens of studies on love and relationships. She determined that relational love can be divided into "mature" and "immature" love, and that love itself has three main aspects (emotional, belief, and behavior). The title below is a link to the article abstract; the chart below is a basic summary of her article**. 

Emotional Part of Love:
                        Possessiveness                               Lasting Passion
                        Jealousy                                          Desire for Companionship
                         Infatuation                                     Warm Feeling of Contentment
                        Preoccupation
                         Anxiety
Belief Part of Love
                         "Love is Blind"                    Love is something you have to "decide"
                         Love is external to us          Love means:  Commitment, trust, sharing, sacrifice
                         "Cupid's Arrow"
                          Love is beyond our control
Behavior Parts of Love
                             Selfish                    Creates an environment of growth and development
                         Lustful                       Allows partner space for growth
                        Concern only for satisfying own needs
                         Clinging
                         Over-Dependent
                         Demanding of obedience from partner

The author of the article asserts that only mature love can properly create the environment needed to sustain marriage and family. 

[It should be noted that "immature" love is also a very real form of love, simply not the kind that supports a  fulfilling marriage and successful family. Thus, the phenomenon of the teenage romance, the hot and passionate summer fling, the "crush," the "chick flick," etc.  Young or immature relationships can grow and love can mature. On the same token, established relationships can become unhealthy or dissatisfying if one or both of the individuals subscribe to the tenants of immature love; many times this leads (or maybe should lead) to break-ups or even divorce. We will discuss this more in the "D" and "E" stages of our alphabet.]

The love that Church leaders speak about pretty much mirrors the love Noller and other researchers describe as mature.  This love that prophets describe, however, takes the social science research further.  Spencer Kimball describes it, 
The love of which the Lord speaks is not only physical attraction, but spiritual attraction as well. It is faith and confidence in, and understanding of one another. It is a total partnership. It is companionship with common ideals and standards. It is unselfishness toward and sacrifice for one another... It is vast, all-inclusive, and limitless. This kind of love never tires or wanes. It lives on through sickness and sorrow, through prosperity and privation, through accomplishment and disappointment, through time and eternity. Today it is demonstrative love, but in the tomorrows of ten, thirty, fifty years, it will be a far greater and more intensified love, grown quieter and more dignified with the years of sacrifice, suffering, joys, and consecration to one another, to your family, and to the kingdom of God. (Spencer Kimball, June 1975)
Notice, he describes the love as a "consecration." Now, I get the idea that he is not expecting a relationship  to necessarily BE at that point at the beginning-- he talks about the "tomorrows of ten, thirty, fifty years,"--but for a marriage relationship to be successful, perhaps one could infer that a couple must share a common foundation, direction, and priority for such a love to come to pass. Such deep, abiding, joyful love does not just "happen."  It is an extension of charity-- the pure love of Christ. 

Imagining the kind of effort and work that goes into a marriage love--even one between two people with mature love for each other; solid, active, living testimonies of the Gospel; and every benefit and blessing that comes through actively living righteously-- imagining that kind of effort can seem daunting. Especially to all of us not-married people. (And that could be people in all stages of "not-married"--single, dating, in a relationship, engaged, it's complicated, not-quite-sure, thinking of making it Facebook-official, whatever).  In fact, it can probably be a bit daunting to married folk, too. 

But you know what?   The pay-off is huge.  And, the best part is, the pay-off is not some sort of finish-line.  It is every single day, moment to moment, knowing that you are both are in the best love story of all time-- yours. 
And that's the hope that keeps us moving forward. :-)

--------------------------------------------------------
So, there we have the first installment of our Alphabet of Love. This is barely the tip of the iceberg--there is no way to cover this deep of a topic in a blog post. This is simply meant as information to guide our own ponderings and efforts. Many of you are much more experienced than I am in these sorts of things; I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Not all couples go through all stages (obviously) and they are not always in order. There are tons of options for what each letter could stand for, but this will be a modified take on the alphabet as outlined by G. Levinger. [G. Levinger (1983), Development and change, in J. Wilson (ed.) Close relationships (New York: W. H. Freeman and Company). 
M--Maturity 
A--Acquaintance/Attraction 
B--Build-Up 
C--Commitment  
D--Deterioration 
E--Ending
Stay tuned. 

*Much of the material for this mini-series is taken from Strengthening Our Families:An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family, Edited by David C. Dollahite. (See particularly Chapter 3: "Preparing for an Eternal Marriage" by Thomas B. Holman, Jeffry H. Larson, Robert F. Stahmann) 
**Chart found in SOF Ch. 3, p 35.  Based on Patricia Noller's 1996 article "What is This Thing Called Love? Defining the Love That Supports Marriage and Family." Personal Relationships, 3, 97-115. Scriptural references: 1 Cor. 13; Col. 3:8; Mosiah 2:32; Alma 5:30-31, 12:14; 3 Nephi 11:29; Moroni 7:47-48; D&C 20:54, 88:124, 136:23

                  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Unexpected Package


So, I got an unexpected package in the mail yesterday.  (Two packages in one week!) My mom had ordered me Sheri Dew's book "If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard: and Other Reassuring Truths". 
Yes, this image is from Amazon. Sorry; I didn't feel like taking a picture of my copy. 

It is a fantastic book. Many of the topics she covers are highly applicable to my life at the moment, and I'm sure the lessons will be quite helpful in times to come. I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with questions about life's purpose or direction, anyone trying to make a difficult decision--especially those involving relationships with other people--anyone in a life transition, or anyone going through a trying time physically, emotionally, or mentally.   If there is more than one of those on your personal life, I would definitely, definitely suggest you look it up. 

Gotta go read. :-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's HERE!!!

So, to preface. This week has been a long stream of un-published posts. I spent two days writing a really awesome one, with pictures and everything, but then it turns out the project is a secret so i can't post it til after The Surprise isn't a secret anymore. Then I wrote another post, which turned quickly into a journal entry instead. Then, I got my mega-on-sale-through-Amazon package in the mail two days early, so I spent what energy I had yesterday in the ooh-ing and aww-ing over my package and its contents.

What was in this package that was so wonderful?

The Bible  
(And that is a metaphorical extension, kids, not idolatry). 
Contained within its 1212 pages are rules, guidelines, explanations, photos, tutorials, tool identifications, resources, advice, recipes, and techniques concerning everything from abalone mollusks to Zingara sauce, from how to run a commercial kitchen to the proper technique for fabricating a rabbit or make terrine.  

This was a tremendous, tremendous boost for me. I decided for sure last week to go to culinary school once I've graduated. That decision helped buoy up my outlook on life, as medical setbacks are causing my undergrad to drag on and on and on. Major senior-itis, to say the least. I made a plan for which schools to go to, how to get there, and how to pay for it (always the kicker). I made an "in the meantime" plan, including how, where, and when to obtain certifications in cake decorating, professional food service (Safe Serve), and how and what work experience I need to make school easier and make me better qualified for scholarships.


Granted, these plans are moving forward at the pace of an overweight land turtle on muscle relaxers. But they ARE moving forward, and I'm seeing how the rest of my life fits into those plans, adjusting both to a point that I have something workable. 


Plus, most of the recipes in here are industry-sized, to purpose. That is fantastic for me, as I hope especially to be using these skills for many a Relief Society dinner, Scouting banquet, prom night dinner,  or just feeding a houseful of hungry people-- mine, the neighbors, mine again, more neighbors. . . oh, the rest of my life is looking awesome.

Journey to Excellence: Phase Two--Culinary Expertise 
 has commenced. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Real Love: illustrated

Today, I feel super loved.
 My roommate walked with me to church early to make sure I got there in time to settle out before the meeting started (even though she wasn't totally ready for church).

 I got to pay tithing (finally; I've been sick).

 The piano player in sacrament meeting really felt the music, and followed my lead, and asked how I was feeling.  


My home teacher and his best friend saw that I wasn't doing too well, and offered to walk me home (even though it took forever). They talked to me about their lives, their girl troubles, their school issues (he is a CS major, about to start his webcrawler...shudder) and their families. They stayed to make sure I was settled in.  
They are awesome. 

My friend Ben came over (with fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies!!) and lent a listening ear and some excellent advice. And a hug, which was great. 


My roommate, Adi, did a bunch of my dishes. 

My former roommates and current cousins, Caitlin and Tiana, brought me a giant bag filled with movies, books, magazines, and music, so I wouldn't get bored or lonely when I'm stuck on the couch. 

Those same cousins brought me a bunch of groceries yesterday so I didn't have to go to the store. 
My friend Kyle brought over some necessities that his wife, Eliza, picked up for me (that I had  forgotten to put on the list for Caitlin and Ti)

A bunch of people commented on their favorite place to eat out, for a project that I'm working on.

A bunch of friends from the ward wrote me nice notes, that someone delivered later this evening. 

My brother, Robert, called me a bunch of times til I was able to pick up, just because he wanted to catch up on life since the last time we talked. . . yesterday. :-)

:-) Yup. Definitely feeling very loved. :-) 




"True love blooms when we care more about another person than we care about ourselves. That is Christ's great atoning example for us, and it ought to be more evident in the kindness we show, the respect we give, and the selflessness and courtesy we employ in our personal relationships." --Jeffery R. Holland

Friday, February 3, 2012

"Those" people

No, not the negative "those" people...I'm talking about those people who are just. . . awesome.  At everything. Good looking, intelligent, knowledgeable, hard workers, lots of visible talents, kind, thoughtful, dedicated, funny...those people that you look at, and think to yourself,

"How on earth is this person still single??"  

or "Wow, their spouse is one of the luckiest people in the world!"

or perhaps "Wow. The simple fact that you exist makes my life a better and more pleasant way to spend the time that I'm alive."

Yeah.  I know some people like that. I re-connected with one of them this evening, kind of on accident. After our brief encounter, I felt like something had almost tangibly improved about my life. It got me to thinking, and I started to realize just how incredibly blessed I am to have friends and neighbors like that in my life. A lot more than one girl deserves! Luckily for us all, life isn't fair.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sisters and Direction

Thursday, Feb 2:

Yesterday was a day.  One of those
  "Hey, everyone, I'm absolutely happy for you, and congratulations on your [engagement/wedding/baby/mission-call/graduation/new-relationship/move/new-job]!  In the meantime, could you kind of go away? Because I have zero energy to be excited, and I'm busy feeling pathetic. Actually, no, wait, come back!  Because I really need your help with [insert completely normal, everyday task that now seems impossible and overwhelming]. Also, I'm a tiny bit lonely and I want to hear about your life. PS, I love you. Also, I'm a bit embarrassed for needing your help. So please leave. Wait, no, come back..." 
kind of days. An excellently human experience.

Firstly, I felt like a terrible human being--like *I* was supposed to be there for *them*, and I didn't even love them enough to muster the energy to be excited? What kind of a friend am I, anyway?? I wanted to be happy and excited and helpful, but I just felt more and more... whatever that feeling is. 

Then, something marvelous happened. A short interrogative, via text message:

"Skype?"

The message came from my older sister, pictured here with her daughter and my brother. 


To my knowledge, she had no idea how I was feeling that day, as she was across the country at her husbands boot camp graduation. So, I'm sure she had something completely different in mind than listening to her little sister's frenzied and emotional complaining. Though it probably wasn't what she had planned on, talking with her was wonderful. She had excellent advice, empathy, and understanding. She led me to ponder and come up with decisions for my life that I didn't even realize I had been contemplating. That's a different post, though.  The point of this one is, quite simply, something many people around the world can relate to:

Aren't siblings wonderful??  
This time, it happened to be my older sister. 

She's awesome. 
So is my brother, and also my younger sister. 

So also is my friend Katie, who brought me Double Stuff Oreos later that evening. 

...which are gone, by the way.  I did share many of them, but all the 
same,  it amazes me how quickly a box of Oreos is just...gone. 

...AND I got to eat the Oreos with  milk,  which greatly enhanced the sheer joy of the experience.
(my friend Margaret bought me some rice milk the other day.  Om nom. )

By the end of the evening, I felt significantly better.  My issues weren't gone, but I feel like Savannah helped me tremendously in getting me through the middle of it. 

Yup.  Sisters are awesome.