Language: Beauty and Beast

Language is the ultimate form of communication whether written, spoken, or expressed in movements of hands. It can be beautiful or ugly, inciting emotions such as joy, trust, and surprise or sadness, disgust, and fear. Language truly matters and allows for self expression, giving everyone the opportunity share thoughts and feelings. In 1993, Toni Morrison said in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature: “Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.”

I am in love with Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj on Netflix. Yes, I’m a conservative, white woman from middle-class, gun-toting America (yet not a Trump supporter), but he is intense, funny, intelligent, and on point for current news. However, I stumbled upon his Deep Cut clips on YouTube where he takes audience questions and I was extremely disappointed to hear so much cursing from him and his guests. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard him curse on the show, but the clips are a different story. On top of that, knowing he is a devout Muslim, it seriously bothers me that he uses the name of Christ so easily.

The use of profanity in everyday conversation has become pervasive, especially with Gen Xers’ and millennials, but others as well. Far too many well-known celebrities and politicians use profanity in their daily dialogue. It seems to be a badge of honor for the Hollywood crowd.

Part of the argument is that swearing allows someone to express themselves as individuals. Self expression is a key point of language but how about standing out as an individual with the ability to express yourself in better language? The claim is that we should stop putting importance on swearing because they’re just words; we give the power of certain words to be bad. While that claim is true, words do have power and it is not possible to suddenly change the power of those words. The basis of profanity is the fact that the words are used in idleness. They’re easier to use, come to the tongue more quickly, generally without thought of respect. Allowing yourself to be lazy in words brings your overall mind to laziness which can bring it into your daily life.

I was raised in a Christian home, but with a rebellious nature such as mine, the desire to learn and use vulgar vocabulary was easy to complete. There were some periods of time where I used some profanity quite easily, but it never sat comfortably. Even today, a word might slip especially when I stub a toe and I have caught myself allowing a word slip here and there at work or with certain friends because of the current sway of popularity. I feel like I have to challenge myself to be different from the rest of the popular crowd – I don’t want to be part of the ignorant masses.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

P.S. Enjoy some of my favorite words below:

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility:
“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116:
Sonnet 116

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing:
Benedick: Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.

Beatrice: A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humor for that: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

1 Corinthians 2:5
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass:
“Libraries were full of ideas ― perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”

Dead Poets Society:
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Arthur Golden, Memoirs Of A Geisha:
“The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.”

r.h. Sin:
she has the mindset
of a Queen
and the heart
of a warrior

she is everything
all at once
and too much
for anyone who
doesn’t deserve her

she is you

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables:
“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”

Sarah J Maas, Heir of Fire:
“It would not take a monster to destroy a monster ― but light, light to drive out darkness.”

NF, Leave Me Alone:
Lyrics

Jim Butcher, Proven Guilty:
“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching – they are your family.”

Lois Lowry, Number the Stars:
“And they are beginning to realize that the world they live in is a place where the right thing is often hard, sometimes dangerous, and frequently unpopular.”

Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:
“Friendship – my definition- is built on two things. Respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don’t have trust, the friendship will crumble.”

Nora Roberts, Face the Fire:
“I admire independence. The world would be a stronger place if we were all capable of handling life on our own. But being capable of it doesn’t mean being unable to share and depend on someone else. It shouldn’t mean being unwilling to. That’s the romance.”

Kate Quinn, Mistress of Rome:
“I undertake to be burnt by fire, to be bound in chains, to be beaten by rods, and to die by the sword.”

Maria V. Snyder, Poison Study:
“Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some good. It’s called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead. But don’t do it halfway. Don’t linger in whiner’s limbo.”

Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers:
“Your behavior is a choice; it isn’t who you are.”

Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury:
“When you spend so long trapped in darkness, Lucien, you find that the darkness begins to stare back.”

Amita Trasi, The Color of Our Sky:
“The truth remains quiet inside us, floundering like a battered bird, desperately wanting to spread its wings and fly away.”

Happily Single One Year Later

During a recent Marco Polo catch up with one of my dearest friends, I had a couple of epiphanies about my life and I’ve been pondering them for a couple of weeks. A little over a year ago, I posted about being single and happy and guess what? I still am! In fact, I feel that happiness has only increased. There’s a tendency for people to assume that if you’re female and unmarried that you must be unhappy. While there’s nothing wrong with wishing I was in a relationship, it also doesn’t mean I’m desperate or unhappy!

Being single is quite literally a rather solitary existence. It’s not always an easy lifestyle, whether chosen or not. All of the peers from my upbringing are married, most of them choosing to have children. Our lives are very different and unfortunately, there’s some sort of unspoken rule that the difference is too great of a divide. It’s difficult to stay in touch or be included, simply because our lives are so vastly different. I’ve been invited to activities before and while I’m happy to attend, I find myself drowning in conversations that are only about children. Once, I mentioned to my sister that very problem and her reply was just that it was their entire lives. I can understand that, but they’re still people with hopes and dreams beyond their kids right? Maybe that’s why it’s a divide because I can’t wrap my mind around that perspective. What happens when the kids are gone? Who are they going to be then?

Most of the self-help guru talk says that being single means that you have more time to improve yourself, focus on career, hobbies, and health. I’ve done a lot of growing up past couple of years and I’m more mature and sure of myself. There’s a level of confidence in getting what I want, like time to invest in things that actually matter to me: family, friends, traveling and reading.

Recently, I thought that my time would be wisely invested in getting a second degree. My company offers a degree program in business management for $1 a day and with my career path, it seemed like a wise choice. Unfortunately, six weeks in, it’s not a good use of my time. I hated college the first time around and my loathing hasn’t changed in the past 13 years since I graduated. Part of me was feeling like I’d let myself down, especially considering how many people I’d told about it, but then it hit me. Who cares? I need to do what makes me happy and school is not it.

I’m allowed to make choices that make sense for me and I don’t care what other people think.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Peace in Christ

Earth is a troubled mess with all the natural disasters, wars, sickness, environmental drama, and general disregard for human life spinning out of control. These disturbances often bring a sense of fear. Yet, how do you find happiness in the face of uncertainty?

I was recently in Italy for two weeks and it may now be my favorite place in the world. The food was fresh and delicious (ask me about the pizza). Everyone was kind and friendly. The scenery was exactly as I had imagined it to be. Walking the streets of Rome and Florence with no real agenda and a cup of gelato in my hand will be in my memory for years to come. I found a sense of peace and essentially, home, while I was in Italy. Ask me all about it and I’ll share it all, but something specific still comes to mind when I think back on it.

However, it was more than just the geographical location of where I found myself that brought peace. I visited the Rome Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after attending church on a beautiful Sunday morning. After the ancient and classical beauty of a place like Rome, stepping onto the temple grounds was a sense of peace that I can’t describe. It was away from the crowds of the city, yet only a stone’s throw from a large shopping mall. Of course, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so the religious significance means a lot to me, but I can step outside of that and view the building as a masterful piece of architecture. More than that, the sheer artistry displayed in the visitor’s center alone was something that brought tears to my eyes.

The Christus status is ten and a half feet of Carrara marble, surrounded by his 12 apostles in life-size form. It was awe-inspiring, but as I traveled deeper into the center, I came across a huge stained glass mural of Christ’s mortal life that had me sitting down for a good 30-45 minutes while I just took it all in. It is sheer mastery of art and depicting the Savior of the world among men as a testimony of truth. Each detail and symbol has potentially multiple meanings!

I believe it goes hand in hand with finding happiness where I am right now. One, the vacation did wonders for my heart and mind. Shaking off the stress of work and home and enjoying time away from “adulting,” not to mention eating gelato at least twice a day is enough to save anyone! Two, and most importantly, it did wonders for my spirit. The peace and joy I found in the beautiful nature that God created in Italy and in His Holy House came home with me and I’m striving daily to keep it with me. The darkness of the world can bring anyone down, but if we remember the promises of our Heavenly Father and do our best to follow in the steps of Jesus Christ, we can find peace.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Conversations and Peace

One of my favorite things in the world is an intellectual, meaningful conversation. It doesn’t really matter what the topic is. The ability to open your heart and mind to share what you really think or feel about a topic with someone you trust and respect is an amazing gift. Even better, the gift allows you to learn new things about someone, about the topic and to grow as a person! I feel like it’s a gift that is often set aside to deal with the to-do list of the day/week/month/year.

I recently had one such beautiful conversation with a dear friend of mine and she said 2018 was a terrible year and that she was looking forward to a fresh start in 2019. It was a small comment, but it really resonated with me. 2018 was an awful year for me. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Let’s forget it ever happened! I haven’t written/posted in the blog for 2-3 months despite having plenty to say because my mind is so caught up in how dreadful things have been.

At the end of November, I took a solo trip to Hong Kong that just beat me up. It was not a good place for me. I don’t even want to discuss it, but I will say that I learned some very important lessons that I honestly feel the Lord wanted me to learn. In fact, I’m pretty sure He was standing there with His arms crossed, foot tapping, and brow lifted in amusement, consternation, and love when I recognized a few of the lessons that I am certain I was supposed to have learned years ago. I’m so damn stubborn that I always rush ahead in a complete “my way” or “I’ve got this” attitude. I’ve been so independent, doing things on my own for a long time, and I don’t know how to be any other way. Needing anyone for anything is painful, but actually asking for help is like having surgery with no anesthetic. However, even I know when to recognize that I am beaten and I can humble myself, let go of my stubborn pride, and ask for help. I managed to do it in Hong Kong and got the help I needed.

When I got home, it was like finding an oasis in the desert. Peace settled around me and things were just easier. I choose to align myself with the things I knew I needed to and it has been so much easier. Does that mean I won’t ever have to deal with hard things? No way! But when the hard things come, I’ll be better prepared to handle them.

“You don’t find the happy life, you make it.” – Thomas S. Monson

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Finding Forgiveness

One of my favorite speakers is Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He has an amazing voice that always soothes me, but can also lift me up and have me shiver with the power and authority he has. He recently said, “Whether we have caused that pain or been the recipient of the pain, those wounds need to be healed so that life can be as rewarding as God intended it to be.”

My last post discussed how difficult it can be to feel like you fit in, especially in a religious faith. It was a wind up post for the other things I’ve had on my heart and mind that I’m going to address today.

I have a great capacity for lying to myself. Negative choices or mistakes that have damaged me get hidden in the folds of my mind and I act as if it never happened. Considering my personality type (INFJ), this isn’t surprising. However, like emotions that get bottled up, they eventually break free and I have to face it. There are many small sins that can easily be handled between me and the Lord in prayer, but some sins need a higher authority to help guide repentance. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in talking to my Bishop (similar to a pastor or priest) when I’m facing challenges or sins and repenting of things I can’t handle on my own. The article I wrote had drudged up so much pain. Some of my choices occurred before and after I made sacred covenants or promises to God and because of this, talking about my sins with my Bishop meant the possibility of serious consequences.

The idea of being met with poor judgment or even excommunication was the scariest thing I’d ever considered. My religious faith is a big part of my identity and how I see the world. If I was no longer a member, what would I do? How would I handle facing family and friends with this knowledge? Would I come back? Now, let me be clear, I was playing out the worst possibilities of punishment in my head. What occurs during repentance is between you and the Lord, and in some cases, your Bishop.

In the end, talking to my Bishop was indeed the hardest and scariest thing I have ever done in my life. He was more kind and compassionate than I felt like I deserved. When it was over, I felt more relief than I have since I was probably a child. At the end of our interview, he began to offer the prayer and instead said he felt impressed to give me a blessing. I can’t even remember everything that was said, but I will never forget that feeling of peace and love. I was told that my Heavenly Father was proud of me and that all the anxiety and troubles I had been facing would pass.

Forgiveness is there for me and I’m working on it. It’s not over just because I spoke with my Bishop. The burden is no longer on my shoulders as the Lord is carrying it for me, but now I have to recognize that He’s doing that for me and that I’m deserving of it. The idea of the Atonement is something I’ve heard my entire life and while I understand it to some degree, I’ve never been very knowledgeable or truly understanding of the concept. Maybe this time, it will all make sense.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Fitting In and Faith

In June, I made a short weekend jaunt to Utah for a family reunion and took the opportunity to catch up with some friends I don’t see often. One of the best things in the world is to fall into a friendship as if no time had passed at all. The trip was great as I was able to dive into some great conversations and find some personal understanding as well.

One of my favorite conversations was had at Cafe Rio (that sweet pork is to die for and I need a legit recipe) about a mutual acquaintance struggling in her religious faith. It is mind boggling how humans can completely overthink and worry an issue to the point that it’s twisted and illogical. Someone who isn’t sure they want to follow the gospel or have a testimony but is worried about dating a guy who can’t take her to the temple is a bit skewed. Throughout the discussion, I admitted something I don’t like to admit which led us into another topic.

I haven’t attended church consistently in about 9 months. My testimony is real, but when I moved to a new city, I missed twice and suddenly, months had passed. Weakness is real. We all have it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and yet we hide it. We don’t share it or discuss it. It’s as if all LDS people are conditioned to keep up this persona of perfection. Telling anyone about a single iota of weakness, doubt or failing is a horrible thought in LDS culture as it could bring all sorts of comments, persecution and plethora of emotions. I didn’t say anything about missing church to anyone because I don’t want the looks or the disappointment in my mom’s voice. I also don’t want a rush of visits or FB messages or texts.

In mid-September, I convinced myself to go to the first hour of church and I am really glad I did. A woman got up and spoke real truth about serious problems she had faced. She talked about depression, anxiety and how perfection is the enemy of progress. She reminded me that you can still complete something well without it being perfect. As I’ve gotten older and stayed single, attending church has become significantly harder for me. I constantly feel like I don’t fit into the culture. It’s not that I don’t fit in to the gospel or the doctrine; it’s the social/culture aspect of the church that I fight. I fight the gospel of Public Opinion.

Going to church that Sunday just added to the other things I’ve been pondering – I can still have a good, gospel-centered, Christ-following life without worrying about perfection in the eyes of public opinion. Perfection in this life is unattainable so I’m better served working on the best version of me. The version that makes me happy.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

Talk Therapy

Therapy and mental health is often represented poorly in movies, books and the news. It is seen as something only for people with “real mental illness.” These misconceptions and stigmas cause people to avoid getting help they need. Often, it’s an idea that going to therapy makes you weak, broken or crazy. Instead, therapy should be viewed as a healthy option for everyone.

Sharing opinions and talking, especially with those I trust, is like therapy for me. Over the years, I’ve cultivated friendships with people that I can truly talk to about a wide variety of topics, in fact, with some friends no topic is taboo. I have a wild thirst for knowledge and I’ve been known to fall down rabbit holes that many (especially in LDS culture) would consider wrong or taboo, just so I could understand it.

Despite these friendships, there are certain things I just don’t discuss. Perhaps it’s my own struggle or even knowing that some people wouldn’t be sympathetic or compassionate. A particular event that happened to me years ago, I have only told 2 people and when I did, it was years after the fact. It was shared as a tidbit to show understanding or explain a view or belief and never discussed again. After my last post, I was invited to submit an article to an online blog themed around road trips. Well, that would be a home run! I have so many stories and surely I could punch something out that would be funny, upbeat and positive. A semi-secret goal of mine is to be a published author/writer. I’ve never seriously pursued it, but I’ve always loved to write. Writing is a form of therapy all on it’s own!

Unexpectedly, the only story that came to mind was a dark blemish on my love of travel. I wrote the article in an hour and sat on it for two weeks debating on if I wanted to submit it. It was a secret shame, never meant to be discussed. I never imagined it would be chosen to be published, but even sharing it with my friend, one of the blog’s editors, was hard. Would it change her opinion of mine? Would I be blamed? Judged? Marked with a scarlet letter? Writing it down was cathartic. It felt like a burden was lifted. When I submitted it, I felt peace. It was now behind me.

I was soon informed they wanted to publish it. My elation was sky high for about 30 seconds when I realized I’d have to tell my parents. How could I share the excitement of having written something someone wanted to publish, only to tell them they couldn’t read it? Telling my parents was something of a sitcom/drama. It lasted for about a minute, explaining it briefly, then we moved on to a different topic. My parents were definitely proud of my accomplishment, but sad at what had happened. In fact, my dad made sure to tell me that if I told him the guy’s name, he’d take care of it.

My emotions went on a roller coaster for about two weeks and I felt completely anxious, out of control and not myself. I called my mom one day in the middle of the week and just cried. How could I allow such a thing to be published? How could I let other people see that dark and weak side of me? What if potential husbands saw it and didn’t want anything to do with me? (Obviously, I would have nothing to do with any man that thought such a thing, but when you’re spiraling, all the bad comes out.)  A couple of days went by and I found myself struggling again. A late night call with mom and therapy came up. It was something I had considered off and on for years, but even despite being a student of psychology and recognizing stigmas, I couldn’t bring myself to share everything with a stranger.

The next morning, I signed up with Better Help, an online counseling and therapy company. I was matched with a Christian-centered therapist in my state and I was able send him messages anytime for the next month. I rambled my whole mess out and my anxiety and it was… amazing. The second I made the decision to sign up, I felt better. Letting it all out felt even better. But the funny thing is that he didn’t tell me a single thing I didn’t already know when I’m panicking/struggling. I need to a) write things down, b) change locations and/or c) breathe. Writing has always been a safe space for me. I have books upon books of journals that I pray someone will burn after I die. If I’m feeling trapped in my apartment, go for a drive. I love to drive and blast music in my car, something I don’t get to do much anymore. Breathing exercises has always seemed a little hippy-dippy/yoga nonsense to me, but I was introduced to some a few months ago in a guided sleep meditation session on YouTube (amazing). I’ve used the techniques on a plane, when I got upset, and when I need to sleep.

I don’t expect the counseling to go beyond the one month agreement, but knowing the option is out there is immensely gratifying. Knowing that I can write out all the jumbled mess in my head into a chat box instead of sitting across from a virtual stranger is a huge relief. I have tools to guide me, even if I had already known them. It’s not a cure all. I have work to do to get over some of my anxiety, but most of all? Recognizing that it’s okay to ask for help, even if it’s from a virtual stranger.

As always,
Single Mormon Lady

P.S. You can find my article here.