The People I Find: Caley

This girl is one of my favorites. She is someone who has touched my heart more than words can express. Her name is Caley, she is a survivor. Her story is one of sadness and triumph. She has overcome every obstacle placed in front of her. I have known Caley since I was little. We grew up together, she was younger, but I always looked up to her. There isn’t anything that scares this girl, and she has been through a lot. I love this girl, and will always look up to her! Last December I wrote a blog on her act of kindness that made me feel needed, you can read her act of kindness here. I have never met someone who is so loving and willing to help.

Caley Eating DisorderHere is Caley’s Story:

The past can only define you if you allow it. There are parts of mine I have gladly left where they belong, but there are several lessons and memories I have chosen to carry along on my journey. The fact is, I can shape my future, but I can’t change my past.

A little on my past… I am always willing and excited to share my story. At one point I was ashamed of who I was and what life had dealt me. But now I am proud of who I am and grateful for my struggles. I suffered for eight years with a severe eating disorder. I spent four of those years in hospitals and treatment centers away from my family and friends. I was diagnosed with what I would’ve believed earlier as a “crazy person” but now just list it off as anorexia with purging and exercise addiction, generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and the list goes on.  I have had episodes of severe self-hatred and self-harm. I have been in a psych ward. I have had my heartbeat slow down to a near stop. I have been a victim of abuse in a romantic relationship. I know addiction. I have spent Sunday mornings at the jail visiting a loved one. I have had my heart broken so badly by those I have trust and love that I was unable to get out of bed for weeks. I have lost several friends to suicide. I have spent countless nights in an emergency room for heart, kidney, and liver scares. I have been too depressed or too anxious to function. I have gone ten nights without sleeping. I have lost control of my life. I have wanted to escape the very skin I reside and never return. But I am alive.

Go ahead and judge me now, your thoughts are your own and have no reflection of who I am.  That is my past and there is nothing I can do to change it. 

There have been too many times where I should’ve died or given up, but God has a bigger plan for me. He will not allow me to become another statistic of a young girl who died because she couldn’t handle the struggles of living. I owe my life and love to my Higher Power and to Him will I dedicate my life to serving and strengthening His other sons and daughters.

I am nothing short of a miracle. But neither are you. You are a human animal; you are a living, breathing wonder. What is life without struggle? What is purpose without pain?

LIFE IS HARD. Yes, we all experience hardship. No single one of us is immune to heartbreak or hurt. The cat is out of the bag. I’m sorry if I had to be the one to break the news to you. But I can guarantee that I am not, and you have already experienced the turbulence found in the winds of breathing daily air.

I have people apologize that my life has been so hard. They listen to my story in awe, like I’m some type of superhero. They ask me how I was able to keep going through everything I had going on. My answer is always the same. I DID WHAT I HAD TO. You would too, wouldn’t you? I had will to live, and the most basic instinct (to survive) kicked in every time and I did what I had to in order to see the next sunrise.

Eating DisorderI would not take a second of what I have gone through back. It has made me who I am and I love that person. I have dedicated my life to helping others overcome the same chains that held me bound for so long. I am alive so I can make someone’s life better. And still, after all this suffering, if I can help yet one person on their journey through life, none of it will be in vain.

About my future…Like I said, I am dedicated to helping other people find love for themselves and feel the love that God and others have for them. Every human being on this earth is a miracle and needs to not only see themselves as one, but treat themselves as one. There is a light inside everyone that is waiting for its time to shine. Once you ignite that flame, it may flicker and falter, but it will never want to dim.

One specific event from my past always comes to mind when I think of “defining moments”. I was twelve years old in a hospital bed. I had been in the hospital a few days now and the doctors were incredibly worried about me.  I had said my “goodbyes’ to my family members in case I didn’t make it through the night.  My body was so weak, I felt like I was floating. I heard alarms and bells going off and softly turned my head towards my heart monitor to see my heart rate dropping. 28 beats per minute…doctors and nurses are swarming around my bed with all these contraptions. 24…I am no longer in charge of my body and I’m being moved and poked. 18…I can see my Mom hovering nearby with tears in her eyes. 14…I realize I’m probably dying. In my mind there was no fear, no sadness, only peace.

I don’t remember much more of that night, but I know the doctors eventually shuffled out the door, my mom kissed my head, and I glanced over at my machines to see my heart still beating. At that moment in time, I knew that I was not going to die from my illness. I knew I would face years of struggle and heartbreak, but I would be a survivor. I knew the Lord had spared my life for a specific purpose, and I knew I would spend the rest of my life sharing that purpose with others.

The moral of the story…We are all survivors of different life events. We all have flaws and make mistakes. We all have skeletons in the closet.  We all struggle. But more importantly, we are all loved human beings. We are all special and unique in our own way. We are all fighters. We can overcome. We are not in control of what life gives us, but we are in control of how we deal with life and how we see things. Life is beautiful; enjoy every second of it.

I appreciate the opportunity to share a small part of my soul with you on Clare’s blog. Please, never be too proud to ask for help. We all need it.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-help-support

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp

http://www.thewalkercenter.org/resources.html

Contact Clare to speak with me directly

The People I Find: Nic

I met Nic about a year ago while I was attending Utah State. I was instantly drawn to his personality and how outgoing he was. He has been a great friend, and I am so happy he shared this story with me. When we first met we were able to connect because we both had come home early from a mission, unless you have done it, nobody really understands some of the feelings you have had. Nic then told me his story, and my love for God grew. We all have real challenges like this, it’s not the challenges that define us, it is how we overcome them. Most challenges won’t be a one time thing, but will be continual. I am impressed with Nic and his willingness to turn his life around.

Nic’s Unknown Story:

The People I Find

My name is Nic, I am 21 years old and I am currently attending Utah State University, majoring in Psychology with the hope of one day becoming a clinical or counseling psychologist (i.e. Therapist). I love music, I love art, I love poetry, The Walking Dead, how a good fiction novel takes me to an unknown place, the way an old book smells, the crackling sound Edith Piaf songs make, and giving someone who isn’t having the best day a reason to smile. Now that I have gotten the run on sentence of an introduction out-of-the-way I guess I will share with you my story. From a very young age I struggled with self-esteem issues which may not seem very serious but when I say young age I mean, at the age of 7. I remember telling myself how ugly I was, how no one would really care if I didn’t exist. This of course being a complete lie but when you have depression there isn’t much you can do about it when it goes undiagnosed. There were many nights wondering “What is wrong with me?” “Why am I not like others?” “Why can’t I be happy?”

Rather than speaking up and talking to someone I, like many people in the world pretended that there was nothing wrong with me. I put on the façade that I never had any problems that no one could hurt me (one of the biggest lies I have ever told). My depression really started hitting me when I reached middle and high school. I was bullied for falling into stereotypes that weren’t even true about me, sorry that I am a loud Italian who is theatrical and a bit off their rocker. This all fed into my already weak self-concept and image. I was consistently changing who I was based on who I was with just so I could feel like someone cared about me. My junior year of high school I did something almost unheard of, I did something different, I chose to run cross-country for my high school. Through determination and constant motivation from my peers and family I began to start loving life. I graduated high school with not having a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. This confusion coupled with the fact that I had just had a falling out with one of my best friends and supports, my depression began to take hold again. I started college not caring about my grades or anything really I was basically a zombie day in and day out turning on my light whenever someone began to question me.

    One day my running coach came to me and said have you thought about serving a LDS mission. (Yes I am LDS) This idea scared me but after prayer and an anxiety attack the idea began. Here was someone I looked up too so much so how could I just pass up an opportunity to be like him. So I turned in my papers and I was called to the Mexico City South mission. At first I was not excited in the slightest but I came around. Little did I know that this experience was going to rock me to my core and change my life forever. I left in October 2011 I arrived at the Missionary Training Center pumped to get started on my transformation. I had wonderful teachers with whom I am still very close and talk too often. I began feeling once again the pain the chronic sadness and I couldn’t figure out why. That is when that idea of cutting myself first came up and seemed logical, because I needed to feel something other than this darkness that was surrounding me.

    I left the MTC with hopes that Mexico would be different that I would be able to focus on others and not my pity party that was going on in my head 24/7. Boy was I wrong, within a week I spiraled out of control I began cutting in the shower and hiding the damage underneath my watch (As if that would stop anyone from noticing that there was something wrong.) I sunk deeper and deeper, hating myself, my life, where I was, my coach, my family, and God. I morphed into a creature of hate, despair, and darkness. I just wanted it to all end, so that I could be free from the pain, exhaustion, and hate. I was sent to a psychologist who said that I showed symptoms of depression but that I was most likely homesick and just needed to buck up.

    I remember the morning I decided to end it all. Not one of my fondest memories that I have obtained. I woke up earlier than usual while my companion was still asleep, I snuck into the bathroom to find something to aid me in my escape from this life. I found some fabric and tied it around my arm, this was going to be it. Thankfully my companion awoke right before I could try anything, I was sent home the very next day. As soon as I got into my mom’s car I put the walls and the façade back up and pretended I was fine (another lie). I was put on medication and was put into therapy within a few weeks of being home. For the first month or so I didn’t even try in therapy I just complained about how hard my life was, how much I hated the church, and how much I hated myself.  Finally I had an epiphany I have a chance to start over and be reborn to who it is that I am and who I want to be. I worked my butt off working on my issues, and using music as an added form of treatment. Transforming myself into a phoenix.

    It now has been over two years since I came home, I am happier than I have ever been. I love life! I am so grateful that God decided to spare me from what I thought was my fate and allowing me to let all the darkness and be reborn into the person I am today, I thank him every day for the life I have and had (because without it I wouldn’t be the man I am today), the opportunity I have had to learn and grow, for all the people in my life that exchange their light with mine. Yes, I have my bad days but I know that they will end and light will fill my life again. So I want you to know that you are in no way shape or form alone. That you may have something wrong with you, and you know what who cares?! You will be so much stronger by getting the help you need than just enduring it by yourself. Take it from someone who was there and came out of that pit. It gets so much better, you CAN do it!! You can be happy and not care what others think! You just have to make the commitment to yourself that you want to change and that it is time to live a happier life!! I may not know who you are but I love you, I pray for you, and I hope that you can find the light in life that will make it worth living. You have something to give to the world and it has something to give to you so open up yourself and share!

 

Thank you for sharing Nic! If you have an unknown story you would like me to share and link to your blog, please contact me on my homepage.

(C)LV-B2014

The People I Find: Whitney

I have been thinking a lot lately about how to make my blog more meaningful to the world. Yes I share bits and pieces of my personal life, I share my religious beliefs, and I share my family. It allows me to keep an online journal in a sense and remember the defining moments of my life. If you have ever met me you know that I like awkward first encounters. I love to start conversations with people who I have never met and within five minutes I have heard their entire life story and we become best friends and I need to send them an invitation to my wedding. It is something that I have enjoyed. Every time I come across a new “life story” my heart grows just a little bit more. I try to put myself in their shoes and realize I can’t imagine even a fraction of what they are going through. I realize that we are all our own unique individual and that we will all have different ups and downs in this life. Hearing these stories make me a better person. I learn of such happiness, growth, and the knowledge that there is a greater being out there.  Humanity has such good in it amongst the darkness and it is rarely highlighted. I want to highlight that and share it with my readers. I have gone out into the cyber world and found people I have known for a life time or spent 5 minutes with and have asked them to share their stories with me. I gave them no limits, no strict instructions, just to share “Their Story,” what has defined them, what happy moments they have experienced, and what kindness they have felt. I didn’t ask for my writers to add religion, but many have. No matter the religion, these stories are worth reading. Take a moment to find the story that is buried deep in someones soul, allow yourself to learn from those around you.

Post One: The People I Find: Whitney

I am so glad Whitney was willing to share this on my blog. She is such a strength to so many. If you read this, send prayers her way for her and her little family! For more on Whitney and her journey check out her blog here. This post was written while she was on bed rest.

Whitney’s Unknown Story

Whitney's BabyAs the chaos and uncertainty of an unexpected hospital admission has winded down, I have found myself alone with my thoughts as I sit in the bed to which I have been confined.   Almost two weeks ago, when I was 22 weeks, 6 days pregnant, my water broke unexpectedly with huge, embarrassing gushes of fluid down my legs at Wal-Mart.

I went to the hospital in hopes that I had just peed my pants and would have a great story to tell this kid one day. Unfortunately, my membranes had ruptured prematurely making the story I would tell him much different from what I could have imagined.

I will tell my son how much I loved and yearned for him even before I knew him. How his Dad and I did extensive fertility treatments off and on for years trying to just be pregnant with him.  I will tell him that September 26, 2013 was one of the happiest, most frightening days of my life as the doctor told me the treatment had worked and he was growing in me—just tiny cells, but alive and well.

I’ll explain to him how the ultrasound which showed his tiny peanut form was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and that I could have listened to the strong pitter-patter of his heart for days. I’ll tell him how I carried the ultrasound picture with me for weeks, so excited to be a mom.

He’ll know that each day, at least ten times a day, for 18 weeks, I retched to the point of broken blood vessel s on my face; how thrilled I was to have a very physical sign that I was pregnant.  I’ll tell him about the time I craved chicken strips during a night shift and how they ended up in a patient’s garbage can after being projected violently out my nose and mouth.

I will tell my boy how feeling him kick, turn, and wiggle inside me made me made me teary and blissfully happy and I couldn’t wait to get a big belly to show off (I’m still waiting for it).

Whitney-Early BabyI’ll tell him that when my water broke, I was terrified and sick about the fact I might lose him. The NICU nurse in me battled with the desperate mother in me when it came to making the hard decisions of treatment we faced.

I’ll explain how the first few days in the hospital were critically scary.  The many medicines I was given to protect his brain and help his lungs mature made me really sick and my whole body ache.  The nurses had to take my vital signs, check my reflexes, and monitor my son every hour for almost two days. While no one was able to sleep, we had no problem worrying about him.

He’ll understand how precious he is when he knows how many hundreds of kind, lovely people prayed for us, fasted in our behalf, and selflessly served us.  How I felt strength and comfort beyond my own capacity because of those around us.

I will tell him that while I was so willing to be on bed rest to stay pregnant and help him grow, I had really hard days that I spent sobbing and wishing I could rewind and do things differently.

I’ll tell my son how reading and singing to him during his non-stress tests were the highlights of my day and how his non-typical accelerations in heart rate made me so proud. The nurses and doctors praised our son for his stubborn attitude and fighting spirit.

He’ll understand how much his Dad loves us because of the way he balanced work, things at home, and making time to be at the hospital every single day. Our boy won’t remember how he kicked like crazy when his Dad was near, but I’ll always have the memories of soft guitar lullabies, the three of us snuggling on my tiny hospital bed, and Ben getting teary when he would have to leave us for work.

He’ll know, as I do, that our being a family was no accident. I feel like I already know my little boy and he knows me even though we have yet to officially meet.  I think our son chose us to be his parents and I am so grateful.

I will tell him how each day I stayed pregnant with him, we thanked the Lord and counted our lucky stars.  Each night when I’d snuggle into bed, I was filled with gratitude for another day—another 24 hours I could give my son to grow and thrive inside me.

Most importantly, I’ll try to help him understand it was all worth it and for him, I would do it again. From the daily, burning fertility shots to weeks of lonely, soul crushing bed rest; it has been a hideously beautiful journey that I would start all over tomorrow if I had to. Yes, there are days I feel super picked on and I ask myself “why” at least once an hour, but I have learned so much.

I am stronger and more capable than I realized. I will fight for all I’m worth, even when the odds are against me. I guess in that regard, my son and I are very much the same.

Thank You Whitney!

Since this was written, Whitney delivered the baby via c-section after developing an infection. The little guy made his debut at 1 pound, 12 ounces and is 13 inches long, they named him Jude and he yawned yesterday!

Whitney's Baby is Born

Dear Mrs. Goldin- What My Mom Taught Me by Not Working

Kara HintToday I read a disturbing article that I found on LinkedIn. It was titled What Would it Teach my Kids if I Stopped Working. The article was written by Kara Goldin who is the Founder and CEO of Hint (flavored water). She tells the tale of how she decided to make flavored water (not original btw, propel ect.) and make a business of it. In the midst of her brilliant idea she had found out she was once again pregnant, with her fourth child… There must be something in that “special flavored water” of hers… I would question that, I think the warning label says “May cause pregnancy, and rash stereotypes.”

Now before I begin my “rant” I want to point this out, in 2013 Taylor Swift was at the brunt of some of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s jokes for finding a new boy to date. Lets be honest Taylor you find a new one as often as there is a sale at Khols. Taylor replies to the dream team with this: “You know, Katie Couric is one of my favorite people, because she said to me she had heard a quote that she loved, that said, ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’” Taylor what I want to point out here is by dating all these men, maybe you are not necessarily helping women out either. All I am saying is, there will always be a different opinion on what is right and what is wrong.

IPHONE JULY 2013 116Well Mrs. Goldin, I think you are wrong. There is nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom and there is nothing wrong with being a working mother. There will be obvious differences in a child who has a parent in the home at all times and a child with two working parents. Depending on who your deciding audience is the outcomes maybe positive or negative. You stated some very harsh stereotypes:

 

“The most difficult men I have managed: 1) had a mom that stayed home, 2) had lost their mom as a young child or 3) grew up with a father who spoke negatively about his mother. It’s sometimes hard for them to accept a woman in the work force much less as their boss. -Mrs. Goldin”

I would like to ask what method you used to obtaining this data? I had a stay at home mother, I have three brothers, none of whom fit your stereotypes of men being managed. One of my brother’s has his PhD in Family Sciences and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and works mainly side by side and under the direction of females, I have done research with him under the supervision of his advisors, and have seen him interact both in a workplace setting and the behind the scenes. Never has he shown signs of difficulty, hatred, or spoken negatively of his female bosses. Again this is a bias view, but if you asked anyone who knew him, they would say the same (ask for references). Your stereotypes might be true of some men, but I don’t think that having a stay at home mom was the contributing factor. Perhaps I will do my thesis on it one day…

IPHONE JULY 2013 117Mrs. Goldin how dare you belittle what my mother has done for me and my 5 brothers and sisters. As hard as it is for you to leave your kids and go to work, it was hard for my mom to give up the nursing career she dreamed of, so that she could give us her best. I applaud you for working and raising a family, I hope to one day balance my life so I can do both. However, if I am fortunate enough to be able to spend all of my time with my kids, I will consider myself lucky. What my mom taught me about staying home is that the person is more important than the money. That I was wanted and needed in this world. My mother taught me that life needs a balance between work and play. She spent countless hours reading books to me, playing blocks, and making me lunch. She got up every morning and poured me orange juice to show she cared. I have learned to love people because of her. She stayed home and helped me with my homework that prepared me to get scholarships in college, and to obtain a degree. I never went a night with out a home cooked meal surrounded by family. The house was always clean, and I had clothes on my back. She stayed home to be my best friend when I didn’t have any other friends, she was always there for me, she provided a stable home for me to be raised in. My life would be different if she worked I am sure, I can’t say if it would be better or worse. What I do know is that she stayed home and taught me to respect others decisions, and to be what I want to be and stick up for what I believe in.

Rant. Over.IPHONE JULY 2013 174
(C)LV-B2014

Valentine’s Day…No Love? It’s Okay, You Still Have a Love Language!

Psycho ValentineIt’s Valentine’s Day. We all know what that means. There are those who post the picture of the Valentine’s flowers and chocolates they received from their spouse/gf/bf and there are those who post the uncomfortable “I’m single… my life is so hard” Facebook status. To the first I say I am glad you are enjoying your relationships, and making them work. To those who are celebrating S.A.D than I say, even with a fiance Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite. To me it is a commercialized holiday that makes money, I can show my love any day of the year. I actually feel more love for people on Halloween or Fourth of July, who knows why (rhetorical question)? I am in LOVE and I am happy, but that is every day of my life (now that I finally found the right person). For Valentine’s Day I enjoy a creepy card or a good movie. This card to the left had me laughing for a good few minutes… Please send me your favorites!

In the beginning of #Clott we talked about our “Love Languages” and how we like we knew someone loved us. This was the first time I had ever talked about it with someone. At first I thought mine were definitely Words of AffirmationWho doesn’t like to be constantly reaffirmed through words that they are loved and cared for!  I would recommend this quiz for anyone, married, single, or in the awkward “kind of dating” stage. Do it for a fun date or take yourself on a hot date and take this quiz in front of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days with your Nutella, Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream, and you animal print leggings.

I took the test and it went fast, only 30 questions. The results were surprising and not what I had anticipated for my Love Languages. My highest scored language was actually Physical Touch. Now this doesn’t mean that I am over touchy, it just means that it gives me a sense of security. When someone I love gives me a hug or pats me on the back it makes me feel secure in my relationship. I have realized this is with a dating relationship and not necessarily a brother/sister/friend scenario. In those relationships it is different, I enjoy Quality Time and Acts of Service. I think it is possible to have different love languages with different types of relationships. My second highest score was Acts of Service. This one made perfect sense. I love when I see kindness! When I see an act of kindness my heart grows bigger, it is similar to what the Grinch went through on Christmas. It just makes me feel like a better person. In this scenario, I can tell you that when I see Mr. Bird do an Act of Service, I fall even more in love with him. I don’t know if that is how the love language is supposed to work, but whatever, that is how I am going to interpret it.

So on this Valentine’s Day, be bitter or be happy…whatever, it’s cool with me. But take some time and learn about what your love language is. When you learn how to better communicate the things you need to be happy, the healthier your relationship will be. Communication includes both the verbal and non-verbal things you do for the person you have a crush on, remember that, it is important… I wish all of my friends and family a happy V-DAY! I am hoping #clott does something romantic, like sneak into a graveyard…. #perfectdate

5 Love Languages Infograph

Gallup Strength Finder 2.0

Strength FinderWritten by: Clare Vaterlaus

This was originally posted on my work website.

I have often heard but never fully understood the sentiment -“a brave man acknowledges the strength of others.” At a recent training for Echelon Group this statement became clear to me. It is not hard to learn our own strengths and even our weaknesses, but it is more difficult to learn and acknowledge the strengths of those around us. Kim Schaff, Echelon Group’s Human Resources Consultant led us in a Group Strength Finding Activity. It is not often that our team members take time away from their work, but this was a special occasion that has proven to be very worthwhile.

Prior to the group meeting, each team member took the Gallup Strengths Finder 2.0. The survey included 140 questions that you had 20 seconds to answer. To answer the question the test taker was to pick the answer that fit them best. After the test was completed we received our personalized results, highlighting our top 5 strengths. I will use my top five themes as an example.

  1. Activator- Turns thoughts into action
  2. Empathy- Sense feelings of other people
  3. Developer- Recognize and cultivate the potential in others
  4. Communication- Easily put thoughts into words, conversationalist, presenter
  5. Individualization- Intrigued with the unique qualities of each person

Amongst the general top five themes were personalized paragraphs of information For example both Kim and I received the strength Individualization, but our paragraphs read two very different explanations. This test was spot on in describing my top five strengths. What made me feel better was they all apply to my current position at Echelon Group and what I graduated in at Utah State University.

After reviewing each of our strengths on our own, we spent time sorting our talents into four different categories that allowed us to see who we would work best with.

         Builds Relationships

    Influence on Others

       Working Hard

     Working Smart

My top five strengths fell into the top two categories, which focused on working with people. I have been able to see that as a strength in my professional career, but also a weakness when it comes to creating processes. This is a weakness that I would like to work on, but is not something I could do on my own.  This training showed me people in the office who could mentor me in this aspect. Todd Severance, our Business Consultant, was the only one to have the Analytical theme present in his top five. This indicates his attention to detail in any situation. Together Todd and I could use our strengths to get the job done faster.  Through this training we found who would be the “go to” person in a situation based on our strengths.  In the long run, it could be more time efficient and effective to combine your strengths with others instead of spending countless hours improving your weaknesses. It takes a brave person to accept help from someone who has a strength you are lacking, but the results are worth the uneasiness. The first training helped us create a trust between one another; our next training will cover conflict and how to deal with it in a positive way. If you are interested in using this training in your workplace or group, give Echelon Group a call for more details.

10 Things I am Glad I Did Before I Got Engaged…

#targetpracticeI know… Another post about being engaged. To those who are not engaged or dating someone (especially around Valentine’s Day), I know you want to do a cornucopia of things to me, including but not limited to vomiting on me, punching me, or throwing darts at me.  I have included a picture to print off, including my face in the middle of the target. Sorry, darts are not included. But I know YouTube has a great selection on “How to Make Darts.” I didn’t actually watch any, so if you do, let me know what you think… #targetpractice

So if you are caught up on Life of a Clare Bear, you know I am becoming a bird. I am not suddenly morphing into another animal; I am just changing my last name. I have finally found my “other half” and we are going to be married for time and all eternity. I guess you could say that I am pretty happy. Our period of engagement will be 51 days. It’s fast, but when you know, you know! So I thought I should enjoy these days until I become an old married woman. I wanted to share with you the 10 things I was glad I did before I got engaged. I am not saying these are rules to follow; they are just things that helped me get ready. Everyone is different, we don’t come with directions and so there will be other opinions. All I can say is share them… if you dare 😉

1. Dated Around… I have been on plenty of dates in my single life career. The dates ranged from finding out he was a registered sex offender, throwing up on the boy after a carnival ride and being left 60 miles from home to find my own ride, I have even been on a date with someone who I found out was my cousin later… Now those are my extremes (they are pretty extreme). I have been on wonderful dates too. I have been to see Christmas lights, on scavenger hunts, rock climbing, and broken into a TCBY (he had a key, legal, Idk…) All of these dates taught me something. It taught me what I didn’t want in life. It’s a negative way to look at things, but it made me understand what I really wanted in a future partner. The part I needed most was I needed to be dated out. When I was younger I felt the urge to date everything that moved with no commitment. It took me time, but I realize now it is fun to go on dates with the same person and to have a commitment. Commitment can’t be forced, it can only come through desire.

2. Finished Gilmore Girls (a few times)This show is a guide to life. Okay not really, probably look for a more spiritual resource, but it taught me about boys. I learned that there was always going to be a Dean in your life. Your first love. He would have a special place in your heart, but in the end he would not have your whole heart and that was okay. You don’t have to end up with the first boy you date (you can, but you don’t have to). Then there are boys who are like Jess, the bad boys. They are going to sweep you off your feet and turn you into someone you are not. They will make you question life; you will fall fast and hard… But then you fall out of love in faster. And then there is Logan. Rory dated him for a long time. They were a cute couple and seemed to have it all. SPOILER ALERT, Rory did not accept the engagement ring, and that was her choice. I learned from Logan and Rory that love is a choice, if you make the choice to love the person, you are accepting their best and their worst.

satisfied dr3. Road Trip with your Best Friend… That’s a Girl…The summer before meeting Mr. Bird, I went on an adventure. I surprised my best friend Amanda for her birthday in Skagway, Alaska. I flew there and then we spent a few days making the road trip from Alaska to Boise, Idaho. If you have never been in the same car for 4 days straight, I can tell you that you are going to come out of it loving them or hating them. I came out loving my friend Amanda. One of my biggest fears of getting married was spending a lot of time with the person (because I am an introvert and love being by myself). This long road trip taught me that it was possible. I let down my guard and learned new qualities about myself. It helped me get over that fear.

4. Served in My Church… Now, this can be for any faith, any position, and for any time length. What I am referring to is my mission. I learned what it was like to live away from family and to make sacrifices. I learned how to do hard things and to rely on God. I built a firm foundation of what I believed. I saw families who didn’t live with religious beliefs and they struggled, they lacked something great. I learned and have made it my goal to find someone who wanted the same thing. A family and home built on faith and God. I also learned the value of serving and what it can do for relationships. Serving others can break down barriers and allow you to love someone even when you are mad at them.

5. Survive a Broken Heart. Everyone must survive a broken heart in their lifetime. It is inevitable. I never thought that I would have to. I always had the idea that I would date one person and that would be it. That wasn’t the case for me. My life was a hot mess after break ups. The relationships just never felt right. What I learned from having my heart broken a few times was that I had the ability to care for someone, that I could open up my shallow mind and let someone in. I needed to learn this so that when it was the right time with the right person, I knew I could let them in and care for them the way they deserved. Knowing what a broken heart feels like makes a heart full of love mean that much more.

grad6. Graduate College… One of the reasons I say this is because dating after graduation is a lot less stressful. You don’t have to pick studying for a test over a weekend away. The other reason I liked it, is because I had already defined who I was through what I studied at college. I didn’t have to change my career goals because I had met a boy. I was able to focus my time on school and was able to be successful. When you are spending so much money for your education, it is nice to have it not interrupted. I know this is not always the case, for me it was perfect. I have a one track mind 🙂

7. Have a Grown Up Job… Graduating college led me to a job. I have loved being able to use my degree that I put so much effort into. I have been able to build up a resume, network, and complete projects. I have learned how to work in an office. All of my experience is preparing me to work from home, something that I have craved ever since the snuggie was invented.

8. Build up a savings Account…I am not saying I am a sugar momma, but I am not worried about how many Ramen Noddle’s to buy for Mr. Bird and me. Having a grown up job means grown up money. I have been building up my savings account since I was 12.  Money is something that puts stress on any marriage, whether newlyweds or those who have hit 20 years. Beginning a marriage itself is stressful and it is expensive, saving as much money as you can before would be the smartest thing you could do…

9. Use Private Boards…   It is no secret that girls at a certain age (pretty much from the time they are born) want to plan their weddings. The greatest invention in mankind (not really) was the Private Board function on Pinterest. You are going to have those days where you just want to dream about your wedding. It is natural, but the whole world doesn’t need to know you are planning your wedding before you have met the boy. Let’s be honest, boy’s Google us before they take us on a date. Do you want the first thing for them to see is the 10ct diamond, the tiny baby clothes for your first born, and ways to get along with your husband? I know that they are super cute and you want it now, but scaring them before the first date almost always results in no second date… Perhaps go private on those 🙂

isingle10. Find Happiness in Singlehood… I have seen so many people resort to marriage because they are simply unhappy in their “single” life. I urge you not to make that the reason. Do it because you are in love. Being single is great, at times it may seem not so much, but you have your whole life to be married. Find out who you are and who you want to be, what you like and dislike, find your passions. Learn to be happy when you are by yourself, so that when you find someone you can make you happy you know it is genuine. Getting married doesn’t solve problems; solve some of your problems before your marriage becomes one.

There are so many other things that I am happy I did before I got engaged, but these are the ones that stick out. Valentine’s Day is coming up; I would recommend taking number 10 into consideration. Learning to be happy without a man/woman will make loving them so much easier. The last thing is timing; nothing will happen unless it is the right time, be patient. Now if you hate me even more, the target is below 😉

(C)LV2014

The Proposal.

StallionIt was in the middle of January that #clott decided to get married. We picked a date, a venue, a dress, and then a ring. Totally traditional, I know…. (for Mormons). While on our trip to McCall together  we were pleased to hear the news that my brother Max and his girlfriend Kara got engaged! The reason I mentioned Max a few times in my last post was because we literally do everything together. Classes, missions, and now marriage… Should we plan kids too? Now that #kaxwell was engaged we could make ours official. Mr. Bird definitely took full advantage of the anticipation that I was suffering from…

On Monday, Mr. Bird asked me if I wanted to go on a romantic date downtown to get hot chocolate. I tried to look as hot as I could just in case he was going to pop the question. After getting hot chocolate at the most hipster place in Boise, we headed to the next venue. Mr. Bird pulled over and said let’s go check out the Capitol Building. I thought how pretty, this would be the perfect place to get engaged. We went to every floor, read history, and even were able to sneak into the Senate… (BTW Boise, you could totally just walk in there and do what ever you wanted, maybe get some guards?) The whole night I was anticipating that he would get on one knee and ask me to be his wife. He did! Multiple times…Pretending to tie his shoe, or look at something on the ground. To a girl who is anticipating a real diamond on her hand, that was just mean :). The first night I took it like a champ. We found this large stallion statue and I thought this is it, he is going to do it here! He didn’t. We got back in the car, and I was annoyed and he could tell. The night ended and I fell asleep and had a dream that his sister came to me with the ring and she said, Mr. Bird wanted me to give this to you, he chickened out. Out of no where she yelled “JUST KIDDING, it’s not the right time,” and hid it under the piano. Clearly I was obsessing and I need to take up piano again.

On Tuesday I had to work late. I was running my first book Launch and didn’t even consider that night as a possibility. So I had decided that Wednesday would be the night, because we were going to the Temple on Thursday night and he knew I thought that meeting at the institute was already cliche enough…The Temple is a wonderful place, but I just couldn’t handle it. It couldn’t be the weekend because he was leaving town for a funeral. Wednesday was the night… I knew it!

On Wednesday, I tried my best to look adorable so when he came to pick me up I would be ready. He asked me to go get dinner with him. We went to Madhuban an Indian restaurant, at this point I was already on edge. I was easy to take offense and I did. After holding it in for so long I burst out with how annoyed I was! I said can’t you just propose yet? I know he is the right one because he just sat there and took it… Little did I know that he had something planned. He said something along these lines, “In my defense Clare, girls want a big production.” I have never been a girl with a lot of fluff in my life, I would have accepted his proposal in a fast food line or behind a dumpster. Now that’s love. To let my frustrations out he let me drive his car, which is stick shift, and I do very well until there is a car within a mile and then I stall and can not start again… We eventually made it back to my place. My parents were there and he brought up the idea of doing a #doubledate to the temple. If you thought I had reached annoyed capacity, you were wrong. Mr. Bird could see my innards cringing. Even though I didn’t want it to happen outside the Temple, I thought maybe I will just have to live with it. My parents thought it was a great idea to join us.

kisssOn Thursday, it was a pretty normal day. Scott had texted me and said that he would have to meet me at the temple because something with his calling had come up and it would put him behind. Even more annoyed I got ready to go with my parents. We were trying to make the 7:30pm session and we got in the car at 6:50. It’s about a 20 minute drive. Out of no where my dad says, “I need to drop a key off downtown.” At this point I had a sense that something was up. I kept saying (with passion) this is a FACADE, when my sister kindly steered me to a better word, rouse. I was convinced that I was getting engaged that night, until we passed the Capitol Building. My hopes were gone… It wasn’t until I saw his car in the Train Depot parking lot that I realized, I was right (which sums up marriage right?). I looked out the window and saw a rock path covered in candles, white roses, and pictures of us. I got out of the car and my parents took off. (They totally caught the 7:30 session) There was a note waiting for me that said “Follow the light, follow your heart.” I walked down the path and finally saw Mr. Bird in his gray suite standing on a red blanket next to the partially frozen pond. He had a dozen roses in hand, candles surrounded him. It was perfect. I yelled “YOU TRICKSTER!” I walked down and I fell in love all over again. He gave me the roses and said he wanted to be the only man in my life to give them to me. He then started to talk about the Train Depot and how it used to be a place of coming and going, and how people would find their way. He related it to how we both had to come and go from Boise to meet each other. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him… I said, “well, mhmmm, maybe…YES!” I thought I should make him squirm since he made me squirm. After a few minutes of snogging, our friends started to cheer and came to congratulate us. They had caught the whole thing on camera and video… Yes Mr. Bird used his Go Pro in the bushes to catch this priceless moment in our lives.

Early I said I didn’t need anything extravagant to say yes to the man I loved, but I didn’t hate it, I loved it. It showed me that he cared about me and put time into it. I will always remember the night that he asked, and I said yes.

depot                                                                    #clott4ever   March 22, 2014

 

My Ducks are Finally in a Row.

Coincidence that I got engaged the same day I posted something on single hood? I think not. I knew that my engagement would soon be coming, but I didn’t know if it would be that night or next week. Mr. Bird and I had picked out a day and had already started planning, but I had no idea when the ring would make it’s debut. One of the main reasons I wanted to post one last SINGLE LIFE post was because it was a time in my life that I truly enjoyed and am grateful to have experienced. Mr. Bird and I were talking about how meeting each other was fate. We had grown up in the same town, our houses 15 minutes apart. We went to rival high schools. We even had mutual friends, but we never met. At points I have wondered why this was, and it’s pretty clear… We both needed to figure out who we were before we could find each other. When I was 17 I had a life plan. I was going to go to college and I was going to find my “stallion.” He was going to 6’6, 270 and he was going to have a motorcycle. He was going to be like “Babe, get on my bike…Want to marry me?” We would ride off into the sunset and have 6 kids by the time I was 30 so I could get my body back before the I hit the point of no return. I had it all lined up.

Like I said in my single hood post…Plans change, It’s a thing.

missionI turned 19 and was still single. I turned 20 and I was still single. 21 came and I had this feeling that I needed to go on a mission. It was a feeling I had never wanted. I fought with it for a long time, and then finally accepted the fact that God needed me elsewhere. I turned my papers in anticipating that I would serve for 18 months where ever he needed me to go (within the U.S for health reasons). Max (my little brother) and I opened our mission calls within one day of each other. He would be serving in Bahia Blanca Argentina, and I was off to Tirana, Albania. I had not signed up for that… My next thought was I don’t even get a husband, I am going to die on my mission. Max and I entered the MTC together on January 19th, 2011. He was excelling at Spanish and Albanian and I did not get along. I was so physically sick that I could foresee Albania was not going to be the place for me. My heart was broken, and I was reassigned to the Rochester, New York Mission. I started out strong, I was able to take hundreds of tours and meet people who changed my life. My health never really got much better. It got to the point where President and I decided it might be time for me to go home. As I pondered and prayed I realized going home early was what I needed to do. I was promised that it would be for the good of my future family. Whatever that meant…

I came home after serving 11 months and got right back into school. I started to take heavy class loads so I could graduate on time, I had felt that it was very important. During my senior year at USU I got a remote internship in Boise, Idaho. After graduating my internship turned into a full time job that would require me to live in Boise. I had sworn up and down that I would not go back to Boise, but I would go to graduate school, or find a job in New York.  Boise was the only thing that felt right though. Every time I went to sign up for the GRE I would get this little voice in my head that would say no… I was upset, but I listened.

mini chairThe summer before my big move to Boise I worked as a Coordinator for EFY. I was able to meet so many wonderful youth who have changed me for the better. I witnessed so much heartache, sadness, and sin in these youth’s lives. I also was witness to youth who had courage, strength and a testimony. I met people I knew I was supposed to meet. I thought this is my last chance to find someone to marry… I left empty handed, and moved to Boise. Throughout the Summer I would tell people that I would meet someone on Sept. 3 in Boise. I didn’t know how, when, or where, but I had a feeling.

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recieptI moved back into my parents house and decided to do something I would usually not do. I felt like I needed to though. I signed up for an institute class…and I went. On August 27th I attended the first class and I said hi to Mr. Bird. He said hi back. I had thought he was cute, but he was a BYU boy…. BYU boy’s usually didn’t have much time for us USU girls 🙂 Throughout the week I started to think about this Mr. Bird. It was on September 3rd that he got my number and that is when it all started. As I relive some of these events all I can think is how lucky I am. I was literally led to my husband. If I wouldn’t have come home early from a mission, I would have still been in school. If I had gone through with the GRE I probably would have gone to grad school. I am sure Mr. Bird and I could have met through another function, but it was fate that we were both led to each other.

I am just so grateful for the path that led me here, the trials and the hardships and even the happy moments that got me back to the place I needed to be. My plan of finding a biker dude, didn’t happen, something better did. I found a man who loves me and is willing to do anything for me. He makes me happy, we can laugh and joke, and we can even be sad together. I have found my other half… I can finally say all of my ducks are in a row 🙂

How did he propose? That story next!