Monday, November 21, 2016

Three Gratitudes

As Thanksgiving approaches, I've been thinking about my blessings and the things I am most grateful for. I love that Thanksgiving comes at end of the year because it gives me the chance to reflect on the past several months and ponder on what has happened in my life and how I have grown (or not). This morning I've been thinking about this:

What three things from this year have significantly blessed my life?

I have an answer, but I want to make sure it's understood that listing these three things doesn't mean that I'm not thankful for many, many other things. I guess I say this because there's an obligatory list of things you're supposed to say you're grateful for. Like family. I'm not going to list family in this post, but that's not because I'm not grateful for family. Just know that I have gratitude in my heart for so many things, but I am only focusing on a very small portion of them today.

So with that out of the way, here are my three blessings from 2016 (in no particular order):

1. Friendship

I learned something about myself this year - I need strong friendships. I thrive when I have people and purpose in my life. I really, honestly, did not know about this need until this year.

2016 has shown me how blessed I am in friends. As I have found my way out of depression, I have to acknowledge the perfect timing of these friendships because they were an imperative part of my recovery.

I appreciate the variety of friends I have and the different roles they play in my life. I love the vast array of inside jokes we share:

"Drive safely in the dark!"

Obama's jet


"I choose life!"

I love that I have friends that will hang out with me at 5:00 a.m., friends who will listen to my "Lost Devotionals" (yes, I incorporate scriptures), friends who let me play them a new song I like, friends who will meet me for lunch at the drop of a hat, friends who laugh at my Donny Osmond memes (they are gold, people. Gold!), and friends who embrace my daily goal of "pants before noon."

All of these things matter to me, and I am deeply grateful for all levels of friendship in my life.

2. Anti-Depressants

I've already said a lot about this, so I won't repeat it all, but let me just acknowledge the progress I have made since June of this year.

My life has changed!

I can feel the Spirit again, and I feel capable of bringing light into my life. I couldn't do this a year ago... or even two years ago... and I didn't understand what was happening to me. In hindsight, it is so clear, but in the thick of it, I didn't know I had depression. I heard friends talk about their own depression and never made the connection that I was going through the same thing. That just shows how detrimental depression can be, even in its mildest forms.

I am so grateful that I can finally see it for what it was - that the fog is lifted and I am doing better.

3. My Mind

With wading out of depression this year, I've learned to really appreciate my mind. Some of my capacity for learning, pondering, and growing was stunted for the past few years. I forgot how much I love learning - both in educational settings and in leisure. I enjoy having meaningful discussions about things I'm learning (so having friends who will listen and engage in my ramblings has been so wonderful!) I love drawing parallels and making inferences. I love calling upon things I've learned when I need them. I love writing things down and becoming reacquainted with them years later.

I'm very thankful for a mind that can study and learn and think things through.

While the list is not exhaustive, those are the three things from this year that I think have blessed my life in countless ways, and for that, I am sincerely grateful.

I wish you all a happy Thankgiving! Here's a song for you to enjoy this week (introduced to me by Shannon, one of my blessings from 2016):

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fight or Flight

This week, in two separate incidents, my friend Shannon and I had the opportunity to discover how each of us might react in an emergency.

The first incident was mine.

I was involved in a car accident in the Panda Express parking lot. Let's say, hypothetically, that it was my fault. I've never been in a car accident as a driver, and I've never hit another car. After the collision (which, again, was hypothetically my fault) I was a little stunned, and my first instinct was to drive away. 

Yep, I admit - I immediately thought, "I need to leave the scene of the [hypothetical] crime."

But when I regained my composure, I knew I needed to stay. The problem was, I froze up. I couldn't get out of the car. I just sat there. Fortunately, Scotty was minutes away, and he came and dealt with all the things while I sat in my state of stupor. 

My response to the incident initially leaned a little toward FLIGHT.

This gave me an inkling that I might not be very good in an emergency situation. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed in myself. 

The next incident was Shannon's. 

Shannon and I go walking early in the morning a few times a week. We walk in a pretty dark area, so it can be a little disconcerting at times. 

Yesterday, my flashlight died, so it was even darker than normal. We were engaged in deep conversation about very intelligent things when I heard a man right behind me say, "On your right!"

Shannon didn't hear what he said. All she heard was some sort of man noise (be it grunting or whatever), and as she turned, she saw a hooded figure charging at me. 

I understood that he was just trying to pass us, but to Shannon, it appeared that I was being attacked, so she let out a hearty wake-the-neighborhood scream. No, not a startled gasp, but a legit someone-is-attacking-my-friend scream. As the noise was happening, she grabbed me and pulled me out of the path of the "attacker." 

It gave me pause because, like I said, I thought someone was just trying to pass us, but I began wondering if I'd misunderstood, and I'd been been brutally maimed, and the pain hadn't registered yet. What else could have warranted Shannon's sudden spring to action? And that scream! It was a special scream reserved only for the most dire of circumstances.

After Shannon pulled me out of the way, she froze and went into "save me" mode.

Moments later, we realized everything was fine, and we burst out in hysterical laughter.

The jogger just kept running. I don't think he could get away from us fast enough.

Shannon's response to the incident initially leaned a little toward FIGHT.

As we composed ourselves (it took a while), we discussed Shannon's reaction, and it turned out that she, like me, was a little disappointed in the way she'd reacted in a hypothetically dangerous situation.

Shannnon and I had two very different responses to our adrenaline, and yet, be it fight or flight, we both froze up afterward. We have concluded that we just aren't any good in emergencies, although Shannon really could have saved my life. I think she deserves credit for that, at least. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Worth It!

In the last month, I've made two ridiculous purchases that have been worth every penny.

Ridiculous because the items were silly and way overpriced.

But worth every penny because they have afforded me much joy.

Item #1: Billy Bob teeth with fake braces

Cost: $10

I've gotten multiple uses out of my fake braces. First I used them for my Halloween costume, which I'm now realizing I never showed you, but the reason for that is that I didn't get very good pictures of it. I'll give you what I've got, though:

Here are Scotty and me at my mom's Halloween party:


I went as Sara with no 'H' because H's are "Ew!" and Scotty pulled together a last-minute Steve Irwin (note the inside-out scout uniform. Ha!)

I won the prize for best costume.


The following week I got to use my fake braces again at Pack Meeting to be the assistant to the mad scientist. 


Fake braces? Worth it!

I am already looking for opportunities to use them again.

Item #2: Chicken Suit

Cost: $20


I found the chicken suit in the pajama section of Walmart (next to no less than five other "suits" I would like to buy someday). 

I couldn't walk away. I needed it. Partially because my friend, Shannon, had bought a cat suit a few days earlier, and I felt like our friendship would be enhanced if I, too, had a ridiculous animal costume. (Shannon is currently in mourning for not buying a squirrel costume she stumbled across while perusing Halloween clearance - it even came with plush nuts. I didn't want to have any regrets, so I bought the chicken suit).

The night I bought the chicken suit, I told Scotty that I had a surprise for him. I then went into my bedroom and suited up. He was watching the CMA awards, and in the middle of a Carrie Underwood performance, I jumped down the stairs and yelled "Chicken suuuuuuuit!" then ran a lap through the living room and back up the stairs. I did this three times in a ten minute period. Scotty wasn't happy about me interrupting Carrie Underwood. I think Carrie would think it was funny, though. No doubt she has my back.

Last week I wore the chicken suit while I took my stats test. Then I wore it for my group meeting (done online via Google Hangouts). My group liked it, and at our next meeting, they were disappointed that I didn't have it on, so I put it on again. It's now routine to wear my chicken suit to all of my statistics meetings. My professor has yet to comment. 

Chicken suit? Worth it.

It has become my lounge wear of choice. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What Husbands Do With Their Friends

One difference between Scotty and me is that I need friends, and he doesn't. In many ways, this has been nice because I've never had to share Scotty with "the guys."

Recently, this changed.

Scotty has "guys" now.

I guess it began when Scotty found out that Mark, a guy in our ward, is a distant relative. This got the two of them swapping family history information, and it eventually evolved into sharing Disneyland stories. Then they decided that since Mark was turning forty this year, they should celebrate by going to Disneyland - an event that will forever be termed "Brocation."

Two other "bros," Jed and Kyle, joined the trip.

On "Brocation," Mark introduced Scotty to Hamilton the musical.

Mark is a very passionate individual, and he lists his passions as follows: Disneyland, Family, and and Hamilton (if you question the order, he will claim it's alphabetical). In fact, Mark has been known to sneak in some Disneyland and Hamilton references in his testimony at church. My favorite of his testimonies was the one where in he rapped "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy-NESS." (He didn't even realize he'd done it until I commented on it later).

Scotty can also be a very passionate individual - hence our family's Disneyland obsession. Since "Brocation," Scotty has been equally obsessed with Hamilton. He and Mark have had entire texting conversations in Hamilton quotes. It's fascinating, really.

And whose passion can compare to Mark and Scotty's? Kyle's. One of the other "Bros." Except his passions aren't as centered on Disneyland and Hamilton. One of Kyle's obsessions is music, so of course, he and Mark have a band, and as a result of the "Brocation" bonding, Scotty is now the bass player.

(Scotty. Who has never played an instrument in his life and knows nothing about music. At all).

So ever since "Brocation" (April), Scotty has gone to "Band Practice" each week. "Band Practice" is in quotes because it's an hour of messing around with guitars and drums in Kyle's shed followed by three hours of male bonding.

What does male bonding include?

Things like:

-Trying to sneak past Kyle's motion sensor lights without turning them on

-Taking videos of each other going down the slide in the dark at Mark's mom's pool

-Climbing in the rafters of Kyle's garage

-Eating Cheerios

-Trying on costumes

-Playing with swords

-Looking for the neighbor's lost goats

I haven't had a hard time turning Scotty over to Mark and Kyle. They have all been good for each other, and their friendship is very positive. I benefit as well, because they have great wives. We even have a friendship slogan:

"Doubt your doubts before you doubt your awesomeness!"

(Mark and Uchtdorf collaborated on that one).

This new friendship thing that Scotty has gotten into is working out just fine. I couldn't have hand-picked a better set of "guys."

The gig
[The Band]

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Why I'm Not a Florist

Just like that, I am 12 days into November, and I haven't written a thing. Funny how that happens.

Today I'm writing for stress relief. I just finished up my homework for the week (it was brutal, thanks for asking) so I need to unwind a bit. Both TVs are occupied by children (I had to separate Zoe and Daisy because they were going to kill each other, and Scotty is out of town, so yeah, I deserve to let the TVs babysit for a while) (but if Scotty were here, they'd probably still be watching TV because it's Saturday night, and we give up on parenting on Thursday).

I can think of nothing I'd rather do right now than tell you a story about my growing years.

It involves one of my favorite past times of my youth... LYING.

I'm just going to go ahead and put this out there: Young Britt was a big liar.

I don't know why I lied so much, but don't worry... I'm now relatively honest and raising a daughter who has mega issues with lying, so what goes around comes around.

Anyway, when I was a junior in high school, we had to take all of those personality assessments that are supposed to help you start thinking about what you want to be when you grow up. Those tests weren't helpful for me because I didn't answer them honestly (maybe that's why I didn't know what I wanted to be until I was in my thirties, and I'm just now earning my bachelor's degree), but that's not the lie I'm going to tell you about today. To be honest (if you even trust me at this point) I didn't think I was really answering my personality profiles with any form of untruth. It's only now, with my grown-up perspective, that I can see that error, and part of my mistake was that I didn't really know who I was. But that is, perhaps, a topic for another day.

At some point, I decided that I wanted to be a florist. Scotty had a distant cousin who owned a floral shop, and it was my dream to work there. I thought they had the most beautiful flowers (they really did, actually), and I wanted to be a part of it. I thought that maybe someday I could take over the business or maybe open a second location.

One of the interesting parts of this is that I had no idea that the owners of the flower shop didn't like me, and they had actually tried to get Scotty to break up with me and date a girl that worked there.

Um... awkward. But whatever. I was naive enough to assume they loved me and wanted me, with no experience whatsoever, to work for them and take over their shop someday.

(Just remember my prefrontal cortex wasn't fully developed yet).

Anyway, I thought I'd be a really good florist, and I assumed I could just walk into it at some point and totally rock it. I shared my "vision" with Scotty's mom and she suggested that I take some floral classes through community education. I had no idea what community education was, and I thought it was the same as the Community College (this will be relevant later). It didn't matter, though, because I didn't need to be taught!

At some point, I was in charge of planning an activity for Young Women (the youth group in my Church for teen girls). I told my YW leader that I was going to teach floral arranging. She was surprised and asked how I knew about floral arranging, so I told her that I had taken a class at the Community College (LIE).

Unexpectedly, this YW leader casually mentioned to my mom that I was teaching a floral arranging class based on my acquired Community College knowledge. My mom approached me about it and asked when I had taken a floral design class. I admit, I panicked a little. I didn't foresee that any of this would get back to my mom, but I told her that Scotty and I had taken a floral design class together at the Community College (LIE). She asked some questions, like, "How did you pay for it?" and "When did you take it?" and I told her that Scotty had paid for it (LIE), it had cost $10 (LIE), and it was just a one-night class on a random Tuesday night (LIE). I had no idea that the Community College doesn't offer one-night floral design classes for $10 per person.

Eventually the night of the class came. I searched for some info on the internet so I could fake like I knew what I was doing, and I went and taught the class. My YW leader had bought some dried flowers and a bunch of baskets and green foam from the thrift store. I did my thing and told my lies and played florist for the night. It went okay, but I realized, as I faked my way through the event, that arranging flowers was harder than I'd ever thought.

About eight years later, I worked at a special education school that did vocational training. We had a floral shop in the school where students were able to make floral arrangements to sell to earn money to fund our program (in addition to gaining job skills). One day, someone from the district needed an emergency flower arrangement, but the floral class teacher wasn't there, and her students were with a substitute working in another area of the school. Our administrator asked me to go to our flower vendor and grab some flowers, then come back to the school and design an arrangement.

I bought some flowers and put the arrangement together, and it looked terrible. I fiddled with it and redid it several times, and I couldn't get it to look right. I asked a few co-workers for help, and none of them knew what to do. We all knew it looked wrong, but we didn't know what to do to fix it. When my administrator saw the arrangement, his face froze in utter shock, and I could tell he was trying to formulate what he should say to me. I finally broke the silence with, "I'm sorry. It sucks." Then we all started laughing, and my administrator confessed that he was trying to figure out how to tell me.

Apparently, I had only bought "filler" flowers and was lacking "focal flowers." But beyond that, I really struggled with shaping the piece and making it proportional to the vase. I realized, for the second time, that I had no natural ability to work in floral design. I really stunk at it! Enough so that my co-workers began to say things like, "Just don't let Brittany near the flowers."

Despite what I originally thought, floral design takes actual knowledge and skills. The same might be said for being honest.

I've since acquired one of these skills but not the other.

(I guess I'm not going to be a florist, after all).