“I’ve been feeling lately that, maybe I’m more resilient than I thought.”
One more year down and only God knows how many more I have to go. Already 2012 has introduced an insane collage of joy, hope, pain, love, friendship, laughter, tears, hard lessons, and tender mercies. I hesitate to think what the coming months will bring me.
2011 dawned with many good-byes and a great big adventure! I spent the first week of January in Dayton, Ohio with the Rieben family. Val had gone to get Alexis from Bulgaria and I rode herd for the rest of the clan during the day while Richard was at work. I had seven kids, (4 of whom have special needs) one absolutely INSANE dog, and an aloof but annoying cat for one whole week. I LOVED it.
Insanity at it's most enjoyable!
When Val flew back in with Alexis, I hopped back in my loaded little Toyota and kept heading west.
Friday, January 13th marked the 1 year anniversary of my arrival in Salt Lake City. I drove into town on that snowy evening and immediately joined Brianne and Peter for dinner and a show at the Pioneer Theater.
It was a pretty great way to start a year.
I started this year with a bang by co-hosting a house party with a friend of mine on New Year’s Eve. We had board games, Rockband, Just Dance on the Wii, Mocktails, party food, and dancing. At midnight we toasted the new year with Martinelli’s and partied like it was nineteen-ninety-nine. (It is hard to believe that 12 years ago, I was in high school celebrating a brand new century.)
Since that night, however, I have had more ups and downs and cried more tears than I probably did during the entirety of 2011.
During the majority of the calendar year I love my life and I cherish my friendships and experiences. I have fun, I learn, I grow, and trust that my dreams will come true. Life during the holidays, especially with two younger sisters married and starting families, is a bit more difficult. Magic and romance take over the world during the holidays and I carry that festivity through my birthday in February. However, each year when I take inventory, as most are wont to do, I discover that one huge gaping hole in my life. I am alone.
Since I left home at 18, I have been single. (I never dated before that, but I was a Shiraki. You are NEVER a single person when you live in the Shiraki household, you are a Shiraki.)
I am convinced that if you were to survey my good friends from high school they would have all told you that I would get married young, and I actually did come a little too close to doing just that than I am comfortable admitting.
Fortunately I had a Heavenly Father who was looking out for me and who knew that I would be happier if I experienced a bit more of life first. Instead of finding some young buck and getting married, I entered college, left college, worked, played a bit more than I should have, made many stupid mistakes, and I lived my life.
I have learned so much from the people who have come and gone, and I love them all for the role that they have played in my life. I am eternally indebted to those who have not left me, who continue to support me, love me, and give me a swift kick in the pants when I need it.
As I’ve passed through my late twenties, and I look forward to my early thirties, I realize more and more that I would not change who I am or what I have experienced for anything in the world. Each person, each mistake, each heartache, each moment of joy, and every lesson learned has shaped the person that I am, and they will shape the person I become.
Yet, with all the confidence that I feel in who I am and how strong I have become, I still fight the horrid insecurities that I have battled my whole life.
The devil’s nasty little minions pick at me and whisper in my ear;
“You’re too fat and you’ll never be skinny. Ever.”
“You’re not pretty, no one has ever thought you pretty.”
“You’re uneducated, a college drop out. A failure.”
“You’re too old.”
“It doesn’t matter how good you try to be, you will never be good enough.”
“No one wants to date you. You’re a fine friend, but who would ever more than that from YOU?”
“You will NEVER have the things you want. You screwed that up a long time ago.”
They begin to chant these and more until it is too loud to bear. Like the Lost Boys in my favorite movie version of Peter Pan, they yell, “Old, Alone, Done For!” as I, like Captain Hook am unable to find my happy thought while swinging over the gaping jaws of the ticking crocodile.
Despair settles itself into the hollow places of my heart and turns the small dark corners to cavernous wastelands, threatening to consume me whole.
One light only can dispel Doubt and Fear from their tireless beatings and allow me to again find my happy thoughts. Faith, the union of Hope and Joy, comes with small reminders of love and fleeting glimpses of a vast, infinite, and FABULOUS future.
Faith comes by way of a movie, suggested by a friend:
“So here’s what I have to say to you… Sadness be gone! Let’s be people who deserve to be loved. Who are worthy. Cause we are worthy, we really are! You are a good [person]. Go get yourself loved. That’s all I got.”
Faith comes from inspired words of encouragement:
“This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.”
Faith comes with friends and family who prove more than anything else that I am loved.
Ringing in the New Year! Bring it on 2012!!
Carmen, Kember, and I at the Twilight Concert Series
Melyssa, Katie, and I at Grace Potter
Sean, Petey, Bryce, Kember, Me, and Sean on the 4th of July.
Megan, Justine, Kember, and I getting ready for a Masquerade.
Good Times. Fond Memories.
BV friends and family.
My Family. Some are blood related, some aren't. Some are here, some are missing.
In the end, I remember that I may be single, but I am not alone. I am surrounded by those who do love me and I have a loving Father in Heaven and a Savior who is ever near and aware.
In the end, Faith fills me with Gratitude, and Gratitude begins to heal what is broken and cracked.
In the end, I give you the following:
“You have great potential in this lifetime. The key to your life is gratitude. You do not give enough thanks’
‘Well, how do I do that?’
‘Simple, say ‘Thank You”
‘All the time. Right now. After you say ‘Thank You’, you should say, ‘More Please.’ With gratitude, the universe is eternally abundant.”
Find your abundance in Gratitude. It will come. Do not loose sight of Hope and Joy for they truly bring Faith to the forefront of your life.
“Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting.
Give your child a hug; give your parents a hug.
Say “I love you” more; always express your thanks.
Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.
Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.”
Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”
In the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, [member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] Jay Hess, an airman, was shot down over North Vietnam. For two years his family had no idea whether he was dead or alive. His captors in Hanoi eventually allowed him to write home but limited his message to less than 25 words. What would you and I say to our families if we were in the same situation—not having seen them for over two years and not knowing if we would ever see them again? Wanting to provide something his family could recognize as having come from him and also wanting to give them valuable counsel, Brother Hess wrote—and I quote:
“These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.”
Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows.”
What is YOUR happy thought and how do you find it?