Sunday, November 8, 2015

Why I Went

Thanks to all my friends and family that have shown me such a great amount of love and support the past couple of days! I love and cherish so many friendships I have, and some of you really came through for me today. I have been surprised to hear from several old friends that share some of my same feelings, and I am so grateful to know that I have people who understand where I'm coming from. A lot of my friends asked "are you going/did you go to church today?" Yes, of course I did. And I am so glad that I did even though it was the first time in my life that it was a real struggle to go. So, for those of you wondering, this is how it went:


I underestimated the amount of people this would affect. I thought I would be pretty lonely in my doubts/questions, but it was clear to me today that many other people are questioning. My ward usually has people racing to the pulpit to bear their testimonies, and a very long line on the stand to wait for your turn. Never once in my 1.5 yrs in the ward have I experienced silence during testimony meeting, and we've always gone at least 10 minutes past time. Today, no one got up for a minute. It was the weirdest thing ever. Complete silence. Once people started getting up, there were of course those that got up to bear testimony that prophets speak only God's words, etc., but the majority of the testimonies were about the "things that matter," and were centered on Christ. I didn't expect that from my ward, and it made me realize that I am certainly not alone. It was great. 

But then, our lesson in Sunday School was centered on the new policy, and I didn't say a word. I should have, but I didn't. I know, I'm a bit of a coward. But my goal is not to create animosity. And I didn't want to speak in anger. I need time before I can make an eloquent, thoughtful, and loving comment about my thoughts on the policy to a large body of my peers at church. So I bit my tongue. However, I had to teach the Relief Society lesson today. I knew that I should have said something either during testimony meeting or during sunday school, and I didn't, so I started with a brief statement that I was glad I had to teach today, because it got me through the doors of the building and into church, and because this was the first time in my life that that was extremely difficult for me. I told them I came to church anyway because of my testimony of what is true and right, and that if anyone else was struggling, they should know that they are not alone, and that it was okay to struggle and question and doubt. I then taught my lesson on the VERY exciting topic of "spiritual and temporal welfare." Who doesn't love a lesson about debt and food storage?! As I left the building, I was stopped by 3 people, and then had 3 other people contact me after, to tell me that they really needed to hear me say that I was struggling. That they were waiting for someone to express concern. That they were also struggling and needed to hear that I still have a testimony that got me to church. I only said it because I felt like maybe one person needed to hear it. Six. Six sisters were also sitting in that room, biting their tongues and praying for peace. One sister, who I do not even know (I really wish I knew her name...shame on me), hugged me and started crying. We shared our concerns with each other, and I told her that I'm not questioning my testimony of the gospel itself, but I am really, really struggling with everything surrounding this policy. She looked at me and said, "it's okay if you need to question your testimony!" (which I feel like was something we were told NOT to do throughout the day). Bless that lady! And, really, shame on me for not even knowing her name. She even ran me down in the halls as I was almost out the door. What an angel she was to me today.

I don't like to be too personal about my experiences, but today I prayed and fasted, not to know whether the policy was right or wrong, but to receive the comfort and support I needed to continue going to church. Six sisters gave that to me today; as well as a handful of friends, members and nonmembers, that have reached out to me via text and email to tell me that my voice is needed in the LDS community, and that they are grateful I stand for what I believe in, even though it means I'm going to be disagreeing with someone (whether it's disagreeing with nonmember friends on certain topics, or disagreeing with some church culture and policy). Those friends have been an answer to my prayers. Is it that easy? Absolutely not. As I mentioned in my previous post, this will be an ongoing struggle with some tough times ahead, but for now I think I've confirmed that I need to be in church regardless of my disapproval of some of the choices the leaders or other members make. My testimony of the gospel belongs there; and others need me as much as I need them for support. So, thank you, once again, to so many people that reached out today. It meant the world to me. You all mean the world to me.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why I Stay: Part 2

FOREWORD: This post is not about justifying one position or another. These are simply my "journal entry" thoughts that I am posting in hopes that others can understand the struggle this situation presents for members of the Church. It's also nice to not struggle alone. In my previous blog post, I explain other struggles I've had and why I  have stayed. I had to laugh at myself and the timing of that post as I have had to consider 'why I stay' all over again the past couple days. I haven't yet come to any conclusions, but it feels better to put my feelings to words. And maybe that's enough for now. 


I am heartbroken. I am not one to be dramatic and I am never one to break down in tears, but I have spent the better part of two days either holding back tears and pretending to be okay, or sobbing within the walls of my home or car. I honestly don't remember the last time I cried in front of someone (I take that back...I just remembered the night I thought my dog was dead cuz he got lost in the freezing snow for 24 hrs), but I cried like a little girl yesterday in my mother's arms. I think the tears are coming mostly from confusion. See, I am a problem solver; if I don't like something, I change it so it's my way, if I can't make it my way or if I can't find a reasonable middle ground, I disassociate myself. As I read the news on the new church policies, I thought, "this is it...I can't find middle ground here...I'm out." But that’s when more tears came. Because it's not that easy.

I can't support the new policy. I cannot get to the conclusion that the God and Jesus Christ that I have come to know through growing up as a member of the Church would want me to support it. I was taught from the time I was a sunbeam that I was to love and accept anyone and everyone, because that's what Jesus did. I was told to go out and be a missionary and bring people into the fold, regardless of the things they had done or the people that they were, because people can change and the Atonement can help change them. I knew from a young age that it was okay to be different and "peculiar," and that I shouldn't care what people think of me if I'm living the way that I have chosen to live, and I assumed that applied to people outside the Church with other differences and peculiarities as well. 

My mom reminded me yesterday that I loved the story of the ten lepers when I was a child. I did. I LOVED that story. I remember the primary talk I gave on it. A lot of people use that story to illustrate the need for gratitude. I loved that story because Jesus helped the lepers when everyone else had turned their backs on them. They were quarantined and left alone. But Jesus knew they needed help and love, and he gave it to them when they asked. And with the simple faith that the leper had who came back to thank Jesus, Jesus told him that his faith had made him whole. As easy as that. No conditions. I can’t imagine that Christ would limit his blessings to a certain group of people. He wouldn’t, and we shouldn’t.

So here I am, wondering why it's not easier to leave.

One of my friends said it best yesterday as we were texting about how to sort through something like this. She said she felt betrayed. I didn’t realize that’s what I was feeling until she used that word. Betrayal. I was taught to believe one thing, developed a strong testimony of it, and then slapped with a policy like this that goes against everything I was taught. Internal thoughts included: “how could they do this to me? How can they make me choose between this and my testimony of the gospel? Why the children? Why an outright exclusion to individuals who have a desire to know the truth? Why now? How am I supposed to stay? How am I supposed to leave? Why are people defending this policy without the slightest struggle to know if it’s right?” The way I see it, it’s not about same-sex marriage. It’s not about beliefs on what is “wicked” or “righteous.” It’s the fact that we just closed our doors. And in the process, we offended not only those that live in the specific situations barred, but also a whole lot of other people that love someone in that situation. Sure, we don't need to worry about offending people that refuse to agree with our beliefs, but this offense reaches so many individuals that were probably willing to accept our beliefs, individuals that may have been interested in what we had to say before. We didn't only take away membership opportunities from innocent children and teens, we made certain that a large part of the world would never consider coming to be part of our membership. We took away so many other opportunities.

I have always found it odd that some people say “who cares what the world thinks of you because it only matters what God thinks of you.” I have always cared what “the world” thinks about me in terms of my beliefs and representation of Christ, because you know what that “world” is? It’s people. Individuals with hearts. I care about people and I care about their happiness. I don’t care if they agree with my views on things, but I DO care about how I make them feel. And I believe that God cares about how we make others feel. We claim to be a representation of Christ, so people are going to hold us to that standard. This policy does not reflect the doctrines and core values we believe in and that I have a testimony in.

This Gospel is my life. As many know, being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not just about going to church on Sunday when we want. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a dedication to things that we know to be true. It is who we are. I am who I am because I am a member of the Church. That’s why I am not sure what leaving means. I am still, and will always be, a believer of Christ and will always be invested in the Gospel, I think. The problem is: where do you take what remains of a testimony of the Gospel? I will continue to need a place where I can take my unique faith. I am not sure I can do that without continuing to go to, and participate in, this Church. So, I keep walking through those doors every Sunday. I share my opinions when I can, and I help people think outside the box when I can. I teach Relief Society once a month and several sisters always thank me for the new perspectives I bring to the usual lessons and for making them think in a different way; it is comforting to know that some members need to hear my voice. I will continue to fast and pray for the strength that I need to continuously look around me and see individuals that do not have my same mind or heart. Church has been lonely for me for quite some time now, but I imagine it will be exponentially lonelier for me now.

I know there are others like me. I mentioned to my mom that this is so hard for me because this is really the first major trial of my faith. I didn’t grow up in the blacks-without-the-priesthood era. I didn’t experience the struggle of having to live with a policy that was wrong, and I wasn’t subsequently vindicated when the church leaders admitted that it was wrong. Maybe if I knew that feeling, this would be just one more thing I had to get through, and I would maybe have more hope that things will be "fixed" in the future. But this is my blacks-without-the-priesthood. And I am hoping and praying that soon the church leaders will admit, again, that they are wrong. I may not understand it all right now, but I have come to understand the Gospel in a way that I cannot turn my back on it. Where that leaves me, I don’t know. I do know it leaves me with some tough years ahead. I know it leaves me with the difficult task of finding a place for my opinions and views (which has always been difficult, but I’ve found a way). I know it leaves me with some serious heartache. I know it leaves me with some confusing relationships with people that I cannot see eye-to-eye with. But such is life. And if I’ve learned anything from this life, it’s that I can do hard things. And, for me, I can do hard things because of my faith in Jesus Christ. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Why I Stay

This weekend was a long one. I spent the better part of two days in a gym with high school volleyball teams, listening to ref whistles, high-pitched volleyball-girl cheers, and shouting coaches. I was exhausted and was so looking forward to spending the day at home on Sunday, hoping to feel refreshed and centered after General Conference. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten that for the past few General Conferences. After learning about the three new Apostles by reading the Church’s articles on each one, and then listening to them speak on Sunday morning, I can’t help but feel a little let down. Now, I don’t want to criticize the men who called these three men or the men themselves. I’m sure they will do a great amount of good while serving in their callings. I do not doubt that President Monson and the First Presidency felt confirmation that those men would do a good job and that they were “right” for the job. It is easy to receive confirmation that a man will do a good job in his calling if that man is willing to do the work and has been obedient and faithful. However, I don’t think there is one specific person that is meant to be called to any calling at a specific time. Thousands in the world would provide the same enthusiasm and humble service. I saw an article yesterday that was in response to the skepticism and critiques about the calling of these three men. The article basically said that the job of a General Authority is hard and that it isn’t about glamour and fame, so we all need to understand that these men were called because they can handle it, and not because the Church wants to push a certain agenda, etc. I think the author missed the point. It’s not that other people are pining for that job, it’s that people who aren’t doing that job need someone in there that represents a different set of people. It is clear that these were men who have worked closely with the current First Presidency, and in some cases, even have a close personal relationship to some of the serving Apostles. This is where the red flag flies for me. 

At a time when so many people are hurting and questioning and looking for confirmations that they matter and that they are represented in this Church, don’t you think that the Lord would ease their hearts and minds by showing them that there is hope? I see those that really needed a sign that things were shifting and that they belong, and my heart hurts for them. It is silly to say that the Lord gave President Monson those three specific names randomly. If the First Presidency went to the Lord with these names, I am sure that they received a positive answer that these men were the right men for the job. I have no doubt that they received that "revelation." But, I am also sure that they would have received that same positive answer for thousands of other names, had those names been given the chance.

The scriptures talk endlessly about simple men of little wealth or visible talent that are chosen by God and changed by His blessings in order to carry out the Savior’s mission. One of the focuses of many scripture stories is the fact that the Lord will take our weaknesses and make them our strengths if we are faithful and wish to use those strengths to do good. Why, then, aren’t more people represented throughout Church leadership? So many people needed an Apostle called that showed some sort of diversity. Diversity in race, socioeconomic status, career, ideology, anything. It certainly makes me wonder. In a moment I will talk about why I stay. Why my testimony remains despite my disappointments. Why I think that I need to keep going. But first, I want to address one other thing about Conference this weekend: President Russell M. Nelson’s talk to the women of the Church.

This is Nelson’s statement that best summarizes my continuing disappointment with how the Church views/treats women:

"We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils. We need each married sister to speak as a 'contributing and full partner' as you unite with your husband in governing your family. Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God. We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence."

Pres. Nelson spends his talk addressing the capabilities and importance of women in the Church. I appreciated some of his sentiments. However, the general vein of the talk is well-encapsulated by the quoted portion above. “We need YOU to speak up.” I know I shouldn’t get crazy about words and I shouldn’t dissect how these things are being said, but, he easily could have told the men of the Church that they need to listen to the women, that they need to include the women, that they need to recognize the leadership and insights of the women. But, no, he told the women to speak up. As if we are sitting around, silently content with how things are going. He spent his whole talk telling the women everything we have to offer, and then ended by saying that we need to use those talents to get ourselves involved. I love that the General Authorities see the importance of women and continually tell us that we have unique and special abilities that should be utilized, but I also think that by saying we have “distinct” unique abilities, it implies that these abilities are unique to (you guessed it) mothering, wife-ing, influencing men with our kindness and service. These are awesome abilities that I am so grateful to develop as I grow as a woman. However, while I think that this talk was a step in the right direction regarding women’s other abilities, it just fell painfully short for me. I, and I’m sure others, get tired of “speaking up and speaking out” without being heard. Often times, we don’t even get the chance to do so.

The real kicker: if women have so much valuable insight to share, why did only two women speak this weekend at Conference (this is generally the schedule of female speakers – one per day)? Stop telling us that we are special, valuable, and have so much to share, while having us (at best) sit behind you on the stand in precious solid-colored blazers (I legitimately adore General Conference fashion!). I know, I know, “but we have the General Women’s Session and several women talk there…that’s progress!” That’s not enough for me. Men speak at the Women’s Session as well. I googled it, and only one woman has ever spoken at a Priesthood Session (“according to Relief Society Minutes, new Relief Society General President Belle Spafford spoke to in the priesthood session of General Conference in 1946 teaching and encouraging bishops to work in a partnership with the RS and utilize the expertise of RS presidents ‘in determining the needs of families receiving welfare assistance’ to better meet the needs of their congregants.” Jill Derr, et al., Women of Covenant.) There are steps being made in the right direction, but there is so much left to be done. And who is going to do it? I think there is SO MUCH that can be done under the current structure that just isn’t being done. President Nelson’s talk just reiterated that for me, which was painfully disappointing.

So, why do I stay? What am I doing in a Church that causes me disappointment, with members that I have little to nothing in common with? Well, to put it simply, I think I still have a testimony of the things that matter, and I have hope that there are other people in the Church that know the things that matter and can help me accomplish the goals that matter as we try to become more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I find comfort in the "blessings" and promises received for just being a good person; and the good that is in me comes from growing up in a church that taught me about service, honesty, healthy bodies, good choices, etc. I owe that to my faith and my religion. It keeps me safe, it keeps me happy, it keeps me healthy. It gives me hope that there is something better waiting for me after this crazy life. It gives me a road map for how to become more like Jesus and how to live a respectable life. It helps me find the light during dark days, and gives me a perspective of happiness during times of sadness. These are the things that matter to me right now. Not the silly extra “commandments” that somehow get made up. Not the business-oriented Church leadership. Not the failure to recognize women or the boundaries the Church puts on women’s abilities. Not the members sitting next to me in class that make ignorant and hurtful comments, allegedly supported by “doctrine.” Not my bishop telling me I'm selfish for having a career and not being married. No, it’s the personal conversion and individual growth that matters. My own relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, and my Heavenly Father. I have that. I work on that. And I hope that makes me a better person. THAT is why I stay despite disappointment. That is what keeps me going. And that is the statement I appreciated most in President Nelson’s talk: “Nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion.” I just have to remember that’s what matters. For now. * sigh *

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oh, To Be A Woman

Let me start off by saying I enjoy and respect the men I work with. They’re great people, great attorneys, and just the nicest they come. They respect me and treat me with great professionalism. I simply use this story as an illustration of the world and the societal norms around us, and not as a criticism of the individuals involved. So, then, if respectable, nice people can be unintentionally ignorant of women’s inequality issues, then how are we going to change anything? These are the people we all hope would take a stand or be more aware of what they say to or how they treat women. It could be my own dad, my own brother, anyone really. It concerns me when I see that no one is immune from playing into gender stereotypes and naturally using jokes or comments to separate men from women. Especially when they have no idea that they are doing so. I think maybe the problem is that "feminists" often talk about the inequality and discrimination females experience, but don’t often enough share how it manifested itself. It’s not just about being paid the same or being offered the same jobs. Maybe men/people don’t understand when things are offensive because we talk about being offended, but not always about why. Well, I’m going to try to explain why...

In my firm there are three male partners, myself (the only associate and only female attorney), two female secretaries, and one female receptionist. Yesterday, a secretary pointed out that I could ride to firm lunch with the assistants/girls, or go with the attorneys/boys. I was right in the middle….either I ride with the three women because I’m a woman and I enjoy chatting with them, or I ride with the three men because I’m an attorney and I enjoy working with them. I made a comment that if we ever had to vote on something, I would be the “swing vote.” I either side with my fellow women, or I side with my fellow attorneys. One of the men made the comment, “Well, if you did ever have to vote, you would only have, like, a 3/5 vote.” I, probably unfairly, became annoyed because he was, unintentionally, comparing me to the “all other Persons” that were owned and only given 3/5 vote back in the day, even though he was likely only referring to his partner status and the fact that they are the bosses. After a follow-up comment that the fractional vote was part of history, I replied with my charming sarcasm that it was 2015 and I thought I probably deserved more than that. I climbed into the car with my fellow women. When we arrived at the restaurant, I reiterated that I did not need a history lesson about suffrage. That was not the point.

We went about our day and it never came up again. For some reason, though, I kept thinking about it that night and on my way to work this morning. I replayed all the times in my year and a half as an attorney that people have assumed I’m a secretary or paralegal. I couldn't count on two hands. I am not in any way diminishing the role of secretary or paralegal, but the fact that people assume I am one because I’m a young woman is ridiculous. I also had a classmate mention once in passing that I was probably getting more second-interviews and follow-ups in my job search than some of my classmates because I was a “pretty girl.” I know he meant it to be a compliment, but it only discredited everything I had done and accomplished in my academic career. I paid money and worked hard for my law school degree and my license to practice. I have the same J.D. that men have, and I probably accomplished more in law school than many of them did. I passed the same bar exam and have the same piece of paper that allows me to practice. The fact that my name gives me away as a female, or that I have a higher voice on the phone should not change the amount of respect I receive.

I worked myself up as I thought about all of these things on my way to work because I just don’t see things changing. Not too long ago, I spoke with opposing counsel for a case on the phone, and he told me that his wife and daughter were both attorneys, so I “wasn't dealing with someone that disrespects female attorneys.” For a split second I was appreciative of this older man for being aware of the problem, but then my appreciation changed to disappointment because the fact that he had to make a point of that was degrading in itself. The statement separated him from me because I am a woman. Even though he thought he was leveling the playing field, he was really only acknowledging that there is a difference between us. It shouldn't be a matter of changing the way you treat me because I’m a woman, you should just treat me the same because I’m opposing counsel and a fellow attorney.

I guess I’m just waiting for jokes or comments about women to be as offensive as racist jokes and comments. While I do not AT ALL pretend to even begin to understand the struggles that those of different races face, I also can’t ignore the similarities in the struggles that women have faced and continue to face every day. I can almost guarantee that someone would not make a joke about a lesser vote to a black employee, intentionally or unintentionally. The man on the phone would not have told a black attorney that it was okay because his wife and daughter were black, so there would be no mistreatment. Those jokes/comments would have been offensive in that context. So why were these situations “okay” in the context of gender?

The saddest thing about all of this? I hesitate to "complain" about this because I don’t want to be the “emotionally unstable, overreacting woman.” The biggest problem with the gender equality movement is that half the people in the world roll their eyes at women who take a stand and are assertive, and the other half roll their eyes at women who are submissive or emotional. We just can’t win! I can’t be assertive about something because it is disrespectful for a woman to do so, but commendable for a man; and I can’t react emotionally because it is an overreaction, or it’s too submissive and shrugged off because I’ll “eventually get over it.” Whether I’m assertive or emotional, it’s going to be looked at as a dramatic response. But why is anyone rolling their eyes at all? I shouldn't have to or want to distance myself from my own gender's character traits. I just want to be allowed to work where I want to work, feel how I want to feel, communicate how I want to communicate, and I want that to be okay with everyone. I don’t want people to make it okay, I just want it to be okay.

A little Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote to summarize:
“So now the perception is, yes, women are here to stay. And when I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]? And I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that."

UPDATE:  As I mentioned in my facebook post, I read this article a day or two after I wrote this blog post: 

https://nerdist.com/yes-jeremy-renner-and-chris-evans-black-widow-comments-are-problematic/

The article ultimately makes the same point: that Jeremy and Chris (yes, we're on a first name basis) aren't bad guys, they just made comments that are commonly accepted and didn't think twice about it. And what do we do about that? 


Monday, December 23, 2013

Review of 2013 and Sneak Peek into 2014

Oh yeah...I have a blog! I'm pretty sure only a few friends and mostly family members scattered across the country still check-in on my little blog, but I figure I might as well keep those peeps up-to-date on my life ("up-to-date" meaning "I'll post something a few times a year"). This seems to be a good time for a 2013 Year In Review, as well as a Sneak Peek for what 2014 has in store for me.

2013 FLEW by. I can't believe that a year ago I was about to start my last semester of law school. It's weird how my law school experience seems like so long ago, but when I think about certain days and memories, it seems like just yesterday. Time is tricky. But anyway...a lot has happened since Christmas last year.

1. LAST SEMESTER OF LAW SCHOOL:

Made wonderful memories.

Said goodbye to good friends.

Played more intramurals. Even snagged a flag football championship!

Left places that were home to me for 3 years...and the people that I shared those places with.

2. MELISSA GOT MARRIED:

Missy asked me to be her Maid of Honor. I was so happy to be by her side on her special day!
(I know...I'm a giant...whatever).

She will always be one of my very best friends! And now she has a baby!

3. SENT MALEA AND CHARLES ON A MISSION / TURNED 26: I already blogged about this (here).

4. VISITED CALIFORNIA WITH BRENDA: I already blogged about this (here).

5. BSU ALUMNI GAME: 

It was so fun to play with my old teammates and spend time with some of my closest friends!
We even won a set against the current team. It's the small victories that matter...

6. WENT TO SEATTLE WITH LAW SCHOOL FRIENDS:

We caught a Mariners game (Jessica is a HUGE Tigers fan...so it was fun...even though it was raining).
We saw the sights of Seattle.
We stayed with Jessica's very pregnant friend who had her baby just hours after we got back to Moscow!

7. GRADUATED FROM LAW SCHOOL: I already blogged about this (here).

8. STUDIED FOR THE BAR. ALL SUMMER. Blogged a little bit about my experience (here).

9. TOOK THE BAR EXAM: 

There are no fun pictures to illustrate this part of 2013. It was a long two days. 6 hours each day. The first day was two, 3-hour sessions of essay writing. The first session was 6 essays, and the second session was 2 essays. This was the scariest part of the exam. I felt okay after the exam, but the more I thought about it that night, I was sick to my stomach. If you have enough time, you can think about a million things you messed up and a million things you should have mentioned. And the whole "don't think about it" thing does NOT work. It was horrible. Then the next day, we had two, 3-hour sessions of multiple choice questions. Multiple choice sounds nice...but it is horrific when there are two right answers on every question and you have to pick the "best" one. It is also extremely scary because the practice exams are not very indicative of how you will do on the actual exam. I was failing multiple choice practice exams all summer. Sometimes I would randomly pass with flying colors. With such inconsistency, there is no self-confidence going into the exam. When it was all over, I knew I did all I could and I just had to wait. You take the exam at the end of July and have to wait until mid-September to know the results. I felt no relief after I took the bar. Waiting for almost two months is torture. The whole experience was the most challenging thing I've ever done. But it's over. And I'll hopefully never have to do that again! haha

10. FAMILY TIME AT BEAU'S WEDDING:

It was SO nice to catch up with my Fuller side. We don't see each other often because we are so spread out, so it was awesome to see almost the entire family. My 91-yr-old grandpa sealed my cousin and his wife in the Salt Lake Temple.

Oh, and also, Brooks from the Bachelorette was my cousin's roommate for a bit, so he was at the reception. 
He fell in love with me for a second. I'm famous.

11. PASSED THE BAR EXAM AND WAS SWORN-IN:

Most relief I've ever felt. Ever. Seeing my name on the "pass" list made me cry a little bit. So much hard work and so many hours went into the bar exam...and it sucks because you have no idea if it will pay off. But it did. 

And I am a licensed attorney now!


12. COACHED THE VARSITY VOLLEYBALL GIRLS AT CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL:

Since I was waiting for bar results with nothing to do, I was a substitute teacher and I coached volleyball at a local high school. I thought that when I went to law school, I'd be done with coaching for quite some time. But I am so so happy that I was able to do this. Coaching volleyball is so fun and easy and natural for me. The girls were a blast...and they improved so much throughout the season. One of my favorite things in the world is to teach something to someone and then see them implement it and improve from it. 

I may have been hard on them at times (which earned my alter-ego the nickname "Monster Maren"), but it paid off. I became really close with the girls, and it was really sad when the season ended. 

I hope to be a part of the program for the remaining years my girls have in high school, even if I can't be at every practice yelling at them (I'm sure they'll appreciate the break from my stern tone). We had so much fun, and I loved the coaching staff I worked with. I continue to coach club volleyball with one of the other coaches from CHS.

No, I did not make that sign for myself. The girls made it after I passed the bar exam. Awe, so sweet!

13. ROBYN GOT MARRIED:

My teammates and I love a good excuse to get together and party!

14. GABE SURVIVED:

It's been 13 years with Gabe in our home. This year his health is getting worse and worse. We've been expecting him to die, but he keeps on truckin! He even survived 21 hours in the freezing cold when we couldn't find him one night. It was traumatic. I cried and cried because I knew he'd be dead by the time we found him the next day, but then my dad found him the next afternoon ALIVE. So I cried that he was alive. Now I have to deal with the fact that he will die. Again. But not again. Oh, Gabe.

We even did a photo-shoot with him to make a Gabe Calendar. Harry Potter Gabe was one of the themes we used. No, this is not animal cruelty. We love him. (Obvi, with the heart-shaped pics.)


15. FAMILY TIME:

I sorta like these people.
It has been such a blessing to be home and around my family. They rock. We rock.
And we're not too hideous.


This year was one of my favorite years. So much happened. I accomplished a goal that I have had since I was a young girl. Along the way, I also had to say goodbye to some wonderful friends. Change is always hard. Especially when the change means that you won't be surrounded by the people you have grown so close to and that you are so comfortable around. That part of growing-up always sucks. BUT, I am really excited for the next chapter of my life. I guess it's time to finally be an adult. Yikes! It's funny to think about the perception you had of 25+ year olds when you were younger. I always thought 26/27 year olds had to be married with children, and that they had life all figured out. Now that I'm here, I feel so young! My age is nearing 30, which is scary, but I still feel like I'm not old enough to be an actual professional adult. This world puts way too much trust in us youngins by allowing us to be whatever we want to be. haha. Darn American Dream. 

SO WHAT'S IN STORE FOR 2014? 

Well, in January, I start as an associate attorney at a small firm in Nampa, ID. It's a fairly general practice, focusing on complex litigation, family law and estates, business law, real estate, and government law. I am really excited and slightly terrified to begin learning how to be an actual attorney (unfortunately, they do NOT teach you much of that in law school). Guess I better frame those degrees and certificates and get to work! 

I will still be able to help coach volleyball, which is a dream come true! I absolutely love it, and I'm lucky to have friends/colleagues in the valley that allow me to be a part of a program despite my limited availability....a perk of staying in Boise. 

I will also continue to stay youthful (or should I say, "attempt" to stay youthful) by playing on basketball and volleyball city league teams. Someday I'll be too old for that. I'm glad that day has not yet come. It's a blast playing bball with some old law school and high school classmates; and, of course, volleyball with my BSU teammates.

Oh yeah...and I'm chopping my hair off. Not, like, all of it...but you understand. New year, new changes!

Additionally, there will be a few 2014 weddings to attend, new friends to make, a summer to enjoy without the bar, a lot of learning, and hopefully a few surprises. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Law School Dreams and Bar Exam Nightmares


I was going through an old box of school stuff yesterday and I came across a couple Language Arts projects that I saved from my Freshman and Sophomore years. We had to write a personal statement of sorts as an intro to these projects...and apparently I had a change of heart and mind over the summer between 9th and 10th grade. "I decided I didn't want to study that hard and go to school that long." hahaha. I mean, I guess I wish I had trusted 16 yr old me. But instead I went with 15 yr old me. Who trusts the heart of a little Freshman girl? Dang it.

Right now I really really wish I would have changed my heart and mind for good that year. I am about 4 weeks away from the bar exam and every day I more seriously consider quitting and not going through with this whole thing. It's terrible. I feel defeated and completely incapable of passing this thing. Practice exams don't ever go well...and it's definitely not getting better with time. I know many of you that know me well are probably rolling your eyes and thinking I'm being dramatic because I'll "pull it out in the end," or that I "have nothing to worry about." But this is the worst I've ever felt about something in my life. Like, I don't even want to be an attorney anymore. My 16 yr-old self didn't even consider this part! I was only worried about studying and length of schooling. Oh...how cute.

I can say, though, that I think it's adorable that I accomplished all of my goals from when I was a wee little tot. Seriously, I can't remember ever wanting to be anything but an attorney (except I apparently wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for a sec...cute). As I read through my projects, there were two things that I wrote about consistently concerning my future: I was going to play college volleyball on scholarship, and I was going to go to law school. CHECK!! Man, I need to write more about my goals these days and maybe they will happen. I should write a personal statement talking about passing this dang bar exam. Maybe that will make it happen. Because, at this point, that's the only thing that's gonna work.

This summer blows. Pray for me.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Once Upon A Time I Went to Law School

Well, well, well...turns out, I GRADUATED FROM LAW SCHOOL! Last weekend is such a blur, and this week I have been so busy that I really never had a chance to let this all sink in. I still don't really believe that I am not going back to school in the fall. Maybe it will all hit me after the bar? I don't know. I have a million pictures...so I guess I will let the pictures catch everyone up. If you get bored, scroll to the bottom for an update on my life. (Not that much is going on, but some people still care, right?!). Okay...picture story:

Brenda graduated from her undergrad ARCH program this year, so we had the pleasure of attending TWO graduations on Saturday. UI graduation was at 9:30 that morning, then law school graduation was at 3 p.m. We had a long day. Taylor, our roommate, came to both as well. We're so nice.


We had a couple close friends graduating that morning as well. It was a big year, I guess.


These pics are actually AFTER my graduation ceremony. I walked my fam through the law school and we stopped to snap some pics along the way. I have grad-hat hair. How embarrassing.


In the court room. How professional.


Before the ceremony, we took a class picture in front of the law school. It was hot. Not the good-looking sort of hot, but the I'm-melting-in-my-grad-gear sort of hot. And those hoods? They choke you.

 

The actual ceremony was LONG...and HOT! But it was all very cute. (Lots of things in this post are "cute"...and I'm not sorry about it.)


Being hooded is awkward.




But then we have our hoods on and we're excited. See if you can find my face...I'm in the second row.


After the ceremony, we had a cute little gathering. Food. Drinks. Pictures. Laughter. You know, the usual.


Jessica is one of my closest friends from law school. She is off in Tennessee to take the bar. It will be so weird starting this whole "attorney" thing so far apart after going through this whole law school thing together!


We took our traditional YMCA photo with our "degree" (it was just a piece of paper with a note from the Dean...what a rip off).


This is an action shot of me telling Prof. Couture that her Negotiable Instruments final exam was NOT OKAY. She smiled and laughed like we were joking. We weren't.


The regulars from Torts Illustrated. A lot of intramurals were played with these two girls. I was one of three seniors at BSU when I finished my vball career...and here I am as one of three "seniors" finishing my law school intramurals career. Now THAT is cute.


I made some great friends in law school. Really, I did.


So...remember how I always wanted an older brother...but I had Elsina instead?! (Love you, Elsina). Well, I think I got to experience what an older brother is like...what multiple older brothers are like. I spent countless hours with these guys the past 3 years. We definitely ended up treating each other like family... thank goodness I was around to bring a woman's reasonableness to the discussions(arguments). It is going to be extremely weird to sit at a desk and not have these guys around me.


Action shot of me saying something funny. What's new?! I'm hilarious.


Action shot of someone else saying something funny. Weird.



My fam made the trip up to Moscow. Minus Elsina and Reed. Elsina is teaching math in SLC, and couldn't come...and Reed was "resting his legs" after his District track meet (he's awesome...I'll post those updates and pictures later). But it was great to have my little sisters and parents come see what my life was all about for the past three years.



SO...what's next? I don't have a lot of news on what is next in my life. I take the bar exam July 30 & 31 in Boise. I am home in Kuna for now. I will have a bar review course until mid-July, so I'm basically still in school for another couple months. Come August, I am hoping I will have a job in Boise, SLC, or Phoenix. There are a lot of possibilities right now. I was in Phoenix a couple days last week, meeting with a couple firms and visiting my cousins. And I have a few different things coming along in Boise. So right now it's all about passing the bar. The job thing will come. I don't know what or where...but I'm not worried about it.

Excited for my summer in Boise! Lots of fun, sunshine, volleyball, friends, and family. Can't complain. Except about studying for the bar. I can complain about that, I think.