Monday, March 25, 2013

Why I'm a Blogger

I've been trying to get up the nerve to write a blog like this for a while, and then last week my Relief Society had an activity about ways to be happy and I realized I'm probably not the only one who's been through an experience like this, and maybe it will help someone out to open up a dialog about it. So here is a blog I wrote (but didn't publish) a little while ago about what motivated me to become a blogger, and how that has played a role in my personal goals to be happier. I am very open to comments.


My friend, Jessica, has a beautiful blog that I've been reading for a couple years. Because of it, I have found a role model who's just a few years ahead of me at each stage of my life. Right now I'm in love with her two wonderful children (I even had a dream last night that someone was telling me how cute my son was, and I was agreeing with her until I realized it was actually Jessica's son, and I was afraid I'd kidnapped him on accident because he was just too cute, and I felt really guilty.). I turn to Jessica for advice often, and she's kind enough to indulge me.

And that probably seems like a good enough reason to want to be a blogger. I mean, Jessica does it, which means all the cool people are doing it. Am I right? But it's a little more complicated than that. To begin with, Jessica's life is interesting! I felt like, "She actually has a right to blog, because people actually want to hear about her life!" And on top of that, the actual act of sitting down and writing about my life and letting everyone else read it had never particularly appealed to me. I keep a journal, but I don't want just anyone to be able to read that. And if I were to be honest in my blog, it would sound like my whiny journal, wouldn't it? And if I weren't, it would just be some boring captain's log. Right?

So the whole, "I'm going to start a blog," idea was a long process that began with a kind of personal experience. I feel like these types of experiences are typically taboo, but I'm just going to go out on a limb and be honest on my blog (who does that?), because maybe somebody else needs to hear it. It is hard to admit though. I believe most women struggle with admitting their shortcomings, which is really too bad, because it leaves each of us thinking we're the only one with any problems. So... Here we go.

I've always had a little bit of a problem with anxiety--at least, as long as I can remember. Some years have been worse, and for some it's been barely noticeable. And for a long time I wondered if it was really a problem, or if I was just overreacting. Which can kind of tell you that it was at least real--I would seriously worry about whether I worried too much about my worrying. How normal it was, I'm still not sure. I think a lot of people worry, and a lot of people try to keep it to themselves. And it's not as if there's some sort of line that marks, "If you worry 3 times a week, it's ok, but 4 times is just too much. There's something wrong with you." And even then, how do you define how many times you worry? "I was a little concerned about x, and that made me really nervous," could be considered worrying. But so could, "If I don't make sure x, y, and z go exactly according to plan, a will happen which means b will happen, which likely means c will happen, and that would just be terrible, so I better keep thinking about x, y, and z until this is all over or I won't be able to prevent all those bad things from happening." And there's a large range between the two.

I wondered things like this for years, although it was typically on a less rational level. Often I beat myself up for any type of worrying, even the, "I'm a little uncomfortable, maybe I should do something," kind. But it rarely got bad enough that it actually conflicted with my life. I would have bad days, and their frequency would vary. But I had ways of coming out of it--usually some form of art or music or exploration, or talking to a good friend. I think we all have days like that. Nothing much to be concerned about. But it always got a little harder when I was dealing with a large transition in my life. Moving away to college was one of those, but thanks to some fantastic roommates, I made it through that transition pretty smoothly. I leaned on my wonderful Tianna a lot now that I think about it. Especially in the middle of the night while we were both in bed. I'm very grateful to her for those moments.

As Kam and I started dating, I was coming out of one of the rougher patches of my life. The first month or so of our relationship was accented by him reassuring me and trying to gain my trust. The longer we dated, the more comfortable I was with him, but I continued to worry frequently, and occasionally it was so strong that I could tell it was stressing Kam out. It even began to interfere with my schoolwork, and my ability to make rational decisions. It was so easy to blame myself for the whole experience, because Kam was never anything but good to me. But that only made the worrying worse. I remember one afternoon in particular when I was in tears worrying about something, and I called Kam because I knew I needed  some sort of help. I was so embarrassed to admit how upset I was, and I didn't know what I wanted, but Kam could hear me crying on the phone, so he told me to come over. I took my time. I already felt bad for the other times he'd had to comfort me for worrying. When I got there, he gave me a hug and cheerfully suggested we make cookies, and I was so overwhelmed by his kindness that I got angry and left. I walked away from our apartment complex for about an hour and didn't think about where I was going. When I finally didn't feel angry anymore, I called Kam and apologized. He was worried and asked when I'd be home, and I admitted that it would take another hour for me to walk back from where I was. I think it took a little longer, because I wasn't really sure where I was to begin with. When I got back to Kam's he just held me and I cried because I was so ashamed to have ruined both of our days.

It was experiences like that that got me thinking about professional help. Kam and I had started talking about getting married, and I knew that if I was going to do that (and I wanted to!), I didn't want to keep putting Kam through hard times if I could avoid it. He and I talked about what to do, and he agreed to support me in whatever decision I made. I began checking out books about dealing with anxiety disorders. I went to the BYU's women's resource center a couple of times on my especially bad days, when going to class seemed too daunting. They suggested I contact a therapist and gave recommendations. At first I was offended by the suggestion, and it took months, and multiple decisions to actually begin contacting therapists.

Kam and I talked a lot about my concern with becoming dependent on a therapist, or developing more trust in my therapist than I had in him. Ultimately, I decided to give therapy a shot, and Kam supported me. At least then I would know I had tried it, and if it didn't work or I didn't like it I would quit, and I wouldn't have to wonder anymore. But I tried hard to keep Kam in the loop and remained reluctant to trust any particular therapist too much. I was still incredibly nervous about the idea of therapy, and if one little thing went wrong (like a scheduling conflict), I was more than eager to let that therapist go. Eventually, I managed to book free weekly sessions with a grad student studying to become a social worker. It wasn't my first choice, but I knew that having to pay for therapy could guarantee I would back out.

I'll admit, I could tell she wasn't a professional, and we didn't exactly hit it off well. She was quiet, and when I was upset or passionate I liked to be loud. I held back a little because I didn't want to scare her. I remember wishing I had the type of therapist who would tell me what to do and be a little more stern with me, but in retrospect this quiet girl was a lot better for me.

She reviewed a list of destructive thoughts with me, and we discussed the ability to change our feelings by changing our thoughts. She would have me give examples of something that upset me (like spilling a drink on myself) and how it made me feel (embarrassed) and the thoughts that followed ("I can't do anything right"), and then try to come up with a different way of thinking of the same situation. This is so hard! I still struggle with this! I can't even think of another way to think of the drink one now, and that's such a simple mistake! It's not something to get upset about (although, this is about how extreme my worries were getting at the time. Spilling a drink was a serious hit to the self-esteem). I guess if I had to give an example, it would probably be something like, "Everyone has those moments. It's nothing to be ashamed of." But my therapist (her name was Alice) was so much better at this than me. She would put a spin on something like this that made it sound like a good thing! Like, "I'm glad I had this delicious drink in the first place," or "I'm glad I have the kind of friends who don't think it's a big deal that I spill on myself," or something like that. I worked on this with her for a couple months. And when I heard myself talking to her about some of my largest worries and saying, "But you know, maybe it's a good thing," I could tell I was making progress.

The basic principles I had to keep reminding myself of were the atonement, and gratitude. I didn't have to be perfect. I could make mistakes, and because of the atonement, I could be forgiven of them. There was no need to dwell on them. I am a worthy daughter of God, and I am loved, and he doesn't want me to put myself down. And he has blessed me with so much! I have opportunities to do great things, and every step I take is a blessing.

I believe I came to these realizations largely on my own. I know Alice helped, and the techniques she taught me to deal with anxiety were an incredible tool that I still turn to. But those two principles, the atonement, and gratitude, were really what brought me through that hard time, and they're still what help me deal with anxiety. Although I've come a long long way, it's still hard. It's still something I actively have to combat.

But there was one aspect about Alice that really helped me get somewhere, and it's kind of a surprising one. I didn't feel completely comfortable with her. How was that helpful, you ask? She was a therapist; wasn't I supposed to be comfortable with her? For me, uncomfortable was what I needed. I knew I was supposed to talk to her. So I did. I knew I was supposed to rank my anxiety every day for a week, even though I wouldn't get caught dead doing it on the paper she gave me. So I did. I knew I was supposed to fill out my thought diagrams, even though I thought they were stupid. So I did. And every time I talked to her, I wanted to sound civil, and not completely crazy. I didn't want to sound like I was supposed to be going to a therapist! (Even though, there I was, and I've since learned that a lot of great, normal people go to therapy, and you would never guess it if they didn't tell you. A couple of my good friends in my old ward helped me by telling their experiences with therapy, and I thank them for breaking the taboo.) So I worked really hard at doing what she said, and coming up with happy thoughts, and saying happy things. And not completely whining, which I would have done with any of my best friends if they had given me the chance. And something crazy happened. I started to believe it. The more I acted happy, the more I actually could be.

It reminded me of a time when I was really little, and I was with my aunt and cousin going to the pool. And my cousin was whining, and my aunt told her that if she was going to the pool, she had to smile. And my cousin knew she was serious, so she stuck her fingers under the corners of her lips and literally forced a smile. Her mom knew she was being sassy, and at first she rolled her eyes at her. But after a few minutes of my cousin making that ridiculous face, both my aunt and my cousin were nearly doubled over laughing.

So nooooowwww I can get to the point of this beautifully long blog post! Towards the end of my time with Alice, I mentioned to her my concern that after I didn't have her to talk to anymore, I wouldn't slow down my thoughts enough to catch the negative ones and come up with positive ones like we'd been practicing. I knew I didn't want to vent to Kam every time I was starting to feel upset. It usually just made me feel worse, not better. And I didn't really want to vent to anyone anymore. I wanted to have a coping strategy that made me feel like I was taking care of myself. I had tried writing in my journal, and although I highly recommend doing this after you've had a great testimony-building or simply happy experience, it just didn't work for me and my worrying (maybe that's just me. I know it works for a lot of people). I would just worry in words instead of in my head, but I wasn't accountable to anyone to try to have happier thoughts. I tired this a few times before meeting with Alice, and whenever I went back and read those entries they were just whiney and irrational.

Instead, I came up with a few good ideas that I mentioned to her. For one, I decided to check my progress in the past week every Sunday as I took the Sacrament. I knew this would help me feel accountable for my thoughts on a weekly basis, the same way I'd felt accountable to Alice each week. But this wouldn't necessarily help me in that critical, just-spilled-on-myself moment. So my next idea was a preventative measure: to choose a role model that I could ask for advice about my new role as a wife. I mentioned my friend, Jessica, and her blog, and how I had always looked up to her, and I was just amazed at how positive she always seemed to be, and how she was raising a happy family, and I knew she had had some challenges in her own life once, but she seemed to be far past those now, and I just didn't know how she could do it all! And Alice said, "Did you ever think maybe she uses her blog as a way to cope with her stress?" That's probably the most valuable thing Alice ever said to me. I was just dumb-founded: "Uh, no. She's just perfect, so she felt like writing about it." But then I started paying attention, and I noticed how some of her blogs did seem to focus on turning what could have been a negative experience into a positive one. So I asked Jessica, basically, "How come your life is all sunshine and rainbows, and how do I do it?" And she laughed and let me in on a few of the secrets of her reality, and how she's not perfect, and she's not always that happy, and she didn't even realize she was coming across that way on her blog. And I thought, "Dang! Alice was actually right!"

Which brings us full circle. I decided to try starting a blog, because it would keep me accountable to my negative thoughts. I knew people would be reading what I had to say, so I didn't want to sound like a total whiner. But I also knew that, hey, if you're reading this and you're bored out of your mind or you think I'm totally annoying, that's your own dang fault because I didn't sneak into your bedroom and corner you and tell you my entire life story like I did to Tianna. You clicked on a link, and now you're here, and you can leave anytime you want.

And to make the whole thing even better, I was GETTING MARRIED, which is a pretty exciting reason to start a blog if ever there was one. So I didn't have to worry so much about being boring and "wasting cyberspace." And then some of my friends told me that they read my blog, and that I was funny, and if that was you, I greatly appreciate your flattery whether it was true or otherwise, because you made me feel pretty good about myself. So now I do this blogging thing, and it seriously has helped me take a new perspective. The whole car breakdown post makes my point. And if you'd like to see further evidence that this whole blog was once an experiment to see whether I could change negative thoughts, check out this post about a time I actually spilled a drink on myself.

Disclaimer: This does not mean that every time I post something I'm secretly upset. Ha ha. Definitely don't want people reading into these blogs too much. I have a lot of things to be happy about, too. :)
(And I seriously am grateful to all of the people that helped us with our car. Very very.)

So why am I making a point of telling my (seriously long) history-of-blogging story? Because Jessica's blog made a huge impact on me, and there's a part of me that's always hoping I touch someone in that way, too. But I didn't know she was normal just like me. And that struggling with something doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. And I'm not perfect. I'm definitely not always happy. Sometimes I still have to get out of bed at 1 am and sit on the couch and cry for a minute, for no particular reason. Just because anxiety is my mountain to climb.

I like to think this means it's my mountain to conquer. I sometimes imagine myself at war with the negative thoughts in my head and Satan who puts them there, and I say to myself, "I must be strong for God to have put me in this battle." Because I know the Lord will never test me with any temptation that's too great for me to handle. And how cool is it to think of yourself as a war hero? I like thinking I was put here for something great, even if it's small.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had an experience like this, and I won't be surprised if someone reading this is going through something similar. Life is a hard thing. Everyone struggles with something. It's hard to admit you're no superwoman, but it's even harder to feel ashamed because you're not. So this is me trying to get up the courage to admit my struggles with hopes that someone benefits from the story. Isn't that the point of our inconveniences? When we say, "Well, at least I got a good story out of it?" What are those stories for? What good are our struggles and successes if we don't use them to help others when they find themselves in a place we've been? Mary Church Terrell coined the phrase "lifting as you climb" to describe her efforts to increase racial and gender equality, but I believe it can apply equally well to the obstacles we face in everyday life, so I'll leave you with her quote.

"And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long. With courage, born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of the responsibility which we shall continue to assume, we look forward to a future large with promise and hope." - Mary Church Terrell

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I feel a little bit like my head is spinning. Remember that job I interviewed for that I really wanted? Yeah, well... I got it! 

Which I'm super thrilled about, but it's also a little weird.

For one thing, I'm just finishing up my 3rd year in college. I never really planned to graduate early; it just sort of happened that way. I mean, I am a little obsessive. Which is probably why I found it absolutely necessary to start searching for a job so early. And I was getting pretty sick of school. I mean, ok, I was getting really sick of school... Letting all the boring required classes pile up until right before you graduate makes for some rough semesters towards the end (thankfully, your GPA is a little less important by then).

But this means I'm graduating in June, and walking in August. Kam told me yesterday that he was trying to imagine what it would be like on my graduation day, and I said, "Woah! I didn't even think about walking. Graduation just feels like a whole bunch of technicalities." Which is true. "Graduation" just sounds like a means to an end. But when I think of walking, I always picture this one photograph I saw a lot growing up of my mom in her cap and gown, and how she looked so happy--I think she was laughing. I remember asking her what she was wearing on her head when I was little, and my mom tried to explain it to me, but "That's just what you where when you graduate" didn't seem like a very convincing argument at the time. Looking back on it now, I realize that picture had a large effect on me growing up. I can remember a few instances when I briefly wondered, "What if I didn't go to college?" "What if I don't graduate?" "What's the worst that would happen?" Of course, I can come up with some pretty crazy "worsts that could happen," but somewhere along that train of thought, I've thought of that picture and realized, "Well, then I wouldn't have that." Whether or not to graduate has never been a serious question for me, partially because of my association with that picture.

And now I'm going to have a picture like that. And someday my children are going to see it and ask me what I'm wearing on my head. Talk about a quarter-life crisis. I'm not even old enough to drink, and I'm making life-defining decisions that will affect my entire posterity?! (Not that there should be any correlation between drinking and your ability to make decisions for future generations...)

A couple weeks ago on campus, I heard a couple of old ladies talking to each other. One was bragging to the other about how her grandson was going to Sweden on his mission. I have to admit, every time I hear about someone traveling, I get a little jealous. To myself, I call it George Bailey Syndrome, and it makes me feel a little bit better about myself. But as I heard this old lady talk about her grandson and all the cool places he'd been in Sweden, I thought, "Do old people just live vicariously through their grandchildren?" Because she sounded just as passionate about going to Sweden, but more proud than jealous, even though I was getting the impression she'd never been there. And I realized, "Well, duh!"

That missionary in Sweden was once a bundle of nothing. Not even a glimmer in his parents' eye, because his parents didn't even exist yet! And this old lady, when she was a young lady, decided to raise a family, and a whole lot of dominoes later, she's got like, this tiny army of human beings that look and think and act at least a little bit like her, because she taught them that way. And I thought, "I would have loved to go on a mission, but I know I was supposed to get married when I did." And I wonder if she hears about all of the ladies leaving on missions now and thinks to herself, "I would have done that if it had been that way when I was young, but I know I did the right thing for me in my time," and she can TELL because she has a kid who had a kid who's doing that right now.

Phew! Anyway... That's all kind of cool/crazy stuff to think about. I guess I'm kind of supposed to be talking about this job, huh? You can tell how crazy I feel.

I'll be working as a business analyst for Mindshare Technologies. It's a small to medium sized company in Murray, UT, which is about 40 minutes away from where we live. It's a customer feedback analysis firm, so basically we take all the answer you give us when you take the survey on the back of your receipt, and we analyze them, and we send them to company managers (Only, it's a lot cooler than it sounds). I've met a lot of upper management already, including the CEO. They are all great, friendly people, and the company culture is very much my style (casual dress, playing sports during lunch, hanging posters around the office). The company has been named one of Utah Business Magazine's best companies to work for in 2011 and 2012. I'll be working on the business implications of Mindshare's text analytics software, which I've been told is kind of like working in research and development (you know, where all the genius, creative people work?). I'm going to start part-time this semester and through Spring term, and then graduate and work full-time. If I remember right, I'm the only female member of my team... They told me I could be the queen of the third floor, and I graciously accepted. (... None of that has anything to do with becoming a grandmother though, so I should probably just calm the heck down.)

I've also read that they used to give a pair of red converse to each of their new employees to encourage them to stand out. I'm not sure if they still do this, because I know they just rebranded from red to green. So I was talking to Kam about this today, and I said,

"I wonder if they'll still give me red shoes."

Kam: "If they don't, I will."

So I've got the job, and the shoes!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Oh, Adventures

I heard this quote I really like about adventures (and it reminded me of the Hobbit, (which I technically think is boring, but) I love the idea of adventures from the Hobbit) and I really loved it:

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

-G. K. Chesterton

So, with that said, I have a story to tell about an adventure that started a week ago. It's a long story, but not quite as long as The Hobbit (thank goodness).

A week ago today, I had an interview with a company that I've been trying to get a foot in the door with for a little while now. Way exciting, right?


So, after my interview (which went well, by the way), I dropped Kam off at the train station so he could go hang out with the guys while I got dinner with the girls and then took the late shift at work. I got a message from Kam around 10 pm asking why I wasn't at work, and I reminded him that I was at work. Turns out he had forgotten that and gotten on the train early to come home. Unfortunately, I couldn't pick him up.

But he took care of that, got a ride home with our friend, Todd, and had a friend in the ward to let him in (I had the house keys, too), and everything was just fine.

So, already an eventful day, right?


But not quite a Hobbit-par adventure yet. Apparently.

I decided (at about 12:00 am) that I wanted to make Kam a big breakfast in the morning. So I tried to sneak out and run to the store real quick. My phone was charging, so I almost asked Kam if I could borrow his just in case, but that would be too conspicuous. So I just opened the door, and Kam asked where I was going, and I said, "I'll be right back." Which he was not happy with, so I said, "I have to go to the store real quick. It's a surprise!"

And off I went to buy bacon and hash browns. At the checkout, I had to recite Kam's phone number so we could get our discount, and I couldn't remember it! It took, I think, three tries. So silly.

So I get in the car, head on my marry way, chug up the hill to our house, and all of a sudden I'm not going anywhere. The car just slows down more and more, so I pull over, turn it off, and try to restart it.


Nothing again.

Nothing again.

No phone.

It's like 12:30 am.

Typically, I'd be pretty freaked out at this point, so it really is a miracle that I managed to say to myself, "Ok, Chloe. You're going to put your emergency lights on, and walk to the gas station and borrow a phone." So that's what I did--or started to do. I only had to walk about 10 steps away from my car for someone to realize I was in trouble and pull over and offer to help. I asked to borrow their phone, called Kam, and he came riding down on his bike.

I'm pretty sure he was hoping I was just making some stupid, "Chloe-doesn't-know-how-to-drive" mistake. I kind of was, too. But I knew I wasn't.

Kam and I tried to start it up another few times, and then another fabulous passer-by (people around here sure seem to like that good samaritan story, or something. Just wait, it gets better.) named Alex offered to help us tow our car over into the nearby parking lot. With still no luck at getting it started, Kam and I walked back home with bacon and hash browns in hand.

The next morning, I would not be stopped. I made the entire package of bacon and half the hash browns, and Kam made 9 eggs. Yeah. It was delicious. And we kind of needed the energy, because right after that a gentleman from our ward named, Sam, offered to help us clean off our battery, jump start our car, and eventually (when none of that worked) tow our car back to our apartment.

There, we proceeded to clean the battery off, and call everyone we know that knows anything about cars and ask for their advice. They were all very helpful, but our car was not easily diagnosed. We did learn a lot about what it wasn't though.

While we were working, two of our friends from the ward stopped by to help. Our friend, Tinoa, suggested we replace the spark plugs, and taught Kam how to do that (and I got to play with his adorable daughter, Evie, for an hour or so. :) ), and Abdul offered to let us borrow his old car, because they had just happened to buy a new car on the same day ours broke down, and they hadn't sold their old car yet. All of this help was miraculous, and much appreciated.

For the next few hours, we (meaning Kam) worked on changing the spark plugs. There was one particularly stubborn plug that just would not come out, so we posted a challenge on the ward facebook page to all of the elders who think they're buff. Shortly after that, a man who had come to cut his cousin's hair, named Andrew, parked in the spot next to us and asked if we needed any tools. He happened to have exactly the tool we needed to get the spark plug out. Another good samaritan miracle.

After all that work, however, the car still wouldn't start. Abdul's wife, Adadi, brought us hot chocolate, dinner, and cupcakes and told us to go inside and get warm, and to give it a break for a little while. We took her advice (and her delicious food) and wound down with a little tv.

But the next day, we knew it still needed to be done. And the sooner, the better. We got in touch with a mechanic in our ward who offered a little service by helping diagnose our car on a Sunday. He could tell exactly what was wrong with it, and we planned to have it towed into a mechanic the next day.

To make a long story a little shorter, Kam got the car towed. The mechanic scared us by saying the valves in the engine might be broken. We prayed that they wouldn't be and told him to fix the timing belt (our culprit) first. He called on Tuesday and the valves weren't broken! Whoohoo! And then, I found out I had a call-back interview! But there was something wrong with a tire on the car, and if I drove all the way to my interview in Murray, again, it might explode (or something. Kam said explode.). So we waited another day to get our car fixed, and continued to borrow Abdul's car for grocery shopping.

A day later, our car was fixed for a grand sum of $wouldn'tyouliketoknow.00, but thankfully, Kam and I have been working hard to keep a budget and a sturdy savings account so we don't have to stress about accidents like this.

And by Wednesday evening, everything was back to normal. Only I had another interview for the very next day (which isn't normal) so we were cutting it pretty close. But we did it!

Well, we did it, but only thanks to all of the fabulous friends and strangers who blessed our lives, and a loving Heavenly Father who sent them, and allowed us this adventure to be reminded of the good in the world. And thanks to my strong and patient husband who worked so hard and long on that car. It truly is an incredible experience to have gone through even a simple trial like this together, because now I can look back on it and know that we did it. Without any bickering, and with a minimal amount of complaining, and with a lot of patience and communication. It takes little successes like that to believe you'll be able to handle the larger trials somewhere down the future. And I do believe that, whole-heartedly.

So, I will leave you with a funny quote related to Kam and my car:

Kam and I getting out of the car at home:

Kam: "Lady, you're a crazy driver."

Me, in a sing song voice: "No, I'm not... You're just picky... I'm just fine..." In a normal voice: "We're here, aren't we? So I guess it worked."

I'm not sure if that was a denial or a confession.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Today I had an interview with a company I would really like to work for. I already wanted to work for them before the interview, but I thought, "If it doesn't work out. That's alright. Maybe it's not the right place for me." But after coming out of that interview, I was actually more nervous than when I went in because I just loved the culture and the work I would be doing, and I actually enjoyed my interview.

It was a long drive back, so I was thinking about all of these things and how I really hope I get a second interview, and suddenly a strange feeling of reality hit me. I'm not sure what caused it, but I could just see myself a year or so from now looking back on that moment--me driving down the highway unsure of what would happen. And I thought, "I'm either going to look back on this fondly, and think, 'That was the beginning, and I had no idea I would actually end up working with them and doing all these great things. That was the moment it started, and I first thought this might actually happen.' or I'm going to look back and think, "I was so worried about getting that job, and I had no idea I would be doing this instead. It was so silly for me to have worried, since it's all worked out now.'" I would love to think either of those things a year from now. In fact, I'm not even sure which I would prefer. In the reality is, I probably will think one of those things a year from now when something reminds me, "Oh, this is just like that time you were worried about getting that job you really wanted, and look what came out of that." Because the chances that my entire life depends on whether or not I get that job are slim to none. And I would bet a lot of candy bars that the next year doesn't depend on that specific job either.

Of course, if I'd never had another experience dealing with the unknown, it wouldn't be so easy to dismiss my worries. Luckily, I have. One year, one month, and one week ago I went on a date with an amazing man, and I thought to myself, "I really enjoyed that date. I don't want to pass up an opportunity with this guy. I'm afraid to admit that I hope this turns into something, but I do. I hope he likes me." It took a lot of self-control to focus on "wait-and-see." But it's been a year, and now I look back on those thoughts sentimentally and say to myself, "I had no idea." Isn't that cool? I had no idea! And here I am, married to that impressive first date. Wow. What an awesome surprise.

He's not the first guy I hoped liked me. I'm pretty sure that guy was someone back in elementary school. But now I look back on each of those moments when I wondered, "Does he like me? Is he going to ask me out? What's going to happen?" And I know I didn't miss out. In fact, those moments just make me appreciate what I have even more. So why would it be different the next time I don't know what's going to happen?

I know my Heavenly Father has a plan for me, and that His plan makes me happy. I'm glad He doesn't always do what I ask. He knows a lot better. I know He loves me, and I love Him. And I'm glad He likes surprises, because I like them, too. How boring this would all be without them.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pin Busters

This is a total nerd out blog. Just putting that out there right away.
Remember this show? I was thinking about it today as I thought about a lot of pins and articles that have left me wondering, "Do we really know anything?" For example:

Is Borax dangerous or not?

Is melatonin really a safe and natural way to help children sleep?

So I thought, since I work at a library, and I'm pretty good at researching things, I'd take the liberty of debunking a few of these myths myself. I'll analyze it... with science! And that will keep me busy when I'm bored at the library.

So without further ado, I introduce: Pin Busters

Today I chose to focus on Melatonin. Melatonin is something I've been interested in for a while. Many consider it a natural and safe way to get to sleep more quickly and to stay asleep. It's a hormone the body creates naturally, but you can also get supplements that come in a pill, or I've even heard of chewables. This is a huge topic to try to debunk every myth about, so I really just want to narrow in on one potential myth: Melatonin is a safe solution for getting children to sleep.

The main problem with melatonin supplements is that very little is known about them. In the US, dietary supplements are under very little regulation by the FDA. It is the manufacturer's responsibility to ensure the safety of their products, and the accuracy of their labels. Some melatonin labels include phrases like, "Keep out of reach of children." or "Not for use by persons under the age of 18." But there is quite a bit of variation, which can be confusing. (You can find a list of labels here.) That's mainly because safety is very subjective when there is little research to support it. The FDA suggests consulting a physician before using dietary supplements in general, especially in certain circumstances including pregnancy, and chronic health conditions. Under this same recommendation, the FDA suggests consulting with a doctor or pharmacist before giving any supplement to your child, including common vitamins.

According to Medline Plus, melatonin is "POSSIBLY UNSAFE" in children and in pregnancy. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the pineal gland. The pineal gland secretes many hormones, including those that initiate the puberty process. For this reason, Magill's Medical Guide gives the same advice, "It should not be used by children, who already produce high levels of melatonin. It should not be used by pregnant women because its effect on the fetus is unknown." The concept behind this is that it could potentially harm children because they are still in the developmental stages and receive a lot of hormones from the pineal gland. The Mayo Clinic mentions that reports have claimed changes in levels of many hormones ("luteinizing hormone, progesterone, estradiol, thyroid hormone (T4 and T3), growth hormone, prolactin, cortisol, oxytocin, and vasopressin") as an effect of using melatonin supplements. This seems to suggest a possible risk for children because of potential changes in their developmental hormones, but there are no studies so far that explicitly support or refute this theory. A few studies have been performed on children in very small dosages. Of the studies I could find, the trend shows that melatonin is effective as a sleep aid, and showed minimal to no side effects. Most acknowledge that the study does not address possible long-term effects.

I did manage to find a few exceptions. This article focused specifically on the differences between children who had been administered melatonin for a long-term period (the average was about 3 years), and children of the same age group who had not used melatonin. The conclusion showed no adverse differences between the two groups. A similar study tested children with ADHD and chronic sleep onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) for adverse effects after extended melatonin treatment (average: 3.7 years). This study found no severe or life-threatening effects, but did mention a strong tendency for children to relapse back to taking melatonin if they tried to discontinue treatment (which seems to imply either a dependency, or that melatonin is merely a treatment, not a cure).

The Mayo Clinic sums up the findings (or lack thereof) of much research very well, "There is limited study of melatonin supplements in children, and its safety is not established."

So what's my conclusion?

Sort of. Frankly, we can't really know, definitively, what all of the effects of melatonin are until more research has been conducted. The melatonin craze is so recent that there simply isn't much out there in the way of melatonin-using children who grew up and are now healthy adults.

My personal opinion? I wouldn't risk it. But maybe if I had kids who were really struggling with sleeping I would feel differently. Unfortunately, there's no clear cut answer. But at least now I know it's not a clear cut answer and I can weigh the facts when some sort of tag-line explanation about the gifts or curses of melatonin presents itself and I have to make a decision.

So I hope I didn't bore everyone to death! Let me know if I did, or if you thought this was interesting, or if you have any myths you'd like me to fact check for you. And I will continue to cruise away my hours working at the library!