My Favorite Love Story

Found this in my drafts – thought I had published it back in February. My apologies if I already did but just don’t see it.

I was having lunch with some friends the other day and we got onto the topic of being single –somehow–can’t remember what started it because all of us are married. But I brought up something that happened to me a week or so ago. A woman at church turned to me and said something about not realizing how..old I was, or the story of Matt and I or something because she kind of interrupted herself and said she didn’t know the whole story and then somehow she got my age out of me (she’s tricky like that). We’re only four years apart and yet I have preschoolers and her oldest is 13. She said something about how old she was when she had her oldest and I said, “that’s how old I was when I got my first boyfriend.” Then she asked me something along the lines of, “what took you so long?” But in a nicer way that didn’t offend me. At the time I just said, “I was fat and socially awkward” but I keep thinking about that because I know that’s not the reason it took me so long.

Here’s the thing about being single that (some) people who were married young or married their first boyfriend/girlfriend don’t seem to quite understand, being single is not a choice we make. Here’s another thing, finding a spouse isn’t the same as comparison shopping for shoes, we don’t just browse and make a decision to buy. Rather, it’s trying to find a shoe that fits and all the stores seem to be out of our size for the moment. So what I wish I had been quick enough to say to this woman is: it’s not something I could control, but the Lord knew what he was doing and put people in my path when I needed them, for the time I needed them and when my husband and I FINALLY got together, we were both the people we needed to be.

So while at lunch I decided to tell the long, sometimes complicated story of how Matt and I got together. It really is my favorite love story, and maybe that’s just because I get to live the results of it, but it is what it is.

Flashback with me–way back to when I was 20 years old. My first true memory of being in love with Matt, I honestly can’t remember him before this memory but I must have known him because I already had a crush on him at this point. I was at church and my sister was talking to him and I was awkwardly lurking, watching but unable to speak because I only had one chance to wow him with my wit and the pressure was too much.

He worked at a pool store and there was an opening for a job there. In fact-there would only be two employees on that shift…Matt and the new person. I had no interest in pools, but I knew if only I started to work there, he would get to know me and would fall deeply in love with me, we’d get married and have kids and live happily ever after.

But that job didn’t feel right, and at 20 I didn’t recognize it as the spirit telling me it wasn’t right but in hindsight I know it now. But at the time I went with a different job and my childhood best friend (another Jessica) took the job at the pool store. She started dating him! I went back out to school in the fall and they got engaged!! And a few days after Christmas they got married! She took over my life plan! If only I had taken that job I would have been marrying him!

And it’s not like they got married and I could just forget about it, his brother was married to my sister so I saw them at family events (baby blessings, birthdays, etc) and it was a little awkward.

Skip forward a few years, I graduate college, move back to Richmond, eventually get my first boyfriend, we thought we were going to get married (obviously not) and then I “played the field” for a while. Meantime, Matt and his first Jessica get divorced and he gets set up with people (not me for some reason).

My sister would invite me over for dinner or I’d just drop by to hang out and I would get so excited when I pulled up and saw Matt’s car. At first it was like I was twenty years old and couldn’t talk to him. I don’t remember this but Matt told me that once we were eating dinner and my bil suggested Matt and I go out and I apparently objected…vehemently. I told him it was probably because I liked him and was sure he didn’t like me so I wanted to avoid the moment of him acting awkward because he wasn’t interested. We eventually developed a wonderful frienemy relationship, trying to get the newest niece to say our name first.

And in between all of that, I would be dating someone or he was dating someone. I even tried to set him up with my roommate at some point because I figured he didn’t like me like that, but I wanted him to find happiness.

Finally, my brother-in-law orchestrated a plot involving identity theft (he texted Matt from my sister’s phone) and then a little pushing (he told me just to text Matt and ask him out). Finally I texted him and asked him to “hang out” (again I was too nervous if he rejected if I straight up asked him out). But we finally went out on our first date, ten years after my scheme to get him to fall in love with me.

My brother-in-law told me not to let Matt do anything “ordinary”, so I figured we’d check out Jumpology, which if you don’t know, is a building full of trampolines. I’m sure it’s fun but when we walked in you can see the main room and there were a million kids and one very depressed looking adult bouncing on the trampolines. So we left and I suggested laser tag – I know that’s a good time. We had a lot of fun and I kicked his butt the first game. He kept asking how I was doing so well…I have no clue. I shot at anything I thought was him. Then we talked for about thirty minutes in his car before he asked if I was hungry. So we went to a late dinner where I talked a bunch and tried to embarrass him at one point. At the end of the date he pulled into my driveway, we got my purse out of the trunk (for safe keeping – laser tag was in a shady part of town) and I panicked. Instead of the customary first date hug I’d gotten used to…I gave him a high five by the car and went inside.

Shockingly, he wanted a second date. I’ve decided that he was nervous because he was not getting any of my jokes or sarcastic remarks. He kept saying, “really?” After I said something ridiculous and I began to wonder if we’d be a good fit or not.

A day or two after our second date, he sent me a text (a series of texts actually) basically telling me that he really liked me and kept thinking about me and wanted to go out with me again. I had the strangest mix of, “omw that’s adorable and I love it!” And “omw this is getting serious and I don’t know if I’m ready”. (Note: omw = oh my word).

I agreed to another date though and the day of our third date I went to the temple (already planned- it wasn’t a special trip). I prayed a lot to know what to do: date Matt, don’t date Matt. And I clearly heard, “move forward with Matt”. Not “date” but “move forward with”.

I wasn’t nervous after that. We stayed in for our third date and ordered pizza and watched The Incredibles. Except that we talked through the whole movie, stopping at our favorite parts of the movie to watch and then kept talking.

That was one of my favorite things while dating and now, almost five years of marriage. We talk all the time, about anything that interests us. And I eventually told him my pool store plan to snag him ten years earlier. And he told me he had liked me back then too (meaning when I was twenty but also when we were developing our frienemyship) but he thought I didn’t like him because I never talked to him.

And we talked about what it might have been like if that had worked. We agreed that if we had gotten together ten years earlier we may not have worked so well because in ten years we both grew and learned so much about ourselves and relationships. We appreciated each other so much more for the time and experiences of those ten years.

That’s a long way to get to the point that it comes down to the Lord’s timing and he knows what we need before we are ready to find the right person for us. Because once I got that answer about Matt things moved pretty quickly. We were (unofficially) engaged by the end of the month and married 8 months later and I have never once doubted he was the right person for me. It was like things clicked when we started dating and I realized why none of the other relationships had worked. Which is something that’s very difficult to understand when you’re in the wake of a breakup or you’re treading water (sorry, started with a water analogy and had to keep going with it) wondering if “he’ll ever come” (Micheal McLean song).

I don’t regret anything and I don’t ask myself, “what took so long?” Because I know it happened when the time was right and with the right person.

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Fall into this update – see what I did there?

A lot has happened since my last post. At the beginning of October, I was released from my calling with the Young Women. For those of you unfamiliar with how callings work at my church, everything is volunteer. We receive a call from a member of the bishopric and then we serve for a number a years and then we are released. The Bishopric prays about who should fill what callings. A relief society president could become a primary teacher – it’s all based on inspiration and revelation.

I served with the young women for three and half years. We knew the release was coming, just not exactly the when. I got a heads up two weeks before and I didn’t take it well – LOTS of crying. But it was nice knowing in advance so I could just enjoy the time I had left with the girls. This basically sums up my feelings.

The Sunday I was released I was the one teaching- I gave a lesson of Gratitude…which I thought fitting, since I was sad but also very grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know the girls and be a part of their lives.

The next Sunday, I was asked to teach Relief Society the following week. I was beyond stressed. When I first left singles ward I thought being a relief society teacher would be a pretty sweet calling. But after years with the youth I was nervous about teaching adults again. I didn’t have much of an outline, just taught from a conference talk – no other guideline. It was awful! I asked a question and got absolutely NO response. I moved on and I was most of the way done with what I had prepared with 20-25 minutes left!! Luckily I asked a question that seemed to get people talking (or they finally took pity on me) and we only ended a few minutes early. The next week I got a calling to be a Relief Society teacher the second and fourth Sundays…so there’s that. They are changing the curriculum in January to be more the way the youth program is so I guess they thought I’d be a good fit since I already have experience with that. Oh and the YW President was called as the 1st counselor and so she’s still my “boss”- which helps me be more comfortable right off the bat.

Also at the beginning of October, my oldest nephew came for a weeklong visit, followed by a one day visit from his parents. So I was spending a lot of time in the West End with my family there.

Stormy/Nicky (Its easier just to use their real names) started “preschool”. It’s one day a week and they basically just play. But social skills are learning too and I already see a big improvement. Every couple of weeks I get to help out in the classroom and that’s more fun than I thought it would be.

Gertie/Izzy will be 6 months old next week! I can’t believe how fast time has gone. She’s at a really fun stage. Super cute, smiles all the time, and so curious about everything! She reaches for objects and is rolling over. We’ll be starting solids in the next week or so.

Chewy/Matt and I are in a weight loss competition with each other. Not really, but we are both losing weight and I’m very competitive. At first I wasn’t because I had so much extra, you know, having just had a baby. But over the last month or so I’ve really closed the gap. I still weigh more than my husband…but I’m only a few pounds away from him and my pre pregnancy weight.

Let’s see- what else. I’m still writing whenever I can and meeting with my writing group. I still take family photos and continue to work on my photography skills. Oh – and I’m making Nicky a new quiet book. We’re trying to be better about keeping him in the chapel during sacrament meeting – so I thought making a new quiet book might make it fun/easier. I’ll take pics when I’m done. So far it’s not too bad, as long as I don’t compare my work with my Pinterest inspirations of course.

That’s it for now. Here are some photos for making it all the way to the end!

Got milk?

I’m tall.  It’s taken me many, many years to get comfortable with being tall.  Short women seem to have it easy; they can find pants that are long enough, they can find cute shoes in their size, most men seem tall to them, etc. etc.

But there are times when being tall has it’s advantages and I’m not going to lie, most of them happen in the grocery store.  From the time I was a teen, I’ve learned to recognize that relieved look a shorter person would have when I started down an aisle.  As soon as I was close enough they’d ask me to get an item from the top shelf for them.  Or one close to the top but near the back of the shelf.

It’s been a while though, since I’ve used my height and arms for the good of myself or another in the grocery store.  So it was nice today, when I went shopping and came upon the milk.  All the milks I could see had an expiration date that wouldn’t get them through to the next time I needed to go to the store.  I almost decided to go without milk but then I noticed a rack of milk further back in the refrigerator.  If I stepped in just slightly, I would be able to reach a milk on the top shelf of that second rack.  So I did it! I got a milk with an expiration date that will get me through almost two weeks! I put the milk in my cart, feeling pretty good about my amazonian arms when I noticed an older gentlemen looking at me, it was clear he had just witnessed what I had done.  He asked if the date was better on those and I confirmed they were.  Then he asked if I would get him one too.  No problem!  I got him one and then we talked briefly about why this matters (neither of us use a lot of milk so it’s nice to have it last as long as possible).  I could tell he was awed by my ability and maybe by my refusal to accept the expiration date offered me.

This is my life now – changing diapers, medicating a cat, chasing a toddler, and fighting against the grocery man and his expiration dates…it’s a pretty good life.

 

Back in the Saddle

Wow – I’ve really dropped off the face of the earth, haven’t I?  So I guess the best way to explain my absence is with this picture:

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I’m not saying this excuses me – but, well, it kind of does.  First the exhaustion set in, then the nausea.  I’m starting to feel better and I haven’t thrown up in 4 days which is my new record.  So I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m over that part.

In October I attended a writers conference here in RVA.  It was great.  I have to say though, not every panel came through as well as I had hoped, but that happens because it’s a panel of authors and sometimes they get sidetracked or they don’t completely understand their topic so they just modify it.  There was one panel where one panelist kind of took over and she didn’t stay on topic, she said (and even stated that’s what she was doing) whatever came into her mind. I didn’t like that panel at all.  But other than that it was good as usual.  I was able to meet with an experienced author to go over the first page of my story.  I was semi-nervous as I was sharing my writing with a complete stranger, but when a woman in my writing group found out I had signed up for that she called me brave (she knows the guy I was going to meet with).  That’s when I became really nervous.  I tried to calm down and when I met with him I was ready for the worst.  But he was actually really nice, had great advice, and complimented my writing.  I told that to the other woman in my writing group and she told me that I should feel very good about that because this man was known for his bluntness and if he didn’t like my writing he wouldn’t have hesitated to tell me so – or to even tell me that maybe I shouldn’t even be writing.  So I felt pretty good the rest of the conference.

That being said – I haven’t written anything since.  Book, blog or otherwise.  So I’m trying to get back in to it.  I want to write at least 100 words a day in my story – 1) because that was recommended at the writers conference to help develop the habit and keep moving forward and 2) 100 words seems doable and not overwhelming.

Also, my friend, Ashley has asked me to do a guest post at her blog about life as a single, LDS woman.  Granted I’m not single anymore, I have spent more of my adult life single.  I have no idea what to say or how it will turn out, but I figure if I started to write (blog and book) then I’d be better able to start writing something about those days as a single lass.

In the rest of my world – Stormy is doing well.  He is so fast and crazy and I swear he undoes everything I do – BUT he is learning to help out too.  I’ve got him throwing away his own diapers and cleaning up most of his own messes.  It’s so fun to watch him learn and grow and develop.  He’s more affectionate now and I like to tell myself it’s because I’m his best friend.  When you think about it – I’m almost everywhere he goes, I play with him the most, and I give him all the good food when no one’s watching. We gave him his first haircut – in two parts because apparently it’s pretty traumatic.  So for about twelve hours he was half done, but – with the exception of a wisp here and there,  I think he looks pretty good now.

I’m not really sure what else to update on so I’ll leave you with some more recent pictures and hopefully I’ll be writing again before too long.  Also – I’ll post a link when I finally get that guest blog over to Ashley.

 

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Awkward is my middle name 

I was driving along today and a random thought entered my mind as they are wont to do. It was a memory from a few months ago. Sister Missionaries from church, but a different ward) came by my house looking for people who spoke Spanish. They didn’t know I was a member of the church so I told them and then politely told them I didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood (at all, much less those who speak Spanish). It was hot outside so I offered them water and they asked if I had bottles, which I didn’t. After telling them so there was a long and awkward silence.  I felt bad because they didn’t want my water if it wasn’t in a bottle. They finally said goodbye and went on their way. I’ve thought about this interaction before and how bad I felt and because of them I keep bottled water in my fridge- just in case. However, today a thought occurred to me…that silence might have been where they were still hoping did water, while I assumed they didn’t want any of it wasn’t in a bottle. The awkward pause wasn’t them, it was me. 

Which got me thinking about another awkward situation many moons ago. I was at the movie theater with two friends. A group of teenage boys had taken the seats right next to us, I was the one right next to them. 

If you’ve ever been to a movie theater you know it gets dark. So we’re watching the movie and suddenly a twisler comes into view from my left where the boys are sitting. The twizzler hoovers in front of me until I finally reach my hand up and take it. I don’t remember if I said thank you or not but I don’t like twizzlers so I passed it down the line on my right. 

Several minutes pass and lo and behold another twizzler comes into view. I don’t know what to do, I already accepted the first so I feel I should just take another. This time I’m pretty sure I said thank you as I took it and passed it down again. 

After the movie I kind of avoided eye contact because I felt the whole encounter weird but they just got up and left. 

My friends asked what the deal with the twizzlers was and so I explained the story as you’ve just read it. As I was telling the story the thought occurred to me…what if they weren’t handing me a twizzler? What if the kid just had his arm on the armrest and the twizzler just got of hung in front of me. When I took it he thought how weird that was and so maybe the second one was on purpose to see if I would take it. Which I did. So while I was telling the story of this guy sharing his twizzlers he was telling the story of the awkward girl sitting next to him taking his food. 

Apparently it’s only after an awkward situation that I think maybe I’m the reason it was awkward. 

In West Philadelphia…

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA.  I find it’s not so easy to get on the computer and type up a blog post when you have a 14 month old.  I can’t leave him unsupervised too long as he has now tried to eat soap, took a bite out of deodorant and pulls open the oven (either on or off, baby don’t care).  And if he’s not busy finding reasons for me to call poison control, he’s at the baby gate (which blocks him from the computer/kitty liter box room begging to come in and destroy everything…and maybe taste some cat liter).  Anyway – the beastie is slumbering so I thought I’d take the chance to catch up a little on the blog.

Last week, Stormy and I were able to travel up to Philadelphia Pennsylvania with the young women at church for the temple open house up there.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the words I just typed – in our church we have meeting houses where we get together on Sundays and during the week for activities and then we have temples.  There are far less temples than meeting houses and the temple is far more sacred.  Near us, we have the D.C. Temple (where Chewy and I were married) and the Raleigh Temple and now the Philadelphia Temple.  So you can see there aren’t as many.  When a temple is first built they have an open house where anyone (member of our church or not) can go and get a tour.  Then they dedicate the temple and once the temple is dedicated it’s closed to the public.  Only members of our church who have a recommend can enter.

The PA temple will be dedicated sometime in September so until then, the public is welcome to go and tour.

Ok – with that out of the way, here’s our trip.  The ride up went extremely well.  We got there in four-five hours (we stopped for lunch).  Stormy did really well.  I had two of the young women with me and one sitting in the back keeping him entertained.  We easily found the parking deck we wanted (I get anxious about city driving – mostly because of the parking situation in every city known to man).  We met up with another young woman who recently moved from our ward to PA.  It was great to see her and her mom again.  Then we went exploring.

The heat index was at about 1,000 degrees that day and I had a backpack and a baby.  Sweat literally dripped from me from the moment we we walked ten feet until ten minutes after we found air condition.  How did people survive in the days before air conditioning?



We first went to the Liberty Bell.  I have to say, I expected some elevation, a flight of stairs or an elevator ride…I don’t know why I thought this.  It’s ground floor at the end of a hallway.  There were lots of people but it wasn’t too crowded.  We didn’t spend long there, probably because we didn’t want to lose any of the girls.  So we took a picture and headed to Independence Hall.

 


For whatever reason we didn’t actually go to Independence Hall – we just took a picture.  It started to remind me of my D.C. trip with my sisters a few years back where I was stuck driving and we drove by things taking pictures…and I hated it.  Except I didn’t hate this, I just wanted to get inside.  I was giving Stormy water like crazy because I was so worried he would dry out.

We made our way to a visitor center with a gift shop and information but most importantly, a water fountain and air conditioning.

They had a moving dinosaur 


We remained there until it was time to go to dinner.

The walk through the city wasn’t so bad, except that we had a hoard of teenage girls from Mechanicsville, VA-many of which had probably never been in a city before.  They were distracted by shiny things, boys, homeless people mumbling.  It was a challenge to keep them all moving along and not leaving any behind when they saw a window of shiny jewelry or a small bird in the middle of the road (no joke – had to tell her to stay on the sidewalk).

We did dinner at Chipotle where I ordered a cheese quasadilla and bowl with rice, chicken, cheese, beans, etc.  The funny thing is – the employees probably though the qausadilla was for Stormy and the adult sized bowl was for me…not so.  Stormy ate most of it, he really seemed to enjoy the mixture of the food.  I’m so glad he eats more adult like than I do.

read that closely…

Then we made our way to the Temple for our scheduled tour.  We just barely made it in time to sit down and wait…I guess the group waiting was too big so they split us.  It was nice to be sitting in a comfy seat with AC, however Stormy was tired, it was his bedtime and he didn’t want to sit still.  The open house was pretty awesome.  I’ve been to one before in Utah (because they have a new temple about every six months – sarcasm…but I’m sure it’s close to that), but the young women hadn’t been to one before and the chances of being able to go to another on the east coast are pretty slim.  That’s why we decided to do this, that and we had a place for all the girls to spend the night for free (see above – YW and her family moved recently).  We first were taken to a room and shown a video which explains what happens in a temple, the different things done there such as baptisms, marriages, etc.  One thing I thought interesting was the emphasis on the marriages being between a man and a woman – which makes sense since the civil definition of marriage has been expanded.  It also stood out because there was totally a gay couple going through the tour with us – I get self conscious about that stuff because I don’t want to offend, but at the same time, it doesn’t change God’s law.  I think I may have written before (or it’s in a draft somewhere) about how hard it can be to stand up for what I know is true when it’s telling someone they shouldn’t be with the person they love.  But I know God’s stand on it and must defend it.  Neither here nor there, just saying it stood out to me because of them.  One of the men had really good questions (about temples in general) and I was curious to hear what he would ask next.  He wasn’t confrontational or anything, and I really liked that about him because it was obvious he didn’t agree with some of the things said, but he didn’t bring those things up, like he understood there wasn’t a point in debating those things.

He was totally tired – and maybe a little stuffy

I’m digressing.  The temple was beautiful…it had a LOT of stairs though, my legs were burning by the end (didn’t help that I was still carrying a backpack and baby).  By the end though I had to get going, Stormy was fading.  I had booked a hotel room for the two of us since I figured a house full of teenage girls wouldn’t offer much chance to sleep.  So we took some pics and headed our own way.

When we got to the hotel there was a woman in front of us checking in.  I had Stormy and he had his teddy bear and we were waiting to be assisted.  The woman turned and stared at us…like the kind of stare where you refuse to make eye contact but you can feel it and kind of see it our the corner of your eye and it’s almost as though she wanted to say something.  You know that kind of stare?  I hate those kind of stares.  Another employee came to the counter to help me check in.  The woman was staring again.  At one point she mentioned she had a cat with her – so she shall now be referred to as the creepy cat lady.

We got our room key and I went out to the car to grab our stuff, leaving creepy cat lady at the desk.  I walked past her and her traveling companion in the parking lot on the way back.  The hallway and elevator were not air conditioned – in case you were wondering.  So I was back to dripping with sweat.  We got into our room and I had brought a pack ‘n’ play but was considering leaving it in the car as we had a king sized bed.  Certainly you can share a bed that size with a toddler.  I put Stormy on the bed, got him in his pjs and had him ready for bed but he just whimpered on the bed, unsure what to do.  So I grabbed him and headed back down to the car to get the pack ‘n’ play.  When we got back to our room I saw Creepy Cat Lady a few doors down, going in to her room.  I smiled and then turned my attention to everything else in the hallway.  I saw her out the corner of my eye…staring…I got us in our room and deadbolted the door.  I locked every feasible lock there was.  Add to my list of fears – people who stare.

While I was struggling with the pack ‘n’ play someone tried to open our door!  My thought of course, was the Creepy Cat Lady.  Needless to say it took me a while to calm down.  I mean, my child is adorable, you know this.  As Chewy puts it, he’s a buttery concoction, so we have to be careful no one steals him.  I wouldn’t put it past the cat lady to try and take him to feed her cat.

I finally got his bed set up, but it was totally uncomfortable, so I put a spare blanket down..then I put to pillows underneath.  He lay down and drifted off.  I went to take a shower and then I heard him crying.  I ran into the room and found that the pillows didn’t cover the whole pack ‘n’ play and he had rolled into the gap they left.  So I grabbed two rolled up towels from the bathroom and put those in the gap.  He finally fell asleep – I finally got a shower.

The bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever laid down in…but I didn’t get a lot of sleep.  Stormy kept waking up in the night, probably terrified that teh Creepy Cat Lady had entered the room.  He finally fell asleep in the bed with me (meaning I didn’t sleep well because it turns out you can’t share any sized bed with a toddler).  I woke up early and sat in the bathroom watching Netflix on my phone until it was time to wake up.

We ate breakfast at the hotel (which is never as good as you hope it will be) and he got lots of strangers talking to him.  Then we rushed off to meet up with the girls and head home.  I had a different girl ride back with me.  The drive back was miserable, I won’t even regale you with the stories, needless to say, what should have been 4-5 hours turned into 9.  His dancing was the only gem of the day.

 

Our car selfie – the phone is for GPS


Other than that – Stormy was miserable and as soon as we dropped our girl off at her house, he threw up.  I worried it was heat stroke but then he was all snotty the next day, and the next, and then I had a sore throat and my other symptoms followed.  So the past week Stormy and I have been quarantined at home.

 

Be positive

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, not always novels – I started with short stories when I was a still in elementary school which morphed into poetry in middle and high school (and a little in college). It’s was terrible, I’m a terrible poet and yet I still have a binder with all of it in there because I guess subconsciously I can’t bear to destroy the evidence of how far I’ve come. 

I stopped writing for a while in college because of something someone said to me in a creative writing class. I don’t curse and so I don’t really see the need in my writing. This guy in my group said my fight was unrealistic because my married couple weren’t swearing at each other (he informed me that he and his wife did when they fought).  He then said that if I wasn’t willing to write honestly in that way then maybe I shouldn’t be writing. 

I was young and actually believed this guy. So I gave it up.  I thought about (and still think about) that often, was he right? Of course the answer is NO. Yes, my writing was young, because I was young. I hadn’t had much experience in life, I hadn’t kissed anyone or slapped someone who deserved it or made a man cry (check, check, check several times now). But I’ve now been in fights and I didn’t swear. Said things I regret, yes, but I never felt I had to swear to get my point across. That’s honesty. 

My point is, never tell someone they shouldn’t be doing something because they don’t do it like you.  

I went to the James River Writers Conference last year and one of the speakers (I believe it was Hugh Howey) said that as writers we are not in competition with each other. Our goal is  to write something people want to read and that doesn’t mean we have to beat out someone else to do it. In fact, each success means that people will want to read more, not less. Something I’ve realized about the writing community at large (or at least in RVA) is that they are so supportive of each other, they know rejection and they know perseverance and they see each other as equals on a long and difficult journey.  When I share with my writing group they don’t tell me I don’t have what it takes because I don’t write the way they do, we appreciate each other’s style and voice and we help lift each other up, we help make each other better. Because we don’t write for the profession, the fame, the money (anyone who writes is laughing at that) we write for the love of writing and when you meet others who love the same thing as you, why wouldn’t you encourage them?