Pick A Little, Talk A Little

Oh marriage.  What a difficult thing you can be sometimes.  Seth and I are very opposite in many ways.  People often say to us, "You really compliment each other beautifully!"  You know what they say about opposites attract. This is true but it also makes things quite hard.  

He has ADD which means he is often all over the place.  He starts one thing and gets easily distracted by something else.  He loses track of time.  He hates schedule, routine and traditions.  I, on the other hand, am a creature of habit.  I love making lists.  I stay on task. I love planning ahead. I love traditions.  I'm not spontaneous.  The difference that has been most apparent lately is "talking".  

I come from a family that aren't big talkers.  I mean, we are social, we talk, we have friends, etc. But we are not the family who sits down with each other and really digs deep into issues.  We surface talk much of the time.  Family dinners with my family are pretty mellow.  It's not rare to see people sitting on couches and checking out their phones.  We are close but we aren't always completely up-front with each other.  We beat around the bush at times.  

I remember the first time I went to a Youkstetter gathering. I was shocked at how loud and open his family was.  I actually told Seth after we left, "Your family argues a lot!" and he looked at me like I was crazy.  "We don't argue! We were just talking."  Things are out on the table at a Youkstetter gathering.  They get loud, they talk over each other in order to get their point across.  They interrupt and they say exactly what they are thinking.  It was quite shocking initially.  Yet, the way they communicate grew on me. 

Every summer we go on a family vacation with the Youkstetter family.  Part of that vacation is an "expression session."  I admit, we all poked fun at Patty and David for wanting to implement this tradition...it's basically a "testimony meeting" (for you Mormon readers).  Or, a time when we gather in a circle and everyone gets a chance to talk.  We have a timer and the topic is yours.  Interestingly enough it's a time when people can discuss their fears, their hopes, their love for their family, etc.  The best part is that no one can respond.  Once your time is up, the next person talks.  And a really beautiful thing happens: we learn from each other, we cry together, we laugh together and we create a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other.  

It's a really beautiful and wonderful thing that I look forward to.  I have found myself wishing that my family would do the same thing.  We have so much to learn from each other.  

Well, back to the marriage issues.  Seth is a huge talker.  If he's stressed, he wants to talk about it.  If he's upset with me, he'll tell me about it.  He's brutally honest (a whole other blog topic).  If he is having a hard time with a decision, he wants to talk about it.  Had a rough day at work?  Lets talk about it.  Starts freaking out about us, or Millie -  better talk it through.  He is this way because he comes from a big family of talkers.  If someone is struggling they hash through it.  They get loud, they sometimes say mean things to each other.  Yet they know where they all stand.  

I admit, I kind of hate this.  I am an open person (duh - look at this blog).  My coworkers and friends know a lot about me.  Yet, when it comes to confrontation, or issues - no thanks.  When I'm stressed, I want to take a nap.  When I've had a bad day at work - leave me the hell alone and let me read.  If Seth is driving me crazy- nah, I'll just hold onto it and resent the hell out of him. 

Can you see where this becomes problematic?

I had a harsh reality smack me in the face last fall. I was at my parent's house going through my boxes of storage stuff.  I ran across my "Jason box". Mission letters, gifts, wedding album, our anniversary box, etc.  I made the mistake of going through some of the stuff.  Soon I was crying.  I wasn't crying because I was upset that we weren't together. I was crying because I just felt so bad that we had to go through that.  I cried because of how poorly I handled our marriage and our divorce. I read a letter he wrote me right before the divorce was final.  Basically it was his goodbye letter.  I haven't read it for 10 years or so.  It was incredibly painful to read.  It was painful because it became very clear that I allowed Jason to take the fall for our failed marriage. And he willingly did and gracefully so. I was young and I was stupid and I didn't want to pin any blame on myself. His letter spelled out his issues with me.  Issues that I shoved under the rug and forgot about. I didn't want to face them. What was the most heart-wrenching was seeing that many of the issues Jason had with me - Seth has with me now.  I haven't changed in many ways.  I'm still closed off. I still have too high of expectations, etc.  And frankly it made me very sad.  

That's the thing about marriage.  Changing partners doesn't always solve everything because the problems often lie within ourselves.  Marriage challenges every part of yourself and the only way to truly make it as a couple, is to see yourself clearly and to be honest with yourself. Trust me, this isn't easy.  

I need to learn to talk more, but more importantly I need to learn to listen to Seth. I am a terrible listener. I'm impatient, I judge, I take things personally.  If Seth can't talk to me, who can he talk to? I don't want to push him away.  I want him to be able to come to me. I am vowing to work on it.  Because he deserves it. We deserve it.  

I'm going to implement a daily expression session. A time where we each get 10 minutes to talk about whatever we want - without interruption.  Seth will hate that I have to "schedule" a time to listen but I know I am not capable of doing it well without a bit of structure. I think we can each learn a lot about each other, about our hopes and fears and frustrations.  I hope this will help bridge a bit of the gap we feel now.  

Oh marriage.  Why are you so stinking hard?  

I sure love him though.  Handsome bloke.


If I Could Turn Back Time

A movie came out recently called "About Time."

It didn't get much buzz but it's a movie that really struck me. It's an incredibly sweet movie.  It's a time travel movie.  The characters can only travel back and relive moments from their own lives.  It got me thinking about times in my life that I wish I could go back and relive.  Interestingly enough they aren't the big grand moments.  They are smaller moments that I wish I could go back to over and over again.  I wish I had pictures for all of them.

I would relive a snowy day as a kid.  Playing outside with my brother Eric for hours and then coming inside when mom would have hot chocolate for us.  We'd take of our wet snow clothes, grab blankets and run and snuggle on "the heat the heat the heat the heat!"

Moments with my brother Chris when he would turn on all of the "cool lights' in his bedroom.  We'd listen to music and he would throw me over and over onto his bed.

Moments with Heather when she would clean out her stuff and I would inherit lots of fun treasures.  I would put on her dance costumes and we would lie on her bed and dance with our legs in the air.

Moments with my brother Eric, playing "Thundercats" on the stairs of the house.

Trips to Goblin Valley with my best friend as a kid, Missy Fisher.  Dirt bikes, hiking, movies, sandwiches with lots of pickles, sleeping in the camper, rewatching "Sandlot" over and over again.

The time my dad and I went to California to see Barbra Streisand in concert. I was 12-years-old.  We had some time to kill so we went to the beach. It was winter and my dad covered me up in towels and I napped.

Night games on Ensign Circle.  Summer nights were the best.  A street full of kids.  We played until after 10 some nights.  We played steal the shoes, colored eggs, ghosts in the graveyard, etc.  Nights when everyone was friendly.  Everyone was safe and looked after.  Life was different back then.

Sleepovers.  Really, was there anything better as a young girl?

The nights before the first day of school.  The anticipation of the new year was palpable.  I would lay out my outfit, perfectly pack my new backpack and could barely sleep.

The Cabin with the Bensons.  For years our two families would make an annual summer trip to the Avery Cabin. I miss waking up to the smell of bacon.  Playing "The game" at night when we would all hide.  Playing the "outside game" for hours.  I miss singing, "Today is Monday, today is Monday" and driving to Jackson Hole for our shopping excursions to the Polo Store.

Weekends with my dad and Terrie.  Specifically the nights Terrie and I would make cookie dough and eat all of the dough while watching "Troop Beverly Hills" and then staying up late just talking.

Saturday rehearsal for any musical at Cottonwood High School.  Specifically "My Fair Lady" when I was so in love with my new school, new friends and of course, Jason Rhead.

Christmas season as a madrigal at Cottonwood.  Some of my favorite memories involved driving around in our black dresses from performance to performance in Molly's jeep, listening to "I Think We're Alone Now".

Christmas Eve with Grandpa.  The moment we walked into his house and smelled the fish it felt like Christmas. It still hurts that he isn't here bossing us around, drinking a lot of vino and making us a perfect Italian feast.

Nacho Night.  Every Wednesday for 2-3 years a group of friends would get together for "nacho night".  A night where we would make gourmet nachos and hang out.  Now our friends are scattered around the country.  I miss those nights terribly.

The first weeks of dating Seth.  When everything felt perfect and we were so in love.

Those epic days of Greed.  I believe this is the game where James had to eat a lock of Bim's chest hair? Or maybe when James had to stand outside without his shirt, with all car headlights pointed at him, while he was devoured by mosquitos.

This day in August 2008 when I went to France with my family. The entire day was pure magic.

Halloween in Boise.  It felt like a movie.  The streets were so crowded you could barely walk.  We trudged through inches of fallen leaves.  The smell of burning pumpkins.  The company of Ashtin, Jenna and David.

This day in San Francisco in 2011.  The original Avery Family.

The babymoon.  This night specifically when we took a tour of the Siene River.

The early months of Millie, but the mornings specifically. I would bring her into bed with me and it was the happiest she was all day.  I loved those first chubby smiles.

This day in October 2013.


Isn't this what life is all about.  Not necessarily the big life events, but the moments?

Big Decisions

Seth and I have been living in limbo the last several months.  In January, I struggled with depression.  The cold, the poor air quality, the long work hours for Seth and just overall dreariness overtook me.  We knew something had to change.  So we began to look for change.  The prospect of a big change fell into our laps...and we panicked.

In the last few months Seth had several different job offers.  I won't go into any details but one job was in Boise and others were here.  We actually accepted a job in Boise, waited for a counter-offer from his current employer, and then a dream job opened up.  Life threw us for a bit of a tailspin.  What do we do?

The next few weeks were really rough, but in the end really wonderful.  Seth and I weren't in a very good place before the time to make a big decision came up.  We were stuck in an exhausted rut.  A rut that usually meant falling dead asleep on the couch once Millie was in bed.  We weren't having discussions or conversations of any kind.  We were really coexisting.

Now we had a decision to make.  A life changing decision and it forced us to talk.  And that's what we did. For weeks we talked.  We spent hours and hours trying to decide what to do.  We love Boise.  In many ways I think our hearts our in Boise.  We want to someday end up back there.  We want Millie to go to school there.  I can breathe in Boise. But was now the right time?  We could get a new house.  Seth would have way better work hours.  We could be near some really great friends.  We could be "away" and have our little family adventure.  I could try my hand at being a stay-at-home mom.

However, I would have to try my hand as a stay-at-home mom. I would have to leave my dream job at KUER.  We also have family here.  We have our house here.  We have a network of support in Utah. Could I have another baby without the help of grandmas and sisters?  Plus, the dream job was here for Seth too.

What do we do?

It became very clear to us toward the end of our decision that this wasn't really a "test" to see if we could make the right decision. It was a test of our marriage  It was a test for us to take time to talk things through. It was a test to hear each other's fears, hopes and dreams.  It was a test of my patience.  I do not like dragging out decisions.  I like to make pro and con lists and make a rational decision.  Plus, once the decision is made, I rarely look back. I move forward.  Seth on the other hand, is completely opposite. He likes to take his time.  Feel things out. Listen to his heart.  Once a decision is made, he likes to flip-flop immediately.

Therefore, we went back and forth several times. I would feel strongly about going to Boise, he would feel just the opposite.  I would decide staying was a great idea, Seth would feel like it was time to go.  We drank a bottle of wine and went to a nice restaurant and talked.  We wrote lists, we prayed, we consulted the Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards,  we read parts of the I Ching, Seth had a Tarot Card reading.  Trust me, short of sacrificing a lamb, we tried everything.  And still the answer was not clear.

It was clear though that there was no best decision.  Each decision had wonderful opportunities.  We couldn't make a bad decision.  The test was just to see if we could make a decision and stick with it.

And so we did.

We are staying in Utah.

And we "mostly" feel great about it.  Because again, both decisions had a whole lot of "pros".  We feel a bit heartbroken to say goodbye to the chance of Boise.  Yet we feel excited to be staying here.  Seth will be starting a job at Huntsman Cancer Institute in June.  We are thrilled that he will be working at such a wonderful and prestigious facility.  I'm excited that he will be up on U of U campus with me.  He will have way more time off and the chance to have days at home with Millie.  I'll feel some burden lifted and we will each have a bit of free time.  I get to stay at KUER and we get to continue working on improving our home.  We stay near family, cousins and friends.

This experience was really interesting. It made us take a long, hard look at our lives. It brought us closer than we have been in years.  We must have talked for 40+ hours about this decision.  And as hard as it was, I'm ok with it. I'm actually grateful for it.