Life is What You Make It.

My Mother always tried her best to bring my flighty, romantic little brain solidly back to earth. She was always reminding me that life isn’t one of my romance novels. I fought her hard on that one. I never wanted to give in a believe that those magical moments, the romance, the adventure weren’t real. I felt somehow that if I gave in and believed her it would suck all of it out of my future. And I wanted it oh so badly. I wanted to fall hopelessly and madly in love. I wanted to have crazy adventures and travel the world. I wanted to have those picture perfect moments, I wanted the little women sweetness of sisterhood moments and the Last of the Mohican’s “I will find you” kiss. I wanted it all.

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The other day talking to one of my dearest friends I said something that hurt my heart just a little. I said that we read books to escape the mundane reality of life. Turns out my Mother didn’t need to try to convince me of the hopelessness of my romanticism. Life would do it well enough on its own.

Or at least it would try.

But you see. During those teenage years filled with longing I learned something. Something that I had forgotten, and only just now remembered. Life is what you make it. Movies and books are full of wonderful exotic and romantic moments but so is life! The only difference is that books skip all the boring moments in between and in real life you see them all. But I firmly believe that if you don’t allow the mundane moments to cloud your vision and alter your perspective you will see, feel and experience in all its wonderful fullness the fantastical moments of your very own story.

I used to imagine my life through the eyes of a book. I used to read it in my mind how it might read if it were a story and I found that it really wasn’t far off. I could see many many moments of my life depicted in a novel I just had to imagine it it. I remember one time frantically gathering my music at the last-minute for a Christmas recital. The family was all trying to get ready in time, there was yelling going on to remember this or that and to please not sit on the lemon bars. It was a mundane moment that with the right perspective seemed story book worthy. And it made it so much more fun to experience it when I saw it for what it was. A future memory.

Tonight I sat watching a romantic movie and thinking about how that part of my life is now over and I am an old married woman. But you know what I got my story! I rode on a motorcycle, the wind in my hair and the sun setting at my back and fell in love with the man of my dreams in a foreign exotic country. I’ve experienced utter exhilaration as I ran into my husbands arms after more than nine months a part. I’ve held a new-born baby in my arms knowing that this little soul straight from heaven was created from the love that we share. I’ve had my heart-broken (as everyone should) and I’ve found healing, happiness, hope, and love.

And now the mundane sets in again. I have diapers and dishes and laundry up to my eyeballs. I have late nights and crying babies and teething and hormones. But I truly believe that if I can remember the secret I learned as a teenager I can make even the mundane magical and I won’t miss those sweet moments when life could just slip by without my noticing. I will turn that movie off and LIVE each of those mundane moments vividly and with full consciousness of the fact that EVERY moment is part of my story and I can make it what I will!

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My Whirlwind Romance: Part II “What if he were white?”

When Joseph dropped me off after our first date, I went inside and prepared for bed. I was staying at Sister Gertrude’s house. Sister Gertrude’s daughter Eunice was a friend of mine. Eunice came to my room to talk. I expressed to her my concern about the fact that I probably shouldn’t have even agreed to go on this date because it was pointless and probably not fair to go on a date with a guy when I know nothing can come of it since I was going to be going home in such a short time.

We stayed up talking for awhile. What are you going to do if he asks you again? She asked. Will you go?

He will ask me again, I told her. He made that clear and he told me he would call tomorrow. And I want to go! I want to spend time with him, I just know that its pointless. There is no way I could make any kind of decision before I go home and Africa is way to far away for that kind of long distance relationship. Eunice went to bed, and we never came to any conclusios.

The next morning I woke up and the first thing on my mind was Joseph. I received a text from him thanking me for going on a date with him, the night before. I wondered when he was going to call, and if he would want to see me again that day. By ten that morning, Eunice had gone to work and I needed to be heading back to Lugazi. I boarded a taxi but couldn’t stop thinking that if I went all the way back to Lugazi, than I probably wouldn’t get to see him that day. The taxi started moving out of town. I dialed his number.

He answered and sounded excited to hear from me. I just wanted to tell you that I had a good time last night also, and that I am on my way back to Lugazi, I told him.

“Oh…”he sounded disappointed. “Have you already left?” He asked.

“No I haven’t” It wasn’t a complete lie. I was still technically in JInja. I waited… “should I stay?”

“Yes. I will meet you at Two Friends” he told me

I begged the taxi driver to stop and jumped out even though I had paid the full fare for transport to Lugazi. I waited at Two friends corner.

When Joseph arrived once again I was struck by his handsome carefree manner and how clean cut and put together he was. He stood out from all the other men. We walked and talked all that morning, stopping to eat street food at little shops along the way. We crossed a bridge over the Nile and we stood on the banks of Lake Victoria and just enjoyed the cool breeze. Our conversation was seamless and flowed effortlessly. Joseph amazed me with his attitude, experiences and desires.

Finally I really had to get back. Joseph walked with me and found me a seat in the passenger seat of Taxi. As we waited for the rest of the passengers to board he stood at the window. Neither of us said much but I didn’t want to let go of his hand. I didn’t want him to leave. His fingers rubbed mine his eyes shone and I knew he didn’t want to leave either. I looked at his lips wondering if I wanted him to kiss me and I was surprised by the answer.

The driver was ready to go and reluctantly Joseph let go of my hand. I’ll see you on Sunday. He told me as we drove off. Joseph was a member of the district presidency in our church and he was scheduled to speak in my branch that Sunday.

As we got out on the road and started the long drive back to Lugazi, the woman seated next to me struck up a conversation with me. “So what brings you to Jinja?” she asked.

“A date” I told her.

“Oh and how was it?”

“It was good” I said, nodding my head as if agreeing with myself. “It was really good” Then I stopped, “Actually, it was REALLY good” I told her. “I think I like him” With each statement I wanted to repeat it over and over it was as if it was just sinking in that I did in fact like this guy. I hadn’t thought about it in those terms before, but I did like him. And I wanted to see him again. Sunday couldn’t come fast enough.

ON Sunday I knew that Joseph wouldn’t be coming until after church so I hurried home and ate dinner while I waited for him to come. I paced the confines of the complex, surprised by how anxious and excited I was to see him.

Finally he called and said he was almost here and I decided to walk and join him. At the edge of town as you leave Lugazi there is a clock tower on a grassy place in the middle of a round about. If you take one road it takes you to the mango groves at the edge of town,  the other direction takes you  to jinja and the final road takes you to the Mehta Estate. On the Mehta Estate is a beautiful garden that borders the golf course. It was my plan to take him to the gardens. I had packed a blanket to sit on and brought my lap top with some of my sisters beautiful piano music, and I had packed some snacks I thought we could enjoy the gardens and just sit and talk. I met Joseph at the clock and we walked to the gardens. As we entered and passed the club house Joseph stopped and looked at me. We were holding hands and he lifted my hand and put it over his heart, our fingers entwined, making a fist. He said, Vilate, you remembered how much I love Golf! Red flowers, dripping from vines above our heads, and the fresh cut grass sent sweet fresh scents our way and the moment couldn’t have been more perfect. 429803_10151637624287888_2079889728_n

We walked and talked and Joseph told me about his mom, about his dad and about his views of raising children, He told me about how an kind Australian family had sponsered him years ago and agreed to pay for all of his education, including University. They had wanted to eventually adopt him. As he was graduating highschool he told them that he would be serving a mission for the LDS church. They were pretty upset and told him that if he insisted on serving a mission they would not pay for anymore of his education. He served anyway and gave up his dream of becoming a doctor.

I started realizing how comfortable I felt with him and how similar our ideas about life and family really were. Our cultures were surprisingly similar. We walked down the stone steps to the zen garden, with tall towering bamboo trees, surrounding a sitting area. Lily’s lined the walk and filled the fields around us were so overwhelmingly beautiful as to take your breathe away. DSC00340We sat listening to music and enjoying some snacks, we crossed the pond on a little footbridge and ran barefoot through the wet grassy hillside on the other side. DSC00400

I was terrified at how my feelings were changing. I was uncomfortable with this relationship that seemed so perfect and yet went so much against what I had always thought and believed about mixed race marriages. I kept thinking that I needed to tell him that I couldn’t see him again.

He walked me home and we sat at the little keyboard I had brought along and sang and played for awhile. Finally at about ten I walked him to the taxi. We stood trying to say goodbye. He hugged me and the hug lingered. His hands tightened around my waist and I felt unwilling to let go of his neck. I knew we were attracting attention and that people were watching us but I didn’t care.

I walked back to the house wondering what I was going to do. The Thought came to me “What would you do if he were white?” The answer was simple, I would never let him go.

Later that night I received a text from him. ” Physically, I am home” it said, “but the rest of me is there.”

My Whirlwind Romance part one ( What wasn’t said)

As I am sure you all have guessed since my last post, there has been a bit that has gone unsaid, so Its time I said it.
I am going to share with you my whirlwind romance. Or at least parts of it.
If you read my post

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/serving-in-the-church/

You know that on one of the most difficult days that I had adjusting to life in Uganda I went to Jinja for a primary program. That day as I sat at the piano in the front of the room, I was looking out over the congregation and I saw, seated on the back row, a man with the biggest brightest smile and eyes that shone with kindness. I remember thinking, “I want to talk to him, I want to know how he feels about things, and what his life experiences have been.” When the meeting was over I did talk to him for a few minutes and then I went home. What I didn’t know was that he was watching me also. He was watching me play and look around the room and he thought ” Wow she must be really good, she isn’t even paying attention to what she is playing!” Then later when I was singing with the children from Lugazi, he turned to Elder Van who was seated next to him and said, I want to take her out on a date. Elder Van informed him that I was only in Uganda a short time.

Me doing a little presentation with the children from Lugazi. This was the day I met Joseph for the first time.

Me doing a little presentation with the children from Lugazi. This was the day I met Joseph for the first time.

That day as I was leaving Joseph (that is his name) watched, resisting the urge to run after me and get my number.
Later he wished that he had gotten it. But he knew that district conference was coming up soon and he figured he would see me and get it then. On the first day of the conference I was sick so I didn’t attend and Joseph disappointed and worried that we wouldn’t get another chance to see each other, prayed that if I would come the next day he wouldn’t let fear keep him from asking me on a date.
The next day, our new interns had arrived and we were scheduled to go spend the day in Jinja at the Source of the Nile. I had really wanted to see it but I also really felt like I should go to district conference. I went and arrived just in time to grab a seat in the back and wait for the conference to start. Joseph was seated on the stand as he is in the district presidency and he was getting worried that I wouldn’t come. Finally he saw me enter and sit at the back. When the conference was over, he was one of the first people to approach me. “Do you remember me?” he asked. I knew I had seen that smile before but I couldn’t remember where and all black people were still looking the same to me. “I’m Joseph, I met you at the primary activity” he reminded me. He asked for my number and I gave it thinking that he probably just wanted it for church purposes, if they needed me to play the piano for something or something like that. But I also hoped that it would be more than that. I wanted to have a chance to get to know him. Not necessarily to date, Just to talk. I just wanted to know what was going on in his head; I wanted to know how he felt about life.
One day he called and told me, “I have a request, but I am going to be busy for the next three days doing exams, would you like to hear my request now, or later” I laughed because I had a pretty good idea what his request was, so I told him to ask me later. He called a few days later and asked me if I would go on a date with him. I told him yes and he told me that he wanted to take me to the Source of the Nile. I was excited that I was going to get to see it after all and I was excited that I was going to finally get to know this guy. As I prepared for our date I decided that it might be the only real date that I would get to go on here so I might as well have some fun with it. I went and bought a new skirt, took an afternoon shower and did my hair and makeup. Then I headed to Jinja to meet him at Two Friends corner. As I rode in the crowded bus to get there, I worried that by the time I arrived I would be sweaty and gross again. Finally I arrived at the corner next to the Two Friends Resort. I stood on the street corner waiting for him to arrive and as I waited I watched the pedestrians as each man would approach me I would think is this him? I wondered if I would even recognize him when I saw him. I saw a man in a dirty brown shirt to match his dirty brown pants, his flip flops flapping all over the sidewalk as he walked. (All of which is a common sight here). And I thought, what did I do, agreeing to go on a date with someone from here? What was I thinking? Just then I saw the cleanest, most put together guy on the street approaching me. When he got close enough that I could see his smile I recognized him right away. He told me we would need to take a boda boda to The Source and asked if I was comfortable getting on one with him or if I would like to ride separately. I told him I was ok sharing. If you read this post

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/and-life-goes-on/

I talked a little about that trip to the Nile. I even posted this picture of the two of us.DSC00420 What I didn’t say was that it was probably the best first date of my life. We talked and talked with no realization that time was going by. He told me of his conversion to the gospel, of the passing of his father, and of his hopes and dreams. I felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. I felt comfortable and at home, I felt like I wanted the night to go on forever. As we sat eating chicken sandwiches and drinking strawberry milkshakes at the restaurant at the edge of Lake Victoria, the sun was setting, we had the whole place to ourselves and the quietness of the evening lent itself to romance.DSC00425 I wasn’t even remotely surprised, when as we stood to leave he took my hand and our fingers naturally entwined together as we started walking through the gardens. When he left me at the gate that night (I was spending the night with a sister in Jinja) I didn’t want to let him go.DSC00424

Love at Lake Bonnevile

My most romantic date yet happened a little over a year ago at Christmas time. I wasnt expecting much because my boyfriend at the time wasnt the romantic type. He was your typical guy, really in to sports, politics, action movies etc. I am quite certain that the idea of planning something ahead of time was one that was new and strange to him.

During the first week of December I had gone on a cruise. Ryan (my boyfriend) and I had talked on the phone until the very last-minute that the ship sailed and I could no longer use my phone without racking up ridiculous charges. He loved cruises and kept telling me all the things that I needed to make sure that I did. The main thing he really wanted me to do was to go snorkeling. I had never been before, had only recently learned how to swim, and have always been a little phobic about water on my face. Since none of my family were willing to try it I knew I would have to do it on my own if I did. So I told Ryan that I wasnt going to try it on my own.

He begged me to just try it and told me over and over how much I would love it. I told him that maybe one day he and I could go snorkeling and he could show me how. I figured maybe one day if we got married and went on a cruise together or something than we could try it then. I never dreamed that he would find a way to take me snorkeling on Christmas Eve in Utah.

Several days before Christmas Ryan and I were cuddling and watching a movie.

“Are you working on Christmas Eve?” he asked

“No why”

“Can I take you on a date then?” I thought it was really cute that he was asking days in advance and in this way. It was very much not like him.

“Ok. sure” I said.

“I am going to need you all day” I was starting to get curious what he had up his sleeve.

“What are we going to do?”

“I can’t tell, you will just have to wait and see.” (just a hint here for the guys, girls love to be surprised. Ryan won major bonus points by keeping this a secret and even more by the flirtatious way he kept me guessing in the mean time.)

I let it go and was super excited to see what he had in mind. The day before our planned date he texted me. “Can you be ready to go at 7am” he asked. Of course I agreed and than I begged him for clues. “Well I can tell you that you wont be wearing much!” he told me. “Oh and bring some lettuce with you. We will need lots of lettuce.” Needless to say he had my full attention and I was more lost then ever.

He arrived early to pick me up and we started to drive North toward Salt Lake. When we turned on to I 80 headed west the only thing I could possibly think of was that we were going to Wendover. Ryan assured me that we were not. I didn’t have the first clue until we pulled into a little place called Sea Base.

Turns out there is a remnant of Lake Bonneville out near Grantsville Utah. This unique place has small but very deep ponds filled with all kinds of fish. Including Sting Rays and Sharks. You can go snorkeling or scuba diving and since they are covered you can even go in the winter.

Ryan and I changed into Swimsuits and spent the rest of the day feeding fish and keeping an eye out for the 10 foot shark. Later we showered off and then shivering just a little we climbed into the car and went to find something to eat. I couldn’t have been more impressed that Ryan had remembered our conversation about snorkeling and then done something about it. He had kept it a surprise and really built up the suspense and anticipation in the days leading up to it.

I will never forget sitting in that water, and looking at the man across from me, his hair dripping wet, goggles firmly attached to his face leaving him looking ever so slightly like a giant beetle, and thinking that he was about the sexiest man I had ever seen. I felt cherished in that moment and even though I had shied away from using the infamous L word with him up to this point I was sure thinking it.

Tell me about your most romantic date ever and you may win a date to Sea Base and dinner at a nearby restaurant. Email me your story @ diddadowrite@gmail.com. The person with the most comments or likes on their post at midnight on February 29th is the winner. See more details on the post Valentine’s day

Valentine’s Day

I remember the first Valentine I ever got. It was in second grade and I had never even heard of Valentine’s day before. I went to class one day and there were all these little envelops on my desk with little cards and hearts and stuff. I remember being really embarrassed that I didnt know what was going on and everyone thought I was crazy. I also wished that I had known in advance so that I could have returned the favor. My family never did holidays though and Valentine’s day certainly wasnt high on the list of things for them to inform me about.

In more recent years Valentine’s day became something to laugh about. Single awareness day… and then once I had a boyfriend and we celebrated our first Valentines Day together I thought it was kind of sweet. The other day my roommate told me the story that is speculated as being the beginning of Valentine’s day. I was touched by the beautiful story. Appearantly a roman emperor in an effort to keep the men forcused on being soldiers and fighting decided to ban all marriage. A priest by the name of Valentine secretly performed marriages in spite of the ban. He was got and sentenced to death. While in prison notes were passed from person to person requesting prayers on his behalf. The slogan of these notes was remember your Valentine.

In honor of Valentine’s day during the month of February I am looking for stories. This time I want romantic ones. So I am doing a contest. Send me your stories, your most romantic date, your love story, maybe the love story of someone you know a family member who’s story is particularly touching etc. Send me an email @diddadowrite@gmail.com with your story and encourage your friends to like your post. At the end of the month the person with the most likes and comments will win a fantastic date. So get your typing fingers warmed up and get prepared to share your stories.

Note: Seabase has graciously provided a gift certificate to the winner of this competition and will provide a days adventure, complete with snorkeling, feeding the fish, and some education about their facility. All you have to do is bring yourself, a date, and your snorkeling equipment. (If you don’t have any, Seabase will rent to you for a reasonable price.) Dinner for two will also be provided at a nearby restuarant. More details to follow on that.