The Single Girl’s Guide to Surviving Wedding Season

Do you feel conspicuously single at weddings? I do. Golly, ‘single’ must seep out of my pores.

It’s June, and darned if we’re not in the thick of wedding season. I, the unsuspecting writer, took my laptop to the coffee shop to nurse an iced Americano, shop for book covers, and do odd internet errands, and what do I find? The girl who ‘can’t wait to try on her dress tomorrow’ is beside me.

I walked by the bulletin board at work today and saw a poster for someone’s wedding social.  Didn’t they just take one down?

Non-Manitobans, a social is a gathering where people eat, get drunk, dance, and give money to the couple… or something.

I’ve passed through one wedding already and have two ahead of me in the next three weeks. I’ve been the dutiful friend and coworker who’s oohed and ahhed over the ring, the dress, the invitations, and then hugged the bride at the wedding and sat through the speeches. I caught the bouquet (and knocked some poor chick over—read about that here), and I’m prepared to do it all over.

I’ve picked out a pretty aqua sundress. I’ve circled Home Outfitters with a gift registry (does anyone go to Home Outfitters for any other reason?) for eons looking for the one jar.

There’s a bitter-sweetness to it. I’m so happy for my friends. And, well, I’m so glad I’m not the one planning what colour the border on my invitation will be and if I should or shouldn’t invite third-cousin Steve. But they go two by two, as someone once said, and I always wonder, as I clutch the gift registry, as I sit in the pew, camera poised: when will it be my turn?

Single girls: don’t we all think that?

Don’t we all feel a little bit gut-punched when our friend announces her engagement, as she shows off the ring, as she flips through her wedding photos? Even though in our strongest moments, we remember how happy we are for our independence, and how glad we are that we’re not starting a family just yet, and we tell ourselves that we’re too busy for a relationship?

We’re not crazy for feeling that way. We’re made for love and for relationships. Our hopes and our dreams are good, natural desires. Our unfulfilled sex drive (if you’re a celibate single like me) is not evil.

It just isn’t time yet.

Now isn’t the time to pine for what you can’t have, and what you probably can’t control. Now is the time to chase your purpose, your calling, your potential. Now is the time to pursue education—to get the degree, or to delve deep into subjects you love. Now is the time for adventure—hopefully with your family or your best friends. Bungee jump, backpack Europe, go on a week-long shopping trip (like my sister and I are doing in a couple weeks. Yay!). Now is the time to learn discipline—keeping house, financial intelligence, healthy living.

Those things, once accomplished, cannot be taken from you. They are ‘safely stored in the past’ as Victor Frankl said. They will turn your life into a masterpiece whether you marry and start a family, or you are the crazy aunt who tells the best stories.  Believe it or not, there is much more to your life’s calling than ‘wife’ or ‘parent’, even though those are good things.

I hope you make the most of the now, because time isn’t waiting for you or the spouse that may be out there for you. One day you’ll wake up and ten years will have past. Will you have made anything of them?

As I said recently, the future doesn’t seem to deliver. Putting our hope on future events will just let us down. Rather, let’s work on everything we can and put the rest in God’s hands.

Single gal in the aqua sundress, the wrapped gift in her hands: cry if you want when the bride walks by. It isn’t easy to be single. But dry your tears and smile, and dance, and catch the bouquet, and laugh with all your friends around the table. Enjoy the moment, whatever it is—and perhaps soon you will find yourself where you want to be, that you are the person you want to be.

Happiness Ain’t on Friday

Can I just be happy where I am?

I doubt there’s one of us who doesn’t clock-watch from time to time. I hear it in the locker room at work: “four more hours” or “two more days until Friday.” And then “It’s Friday!” as if it were the second coming.

So Friday comes, and I wait to get off work. And then I have the long-awaited weekend… and it doesn’t deliver. I think I’ll be happy and relax, but I can’t. I have too much to do, or worse, I’m bored.


Just before Christmas, when months of work without much time off had piled up, I held out Christmas shutdown–twelve glorious days of holidays–out in front of me like the proverbial carrot. I’d rest then, I’d write then, I’d have fun then.

And my holidays were good… but they weren’t great. I wanted to write, but I just spun my tires. I anticipated the Christmas gatherings, only to not enjoy them all that much.

What the heck?

The future just won’t deliver. I say “I’ll be happier when…” or “I’ll be able to afford this when…” and that day eludes me. Will I ever reach a spot where I say “Yes. This is good?”

It reminds me of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes, the ancient wisdom book, who says “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.” And that’s pretty dang depressing

The Apostle Paul said he knew how to be content in all circumstances–and he wasn’t speaking of work or home, holiday or workweek, but starving and feasting, freedom or imprisonment, abuse, ridicule, or acclaim. He could be content, though Christ who strengthened him.

So I believe it’s possible to be happy–whether I am scrubbing out a coating pan at work, washing the dishes, preparing for another shift at the clothing store, or doing things I love like writing, reading and drinking coffee (all at once, perhaps).

The only question is, how? I wrote this over the course of a work day, and there were a few guesses I came up with.

1. Give Happy

Chris Brady said “to be happy, you got to give happy.” If I think about what made me happy this week, it wasn’t my evening off, two disks of Criminal Minds, or a sleep-in (which I didn’t get). It was lounging on the grass, talking and praying with my friends, laughing with coworkers and making a coffee frappe for my aunt. So maybe I should take my eyes off myself.

2. Know Where You’re Going

Easier said than done, I know, but some of my best times have been those moments ‘in the zone,’ chasing hard after a goal.

3. A Cheerful Attitude

Sometimes all you can change is your attitude. There doesn’t need to be any of this ‘if only it were Friday,’ whining. It isn’t Friday, okay?

Well, it may be by the time you read this.

But I can’t change what day it is. So I may as well enjoy what I can about it.

Truth is, Paul’s state of contentment feels about as distant as some mystical nirvana. But I’m sure of one thing: constantly chasing after happiness like it’s around the next bend isn’t working for me. Happiness ain’t on Friday.

Fed Up With Gaming

There are three basic kinds of gamers, in my acquaintance.

The X-Box/Playstation gamers. They spend a few hundred bucks on a box with more computing power than all of my technology put together, and a TV the size of my subcompact. Then they get their buddies together and proceed to kill each other. These types may be able to wax eloquent on eight or fifty different guns or tanks (or…?) that they’ve never seen in real life, never mind operated. They may have scored more touchdowns on Madden than any hall of famer receiver. They may have amazing finger muscles.

I know there are very adept female gamers (my cousin is one) but when I think ‘PS4’ I think young guy between 14 and 34.

Then there are the iPhone gamers. I sometimes disguise myself as one of these, as I am in the stereotypical demographic for these games: the twenty-something young woman. I’m not sure what game are being played these days… Flappy Bird? Back in the day (when I had no phone) I’d solve my friend’s ‘Four Pictures One Word” problems whenever they got stumped. These are simple, addicting games that get played by hundreds of chicks like me on hundreds of coffee breaks and bus-stops around the world.

My last category is the Facebook gamer, which absorbs the demographic of young, stay at home moms and retirees–if my Facebook feed can be trusted.

These are the games that fill up your notifications with requests for random things and invitations to play Candy Crush. These notifications have been known to push me into uncontrollable fits of rage, in which I storm around and shout “I WILL. NOT. PLAY. YOUR. GAME.”

Nuff said.

Lest my tongue in cheek definitions make you think I hate gaming, allow me to list off what I like about gaming.

‘Cause I actually do like gaming.

It’s fun. Face it, isn’t that why we game? I’m not sure why, but I really enjoy running around with an AK-47 in my hands… when I’m not dying. I tend to slightly more tame games like Age of the Empires and Stronghold, where I can build my armies without worrying about constant respawning.

It connects people. It gives my brothers and their young cousins in common to do together. It gives me something to do with my brothers (who put up with my comical ineptitude). And I’ve managed to have intelligent conversations (short ones) with coworkers about video games.

It fires up the imagination
. I have travelled so many landscapes, experienced so many scenarios, and learned much from gaming. It gives me the opportunity (particularly in first-person games) to stand in anothers’ shoes. For a writer that is a valuable thing.

They are good educators. The first computer game I ever played was Reader Rabbit. I learned to type through Mavis Beacon software, which employs many different typing games. Educational software is common in schools, but not only that, is used in the military. In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink mentions a game called America’s Army, which was developed by the American military as a recruiting and training tool. It emphasizes teamowrk, values and responsibility as a means of achieving goals. How cool is that?

But despite the benefits and sheer entertainment value of gaming, I fear it has been taken too far.

Lemme ‘splain.

I love carbs. Grilled cheese, pasta, pizza, chips. Love ’em. And these are not bad things but I was eating waaaay to many. These would spike my blood sugar, overload my body, and go straight to belly fat. Now that I am learning about how to limit my carbs in favour of protein, veggies and good fats, I am experiencing increased energy, a better complexion, and weight loss.

Video games are like carbs. Tasty, and good to a point, but in large doses, detrimental to your life and health. They have the potential to waste your life. Dead serious.

It truly pains me to see the young men around me spending hours a day playing video games–and then marrying and having kids and still doing the same thing. I’m not saying don’t play–do. But what about priorities?

What about nurturing relationships with your family, girlfriend, wife, kids? What about pursuing a fulfilling career? What about educating yourself to make your life better? Heck, what about sleep? Why are so many of these men, who should be at the peak of their health and vitality, exhausted, sucking down sugar and energy drinks to make it through the work day?

I’m not saying don’t game. I’m saying that you could be so much more.

Why aren’t these young woman with iPhones on their kindle apps, reading about how to become better in relationships, in finances, in health? Why aren’t they stimulating their mind with imaginative novels? Why aren’t they sending an email to a friend or taking care of some small business item. Why are they wasting those small moments that their life is made of. Listen: those small moments make all the difference in the grand scheme of your life.

I won’t go into Facebook gaming.

I’m not saying don’t game. I’m not saying that I don’t have my own vices, like spending too much time on YouTube or Facebook. I’m not trying to make gaming the baddie here. Entertainment and media of most kinds could be inserted instead. Heck, almost anything could be substituted. People have the ability to ruin almost everything.

I look back and see how much I’ve wasted already and I cringe. And I look at the kind, intelligent, strong young people around me and it HURTS me to see them dissipating themselves while they are at the peak of their creative vitality. You’ll never get that back!

By all means, play video games. But make it just another weapon in your arsenal–to connect, to imagine, to educate, and to relax and have fun when you’ve earned it. Use it in tandem with the ‘protein’ of healthy relationships, the ‘vegetables’ of solid education and the ‘good fats’ of hard work.

And get some sleep, will you?

Disagree? See any benefits or detriments of video games that I missed? Let me know.

My iPhone is Ruining My Life!

I’ve only owned an iPhone for three weeks and I’m already an addict. Case in point, last night I lay in bed for an hour, watching YouTube videos (and this after I professed to be exhausted). After an hour had passed, my mind got that gross feeling that you get from eating too much candy. Just… ick. All of it was time down the drain.

I bought the iPhone to assist me in in blogging, since keeping up with my social media was becoming too big of a chore without constant Internet access. To be fair, it’s accomplished most of that purpose. But I’ve found myself reading less from actual, quality books and writing less—two passions of mine.

My phone has wasted so much time!

Correction: I’ve wasted so much time—me, not the phone. I can’t make excuses. It’s my lack of discipline that has turned my iPhone against me. I used to scoff at the people who sat around on break playing games on their phone, and now here I am doing the equivalent.

I’ve become what I hate!

So, this morning I deleted the YouTube app. Then I made up for the hour of garbage by listening to a podcast by Ravi Zacharias and a LIFE Leadership audio.

The iPhone is a double-edged sword, a portal to all sorts of possibilities. It can be used for YouTube, mindless surfing, compulsive, narcissistic social media, or addictive gaming. On the other hand, it is a business in a small box: my one-touch access to my blog, social network, email, banking and communication. It is my “portable university,” which grants me access to experts on all topics (Ravi Zacharias, Mark Driscoll and the British History podcast among them). My phone may be the single most powerful tool I own, and I was just letting it slip away.

So, here’s my resolution to use my phone for my life-purpose, not for dissipation. After all, with a great phone comes great responsibility.

What one app, if you deleted it, would save you the most time?  Let me know in the comment section below.