Friday, January 30, 2009

Seven Questions...Table for One

True confession: sometimes I forget that the world is NOT entirely populated by stay-at-home-moms. I tend to see life through married-with-children-lenses and forget that my experience is not universal.

What is life like on the other side of the fence? A bed and a remote control all to oneself? How does a strong Mormon woman live happily single in a culture which places such importance on families?


Here's Jeanelle, she's funny and fiesty and ready to spill the beans about the single life...

#1-- Please tell us a little about yourself, your career and your lifestyle. What is life like for a fun, happy forty-something single girl these days?
I was born and raised in a suburb of Seattle. I have 3 younger sisters, 3 older half sisters and 3 older half brothers.

My parents divorced when I was in my late twenties and my mom still lives in the house I grew up in, which is just a few miles away from my home. I went to Ricks College for a year after high school, but it wasn't what I wanted, so I came home and started temping at various offices (thank goodness I took typing in high school!)

I got a job at a large manufacturing company when I was 20 and have worked there ever since. I currently work as an assistant to an executive. I love my job because it pays the bills, I work with great people and having so many years of service with a large company allows me the freedom to take time off to do fun things.

I think my life is pretty great, for the most part. I have a wonderful family and a lot of really amazing friends. I am currently the 1st counselor in my church Primary presidency and also the stake assistant camp director. When I'm not playing with my friends, serving or watching TV, I love to read and to bake.

2. What are the best things about being unattached? Share some of your zany adventures and let all of us boring housewives live vicariously.
It should go without saying that I would prefer to be attached with a mess of kids at my feet, but I can think of a few good things about being unattached. For example, after a crazy Sunday in the Primary room or after a week at YW camp with a bunch of teenagers, I get to come home to peace and quiet.

And, I know it's worldly, but I love that I can buy whatever I want. I don't have to get anyone's approval for purchases I make, major or minor. The other thing that is great about being single is I can come and go as I please. I can plan getaways and vacations without having to check against someone else's schedule, farm out kids, etc. I can decide on a whim to drive to a friend's for a weekend or spend a week in Chicago or to go to Hawaii or Washington DC or Utah or wherever I want (as long as I have the money and vacation time saved, of course).



3. How about the downside? What are the challenges you face as a single woman? How do you handle them?
It is not easy to cook for one. At all! Leftovers are only good once or twice and you can only eat so many Lean Cuisines. I also get tired of being the one and only decision maker. Sometimes it would be nice to have someone else pay the bills or take out the garbage or decide if I should refinance my mortgage.

I hate being invited to events like work dinners or weddings where you need a date. I'm used to going alone but I don't always like it.

I handle my challenges by just trying to stay positive. I didn't grow up wishing to be single but it is what it is. I'm bound and determined to make the most of it. Life is a lot more fun if you're happy.

4. I know you are an active Latter-day Saint. Is it difficult to be part of a church that is so pro-marriage and pro-family? Why or why not?
It IS difficult at times, to be a single LDS girl. Sometimes it seems as if the talks are geared only toward those who are married or who have children. Sometimes I don't want to walk in the chapel and sit alone. Sometimes I wonder if anyone will even miss me if I wasn't there. (Okay, I know that that probably won't happen while I'm serving in Primary!) But I know everyone feels some of these same feelings, married or not. I also know that, ultimately, I am responsible for myself and my own salvation, just like everyone else.

5. Tell us about your circle of friends. Do you socialize with mostly single or married folks or both? How can married couples make single people feel more welcome in their social circle? And vice versa?
I have married and single friends, Mormon and other faiths. I feel blessed that I have so many people in my life and I rarely feel alone or lonely. I have signed up for dinner groups at church and I'm the only singleton amongst three or four other couples (and it's totally okay). My married friends make me feel as if I'm part of the family and I love that.

Maybe I'm different, but I love being around other people's families. I love being invited over for dinner after church or for Family Home Evening. As I said before, I was raised in a big family and I have lots of nieces and nephews so I'm used to chaos, commotion and family squabbles.

I get the impression that some married people only feel comfortable with other married people and I understand that to a degree. But I so enjoy being in a home where the power of the Priesthood is evident and the Spirit of the Lord resides. I wish more married people would realize that single people need to be in that environment from time to time. It's good for the soul!

6. What advice do you have for younger women who are waiting around for Prince Charming or for older women who find themselves newly single?
The hard truth is...more and more women (both young and not so young) are going to have a life like mine. My first piece of advice is to make the most of what you have, not wishing for what you don't have. It will cripple you. It really is okay to want the ideal, but not if it's getting in the way of your happiness now.

If waiting for Prince Charming is keeping you from having a fulfilling life, you need to move the waiting to the back burner. Give more of yourself by serving others and learn to be happy with who you are, single or married.

I also encourage women to get their degree or some sort of vocational training so they can support themselves as long as necessary. I have been blessed to have the kind of employment that allows me to support myself fully and I'm so grateful for that.


7. I have noticed that you seem upbeat, positive and content with your life. Living joyfully is something we all need to work on, regardless of marital status. What is your philosophy for finding happiness in the here and now?
I've just always felt like it's better (and easier) to be happy than it is to be crabby and dissatisfied with your life. Granted, it's not always possible to go through life with a smile on your face, but I try to never forget that I am loved and that I matter. I try to always recognize the blessings I've been given and to be grateful for them – each and every day. And really, you just have to smile more. That's the key.
You, Jeanelle, are inspiring! Thank you.
Check out Jeanelle's Random Ramblings...they really are random and lots of fun to read. I loved this look into her heart!

23 comments:

Jessica said...

I just started reading Jeanelle regularly (sorry Jeanelle, too many blogs, too little time--but I've bumped some for you, because I've realized how great yours is). She is so incredible. Unfortunately, I know a lot of women living this life and I know how hard it is. I've come across very few that are as upbeat and centered in the Gospel as Jeanelle.

I wish so much she lived on THIS side on Washington, so we could hang out...we have lots of chaos here!

Paige said...

I agree that she is an inspiration. I wish I knew her in real life and enjoy Jeanelle's blog. Gab, thanks for the interview and for reminding us to get out of our own problems and realize those fun, free, fancy single people face their own problems too. I am inspired my her great attitude and perspective.

diane said...

Thanks for introducing me to another cool girl with a fascinating life.

Paige said...

Also, Gabi- when i see you've done a gabtalk on my reader I always save it to read last so I can savor it- like dessert.

Bridget said...

I just started reading Jeanelle's blog too. She has been a lot of fun to get to know and I feel like I know her SO much more now after this post. Good work once again, Gabi.

andrea said...

gab, your questions are so thought provoking, i find myself answering them even when you're not actually asking me. great way to promote some self-reflection.

jeanelle sounds like a fabulously fun person, and could her hair be any more luxurious? call me a wacko or a freak, but i totally want to play with her hair.

wenderful said...

As always, great interview. What a great perspective on life. I haven't read Jeanelle's blog but that's where I'm off to right now...

Lindsey said...

Jeanelle is awesome! We love her!

cami said...

I think strong, independent single women rock! I would like to think that I WAS one (at one point). Oh, and Jeanelle, I was NOT looking for Mr. Right when he came knocking, but here I am - 7 years of marriage later. SO, it can happen! And if it doesn't, you just keep on being fabulous and fun and beautiful!

Your attitude is great and people like to be surrounded by warm, fun, happy people like yourself. Keep it up!

Gabi, I just checked out Jeanelle's blog and I LUV it. Thanks for introducing me to her!

Matt and Jen said...

THAT'S MY SISTER!!! How lucky can I get?

Ilene said...

Loved this interview, loved the interviewee and her answers. I appreciate how Jeanelle recognizes that happiness is something that you have to make for yourself. Thanks for bringing these issues to the forefront. It is nice to look at the world with non-mommy eyes.

Clair said...

This Q/A is very thought provoking (as they all are.) Let me first say "Three cheers for Jeanelle!"

As a mother of four, I catch myself now and then fantasizing about what it would be like if I only had to get ONE person ready to go out the door, or what it would be like if I didn't share a car with my husband and could drive to the bookstore anytime I wanted and be without a stroller to manuever through narrow aisles.

Lately, those thoughts have been quickly followed by another thought. I think of my single sisters (not biological) who yearn to be surrounded by the pitter patter of little feet, who would love to cook a meal for a full dinner table, who long to have a companion to talk to every night.

My point is simply that we all have different circumstances. Sure, it often looks greener on the other side of the fence- no matter what side you are on. But the beauty of sisterhood is that we ARE all different and what a joy is to be diverse. It's amazing what we can offer each other while making the most of our own pastures.

Gee, I think I just made a blog post- not a comment. Thanks again Gabi and thank you Jeanelle!

Jenibelle said...

Very interesting perspective. I very much admire your dedication to church service, your family and your testimony. I think it's wonderful that you have a full, rich life without the "wo is me" attitude. You are a strong, beautiful woman...you rock.

Hazen5 said...

I am going over to her blog right now!

Kara Jayne said...

Gab I LOVE this interview. What a great perspective. This SAHM of four really learned a lot from Jeanelle. Her words ring true WHATEVER your situation in life. I needed to hear it and am so happy you featured her!! Thanks!!

Hollyween said...

How can you not love her? She's adorable and I love her blog. We have so much in common when it comes to music, TV, etc. I like to be reminded that there are people like Jeanelle out there and that we each have our own unique experiences and challenges. I would totally love to meet Jeanelle in real life.

TravelinOma said...

I'm so impressed by women who love the life they're in, and look for ways to have an influence for good. Thanks, Gab, for introducing me to another great example!

Jeanelle said...

On my very next pity party/I hate my life day I'm coming here to read all of these sweet comments. Thanks everyone but thanks most of all to Gab for giving me the opportunity to blather on about myself for a little while.

Cathy said...

Great thoughts, we can all learn a lot from people like her! I have a friend, Suzanne, who is also very much the same way. Wounderful people!

Celia Fae said...

So I've been feeling a little overwhelmed this weekend with a lot to do and an absent husband. I woke up this morning, Sunday, not excited about the day's work ahead of me. The first thing I read was this Gabtalk interview (I can't wait for dessert like Paige)and I burst into tears reading about Jeanelle's perspective and great attitude. It made me grateful for the life I have, whatever it might be. Thanks for being an inspiration, both of you.

Holly said...

Thanks for introducing me to another FAB friend of yours. I so enjoyed reading her interview and appreciated her perspective.

Lauren in GA said...

Another great interview Gabi, thank you!

Jeanelle is so upbeat and amazing. I love how she said that wishing for what you have can cripple you. I loved the whole interview.

And, Jeanelle you are so beautiful. I love that last picture of you in red.

D-dawg said...

Another great interview Gab. Jeanelle just seems so sweet and nice and happy. I like her.

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