I've had some experiences/conversations this week that have caused me to reflect on how happy I am to be living in Texas. Mind you, there are downsides to living in Texas (as with anywhere, right?) but most of them have to do with missing our family, and since we truly felt like it would be important for us to continue living away from family for a while, we're going to overlook the distance factor.
So without further ado, here are the 8 reasons I am grateful to live in Temple, TX this week. (Not the only reasons or even the most important reasons, just the things that have stood out to me this week.)
This week I met yet another mom neighborhood who a child exactly Molly's age and is expecting another child. This makes the THIRD MOM in MY NEIGHBORHOOD who is PREGNANT ONE-ish YEAR AFTER having a child. Do you realize how unlikely that is in today's world. Not one of these moms is a Latter-day Saint. Each one is married. Two of the three are medical resident families (aka- still in the busy and poor stage of life). Two of the three said that family is just a big priority to them and they want their kids to be close in age. The other said it was a happy accident but they couldn't be more thrilled. I am blown away. Are you? Take that, Satan! Check out these awesome families!
2. Christian Christians.
Today I pushed Molly way past her nap time so I could run a "quick errand" that ended up taking forever. All the women in the store were incredibly kind, despite her constant squawking, but one came back into the store (after checking out) with a half-empty bag of goldfish and said, "These work miracles with my grandson. Why don't you take the rest of the bag." And then she walked away. It was so sweet. I know I wasn't giving off the 'totally-desperate-mom' vibe - I was still happy and patient and friendly. I don't think this lady was judging me or felt like she had to rescue me - she just saw a need and filled it because she could.
This is only one of oh-so-many examples of how many Texans truly are Christian Christians. I love being surrounded by people who can teach me how to be more Christlike, regardless of their specific denomination.
Yesterday we were at the park. In t-shirts. Sweating. Were you? Didn't think so. Let's move on.
4. City Size.
On Monday I drove a moving truck all by myself for the first time (let's not discuss why). I would have had a heart attack somewhere else, but I love living where traffic isn't a big deal and where you can be out in the country in minutes. On the flip side of that, we have a 3 minute drive to Walmart, 8 minutes to the dance studio, 10 (or less) minutes to Bret's office, 10 minutes to church, 20 minutes to an awesome lake (if only we had something to put on that lake!), 40 minutes to the outlet mall, and 1 hour to Austin. There are times when it would be nice to have a greater variety of stores, etc, but usually I don't care. If I need to go somewhere that we don't have in Temple, it is a fun excuse to plan a drive down the freeway, and it probably limits needless spending when some of those "desirable" stores aren't right at my fingertips.
5. Competition Factor.
This one might be hard to explain. I used to think these opinions were just my own, but in the past 4 years I have had many discussions with friends in Texas (and other places outside of Utah) who feel the same. And none of it is meant to criticize the culture or people in Utah - its just an observation. Okay? Okay.
Because many people living in Utah share similar beliefs, interests, desires, and family life-styles, there seems to be a simultaneous need/desire to fit in and to stand out. I don't know that it is really always even a conscious thing. I mean, you KNOW that you don't have to be a super-cook, a runway model, and marathon runner, a DIY maniac, an avid reader, a scriptorian, an organization guru, a Parade-of-Homes homeowner, a thoughtful parent, and a computer-graphics whiz to be worth something. But inside you kind of hope that you can be all those things. And sometimes if you fall short you get discourage. And sometimes you can succeed at ever single one and still feel like you're just another fish in the pond. Confidence in being who you are and being HAPPY with who you are is so important, and I'm not saying that people in Utah don't find that, but I am saying that since moving away from "the bubble"I have been better able to find that confidence in myself. I feel unique and valued for being me. Within the church I see gorgeous, talented, angelic women and yet I feel no pressure or competition or comparisons. I don't feel the need to buy newer clothes (although I'd love to) or to be a better cook (although I'd love to) or to run a half-marathon with the other moms (although I probably will)....
Am I making sense?
Not all of it is LDS-culture based either. As a dance teacher, I have a unique skill-set that is rare and needed in this neck of the woods but would be white noise in Utah. The list could go on and on. I am just grateful that I am learning that I can keep improving myself while being totally confident with the awesome woman that I am at the same time. And I truly think that living in Texas has played a big part in this ongoing discovery.
When you can't call your family for a last-minute babysitting favor...
When you can't off-load a dresser from a moving truck by yourself and didn't have the foresight to set up help...
When you need to learn a new skill and your mom lives 20 hours away...
When you need a babysitter again...
You learn to rely on your friends and your neighbors. And do you know what is cool? They rely on you too. I don't think I could have learned this lesson as effectively if we lived closer to home because it would have been too convenient to turn to family for help.
One of the reasons Temple, TX, specifically, is a great fit for us is that there are a lot of resident families in our ward and neighborhood who also live away from home, so we have a great opportunity to become family to one another.
7. Fall Colors.
It stinks not to live close to mountains at this time of year. San Angelo didn't do a whole lot in the way of fall colors. Temple is currently on fire with changing colors and falling leaves. It simply makes me happy. I feel less homesick for family and familiarity at this time of year when I see the fall colors.
Its hard to know how trustworthy to be in this world. You can never be too careful, right? But you also have to live life. So in saying that I love how trusting I feel of most people in Texas, I hope you don't think that I'm being naive or foolish. (Actually, I probably am both naive AND foolish, but I am careful.)
Exhibit A: Yesterday I took Bret's car into the mechanic shop less than a mile from our house. I asked if I should plan to wait while they took a look or if I should take Molly on a walk and come back. The female secretary offered to drive me home so that Molly could be comfortable or nap. Turns out this is a family-operated business and that driving their customers home to wait is a common courtesy they provide for any local customers. Cool, right?
There have been other instances recently that have made me grateful to live around honest, decent people. I'm sure they are to be found no matter what part of the world you live in, but I feel surrounded by neighbors I can trust.
Well, count this post as another novel. I really just wanted to jot down a few thoughts while I ate lunch... oh well. What are your favorite reasons for living wherever you live?