the walking writer

When you haven’t blogged in months, it’s hard to get started again. My primary reason for my disappearance was due to buying a house and moving. While the idea of living in a new place is fun and exciting, the actual process is not. We live in a hot market, and the urgency of seeing places as soon as they’re listed and holding out hope that your offer will be accepted is more than slightly stressful. Now that it’s all said and done, there are a few lessons I’ve learned for the next move. I’m hoping that next move won’t be for a few years, however.

Don’t Save Your Cleaning for the Last Day

We were living in an apartment before we bought a house, and we had been there for almost a decade. While we had done a decent job of keeping the place clean, there was still quite a bit to do in the end. Unwisely, I saved most of it for the last day of our lease. By the end of the day, my back was severely complaining.

Hire Help Wherever Possible

There are some parts of moving that are difficult to do on your own. For example, we had some old furniture that we had no interest in taking with us. Due to the logistics of the apartment and our car, it wasn’t feasible to take them to be donated to a thrift store on our own. Instead, we ended up hiring a junk removal company to take care of the items. It was the best money we spent during the whole process. If you have the money, hiring other help, like cleaning or actual movers, is definitely a good way to go.

Get Rid of Stuff Before the Move

While you might end up getting rid of some stuff as you pack, you may find yourself not having the time to do more than just shove things into boxes. My regret is that I didn’t start working earlier to declutter and thus have far less things to pack. As we unpack, we’re getting rid of things, but it would have been easier to have done it weeks ago.

It’s fantastic to be on this side of the move, at last. Hopefully now I can catch up on my various online projects!

For many years, December was a very stressful time for me. Even though I had left Mormonism and Christianity, I still wanted to be part of the holiday season. Unfortunately, whenever the calendar turned to December 1st, I immediately felt stressed for a number of reasons, including upcoming travel back home and my desire to find the perfect presents for everyone in my family. It wasn’t pleasant to feel overwhelmed and it certainly took away any fun in the season. I’ve since realized a few things that have significantly reduced my stress to almost zero. This includes:

1. Round Robin Gift Exchange
For years, each member of my family felt obligated to gift each person a gift. This was a source of unending stress for me. I saw how thoughtful several of my family members were about the gifts they gave, and I wanted to reciprocate. This usually resulted in hours of online shopping and hours spent in stores. Since I strongly dislike shopping, especially when everyone in the store is suffering from some terrible plague, I really hated this. However, for the last couple of years, we’ve made it simple with a round robin gift exchange. Finding a gift for one couple is so much easier than what we did previously.

2. Stop Seeking the Perfect Gift
This is a problem that I’ve had since I was a child. I disliked it when someone posted a wish list on the fridge for Christmas gifts; I wanted to surprise them! Looking back, I realize now that while surprises are very nice, there’s nothing wrong with giving someone exactly what they want. There’s also nothing wrong with asking the intended recipient what they would like. When it comes down to it, as long as you put a bit of time and thinking into it, there really is no bad gift.

3. Your Nieces and Nephews Will Still Love You if Your Presents Suck
One thing I’ve long struggled with is shopping for presents for my nieces and nephews. In our family, we have the option to give gifts to the kids if we want to; there’s no obligation, and the kids aren’t part of the gift exchange. I spent many hours browsing the toy stores, thinking once again that I needed to get the perfect gift. But then one day I realized something. The parents of my nieces and nephews give their kids way too many toys. It’s something that irks me, but it’s probably best saved for its own post. The point is, my realization changed how I shopped for the kids. I tend to look for things that are activity-oriented, such as science kits or craft kits. The kids will have fun with them, and it won’t just be another doll that gets ignored after two days.

4. Avoid Travel if Possible
Visiting my family during Christmas is fun; I cannot deny it. Unfortunately, the travel aspect is less than pleasant. Every single year I’ve gone back home for Christmas, I’ve picked up at least one cold along the way. I’ve also had the misfortune of waiting hours upon hours for delayed flights and been stuck on planes that were completely full to the brim. After a particularly painful trip back and forth, my husband and I decided we would shift our schedules and visit family during other times of the year. This lets us have our own traditions and we still get to visit with our family through video chats. It’s not the same as being there, but it seems to work out just fine.

Eliminating sources of stress is always a good thing in my book, and I am very happy to have found some solutions that help me better enjoy the season.

I’ve mentioned before that I was once a member of the Mormon church. Although I’m not even on their list of members anymore, I still have friends and family members in the church. So it’s something that I still hear about from time to time, especially when the church does something incredibly unexpected with far-reaching effects.

A few days ago, information was leaked concerning a new change to the church’s handbook meant only for the eyes of the leadership. These changes states that the children of gay couples are, to put it plainly, no longer welcome in the church. The way the church puts it is a bit different, but the effect is the same. Children of gay parents may not participate in any of the essential church milestones, including baptism at age eight and serving a mission, until they take certain steps:

1. Reach the age of 18

2. Disavow your gay parent or parents

3. Move out of the home of your gay parent or parents

This dramatic shift has inspired me to wonder the following:

1. What exactly does disavowing your parents require? From what I’ve read, it sounds like it means you must disavow their relationships with members of the same sex. But, to me, that means disavowing the parents as people since being gay is not a choice.

2. The church is allegedly concerned with the eternal salvation of all souls, which is something that can only be accomplished through baptism (and a few other steps). Why is the church willing to risk the souls of children and make them wait until 18 to get baptized? How many people would still want to join after being denied for years simply because of their parents?

3. The policy change also states that gay individuals who marry (an act that is, by the way, fully legal in the United States) are now considered apostates. Does the church think ANY gay person (or their relatives who can look past the church and still care about their family) will still feel welcome in the church by all of these changes?

4. What about the second Article of Faith, which states: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” Has the church leadership forgotten this simple doctrine?

5. Defense for this policy usually includes a claim that this change is to “protect” the children of gay individuals. The theory goes that this stops the kids from having to listen to how “sinful” their parents are in church, avoiding potential parental conflicts at home. So, why is the church not worried about the children who live in homes with parents who commit other “sins”, such as watching R-Rated movies or drinking coffee? Why are they specifically targeting the children of gay individuals?

It makes me sad to watch people I know support this policy change. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do when someone believes that a policy comes directly from God, even though the Mormon church has a history of changing its mind on its policies when the tide of popular opinion begins to shift. Yet again, the church finds itself on the wrong side of history.

Heart on a Beach

Simple love. Credit to Pixabay.

Once upon a time, I was a Mormon. I left the church many years ago, but some family members and in-laws remain as members. I have watched with hope as I’ve witnessed the changing attitudes within the church on LGBT issues. Although I am pleased to see that the younger generation is adopting attitudes similar to their non-Mormon peers, I am saddened to see that the church leadership still anchors themselves to outdated and unkind attitudes to people who are different than them. Recently, the church held its semi-annual General Conference in which these views were once again displayed publicly. Indeed, one of the church elders referred to non-heterosexual relationships as “counterfeit lifestyles.”

I wish I had the eloquent words to show those who adhere to this kind of thinking how much pain they are causing the people around them. I wish people could stop for a moment and ask themselves a simple question: “Why am I fighting against someone else’s right to love another human being?”

Although the lack of acceptance on the part of church leaders disappoints me, I am so happy to see the views of so many others changing. I have seen it in my own family, even those who are still faithful Mormons. It makes me so glad to see that more people are getting to experience the same happiness my husband and I enjoy each day, complete with full legal rights. Perhaps someday the church will change its views. If it does not, the world will simply leave it behind, found only in the history books. In the end, I believe that love will win.

Once upon a time, a thrift store moved into a commercial building near my apartment. For a few months, we endured the loud construction noises and the constant flow of trucks. Once that was over, it seemed the worst part of living near a thrift store was behind us. How wrong we were. In the months since, we have discovered the following joys:


Thrift stores are unbelievably loud. If you live near the dumpster area where they trash the items they won’t sell, you’ll endure hours of noise, ranging from breaking glass to clanging metal. There’s also the constant presence of trucks bringing and taking loads back and forth. The constant noise is extra painful during the summer when we regularly leave our windows open. There’s nothing as fun as being woken up at 2AM when the trash truck comes to collect the garbage from the dumpster.


Litter is just a fact of city life. However, this particular thrift store seems to excel at attracting litter and ignoring it. Occasionally, I’ll see some poor employee making a vain effort to clean up the sidewalk. But the litter will quickly return the next day. For whatever reason, my fellow citizens also see this thrift store as a great place to randomly dump old stuff. I don’t know why these people can’t actually make it to the store to drop off the items; instead they just dump broken televisions and couches right on the sidewalk.

Late-Night Visits

This particular “perk” is something I never would have guessed, but it makes sense to me now. Basically, people tend to congregate around the dumpsters after hours, looking for anything of value. I’m not entirely sure what these individuals are looking for, but my guess would be mostly scrap metal and broken furniture that can be fixed. It’s always a bit surprising to look out the window and see people standing in a dumpster.


Thrift stores are popular and attract a wide range of people, from the broke college student looking for cheap furniture to the savvy online seller who wants to resell old books on eBay. This leads to an insane amount of traffic on our street. The building’s previous tenant never attracted this level of traffic.

To be clear, I have no real issue with thrift stores in particular. They serve their purpose and are helpful to a great deal of people. However, I can safely say that they make terrible neighbors.

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