LDS Bloggers Give Back – Single Parent Scholarships

LDS single mom 2004In the fall of 2003, my life became significantly different. I had been in a marriage that was unhealthy and unsafe, and I finally realized that it was time to end the marriage. The divorce went through smoothly and quickly, and within 6 weeks of my decision, I was a single mom. I had been the primary breadwinner, working a full-time and a part-time job, but I had to learn to get by without my ex-husband’s income (and student loan checks). Because I made more than him, child support was set at $35. Did you read that right? THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH. That wasn’t even enough to cover diapers (Thanks, State of Utah!) I had a mortgage payment that I could barely make, so I rented out my basement to a roommate. I was working in medical billing accounting office making $9 per hour, and knew that I needed more income to be able to survive. I looked at what education options were available for me to finish my bachelor degree, but there was no way I could continue working 2 jobs AND go to school AND be a mom. It was a very desperate situation.
I was invited to be a part of a campaign through LDS Philanthropies for promoting a scholarship program for single parents. A group of bloggers met together at LDSP’s Provo office to find out about a unique opportunity to help single parents in need through our blogs. You may have noticed the widget on my sidebar about the campaign, but here’s the gist – LDS Business College offers the Stella Oaks Scholarship for Single Parents in need. Selected individuals who qualify are given full-tuition scholarship so they can further their education and provide a better future for their family. This month, we LDS Bloggers are helping to promote this campaign through our blogs, with the goal to raise enough money for 4 scholarships. Right now there are 45 students who qualify for this scholarship, but the money needs to be there.

I encourage you to watch the video of Megan’s story, who was a recipient of the Stella Oaks scholarship. If you are in a position where you are able to donate to this cause, I hope you will do so. Because of my experiences as a single parent desiring further education, this campaign is close to my heart. If you can’t afford to make a donation, would you be willing to add the campaign widget to your sidebar?
taylor bullock family
I was fortunate to meet Taylor fairly soon after my divorce, and when circumstances were right, we married. I was not an independent single parent for very long, but I also know how important a quality education is. There are many parents who do not have the support they need to complete their education, and this is a chance to really make a difference in the life of a family in need. Will you please consider your situation, and if you’re able, “Give, oh Give?”

Spartan Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

During my Junior year at Murray High School, I was a part of the school’s television production crew, SpartanVision (aka SVTV). Each morning we had to be in Mr. Pond’s room at 6:30 am to prepare for the broadcast at the end of 1st period. We had rotating responsibilities each week: camera, editing, script writing, commercials, footage, and talent (aka host, on-camera personality, anchor) My favorite part was when I was on talent, being the bright and smiling face of MHS, before and after Channel 1.

While I was in HS, I was OBSESSED with the Beatles. It was the mid-90’s and The Beatles released their three-part Anthology. I knew all their songs, incorporated song lyrics within my normal daily conversation, watched “Help!” at least once a month, and learned many of their songs on piano and guitar. My nickname was the “Beatles Guru” and I always made sure to request a Beatles song at stomps and stake dances.

In the summer before my Junior year, the SVTV crew spent a week at the school getting acquainted with the production equipment. I had come up with an idea to make a Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club band intro, but to replace the heads of the people in the picture to students and teachers from MHS. I had talked to some other people on the crew about it, but nobody seemed very excited. This was in the very early days of Photoshop, which I had no idea how to make it happen electronically. I was, however, an major scrapbooker. I used my dad’s archaic copy machine, made numerous photo prints at Costco, copied, pasted, and tried to make a replica worth sharing.
It ended up being a big waste of time, and I eventually gave it up (despite my many hours of valiant effort.) My senior year, I decided to become involved in MHS’s handbell choir, which meant that I had to take early morning seminary. Early morning seminary meant no Spartanvision. I was really bummed, but c’est la vie.

During my senior year, a photo showed up on SVTV and my jaw dropped to the floor. A replica had been made of Sgt Peppers with MHS faces. I couldn’t believe my excitement…until I realized that I wasn’t included in the photo. Mathew, a SVTV member, had worked on this tirelessly, and did a pretty awesome job (especially for 1998 photo editing standards) But to be honest…I was really upset with him. Not only had I endured a variety of cruel teasing by Mathew and the rest of the SVTV guys, I was mad that he stole my idea. For 11 years, I’d harbored a grudge against Mathew. With all the teasing, I thought he’d specifically omitted me from the picture. When I uploaded a bunch of high school photos onto Facebook last month, I’d left a snarky comment about Mathew leaving me out. After a few emails, he did agree that the concept had originally been my idea, but he didn’t think I’d taken much interest in the project. I ate my words as he had no idea how much the project had meant to me. Mathew apologized and created a new version of SVTV Peppers, just for me. Can you find me?

Thanks, Mashew. You totally made my decade.

Bonus Photos: Abbey Road

Abbey Road: SVTV Style

1997 Yahoo! Personals Ads

photo blurred to protect the innocent

The summer before my senior year, my boyfriend was getting ready to leave on his mission. We were coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to “put myself in cold storage for two years.” So we thought it would be fun to put up an online personal ad for me on Yahoo (back when dating on the internet was SO faux pas). While we were at it, we did one for him too.

Woman seeks Man: I’m just a Girl!
Salt Lake City, UT

Seeking: Short-term relationship, activity partner, pen pal

Age: 17 Ethnicity: Caucasian Religion: Christian

Profile: Athletic/fit, 5’9″, non-smoker, non-drinker, no children

Description: If you’re rich, I’m single! Shower me with money and gifts if you wish, but I’d be just as happy going dutch. I am looking for some new friends, preferably LDS, to spend my short abundance of free time with this summer. I consider myself to beautiful, but not fake; Serious, but I know how to have a rockin’ good time; Intelligent, but I’m still working on my Nobel Peace Prize; Mega-feminine, but good luck playing sports against me. Affectionate, but I never kiss on a first date. I love to sing, act, learn, and make the most out of life. You’ll have to get used to me singing along with the radio in the car, but I sing like a pro! I enjoy anything outdoors, especially hiking, swimming, repelling, camping, and sometimes even gardening! There’s a lot more to me than can fit into one paragraph, so if I strike your fancy, “Leave me a message at the beep and I’ll get right back to you” <>

Contact: Citrusfruit

Man seeks Woman: I am in a fishing mood
Salt Lake City, UT

Age: 19 Ethnicity: White Religion: Christian

Education: College Employment: Full time
Profile: Slim/Waifish, 6’1″, non-smoker, non-drinker, no children

Description: So you want to be a wizard. Looking for a little magic? Well search no further. I enjoy long conversations, as long as I am the one talking. I enjoy a variety of interests as long as I choose. I will go out with anyone as long as you pay. If I sound like your archangel, I am. Time and all eternity as long as I control the remote. Being carried across the threshold?…if you insist but don’t hurt your back. If you enjoy a whole 100 pound man, I am your Fabio. If you are looking for an eternal flame, I am your heavenly match. Cuddle on the couch, as long as my team isn’t playing. So write me and if I am impressed enough I will think about responding. I take great pride in my humility.

Contact: okiiniwatori

The Dainty Wildflower

The Dainty Wildflower*

When it comes to youthful affairs of the heart
Though my loves have been but a few
It doesn’t take prideful impressing by him
A sweet romance will always do

When I reflect upon the wildflowers
On the path on which I go
Makes me ponder much of simple times
When hearts would let young lovers know

“To determine the worth of a goodly man”
Said the lass with a delicate air
“A dozen long-stemmed roses from he
will determine the perfect pair”

One shan’t judge a book by its cover
but in roses the belief isn’t so thought
Crimson passion, pink child-life fashion,
Gold-flamed petals be eternally sought

If I were to discern a future fellow
by a flower yellow stained
For a life of selfless giving
Only a friend could I take his name

The most delicate rose, it’s white shining remains
the pure, untouched bloom could very well claim
Loving devotion for a righteous eternity’s bliss
Temple covenants pledged with no shame

Yet as I admire on this heavenly day
God’s creations well aged and fresh new
I yearn for devoted companionship
A worthy mate living life, loving true

My eyes don’t need sight of rare flowers
Money has only Earthly concern
I gaze at each delicate wildflower bud
Simplicity has caused my wild heart to turn

Sincerity’s flower will win my true heart
To a man whose devotion’s unmarred
As we walk down the path of the rest of our lives
He will pluck me up dainty wildflowers

July 1, 1996
Nicole Marie Watson

There is a very specific reason I chose a waterfall instead of a wildflower for this post. It was written when I was 16, while hiking around Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, Oregon. It was an incredibly gorgeous day, and despite all my jaunts to Silver Falls….I recall this day as the most beautiful. I walked off the beaten path a bit near South Falls, sat on a large mossy rock, pulled out my notebook, and was immediately touched with the inspiration for this poem.

I am a certifiable hopeless romantic. I can’t remember ANY time in my life where I wasn’t “in love” or had a crush. I idealize relationships, foolishly look past faults, and let my heart grow attached very quickly. I love seeing people in love…the tender glances, the affection, the chivalry, the exploding smiles and blushing cheeks. When I played kissing tag in elementary school, kissing wasn’t gross to me…I liked it because it gave me the chance to be kissed. I love to be “in love.” I am completely in love my husband, but that does not diminish the emotion that I have felt in the past for other men. While some girls grow up dreaming of their ideal fairy-tale weddings, I didn’t really put much thought into the actual wedding. I just wanted a man to love and cherish me for the rest of my life.

I wrote this poem intending to give it to my future husband on my wedding day. But the notebook got tucked away in a box at some point, and I forgot about it. I quickly married in my first year of college, and five years later it ended in divorce. All the hopes and dreams of eternity that I’d idealized for years were splintered, and I wondered if I’d ever find a man that would make me as happy as those dreams.

Around the time I met Taylor, I found the poem and let him read it. His response was so generic….something to the effect of “Yeah, that’s pretty good.” Taylor’s sweet and romantic in his own way, like the numerous love mix CDs he made while we were dating, but it wasn’t the response I expected. He probably didn’t realize how important this poem was to me. I was upset, so back into a box it went until I uncovered it again this week.

I think I now dedicate this poem to the IDEA of the love I wanted for my future; the idea that inspired me to hold fast to my chastity. There have been many bumps along the road, many selfish jerks and users. I’ve been a selfish user. I’ve had my heart broken and I’ve broken hearts. As an adult, I believe that the sum of all the love from those broken hearts has given me the capacity to love more.Tennyson said, ” ‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.” To this thought, I heartily agree.

Anonymous Compliments

Okay. I admit it. I sometimes fish for compliments. One of my favorite ego-boosting activities is as follows: Everyone in the room writes their name at the top of a blank sheet of paper, and passes it around the room for others to write an anonymous compliment. I’ve done it at choir retreats, during seminary classes, and even done it with my Activity Days girls in ATL. Another admission? I keep every single one. I read them when I have a bad day. Of course, some of them are pretty obvious by handwriting or context of message, but there are a few I’ve never figured out who the comments are from. Some are less compliments and more funny comments and inside jokes. Here are some of the highlights of what people said about/to me 1996-1998:

I love sitting by you in choir. I can actually stay on pitch…sort of. You’re awesome.

You’ve got gorgeous hair and I’m glad that I sit behind you so I can play with it.

You are really talented in acting. You should keep doing what you do. See you on Broadway.

You are so cool. I love your style. You seem to know who you are, and I admire that.

I am not trying to steal your boyfriend. You’re a good singer.

Your personality is great, and you give all the people in the room a positive feeling.

You are very intelligent and have phenomenal taste in music. Can I borrow some CDs?

Talent is prevalent where you are. I can’t believe how special you are.

I never really knew you until this year, but I like what I see. Wanna go out? Oh wait, this is anonymous. How about a blind date?

Your hair clip matches perfectly to the twinkle in your eye. Blue eyes, black hair. HOT.

You’re always cheerful and a big SPAZ! I love to talk w/you Nicole. Altos be buff!

What an awesome friend. I’m really glad to know you. You have an awesome sense of humor and you make me shout WHOOPIE! See you at your wedding 2 weeks after we graduate.

You are so hilarious. You are so boy crazy. I just laugh and laugh and laugh when I’m with you.

Nickie – you maneater! Use ’em and lose ’em. You are so fun to be around with. I can’t see what I would do without you to keep my spirits up. Oh yeah, I’d drink more Mtn. Dew.

You’re a babe, through and through. Thanks for the compliments and smiles. I’m a better person because I know you. How on earth can you be so nice to everyone all the time?

You always write the coolest quotes in your dayplanner. I like to steal it and look through your pictures. I’m glad we’re in seminary together, cuz you’re more than just a “sweet spirit” to me.

Your boyfriend is a VERY LUCKY guy. Can I date you next?

And my absolute favorite, written much like every yearbook entry he wrote to me…always something about making out with his friend (visible in the above image is from this guy)

Nicole – You should go for Joey. He’s a stud + very available. Ask him out on a date. He’ll love you cuz you’re a babe! Make out with him and tell me how it goes.

(If I’ve tagged you on Facebook, it means that I’m certain one of these quotes is from you. Do you remember what you said about me?)

The Ultimate High School Stalker Letter

I have been having a blast going through my old boxes of high school stuff. Pictures, ticket stubs, notes, old research papers, choir programs, mixtapes, and more. I’m an admitted pack rat when it comes to nostalgia, but there were some true gems in this box.

My favorite find was this letter from a boy that REALLY REALLY REALLY liked me. As in creepy-stalker-like. We met over the summer at an extra-curricular service project, and subsequently attended a leadership conference at USU. The next weekend, I accepted an invitation for a pity date. He took me to Stansbury Park Observatory, in which we sat in the back seat of an old pimped out Cadillac, driven by a 20something Hispanic buddy. It was a courtesy date in the first place, even creepier when he showed up with a chauffeur, and creepiest when he lunged toward me and started sucking on my neck on the way home. This letter was in response to the event.

Dear Nicole,
In case you were wondering, that letter that I wrote for Larry*, I also wrote a letter to you, though not nearly as gaudy. Within it were questions, that I felt only you could answer, concerning that night at the observatory!! But, I was talking to Larry* about the note, and he said that he let you read it. He said you told him not to tell me, though he told me anyways. Don’t be mad at Larry*, he still doesn’t know about how I asked you to go “skinny dipping.”

He said that when you found out that the letter was written by me, you rolled your eyes, when he told me this, it triggered an emotional spark, I thought that you were disgusted by my work, and thus tore the note to you into pieces innumerable, and threw them away. I regret that action, for the note was serious, and I have been in a downward spiral ever since that event, in fact, as I write this, I am almost certain that you are disgusted by the fact that I wrote you, and also feel that you will never read this note, due to the fact that you have shreddid it, and then probably incinerated it. So, I am probably wasting my time.

But if you’ve actually succumbed to your curiosity about what is written in these pages, then I will ask the questions that I meant to ask. I was wondering why, suddenly, I have gone from intriguing to revolting. I felt that you used to enjoy my presence, I felt that there was a sense, if only a little, of loss when I was absent. But after that night, things changed, dramatically. I have several theories on the matter. One is, when I kissed you, you found it disturbing, even the thought of such a vile creature touching your face with it’s mouth, revolting even to the point of nausea. Another might be, that you wanted me to kiss you, but sooner, and better, and more intensely. Which leads to the conclusion that my hesitance was the downfall of whatever we had built, my ignorance was the cause of it’s destruction. And then the most unlikely, when I kissed you, it triggered an emotional response, which triggered a memory of your lost love, and you did not want that to happen between us, so you stopped us from going any further.

Anyway you look at it, I am the louse. but I truly need to know my mistakes, so that I don’t destroy any more relationships. You probably consider me a coward for not confronting you directly about these issues, the reason for that is, I didn’t want to see me cry, and every time I think about my actions I feel guilt, and if I talk, my words stumble, and if I talk about it, I rain. I may actually confrunt you on these issues in hopes that you may answer. I need the knowledge that you have. I would also like to know, if we did it all over again, how would you want it to happen? And, if we were to try again, would you try to forget what had happened? I don’t wish to WASTE anymore of your time with meaningless babble.

With love and apologies,

!!!Sorry to bring up bad memories

*names changed to protect the guilty. All spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors intact. And NO! I didn’t not go skinny dipping with him. Ew!
(circa August 1996)

Yesterday’s Verdict

The hearing was emotionally intense. I had not seen him in 4 years, and my first glimpse of him in the courtroom made my body lurch. His back was facing me so I never saw his face. Hearing his voice brought chills down my spine. Giving the victim impact statement was difficult and emotional, but I made it through. The hearing officer recommended another review in 15-18 months. So for now, I’m relieved.

(If you have any specific questions for me, feel free to email me. The details aren’t anything that should be discussed in a public setting)

Justice and Mercy

Later on this morning, I will be here:

I will be making a victim impact statement. It’s been 5 years since the crime, and the offender has been behind bars for 4 years. It’s parole hearing time, and he could be out on the streets very soon. I’m nervous. Especially because I’m living in Utah again.

For a long time I hated him. The lives of my daughter and I were forever changed. It was a painful recovery process, riddled with insecurity, doubt, distrust, fear, and feelings of violation. But now, a few years later, I now feel like I’ve forgiven him. Forgiven, but I don’t trust him. I don’t know if more time behind bars will honestly be beneficial in the long run. I hope he can find a way to live a normal and productive life. I just want him to stay out of mine.

For weeks, I’ve been struggling with what I would say. I just finished editing and printing the document for the court record. Now it’s time to gain my composure, drive up to “Point of the Mountain,” and look him in the eye.

500th Post!

I am excited to report that I’ve been blogging continuously for nearly 5 years (my bloggiversary is June 8th, 2004) For those who haven’t known me very long, or just recently found my blog, here’s a list of blog highlights for your viewing pleasure:

6/14/04 – The first time I blogged about my sleep problems (Yep, almost 5 years ago)
6/24/04 – Getting to know me, 2004 style
6/27/04 – Some depressing poetry after a bad breakup
7/7/04 – When the tides turned with Taylor on the 4th of July
7/11/04 – My last date with someone else, and my first kiss with Taylor
7/14/04 – The first email I got from Taylor, and rundown of our first dates
8/31/04 – Taylor’s proposal, and meeting his parents
10/25/04 – The wedding and honeymoon to California
6/4/06 – Why I love living in California
4/15/07 – My visit to Florida to see Taylor at Jet University
6/16/07 – All the concerts I’d attended up to 2007
9/13/07 – Ode to Rosie on her 7th Birthday
11/9/07 – My first trip to Detroit Michigan
11/16/07 – 6 Odd Facts about Me
11/16/07 – Ode to Ramblin’ Rod
11/27/07 – Taylor’s Birdstrike
11/23/07 – My last Christmas at my home in Murray, UT
1/13/08 – My dad’s car accident that nearly took his life
1/22/08 – A list of over 11,000 Miles I traveled in the US in one month
1/30/08 – My semi-famous gooey banana bread pudding recipe
2/14/08 – Pics of my dad’s crash
2/24/08 – One of my favorite trips to California
3/2/08 – Adventures in teaching primary
3/10/08 – An impromptu trip to New England
3/12/08 – My personality type – ENFP
4/13/08 – When Michigan started getting me down
5/6/08 – On a day I wish I were medicated
8/10/08 – My 10 Year High School Reunion
9/20/08 – Rosie’s Baptism
10/2/08 – Ode to Clint
10/4/08 – The story of Taylor and I – 4th year anniversary edition
10/19/08 – Our family trip to Hell (MI)
10/29/08 – Rosie and I at the NKOTB Concert
11/14/08 – Why my blog will not go private
11/22/08 – A Twilight Girls Night Out
11/27/08 – My Quest to find Pirates of Penzance on DVD
12/2/08 – Technology Decade
12/5/08 – The Importance of December 5th
12/15/08 – The Top Twelves of 2008
1/1/09 – 2008 Year in Review and my Life Soundtrack
1/11/09 – One Year Since the Gaping Jaws of Death
1/22/09 – Pilot Wife Resources
1/15/09 – My Memphis Valentine
2/28/09 – Missy Higgins, et al
3/1/09 – My choral life
3/20/09 – NKOTB Photo Megapost
3/30/09 – Return to me
4/5/09 – Pilot Wives Club Chicago Meet-up: Oh, What a Night!

And there you have it! My favorite and best blog posts of the last 5 years and 500 posts! Which ones are your favorite?

Please forgive the post spamming

I know that I’m getting fairly close to 500 lifetime blog posts. All of my stuff from 2004-2005 was published from Livejournal and Myspace, and I stuck them in lumps of posts. Feel free to peruse, or to ignore my old stuff…I just want a more accurate record. 500 will be big!

(ps Maybe your Google Reader didn’t get spammed after all. Mine didn’t. After fixing the formatting and reposting, I went from 427 posts to 481. Look for a mid-April 500th post)