"Now I'm not only a Mormon cliché; I'm also a puppy." - Claudio
Question #71848 posted on 04/09/2013 3:22 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board writers who were once retired but have returned!,

It's so great to hear from you all! How has your perspective on life, love, religion, family, etc., changed since you retired? Please say how long it has been, too. :)

-Mico, who only retired 7 months ago and hasn't changed too much

A:

Mico!!!!1one

Hi! It's nice to hear from you, too. I retired 2.5 years ago. I think my perspectives on stuff and junk have changed in some ways.

Life: Life is about learning. It isn't about a checklist you need to do to get into heaven, or being perfect. We're supposed to make mistakes.

Love: Love, really, is more important than anything else. Having love for others makes you consider how your choices will affect them. It motivates you to serve and protect people. It encourages you to befriend others, to look for their strengths and look past their weaknesses.

Religion: I think Christ is a lot more hands-off in leading the Church than we are led to believe. I believe that there are many paths that one can take to know God; they don't necessarily have to be within organized religion. It's so important for us to respect others' beliefs. 

Family: All families are different. The important thing is that you're committed to taking care of them, and that you treat them with love and respect.

Politics: I've figured out where I am on the political spectrum, how I feel about many political issues, and why I feel that way. So that's neat.

Love + hugs,

Marzipan

A:

Dear Mico ~

Life: Well, I had two kids.  That definitely changes life perspective.  I now think more about how and what to teach to them.  I now am a stay-at-home-mom and that is the only job I foresee for a very long time.  And I am very pleased with that.  We've gotten a few pay raises since then, so I see things a lot less frugally than I did at retirement.  Still frugal compared to some, but not compared to my saving-every-possible-penny-for-a-down-payment days.  Which lets me be a lot more charitable; I like that.

Love: Again, I had two kids.  It's one thing to love a husband.  It's wonderful.  It's fulfilling.  It makes me complete in a way I never before realized I was lacking.  And while I was married at retirement, it's been many years and my love has deepened.  It's more comfortable.  It's more real.  It's less honeymoon-ish.  But it's quite another thing to love your own children.  I think you can measure my love by number of hours of sleep lost and yet still am grateful for those children and still have a desire for more. I find that I want to spend my extra money on them instead of me.  My love is a lot less selfish these days.

Religion: I've tacked on several callings since that point, largely Primary and now Young Women's.  It's given me an entirely new perspective on the purpose and necessity of religion from a young age.  I've always believed it, but now I see it.  It means more. I've now got a daughter in Primary.  Yipes!  So I see it from a parent's perspective, too.  I beam with pride when she makes up songs that talk about Heavenly Father and Jesus loving her.  I'm pleased with her teachers when she comes home from church talking, for weeks, about how when she's 8 years old she wants to be baptized. I pray every night to be able to help my girls lay a foundation for their testimony.  I pray that I can teach them well.

Family: Well, now I have a family.  Clearly.  I think I've mentioned it a time or two.  I'll take a different tactic for this one.  For most of my adult life, I had very strong opinions on birth control.  I did my best not to judge others that thought differently than I did, but I very much knew that I would not use birth control.  Dragon Baby was due on our first anniversary.  I was ready to start a family, and I was pleased with life.  After she was born, however, it suddenly hit me that I had never considered the spacing of children in my high-and-mighty birth control opinion.  (To be clear, there were two parts to my dislike of birth control.  One was a moral issue and the other was dislike of the Pill, specifically.)  I realized pretty quickly that my sanity would not survive if I had another child right away.  There is a history of depression in my family and around the same time I discovered that my fail-proof plan had giant cracks, I also decided that I didn't want to be a mom that spends my entire life depressed and feeling resentful of my children.  I decided that I would do whatever it takes to give my children a functioning, happy mother.  So we found different methods of protection than the Pill and we spent a lot of time praying and talking, and working out my feelings of guilt.  

When Dragon Baby was 9 months old, we decided to put timing in God's hands.  It was my compromise.  I was still freaked out about having another child so soon, but I also felt strongly that God should have a say in timing.  The first few months my period was late and there was some major hyperventilation, but neither time turned out to be pregnancy.  And slowly my relief at a negative pregnancy test turned into sadness, which surprised me.  And eventually it turned into longing.  Turns out, God's timing doesn't always mean you'll have kids one right after the other.  For me it meant trying for over a year.  But, God's timing was perfect, I think.  The spacing between my girls was ideal for me.  And hopefully for them, too.

Now Niffler Baby is 14 months old.  I have a very different perspective this go-round.  There is a lot less guilt. Looking back I wonder if I had a touch of postpartum depression after Dragon Baby that I didn't have with Niffler Baby.  Even as early as 5 or 6 months I remember thinking that I definitely wouldn't choose to be pregnant, but if I found out I was, I would deal with it just fine.  There was no panic.  No terror.  No tears.

I still believe that God should have control on timing, but I've learned that doesn't mean throwing the decision at God, then walking through blindly.  It means that I get to discuss it with Him in prayer, then take His answer and put it into action.  I learned that God wants me to be a good parent, too.  He wants my sanity as much as I do.  I learned that God doesn't work through fear.  Being terrified of the possibility of pregnancy wasn't an answer from above that I should be trying to get pregnant.  

This time I've started toying with the idea of actually planning a pregnancy.  My newly-retired-from-the-Board self is horrified at me.  My current me is totally at peace with it. Of course, when I started looking at logistics of planting and harvesting my garden, girls camp, Trek, Christmas, morning sickness, awkward third trimester and birth, I realized there really is no good timing right now.  Which has led me full circle to the idea that I need to put it in God's hands.  And once again, I'm at peace with that idea, but with a much different understanding underlying it.

Etc. I still firmly believe in details and talking far too much.  Clearly.

~ Dragon Lady, retired approximately 4.5 years.  Woah.

A:

Hey Mico,

Life: I successfully completed my master's degree!  That was a relief to finally have a close on that chapter of my life.  After graduating, I moved to Edmonton, Alberta and started my position as a PhD student at University of Alberta.  I kicked some serious butt in my classes and now have a high GPA, a big grant, and a paper in the works that should be submitted at the end of next month.  It's been an odd road adjusting to life in Canada.  There are lots of stabbing incidents in my city but at least the health care is free!  We are also learning the new meaning of the word "cold."  Edmonton is colder than Moscow and regularly falls to -40 and below in the winter (fun fact: the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet at -40).  The bright side: since we are so far north, we get to see the northern lights regularly!

Love: I met the love of my life and married him last August.  Since I still think I can claim newlywed status, I could gush about him for hours.  But I'll spare you the gory details.  Here's us dressed as the Borg for Halloween:

 borg2.jpg

Okay, okay, those are pretty bad Borg costumes (and, yes, those Borg hands are indeed a couple of Pringles cans covered in duct tape with a spatula and potato masher shoved in) but it was -15F outside that night and we were more concerned about staying warm than looking perfect.  

Religion: Shortly after my graduation from BYU, I converted to the Anglican Church.  The past few years were difficult as I was trying to figure out what was right and what wasn't, so I'm thrilled to say I finally found a place that works for me.  The neatest part is that since Emma Smith took many of the first LDS hymns from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, I still get to sing my favorite hymns every Sunday (but with different words of course).  My husband is a staunch atheist which leads to some riveting conversations.  We are both highly active in the skeptic/humanist community and are working to push through legislation to require all consumer products that make medical claims to either be scientifically, third-party tested or bear a label warning the consumer about the lack of scientific evidence to support the products' claims.  Big Alt, we're coming for you!

Family: After three months of marriage, we were shocked to find I was pregnant!  Unfortunately the pregnancy didn't hold.  So we did what any rational couple would do.  We got a dog!  We named him Jake after Adventure Time.

 jake_1.jpg

He's a rescue and was abused and neglected before we got him.  It's been so rewarding seeing his change from the terrified pup of a few months ago, to the friendly, active, happy pup of today.

Let's see...I know I retired when I was getting overwhelmed with grad work so that must have been about 2.5 years ago?  Maybe only 2?

- Hypatia

A:

Dear Mico,

I retired about 6.5 years ago (!), so it's fun to reminisce...even as I realize how incredibly old it makes me feel. 

Perspective ch-ch-ch-changes:

Family: I got married, which, honestly, was as big a surprise to me as to anyone else. My dad once made up a model of relationships where some people are comfy chairs that everyone wants to own and other people are uncomfortable artsy chairs that only a few collectors truly value, and he made it clear (not like I didn't know) that I was a Shaker chair. I never particularly minded being single, so I was busy making life plans that would be hard fit a family (like my graduate school research in rural Vietnam) when I met and was quickly smitten by my now-husband. My perspective on marriage has changed somewhat since then, mostly in realizing that it's a lot more fun and a lot less work than I had anticipated.

Work: After spending most of my life assuming that I would get a Ph.D. and be an academic--certainly there's enough evidence on this very Board that that was my plan--I realized, 2.5 years into grad school, that academia was not a good fit for me. (I could go on forever about this, but the short story is that certain elements of the academic culture, at least in my field, played very strongly on negative elements in my personality, and I could see that I wasn't going to be a good or happy person if I stayed.) I left my graduate program one semester after my master's degree and, through some odd twists of fate, ended up working at Facebook. The tech world is a much better fit for me, and though I occasionally miss linguistics, I'm much happier at my job overall. (It's hard not to like a job that offers me unlimited cold cereal.)

Location: I grew up moving around fairly frequently, and always doubted my ability to get truly attached to a place. (Family is what has always defined "home" for me, not location.) I've been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for five years now, and I've fallen in love with the area and could imagine myself staying here forever. (It probably helps that I've turned into a stereotype of the region; I wear Chacos and hike on weekends, I've started to appreciate artisanal cheese, I suddenly love dogs, and sometimes I fantasize about becoming an urban farmer.) I finally understand how people can really love where they live.

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Religion: I don't think I ever talked about religion much here on the Board, but I've always been a fairly liberal Mormon, and that hasn't changed. I'm still active and have served as a Sunday School or seminary teacher (early morning, too!) pretty much constantly since I graduated from BYU, but (unfortunately) I'd say my faith is weaker now than it was 6 years ago. I went through the temple for the first time shortly before Prop 8, and the combination of the two was pretty damaging for my testimony. I've had to dig deep to find other reasons to stay Mormon, and for me right now I'd say my faith is mostly just hope. Luckily my wards have been very accepting and for now I'm quite happy where I am.

Life, The Universe, and Everything: I still read a lot. I still can't take anything seriously, and I still love doing crossword puzzles. (It's my favorite way to use my iPhone.) I've convinced my husband that international travel is fun, and in our 3.5 years of marriage we've taken vacations to Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Singapore, Indonesia, and Ethiopia, and we're currently planning a trip to Kuwait, India, and Nepal. He's also convinced me that long-distance backpacking is fun, and so I've gotten to know California much better through hiking trips in Big Sur, Yosemite, the Trinity Alps, the Lost Coast, and elsewhere. I'm not naturally very athletic, so it's been a big accomplishment for me to learn to enjoy hiking 15 miles/day with a backpack on. (I guess that should go above, since it's a very changed perspective.)

Thanks for the question; it was fun to reflect on what the past few years have brought.

-Petra

A:

Mico!!!

What has changed...

Life: Husband graduated from BYU with his bachelor's in microbiology, and wanted to take a break for a year to concentrate on applying for graduate school. So we moved to my hometown by my family. It's been... interesting. We're excited to move again soon. I'm working as a substitute teacher, which is a great job. I get to play with children of all ages and pretend to teach them something, but not actually have to plan anything or take work home with me. And I get $100 a day for it! Not too shabby. 

Love: I've learned how to love my husband even during our worst. I feel like, after going through some big, life-changing trials, we can never be torn apart.

Religion: After taking a... uhm, "leave of absence" from the Church for about a year and a half, we became active again once we moved away from Provo. I'm enjoying church a lot more now and feel like it's a good place for me to be. After some time away I was able to notice spiritual things in my life that I had taken for granted before.

Family: This is the biggest topic of change for me. In a previous answer, I stated that Husband and I have been trying to have our first baby for over three years, and have experienced three miscarriages. During all of this, I have become a huge advocate for the infertility community and spend a lot of my free time with that. I write an infertility blog that teaches about all aspects of infertility where I also post updates about my treatments with a reproductive endocrinologist. I have also been spending a deal of time writing a book for infertile Mormon women. It's definitely a taboo topic nowadays, especially in the Church, so I do my best to bring down the walls and help others to understand the physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial trials caused by infertility. If anyone has questions, is curious to know more, wants to check out the blog, or needs a friend to talk to, email me at paperback_writer(at)theboard(dot)byu(dot)edu. 

During all of that, my definition of family has changed tremendously. I had always had the mindset that a family unit is one that includes a husband, wife, and children. But I have come to understand that Husband and I, and maybe our two cats, are our own, complete family. I am also trying to shift my thoughts and understand how my life could feel fulfilled if this situation never changes. 

-Paperback Writer

P.S. I retired December 2010. 

A:

Dear Mico,

I have been retired (for the second time) since the end of May 2011, so two years ago.

life - I've been reminded why I stopped writing for the Board, life is so busy!  And as such, I'm not going to be able to answer this as thoroughly as I would like to.  But I doubt many would want to read all that anyways.  So.  I stopped writing when Disgruntled got back from his year in Iraq.  We had a (surprise) baby while he was gone so we've been kept busy with our two crazy boys, now 3 1/2 and 2.  I'm much less conservative than I used to be and I listen to a lot of NPR these days.  I'm pretty sure those two are unrelated.  I'm about 85% Paleo.  I've also loved getting more into photography and actually (finally) charging people for the stuff I do. Hopefully more this summer when the craziness of school has died down.  I will finish up a master's degree in Medical Laboratory Science this time next year and have had fun teaching a few classes/labs at BYU this semester.  I'm kind of bummed none of my students are Boardies...if you are, let me know and maybe you'll get an extra point on your final.  Maybe. 

love - Love is work.  And it is the best type of work to be in.

religion - So, I don't have enough time to say everything I'd like to.  I've only skimmed around the answers around me and you'll read a bit below about separating culture and doctrine.  That sums up a big part of what I wanted to say.

family - I have learned family is what you make it.  Just because you are related by blood doesn't mean blind loyalty and one way respect.

- steen

A:

Dear Mico:

In the past four-and-a-half years, my mom died, I left BYU and came back, I had my first "real" job as a math tutor at my high school, I became obsessed with Jazz Age authors, and I fell out of and back into love. I've managed to travel to Vancouver, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, and Madison. (The Bay Area was my favorite!) I voted for Obama, twice. I get to see Katya from time to time at work. Now that I'm 25, I think the ol' frontal lobes are finally developed. I'm still stunningly gorgeous and noted for my wit. 

---Portia

A:

Dear friend,

I retired from the Board... what, maybe five years ago? So... changed perspectives.

Life: Eh, I'm still super conservative. Not much has changed on that front. One thing that has surprised me is how crunchy I've become. I compost and cloth diaper and breastfeed and make my own laundry detergent and shop organic and stuff, and five years ago, I never would have guessed that I would do those things. In college I was the lone conservative in my major, and now I am the lone conservative among my fellow hippie granola friends. I think it is my destiny to always be the conservative swimming in a sea of hippies.

Love: I've learned that loving a person can be just as much of an action as... I don't know, other things. When you make loving others your priority, every day has purpose, even if your main goals in a day are to complete X amount of laundry or vacuum so many rooms. 

Religion: My main changed perspective is on missionary work. It is becoming increasingly clear to me how urgent the call is to preach the gospel. I made a commitment this week for the first time to find someone for the missionaries to teach--a commitment I wouldn't have made five years ago. I'll admit I'm terrified and nervous, but the urgency of the situation and the blessings associated with missionary work have recently been impressed upon me in a way I never could have foreseen. I'm excited to get more involved with sharing the gospel, even though it is intimidating. 

Family: I always believed that having a family of my own would be awesome, and then I turned out to be right. Win. One personal perspective that has changed is, a few years ago, my handicapped brother broke his hip and then suffered a series of complications involving gallbladder surgery and pancreas issues and a massively long seizure (try like a full day) that led to a contracture that's been bending and twisting the bones in his leg, and my husband and I moved home to help him through his final weeks. Which turned into months. Which have turned into years. And we have been paralyzed by our desire to stick around and support my parents through the difficult times of caring for a full grown man who is unable to do a single thing. 

Recently--a month or two ago--my husband and I decided that we can't put our lives on hold anymore for my parents or my brother. We love my family and obviously want to be supportive and help and everything, but we officially made the decision that we will be leaving this terrible area before January 1, 2015 hits. This is a big deal because for years I assumed that I would be a primary caretaker for my brother until his death, and to finally decide that, be he dead or alive, I am leaving, is scary and weird and liberating. But I think it is the right choice for myself, my children and my husband. 

- Lexi Khan

A:

Dear Mico,

I've been away from the board for a bit over a year now. I've missed it dearly!

Life: I've mentioned my exploits recently in Board Question #70269. I got a grown-up engineering job in Houston, bought a car, finished my master's degree (I recommend finishing before leaving school), got married, and hopefully will buy a house before too long. I almost feel like a real grown-up, except that we don't have any kids. Working full-time is a grind, and for a time I was pretty world weary...

Love: ...until I met Mrs. Democritus. I was bummed that I was leaving BYU alone and heading out where I thought the prospects were dim. My only real physical connection with people outside of work was with the church. I made more of an effort this time to participate in the activities--going to institute, FHE, etc. I gradually began to establish friendships, and then I was called to be co-chairs of some made-up ward committee with this intelligent, assertive young lady. We worked really well together: I would work the details behind the scenes, and she would be the "face" of our little group. I kept finding excuses to talk with her, and she always seemed just one step away from me, until I finally just asked her out. After a couple of dates, we just knew "this was it." We were married last November.

Religion: God clearly had the long game planned for me. I've gained an even greater appreciation of how He arranges events and people in my life. His plan is like a well-written RPG--as long as I make the best choices I can, things will turn out OK. There are no mistakes that lead to an unrecoverable state. There are no nerfs. There are only buffs when you follow the commandments. Okay, I'm done applying games to gospel principles...it's getting weird.

Family: I suddenly have a much bigger one! Mrs. Democritus' mom lives in Houston as well, and she is often visited by her kids and grandkids. I have 5 nephews and nieces, and I hadn't been in close contact with kids since...I was a kid. I appreciate the opportunity to get a little bit of child-rearing experience, and I'm steeling myself for the time when we'll have our own. How we'll afford them, how we'll teach them, how I'll work their science fair projects into publishable works...these are all things I'm trying to ignore for now! The biggest challenge I face is trying to keep up with my original family, because I don't get to visit them nearly as often.

Other: Mrs. Democritus has chipped away a lot of the hard-nosed conservatism I once held dear. Granted, it was already eroding as I've been challenging my political ideals over the course of the last presidential election. I'm a major proponent of No Labels. And I listen to a lot of NPR. I wish my lifelong dream had been to join the Planet Money team, but alas...I think the Board is awesome enough!

-Democritus

A:

Dear Mico,

I retired 2/09, so about four years ago. Since then:

Life: Well, it's way different now. I live on the coast instead of the midwest, am a student instead of being employed, am married instead of single, own a car instead of not owning a car, have Netflix instead of not having Netflix, etc. I have more opinions about political things, I am less conservative on some of them than I used to be, and I live in a very liberal area of the country, so there are a lot of issues I have really had to spend some time considering that I might not otherwise have done. I've realized that it's easy to ignore some issues and be judgy about them if you aren't surrounded by people who face them every day, and it's important to take the time to figure out what you really think about stuff and then work out how to respectfully communicate it. And above all, love people who don't agree with you just as much as the people who fit your same mindset, and make sure they know it. If anyone reading this thinks they have no problem with this: look at yourself again, because I guarantee every single one of us in this world needs to work on it.

Work-wise, I'm changing careers. Grad school applications are in, but no results yet, so as for what the new career will be: surprises for everyone! Mainly, I like science now. I'm looking mostly at Speech/Language Pathology, with maybe ASL translating as a backup (I'm mostly fluent now, which is also a change from four years ago). I'd love to be a neurologist someday, but I don't know if I am in for that long of a haul.

Life Lessons-wise, I am learning different things now than I did when I was single. Some of those things are related to marriage, but many of them are because now that I don't think constantly about dating (which, let's face it, I did before!). Now, I have more time to immerse myself in other things that bring new challenges to the table. Instead of learning all of Life's Hard Lessons from breakups, now I am challenged with having more friends with kids (I don't have kids, and it's kind of hard to have to adjust to your new-parent-friends' new schedules and being patient with their sudden new habit of having to cancel plans all the time because the kid has x or y problem that they don't know how to handle yet - I'm sure it's frustrating for them, too), serving in family-ward types of callings (sometimes people tell you you are destroying relationships! little do they know it's ALL ON PURPOSE), or working out every day (TRX, what?). I appreciate the change, because I actually already know a lot about breakups!

Love: And, following right on the heels of the breakups! I used to have so much relationship drama. I've never liked drama, and I usually don't make a big deal out of nothing, but somehow my dating habits always incited drama anyway. When I got married, my friends told me they felt like their favorite reality show was being canceled, and what were they going to watch now?! Life's rough, I know. I think my perspectives haven't actually changed on this very much, except that I appreciate alone time more than I thought I would. You know, since being with someone on a Friday night, and Saturday, and Sunday, and every night, is the default and not a choice you can say yes or no to every day. I married a guy who is better and amazinger than I expected to marry. Sometimes love is doing the dishes, not just as a cutesy surprise once in awhile that is fun, but as often as you can, because you know he doesn't like it. A good relationship lets you flourish in who you are while you still learn to give more than you ever have.

Religion: 1) I still love God and the Church, believe it's true, and it's a giant part of my life. I have a little more fluid understanding of how people fit within the Church. I am better at understanding people in varying stages of their own relationships to God. My calling has taught me to meet people where they're at. 2) I've decided that visiting teaching is basically the most important Church assignment in the world. (Did you know that a RS President's job is basically to receive 60-90 visiting teaching assignments? That's pretty much the essence of things, plus some administrative stuff. Doing your own visiting teaching basically just takes some of her load off.) I mean, I knew it was important before, I've seen it more now. It is really important. 3) I've learned that bishops are inspired, but they aren't operating off of a pure line of unadulterated revelation all the time, or anything. They make a lot of choices based on best judgment and moving forward, just like everybody does. This applies to all Church leaders. I think I didn't understand that four years ago. 4) I know the Church is true but I am better about educating myself about it and trying to answer more questions I never really thought about before. It is cool to understand what you believe. 5) Like Pa Grape below me, it is a bigger deal to me now than ever that LDS culture and doctrine be differentiated. Sometimes the Mormon kids start assuming that every Mormon around them is going to think identically, and it's easy to make those grand, sweeping statements that show that attitude in potentially hurtful or isolating ways. I wish more of us would let people speak for themselves and didn't create an environment where people can expect blank stares or righteous indignation if they suggest wearing pants to church or if they tell anyone they vote Democrat. I just know a lot more people now who don't fit the cookie cutter, and I wish we as a culture were more absorbing on the whole. I think there are a lot of individuals who excel at this, but culturally, I wish it were more of a rule.

Family: I love them. I am better friends with them the older I get. I will never have twelve children like I thought I would when I was sixteen.

Etc: I got used to recycling and I eat kale now.

-Olympus

A:

Dear Mico,

First, sorry for holding up your question. There's a reason I'm not a writer anymore (aside from not being a BYU student any longer): a career and three kids just leaves too little time to be consistent on here!

I retired from the Board in 2006 as I departed BYU for graduate school up in Seattle. I felt like I was just settling into the Board and, deep down inside, felt kind of disappointed and just a bit resentful at having to leave BYU and consequently the Board. Truthfully, it was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to me. Attending another non-Mormon school challenged me in ways that I desperately needed to be challenged and pushed me in ways that shaped who I am today in very good ways.

Life: Well, it keeps going. Due to the political and legal movements in Colorado, we are becoming less comfortable staying here. We're not at the "we have to get out" stage but more at the "let's wait and see what happens in the next little bit" stage. If we do decide to leave, we'll almost certainly relocate back to Ma's home state of Washington. As I am building a private practice, such a move would be a very significant undertaking so we aren't making any decisions quickly or lightly. If we do, we'll be doing it in the next couple years as we made a family rule that, outside of extenuating circumstances, we will be done moving before Kid Grape #1 enters YWs.

As for life lessons, I'll share two. First, I've had some hard lessons taught to me about trusting others. In both employment situations since grad school, employers have lied or misled me on multiple issues which is why I am now in private practice. If I do decide to be an employee of someone else again, I have learned the importance of interviewing the employer to an even stricter standard than they interview me and to make sure that anything they say they will do is in explicit and carefully crafted language on paper, no matter how much trust they engender interpersonally or how much other employees vouch for them (since those employees could be just as deceived as you have been). Second, working on your inner self is probably the most important work you can do (outside of gaining a testimony). Always have a quality, characteristic, aspect, habit, or trait that you want to improve and then be actively engaged in changing it. That more than pretty much anything has brought me personal happiness (even above family as it has had a direct impact on whether my time at home and with my family is fun or just frustrating).

Love: Ma Grape and I are still doing great. We've learned a lot about marriage and happiness in marriage since we were at BYU. Regarding love generally, once the euphoric excitement of infatuation wears off, I firmly believe that love in a relationship has more to do with choice and actions than chemistry. Sure, chemistry is important but it can be easily overpowered by choice and action.

Religion: More than ever before, I strongly differentiate between the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the LDS church, and Mormon culture. There have been times in my life where I often conflated them. I am very careful not to do that anymore. I still have a firm testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am very aware that the Church is led by inspired but fallible men. There are things about Mormon culture I find endearing and uplifting and there are things that I feel are very damaging to members, the Church's image, and consequently to those learning about the restored gospel and investigating the Church. Okay, off my soapbox. 

Family: Perspectives on family? I don't know that they have changed all that much. If anything, my firm belief of the impact that families have on children and on society in how they teach values, morals, and standards has been reinforced repeatedly. The teaching of love, respect, tolerance, and the need to see every person around you as much as a real person as you see yourself is sadly falling and failing in our society generally and even within the members of the Church. I believe that much of the evil in this world, from the tragic shootings to many of our government problems, can be traced back to the values that families are teaching or failing to teach.

-Pa Grape (who was also CGNU Grad)

A:

Dear Mico,

I retired in 2006.  Since then, I think my perspective has changed quite a bit and is still shifting.

Life: Life is for being happy.  I am still figuring this out, the whole being happy thing.  I am learning to work on my own happiness and slowly addressing the things that keep me from experiencing it as often as I would like.  I now know that I am not alone in my struggles, though.  It isn't just me!  I am learning that it doesn't really matter what other people think and that what I think shouldn't be in response to what I think other people think.  A lot of thinks.

Love:  Still as single as I was in 2006.  The change in perspective has been learning little by little what unconditional love really means in the sense of God's love for me.  I still struggle with accepting that I can be loved when I feel like I screw up so much, but am getting better at this.  I love my nieces and nephews and look forward to a time when I can further explore love with a family of my own.

Religion: I mentioned some of this above.  I came to the realization that my spiritual progression was being hindered by depression.  As physical beings we seek to be in places and situations where we are stimulated and energized.  If we aren't getting those things we seek them from other sources (our jobs, the internet, our family).  I found that some of the spiritual things (church attendance, scripture study, prayer) weren't helping with my depression because of the anxiety I felt over being inferior in general and spiritually in specifics.  This was a hard realization.  So much counsel by lay leaders is to throw yourself into spiritual things, and it wasn't working for me.  I am treating my disease with medication and therapy and finding that overcoming that anxiety and being OK with myself makes it SO much easier to feel energized and recharged by going to church.  It seems less like a chore and more like something I actually want to do.  It sounds weird, but the less I made religion the focus of my recovery, the closer I have drawn to the church.

Family: I can't really untangle this from what I have said above, so take that as you will.

I could write for several hours on various perspectives that have shifted, but I will leave it at this.

Have Fun Storming the Castle,

-Il Guanaco

PS. Lexi Khan and Petra - I totally fantasize of being an urban farmer some day.  I would never have thought this 3 years ago.

 

A:

Dear Mico,

Life: I have come to value context (historical, social, etc.) in my understanding of life, and the more I learn the more I see that I know and understand very little. I have intentionally worked on becoming more comfortable with ambiguity, or in other words I'm working on withholding judgment until I have a more complete understanding — whether something is good or bad or even if I just like it or not. I've also learned to love my body, both in the body-image sense and the sense that I should value and care for my body. Turns out my body is an important part of me. I also realized that even in my lowest moments I'm a hopeless optimist.

Love: My love for Sauron only strengthens as I realize what a blindly wonderful choice I made in marrying him. When I chose him I loved him, but I really had no idea what I was doing, and as we grow and change together it just becomes more clear that he was the right choice. And as I look at other loved ones around me making good choices and not so good choices I realize that love comes with a lot of heartbreak, and that love sometimes means just being a safe place to tell the truth.

Religion: You and I have emailed about this, and you know that I've gone through a lot of changes here. I'm in a good place now, I'm a huge fan of Jesus, and I love the LDS Church. I see that my weaknesses become my strengths and my strengths, the things I always thought were easy or that I'd never have a problem with, become my weaknesses. I wish to live a very personal and intimately interpersonal faith. That's about where I'm at.

Family: When you grow up you think that once you get married and have kids, you've got it made. So not true. The grey areas get greyer and the stakes get higher. However, I've come to have more faith in the people around me (including my children), and I don't worry about them so much anymore. I also realized that I don't need to repeat my childhood experiences or my parents' parenting experiences for my family to turn out great.

Politics: I realized that I am underqualified to vote on anything. But I voted anyway. Third party FTL.

Ever figuring it out,

Waldorf and Sauron

 

A:

Dear Mico,

It has been about 7 months since my retirement. Time flies when you're having fun!

Life: I'm chugging away at medical school here in Philadelphia. Unlike when I retired, I have friends here and am happy (things were a bit lonely and miserable for my first few months here). I just got done with a five-day backpacking trip in North Carolina (I'm on spring break), and am slowly beginning to like the East Coast. 

Love: I'm, uhh, dating someone. She's great, but she's leaving on a mission in a couple months, so I'll likely be a bachelor soon. 

Religion: I'm still Mormon, but probably not the same kind as I used to be. I'm what you would call "fully active" but I still don't believe most of the truth-claims of the LDS Church (Joseph Smith, one true Church, revelation, etc.)

Family: I now have a baker's dozen nieces and nephews and I miss them fiercely. I can't wait to see them over the summer!

Etc: Marguerite St. Just sent me the link to this drink (which reminded her of our Krispy Kreme brownie creation), and I have an odd desire to try it out.

--Pilgrim

A:

Dear Mico,

Looks like the last question I answered was in September 2008. Wow. 

LIFE: When the BYU Telefund calls I'm polite, but never donate. I live up in Salt Lake City and pretty regularly travel to other parts of the country for work. I work full time with a software development company and part time with the Utah theatre industry.

LOVE: I've loved, been loved, but am currently looking for someone new to love. Any suggestions?

RELIGION: Still Mormon. I teach Gospel Doctrine in a YSA ward (and love it).

FAMILY: I've got 5 nieces and nephews and a large extended family.

ETC: The number of Board Writers I've made out with has not grown since retirement. I tell you what though, The Board is certainly an education.

- Just Another Cassio

A:

Dear Mico,

I retired five and a half (!!!) years ago.  Weird.  And I was going to just say that I think I've grown up a lot since then and leave it at that, but apparently everyone else is being more detailed. 

Life:  I'm nicer.  I mean, I don't think I was necessarily mean before, but I think I'm a lot nicer to other people now than I was five years ago.  I (try to) give people the benefit of the doubt more often, I (try to) always say nice things about other people, and I (try to) be nicer when things don't go my way or when people disagree with me.  It may seem silly and I don't think there was ever a magical transformation (and I'm far from perfect), but I definitely care about being kind more than I did before.

Love:  I'm sure you meant like, relationship love, but I'm going to answer from a different perspective.  Five years ago I would have thought that if my life went exactly how I planned it, I'd love what I was doing in life.  But... since when does life go exactly the way we plan it?  Something I've learned about love is that you can love what you're doing, even if it's not what you expected to be doing.  And that's okay.         

Religion:  When I retired, I was going to a quiet BYU singles ward.  Now I'm in a family ward and I have a lot stronger opinions on reverence.  And then I remind myself to give parents with screaming children the benefit of the doubt. 

Family:  I value my family more.  When I retired from the Board, the majority of my family lived out of state and I probably had a lot stronger relationships with my friends/roommates/boyfriends/etc. than with my family.  Now, a lot of my family lives closer to me and I love it.  I'm a lot more likely to plan things with family than things with friends.  Sure, I love having friends and we all still make an effort to get together regularly, but for the day to day friendships, I've found that more with my family.   

Etc.:  I travel!  And, guess what, I like it.  When I retired, I think I'd been all of about five places and didn't really feel like I was missing anything.  Now I've been all over the world and even though I still like coming home best, I do like traveling.  And I'm not someone that loves trying new things, but traveling has taught me that it's okay to try new things and sometimes you may accidentally find things you love.

- Lavish 

A:

Dear I forgot to check your name and I don't want to scroll up,

Life: I believe even more than I used to that Life is what you make it. Not having BYU to tell me where to be every minute of my day was a strange adjustment, but now I'll never go back. It's too awesome on this side of graduation.

Love: Movies are just dead wrong about love. The Board got to see the tiniest tiniest tip of the iceberg of my weird love-life, which was built around trying to make life a RomCom. Fortunately, I met a magnificent woman who was exactly what I need, and she's taught me that love is a willingness to sacrifice.

Religion: I've learned that Utah isn't quite the stronghold I thought it was. I'm still actively LDS, but a lot of my friends have left the Church for various reasons. I still don't believe there are any good reasons to leave the Church, but I see a lot of intelligent people do it. So I've learned that religion is not a faction, but rather a sublime experience and heartbreaking journey all wrapped into one giant and fulfilling roller coaster ride.

Family: I have no kids, but we'll make some humans in a little while. My wife is my closest family, obviously, and there's nothing better than having a teammate who both understands you and somehow puts up with you. Outside of that, my siblings are my closest friends.

Hm, I didn't chart the changes very much on this, but I hope you get the point.

~Hobbes

A:

Hi Mico!

Life: I like it a lot more! My life was not going well when I was a writer. Now, my life is still as hard (in different ways) but I have a better attitude, a greater capacity to deal with struggle, and many more resources to turn to for help in all aspects of my life. I am excited about the miracle of human consciousness, as John Green says, and am happy being alive.

Love: I was in an abusive relationship during most of my time as a writer. Now I have a much healthier view and more full understanding of love and relationships.

Religion: A lot has happened in this category, but in short, I still identify as a Latter-day Saint and have decided I'm here to stay regardless of many unanswered questions both trivial and serious. I will also refer you to the answers of Marzipan and Pa Grape.

Family: I have much better relationships with my siblings and parents.

Politics: I've become much more informed, and started identifying with one particular party (though I don't always agree with it or its other members). Also, I am now quite politically active and involved in a lot of groups at BYU and Utah in general.

Etc.: Pretty much the overarching theme here is that I am in a much better place now, which is great!

-Saint Seb, 3 years