Month: October 2011


Hi from Utah!  After a nightmare of a flight I arrived back from a California business trip yesterday.   The reason I had to go on the trip is to set up my bookkeeping responsibilities for our new business Poler LLC. (It is always nice to see my family but great to return home.Its funny that I don’t consider where my parents live as home anymore?)

This is a very exciting business that I wanted to tell you about.   It has two major components- apparel and camping gear.

One blog describes the Poler products as “Based in Portland, Oregon, Poler’s outdoor equation seems to be one part heritage, one part skate, and one part shaggy Oregon bearded dudes. If you’re looking for a snowsports parallel, Poler might be the spacecraft of the outdoor world.

Everyone knows I’m not a huge camping nut but the design aesthetic for Poler is very cool and unique. My brother is a leader of Poler (not sure exactly what his position is called) but he has taken the lead on both design and product selection for this company.  He is also a talented photographer.  You see his wonderful photography on his blog

in addition to clothing they have knapsacks and dufflebags

They have hoodies and t-shirts that are slim cut super soft ringspun cotton
There are also amazing tents that pop together like magic

The idea for Poler is embracing nature and creating your own adventure which has appeal for even a non-outdoorsy person like myself.  I like nature I just don’t like all the work that usually comes along with setting up camping. Poler is all about making things easy and enjoying the nature that surrounds you.

Another blogger said, “It’s for people that look at most outsdoorsy stuff and wonder why everyone is trying to pretend they are going to do first ascents on alpine peaks instead of celebrating the fact that they are having adventures that are awesome in their own way.”

Check the website out and get your Christmas shopping done early.  Free shipping right now!


Fires of Faith

Real quick I just wanted to encourage everyone to watch the BYU TV series Fires of Faith.  It is a wonderful documentary about the origins of the Kings James Bible into English.  The sacrifice made by William Tyndale and others is humbling and inspiring.  In the first 2 episodes I have learned a lot.  It is also shot beautifully with dramatic portrayals and fascinating insight from a number of scholars.  It is not only an LDS documentary but appropriate for all Christians.


You can find out when it airs in your area or watch it on demand at


Sugar Fast

Most of my friends have learned about my current sugar fast.  Along with a prohibition against fast food, I have decided to stop eating desserts through the end of the year.  I am giving myself one day off a month, which means I will be eating treats on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So far I’ve only had one day of treats this month and that was after my meet in Logan where I had some ice cream. It has been harder than I thought it would be but we are trying to change my cravings and most importantly my habits.   This is particularly important during this time of the year because there are so many sweet temptations that go along with the holidays.

Its amazing how quickly you get into the habit of eating sweets.  I noticed this on my mission.  I had never been in the routine of a daily dessert but on my mission people would feed us and often have a treat to end the meal.  When I got home I was surprised at how much I craved sweets after dinner.

It might sound like a drastic measure to go cold turkey but it is kind of a shock to my system and then hopefully be able to work sweets back into my life.  I just like sweets too much.  (Although I have been successful in keeping my blood sugar down for many months, so its not like I’m going crazy with the sugar!).

What sweet would you miss the most?

One of my friends wondered if this type of sweet fast would do more harm than good because it makes the denied food seem all the more appealing.  What do you think?  I would agree if it was a permanent fix but as a catalyst for increased health I think it is a good thing.

This next week is going to be a huge test because I am going on a business trip to California.  It will be some intense days of training, which will make exercise and diet very difficult.  Wish me luck!

On a side note- I think it is dumb when people put these type of restrictions on kids.  I read a blog today from a woman who suggests giving out prunes to trick or treaters.  Come on! I’m all for healthy eating but I also think there is nothing wrong with a child being allowed one day of candy and treats.  By giving them only prunes and organic lollipops a parent ostracizes children from their peers and makes food more of an issue than it should be.

Solitude of Self

I can really be a strange, confusing creature!  This is true in many ways (and I’m sure my friends and family could come up with a long list) but one way which I have been pondering recently is my seemingly incongruous desires for both sociability and solitude.

My entire life I have been an outwardly social person.  I love entertaining, forming groups and making friends.  I am also a very loyal friend that prizes relationships above almost anything else.  Most of the dear moments of my life have come because of sacrifices and support of friends and family.  For instance, any success I achieved on my mission was from a combination of my own efforts, God’s will and the hard work of the people I served with and for.

To get through graduate school I relied on the work of my fellow teammates and teachers.  To thrive in college took the support of many roommates, friends, mentors and the love of my parents.

I can’t think of another human being that values social interaction and the people around her more than me.  One of the benefits of swimming open water is it has opened my eyes to a whole new group of friends and fellow-swimmers.  The comradery has motivated me so much.  My trainers have also been absolutely crucial in my fitness success over the last 2 years.  Without their prodding and encouragement I would not be where I am today.

So, why would such a person chose, yes chose, to live alone?  How could such a social creature enjoy solitude? Not only do I live alone but I also spend most of my work hours alone.  When I think back on my mission one of the hardest parts was feeling alone.  Why was it so difficult then and yet not so now?

Maybe part of it is that my life experiences have taught me that I am never alone.   My Lord is with me wherever I go, and I have an unending trove of people who care deeply about me.

That is all very key but another part is I am now at 30 comfortable with the ‘solitude of self’.  I even crave it.

The term ‘solitude of self’ comes from a talk by Elizabeth Cady Stanton who was, along with Susan B.  Anthony, a founder of the woman’s movement.  In the talk, she defends a woman’s right to vote because all individuals whether man or woman have ‘a responsibility towards their own individual happiness and development’:

“To guide our own craft, we must be captain, pilot, engineer; with chart and compass to stand at the wheel; to watch the winds and waves, and know when to take in the sail, and to read the signs in the firmament over all. It matters not whether the solitary voyager is man or woman; nature, having endowed them equally, leaves them to their own skill and judgment in the hour of danger, and, if not equal to the occasion, alike they perish.”

What it comes down to, Stanton says, is that each human being is responsible for the choices he or she makes- and therefore, each person should have the right to make those choices.  No person is a pawn.

“The talk of sheltering woman from the fierce storms of life is the sheerest mockery, for they beat on her from every point of the compass, just as they do on man, and with more fatal results, for he has been trained to protect himself, to resist, and to conquer. Such are the facts in human experience, the responsibilities of individual sovereignty. Rich and poor, intelligent and ignorant, wise and foolish, virtuous and vicious, man and woman; it is ever the same, each soul must depend wholly on itself.”

While I might add ‘depend wholly on itself and God’ , I still love Stanton’s idea of ‘individual sovereignty’.  One of the things that disgusted me with the recent Casey Anthony trial is how Casey refused to take any responsibility for her daughter being gone for 31 days before her parents called the police.  Her attorneys then brought out every reason why she might have made poor choices.  In the end, whether guilty or innocent she failed to uphold her ‘individual sovereignty’ and she will have to live with that.

To some the idea of the ‘solitude of self’ may sound depressing or sad but not to me.  I have been cursed with the tendency to compare myself to others my entire life and it is only when I am truly at home with myself that I am happy.

In fact, I find if I am not given enough ‘me time’ I get depressed! And yet if I go too long without human affection and contact I am miserable also. I suppose it is like CS Lewis said “humans are in a sense amphibious beings—both physical and spiritual. We live our lives straddling two worlds..”

A good example of my dual nature is when I dive into water and feel cocooned in white noise.  It is like everything is gone and I am free with just my thoughts.  Even when people are cheering around me I hear nothing but the sound of water.  I love that feeling.  On the other hand, I can think of nothing I enjoy more than gathering with other swimmers and bonding over our shared experience.

Another example is I love when all I can hear in my apartment is the sound of the cars going by, and yet I also come alive when my table is spread with delicious food, friends are chatting and I am surrounded by those I love.

In one sense I am divided but maybe this new happiness is actually the most complete I can be?  CS Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters (a book about 2 devils giving advice) that the ‘lost cause’ for all devils is when a human has faced his or her loneliness and yet still obeys:

“Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Maybe that’s what I am finally learning to do- to accept God’s will for my life at the moment I am living it, whether it be a lonely or social time?  I am certainly not perfect in this acceptance, but I have come a long way since those lonely, yet social high school days or those humbling days on my knees in Indiana.

I hope this entry makes sense.  It is something which has been on my mind; and I always find that pondering via writing is one of the best ways to sort out my thoughts.

Do you feel this contradiction in your life between the need for solitude and friendship?

One last quote by Stanton that I love

“as an individual, she must rely on herself. No matter how much women prefer to lean, to be protected and supported, nor how much men desire to have them do so, they must make the voyage of life alone

Six Kids

This is missing 2 of my siblings. (L to R) me, Sam, Mom, Anna, Dad, Madeline last October
here I am with my siblings Anna, Ben and Meg. In 2005 at Ben's wedding

I know I’ve done many posts about my childhood and family but I don’t think I’ve ever specifically addressed the fact I am from such a large family.  It’s funny because in the Mormon world six kids doesn’t necessarily feel unusual or particularly large (my brother in law is from a family of 10 kids if that tells you anything).

My situation is even more unique because of the age gaps between all the children.  Many people looking at my family might assume we are a blended, Brady bunch style but that is not the case.  My parents couldn’t have kids for a long stretch of time and then after 10 years of waiting started again.  They literally have been raising kids for over 30 years of their lives.  I don’t know many human beings that can say that (and they still have six years to go with minors at home!).

I will be the first to say I don’t think I could do what my parents have done- especially with my mother’s tough pregnancies (full bed rest for the last 3).  I’m not the best at managing stress and balancing emotions (this is partly why I found my mission so difficult).   I also have never felt like I am the greatest with kids (I know it is different for your own but still 30 years of parenting! I don’t think I could do it!).

I think given I’m 30 and not in a relationship, the likelihood of my having six kids anyway is slim to none . I’m actually kind of weird in the Mormon world because I don’t feel a huge need to have children.  I’ll be happy if the opportunity comes but I’m perfectly content loving my nieces to pieces.

That said, if you are thinking of having a large family I will provide you with a list of the pros and cons.


Older kids get provided with many leadership opportunities.

For an independent kid like me it was good to be given meaningful responsibilities towards the survival of the family (cooking meals, cleaning, watching children etc)

The more children in a family the more sacrifice each member must make. Sacrifice can be hard but it also bonds family members together in a way no other type of love can.

Harder to feel lonely in a big family.

Always someone to talk to or play with.

As adults it is wonderful to have siblings to bounce ideas off of and share experiences.  Its different than a friend.

It is also nice to see the diversity within a family and neat to see and share common personality traits and interests between siblings.

Gives many opportunities to serve siblings and work together on projects.

It can be a lot of fun!

Food is cheaper by the dozen

Parents get lots of grandkids to spoil at the end


Parent time is stretched

Parent money is stretched

Parent patience can be stretched

Sacrifice can be tough on older children

More kids, more opportunities for fights, jealousy, tantrums, anger, rebellion and tempers

Everything will not be fair between siblings (I don’t know if it necessarily should be)

Because of the stretched resources in both time and money children may miss out on some experiences

It may not be possible for parents to be as involved in the minutia of their child’s life as other parents of small families

That’s some of my thoughts.  Whether you are from a large or small family what do you think some of the advantages/disadvantages are?

USU Meet

I’ve been a bit delayed in posting about the meet on Saturday because I’ve been super busy and they didn’t release the results until today.  This was my second US Masters Meet and it was a good experience.  I really debated whether to attend or not because it required a lot of driving, but I decided that I need to take advantage of every opportunity I can to improve my swimming and test myself physically.  The meets don’t happen very often so you can’t let one slip away.  (I wish they would advertise the meets more.  It would have been so nice to carpool.)

Compared to all of the open water/masters meets I’ve attended previously the USU meet felt very collegiate, young and competitive.  Indeed, when they released my scores I was the only swimmer in my age group (women 30-34).  This means I technically finished first in all my races!  🙂

It really felt more like Utah State’s swim team and 10 of their friends and while I don’t participate in the meets to win, it is more fun when things are a bit more casual.  My friends Josh and Sabrina came and Josh posted good times, but aside from them there was nobody else to really talk with or get to know.

Anyway, it was still a fun experience.  I swam in 4 races the 200 meter freestyle, 50 meter freestyle, 500 meter freestyle and the 50 butterfly.  The latter two were the most difficult.  The 500 was the longest meet race I’ve done (last time was the 400) and it was tough!  It’s funny you wouldn’t think swimming 500 meters would be hard after swimming 1.2 miles but the pace is faster at a meet and the flipturns drain a lot out of me- especially towards the end when I am gasping for air.

However, I am proud to say I finished all my flipturns and made it under my goal time of 13 minutes with a time of 12 min 22 seconds.  This was particularly satisfying as my swim cap kept riding up my head until I ripped it off and threw it on the pool deck.  Thankfully I had my hair in a pony-tail underneath my cap or the situation would have been bad!   Still, I was proud of myself for maintaining my focus and not letting the cap incident rile me.

It was also funny at the end of the 500 I was at least 2 laps behind anyone else in my heat.  It seemed like the whole pool deck started cheering me on.  I felt like the underdog in a sports movie.  Never mind that they were cheering me because I was last- I’ll take what I can get!

Once I finished the 500 I felt spent and wondered if I could get through the 50 fly.  The meet went along at a fast clip and it seemed I was always rushing to make my heat.  (They didn’t have a loud speaker to announce which heat was going when and that would have been very helpful).  I just wondered if I would have time to regroup and get through it.  It had been since high school that I had competed in a butterfly competition and I knew even a 50 meters was going to be tough.

Never wanting to back away from a challenge or give up, I just had to do it.  Into the water I went and I pushed through the pain to complete my 50 fly.  I know I have tons of work to do but I was proud of my 1 minute 9 second time- only 3 seconds slower than I had done in practice.

My other times are 200 m at 4 min 31 seconds (better than my 4 min 57 sec at the last meet) and my 50 free was a personal best at 49.2o seconds- first time under 50 seconds!

If anyone is reading this and is interested in participating in meets look up the US Masters swim team in your area.  I really wish there was some way I could promote or advertise the masters/open water swim programs in my area.  I know there are people like me who would love to participate but simply don’t know about it.  If anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, I will have to promote events from this blog- sending the word out in the best way I can.  My only wish about US Masters is that they had some kind of participation award or medal- like maybe something for a person who participates in all of the seasons meets? I like looking at my medals for the open water swims and wish I had something for the meets.  Plus, it is fun to show them off to friends and family! Oh well!

ah the self portrait.
Finishing a race
Before the 500

Romantic Comedy Cliches I’m Sick of…

So today I had a great experience at a swim meet in Logan(something I will be posting about once I get all the photos from my friend). It was an intense meet with lots of college-level swimmers but I’m proud to say I came through with my best times so far! Like I said, more to come on that front….

For those that don’t know Logan is about 2 hours away from my apartment, so as you can imagine after such a long drive I came home exhausted.  My muscles ached all over and I had to fight falling asleep (I didn’t want to take a long nap because I knew it would be hard to sleep tonight).

Anyway, as I browsed the channels with my heat pad in toe I started and stopped watching several romantic comedies.  It got me thinking.  How is it that Hollywood can get away with using the same tired cliches over and over again?  Especially when stacked next to each other, it’s truly amazing how similar these movies are. Whatever happened to the romantic comedy writing of the 1950’s where scripts were sharp and surprising? (I think part of the reason is in the old system stars had to do whatever they were asked; thereby, putting more of the budget to the script, music, dance etc.)

As a response to this question I would like to put out a list of romantic comedy cliches I hope to never see again:

1. Characters trip, bump, topple, save each other from a moving dumpster (yes, that’s from an actual movie), and not only do they fall but they always happen to land in prime kissing position.

2. One character is forced to move, travel, or leave and his or her love must make a mad dash to the airport, subway station, bus depot etc.

3. Characters become unlikely dance partners and the sparks fly.

4.  A pair of glasses and some frizzy hair is the only thing keeping boys from flocking to Anne Hathaway and a million other “nerdy” girls.

5. The love birds become involved in a secret bet, challenge, secret identity, contest or investigative article and their success depends on wooing the girl (worked in Taming of the Shrew but get over it!)

6. A long makeover scene involving waxing and hair coloring turns the ugly girl into  an attractive specimen like magic.

7. A proposal/kiss has to be made in a crowded room where everyone applauds at the end.

8. The best friend is either a wisecracking gay man, Judy Greer, or some other sarcastic sidekick (where’s my compadre who exists only to make snarky comments about my life?)

9. The idea that every working woman is somehow cold and too preoccupied with their career to get a man.  I can’t even count the number of movies I’ve seen where Jennifer Anniston, Katherine Hiegel, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Lopez are painted as cold jerks too busy for love just because they have a job they are dedicated too (tell me did feminism happen? Sometimes I wonder with romantic comedies!)…Please!

10. A lip synching scene where the girl and her galpals dance around the house fake singing to songs like I will Survive or Aint No Mountain High Enough.

11. We hate each other at first but really we are in love.  Usually by the end of them finding their love you hate both characters too much to care about them getting together.

12. I’ve seen one too many movies in recent years where the beautiful lead is desperate for a baby and goes to a sperm clinic only to meet Mr.  Sunshine right after (literally in the Back Up Plan Jennifer Lopez meets her stud in the taxi on the way home from AI)

13. Characters magically switch places with a mother, brother, dad, best friend, rich friend, nerdy friend etc.  This is true for any other ‘magic’ cliche like the characters are in different time periods but still can exchange letters or a character steps into a painting and falls in love with the girl…so lame!

14. Its OK for a character to commit adultery if the spouse is a jerk and the guy is her ‘true love’…

15. The lead is a single mom waitress, baker, writer, unemployed, maid, and yet lives in a 2 bedroom 7 million dollar apartment in Manhattan.

16. Somehow our wonderful and loveable heroine is dating, engaged, or married to a total jerk who she has no problem dumping when the right guy comes along.

Here’s an idea Hollywood- how about you make a movie about a real girl who is happy with her career, happy with her body and then meets her man.  What’s so wrong with that?

A movie like 500 Days of Summer shows you don’t even have to give the movie a ‘happy’ ending for it to be a charming, wonderful romantic movie.  Let’s be creative and

So, there you have it.  What movie cliches bother you?


in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.

Theodore Roosevelt

Well certainty this year I have been doing many things and amidst the continuing struggles it is very rewarding to see genuine progress and growth in my life, particularly satisfying with the physical fitness/health goals.  I share this not to boast but to include you in my achievements.  I am so excited!

Today I had my ‘boot camp’ with my trainer.  This is a meeting we do every 6-8 weeks to diagnose my physical conditioning is improving, staying the same or getting worse.  So far I have seen improvement in every area except for the stairs (I hate those stairs!).  I won’t bore you with all of the routines but it was so satisfying to do more than I did before, to see progress. I am also not nearly as sore today as I was anticipating from a tough work out.

Things are improving and that makes me smile!

After the ‘boot camp’ I weighed in at 261.  That’s 3 lb lost since the end of August.  I am picking up the pace on the dieting through the tough holiday season and hopefully the weight will come off.  (The more it does, the less stress on my muscles which is important for the fibromyalgia).

If you can believe it, I have only lost 10 lbs since the beginning of the year.  On first glance, this might seem like a disappointment but when you think of everything I have been through this year from meds, surgery, swims and everything else it is understandable.

What made me more excited is when I took my measurements for biceps, shoulders, abdomen and hips, there were significant changes in all 4 measurements!

Take a look at these charts.  I believe you will see a great deal of  improvement and much progress! Hurray!

Look at the improvement!!!!!

Down by 3 inches in that critical abdomen area.  Hurray!

Shoulders and torso down by 4 inches!

The hips show the least amount of change but that’s no surprise we Wagners love to hang on to those hips!

General Conference Highlights

This post is mainly for my Mormon friends; although, I think there are inspiring messages for anybody in the talks I will share.

Last week in the midst of the chaos of my race I got to enjoy my church’s General Conference.  This is a meeting held twice a year in April and October and it is a chance for the prophet, apostles and other leaders to share messages that both inspire and clarify doctrine.  I look forward to conference each year but with the struggles of this year I have felt particularly fed by it.

I feel so fortunate that I have a faith to lean on when times get rough.  Sometimes I wonder why I need certain challenges but it is always comforting to know that God knows the reason. I know that I am in His hands, and as I seek to follow Him, I will find happiness.  I have read and prayed and have gained my own testimony of Christ’s love for me and the validity of His Church.

So here are four talks that I particularly liked at Conference.  Each of these talks display the love of God for his children and how that love is expressed in the lives of good people.  For some reason I needed to hear that this month:

President Uchtdorf on service and worthy sacrifice

President Uchtdorf on overcoming loneliness and despair.

President Eyring on service

Elder J.  Devin Cornish on tender mercies of God- I love the story about wanting a quarter and finding it.



More fun medical news from Rachel!  Ever since my fall in January my chest muscles have been inflamed and tender to the touch.  For a while my endocrinologist thought it was costochondritis (an infection of the lungs).  The problem with that diagnosis is costochondritis usually only lasts for 1-3 months.  I have had this pain now for 8 months.

Next my doctor thought it might be a pulled muscle that kept getting reinjured.  This never made sense to me because why would the pain be all over my ribcage, an area that contains many muscles.  Could I really pull all of them and then keep reinjuring all of them? It seemed unlikely.

The other problem I have dealt with is the extreme pain I feel after almost any workout.  At first I thought this was just from a lack of training but after nearly 2 years of hard exercise it still hasn’t gotten any easier.  Granted I keep pushing myself harder and harder but you would think that after a while my body would learn to bounce back with greater ease.

Trying to diagnose the problem I had an MRI done a couple of weeks ago.  There they found an ‘old compression fracture’ on my thoracic area of the spine.  We are not sure how old this injury is but it’s most likely from the fall.  Typically a compression fracture is found in people who fall from a building or high place like I did with the stairs.  It is probably mostly caused by the intensity with which my head hit the wall at the  end of the stairs.

Fortunately the fracture has completely healed and shouldn’t cause me anymore problems.  However, it still didn’t answer why I kept having these chest pains.  So, I met with the doctor yesterday to discuss the MRI and my pain.

Now I’ve had my share of lame doctors but this one was wonderful.  She has dealt with chronic pain and knew exactly what to do.  She spent nearly an hour with me and asked me questions about my sleep, the pain, and my workouts.  Then she touched all of these trigger points around my body.  It was amazing when she touched certain spots the pain shot up through me like a bolt of lightning.

Evidently if you have pain in 11 out of 18 trigger points then you have fibromyalgia.  She also said the sleep apnea and slow recovery from exercise are big signs.

This might sound strange but it was so nice to have a name to the pain.  Now I can start my research and learn more about this condition.  I really feel this is a huge piece in the puzzle of my overall health.

This is where I come to you internet-world.  Do any of you have fibromyalgia or have loved one’s with it?  I would love to hear about what has worked for you?  According to my doctor there isn’t a ton they can do about the condition aside from taking anti-depressants (sounds strange but I guess it helps with the way your immune system transmits pain signals), which I will only do as a last resort.

I’ve heard that acupuncture helps and so even though the needles kind of freak me out I might give it a try.  I already get massages from my friend Jill who gives me a great deal.  I wish I could afford it every day, it helps so much!

I also love the hot tub at my gym.  It practically melts the muscles.

The doctor said that even though the workouts may cause additional pain they are the best thing I can do.  She added I should not expect any relief from the pain as I get more in shape.  Kind of a bummer but oddly comforting as well.  This whole time I thought I was just kind of a pain-whimp.  Turns out I’ve been pretty strong all along!

The other good news is that swimming is the best workout I can do for fibromyalgia.  It is the easiest on the body and is low impact on my muscles.  Hurray!  The one thing that is best for me is the activity I enjoy most!

Anyway, like I said if you have any experience with this condition that might help me, I would love to hear it.  Thanks in advance!