Category Archives: Progress

180 Dates

Since moving and becoming part of The Men of Ten, I have gone on 180 dates. Alright, go ahead and start the judgement on that number. I mean one doesn’t get the bad reputation without a high number, right? (Side note, the reputation will be addressed later, so remember it). It is a very high number and the only way I have counted is because I have a song that I play one time while getting ready for every date. That song just hit 180 plays about two weeks ago. I have learned so much from those 180 dates that I felt the need to share it with the world.

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Now, in those 180 dates, three girls were given a large amount of dates. They were even given that scary word of commitment, but sadly saw the sting of rejection in one shape or another. These three taught me how to open up and truly be vulnerable with someone. They taught me to take down the walls that I put up. They were each a blessing that I needed at their particular parts of my life. One taught me to not miss my chance and to love a friend. Two is the one that taught me that I could truly love someone. She helped me to see the hand of God more in my life. She was there for me in the beginning of my bad reputation and over looked it. Three, poor Three. She started out as a way for me to get over two and seemed more like a game. I wasn’t ready for her and I didn’t respect her. Sadly, she found rejection the hardest with a hand-written letter and the boarding of a plane for a goodbye. Not my best moment in life. She taught me the depth of my reputation and just couldn’t look past it. She taught me that I needed to learn to move on and focus on the things that matter most.

I was labeled as a heartbreaker, a man slut, and one that disrespects women. The last one hurt the most. The thing about rumors are: they are terrible and cruel, but most of them are true. I admit that I wasn’t the best with women when my heart got broke the first time since R. However, I honestly had the best intentions when it came to my dating life. When I moved to Provo, I felt that it was preached that we were supposed to date a lot. I set the goal to get married and I figured that 3-5 dates a week would help me to obtain it. That is how it all started. When I tarnished my name among those from my mission, I dove into dating like it was a sport. I didn’t see what would follow it.

Among all this dating, I feel like I learned what I didn’t want to have in a future spouse. There are some girls that I wrote off very quickly because I saw traits that I knew that I couldn’t live with. However, there are some girls that I just never asked out again because I wasn’t in the right state of mind at the time. I thought that I could use dating as a way to avoid my problems and broken hearts. I’ve learned that that is not good and healthy to do, and it is plain rude.

Since coming home from my mission, I struggled with dating in the aspect that everyone in my life seems to want to be a part of my dating life. I’ll go on a date and everyone seems to have an opinion and somehow ruin things that are going well. My friends and family seem to all be so noisy about my dating life. Even if it’s just been one date. So, I hide my relationships and dates. In these 180 dates, I’ve managed to keep most of them private. I’ve come to learn when it comes to relationships, I want them to be all for me. Not that I’m not proud to be dating the girl, but I want it to be the one part of my life just for me. I just don’t want the world to ruin it.

When my bad reputation was in full bloom, I pulled one from Taylor Swift’s page and went into hiding. I figured that the gossip would settle. What I found was that I was still in love with someone that I could no longer have. I realized that I had taken the time to mourn. So, I found myself struggling to compare girls to this one girl every time I went out. I felt really bad for them and I really have struggled to date till about two weeks ago.

My 180th date taught me so much about myself. It was simple and a lot of fun. It was very private, and I felt extremely nervous. I used to be nervous on every date and that went away. For the first time in a long time, I felt like the old me was coming back while in this date. I didn’t compare her once to another girl. I just saw her for her. I was able to be my childish self and not feel judged. I don’t know if anything will come from this date. I mean, I haven’t even gotten the courage to ask her out again. I don’t know if she enjoyed it, but I am very grateful for my 180thdate. It’s something that I will forever cherish in my life. It took 180 dates to realize that I can be me again, and that’s a victory.  I learned that I can just go have a good time with someone and not worry about the outside world. I just have to worry about if I’m impressing her enough and not saying the wrong thing. The boy before the reputation is back, just a little older and little more refined. I’m back and ready to take on the world with my large dreams.

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Wildflowers

Like Adele, I love trilogies. I feel that there is nothing better than getting lost in a good trilogy. Recently, I found out that the Amazing Spiderman movies were supposed to be a trilogy, but was stopped due to Disney. For some reason, this upsets me.  If you’ve been following my blog lately, I told you about the number one asked question in my life in the Mystery of Love. Then, in Love, Love, Love; I told you about the second most asked question in my life right. Well, to bring this full circle, I’ll let you in on the third most asked question of my life: what is the theme song of your life?

Music has become a huge part of my life. I listen to it when I’m happy, sad, depressed, angry, studying, or just to pass the time away. There is very limited time in my day to day life where I am not listening to music. So, if there was a soundtrack of my life, it would be Wildflowers by Tom Petty.

Tom Petty was a large part of my upbringing. My 80’s mother was in love with Tom Petty, he is her favorite artists of all time. We listened to Tom Petty like he was going out of style. I remember she would rewind or fast forward the tap while driving just to jam out to her favorite songs. I don’t think there was a month where we didn’t listen to Tom Petty. I can remember the volume would be blasted and my little self would sing every word to all his hits. Tom Petty truly is a legend and a big part of my life.

Wildflowers is by far my favorite Tom Petty song. I love the message that Petty is telling the world. Though its intentions are to be a love song for saying goodbye to a lover, I think that it gives me hope that the future can bring about anything that I desire and want. My favorite part is when it says to “let your heart be your guide.” I feel that my life has always been to please others and not myself. I’ve done everything with the thought of how it will impact those around me. I never truly do anything for me. I forget that I can do what I want to do as well. I can be free and explore the world around me. Anyone that truly knows me, knows that my life goal is to own a sailboat. Tom sings that “you belong in a boat out at sea.” It reminds me of my life goal. It is still in my grasp and attainable.

This song is a bookend to most major events in my life. It was the last song played on my IPod when my family made the big drive to drop me off at college in Montana. It was also the last song that came across my truck’s stereo when I drove out of Montana back into Washington. When I drove into Washington again, it was blasting on the radio. When I dropped my bags on the bedroom floor in Provo, it was the first song that I listened to as I unpacked, nervously. When I switched apartments in Provo, I again unpacked while listening to Wildflowers. I plan on finishing my time in Provo by listening to it.

May Tom Petty rest in peace. I  will continue to look for the wildflowers in life. Wildflowers truly is a song that embodies everything in my life. May it bring you hope as well.

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“You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free

Run away, find you a lover
Go away somewhere all bright and new
I have seen no other
Who compares with you

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free

Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worry
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free”


Love Love Love

I think I just heard my heart sing love, love, love.

I’m currently siting in class and I received a farewell text from one of my favorite individuals. As I sit here thinking about my actions lately, I can’t help but feel love. I started to prep those around me for my departure. I know that I will be leaving this place I call my home. I’ve known since August that I will be gone. So, I’ve begun preparing those around that I will be gone. However, I feel that I am more preparing myself for this grand adventure that will be taking place in my life.

Next to my dating life, I get asked on what is next in my life. People are all curious to know what I will be using my degree for and where I will be off to next. I would like to inform the world that I have a plan!!! I know what I will be doing (You have no idea how excited that is to say!). Unfortunately, I will not be indulging that information to the world just yet. Rather, I want to keep it pure and just for me. I want to bask in the joy that this next step is for me and all for me. Every move in my life, the Lord has told me where to go. This time, he let me choose. As nerve wracking that was, it’s nothing but joy. The adventure of finding the next step has been one for the books.

Let me take you on my adventure. The past couple of months, I have applied for anything and everything. I have pictured my life in different aspects of the world and in various roles for different companies. I have allowed for each option to be on the table. Nothing has gotten written off until I have come to learn that I will not be happy in that position or given the word no. I have allowed for others to come to me too. For example, a company found this blog and approached me to be a content marketer for them. In this process, I have been rejected more than once. The word no has been something that I’ve allowed myself to become adapted to hearing. My creative outlook has been told to be unoriginal and dull in some companies. I’ve been told that I am better on paper than in person. I have been told that I will never make in the digital marketing world. I think my favorite is when I was told that I didn’t look my Facebook photo from a company. I’ve allowed the word no to shape me into this confident person.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Letty Workman, my mentor and idol, helped me to explore more options in life. She expanded my mindset and helped me to create a ten-year plan, even. I have a debt that I will never ever be able to repay to her. This plan has helped me to get a focus and direction and to know what I really want to go after. I’ve been able to wipe somethings off the table. Though, there are about three players left on the table, I’ve never been calmer about the future. I have a new-found love for what is next. I’m truly excited and love the adventure that I will be embarking on. It will shake the world and many will disagree with it, but I am ready to leap forward to it. I what will truly make me happy in this world. It is time to face my fears.

As I sit on this train, my heart is full of love for those that have touched my heart in Provo. The good, the bad, the ugly, the laughs, and the in-betweens have all shaped me to be the person that I am today. Provo, Utah has a piece of my heart! I dread the day that I will have to look out of my door and the Y won’t be there. The dating capital of the world has left the biggest impact on my life, larger than my mission. It has been the Saturday nights of just watching movies with friends and laughing till all of us need to go to bed. It’s the moment where you ask the cute girl in the ward out three times and she says no every time (and before you ask, this did happen to me). It is the moments of stress and frustration. It is the moments where you longboard down the streets with your home girl till she falls off and skids her knee. It is the moments where you cry your eyes out because of a relationship has ended. It is in the moment where you are home teaching about flirting and you have everyone in the room role play how to flirt with girls. It is in the moment of seeing your best friends walk in the classroom door each night, excited to see you. It is in the moments where you know you have lost your best friend. It is in the moment when you tell the girl no for the date. It is in the many, many, many sporting games. Nothing beats sitting in institute with your friend and your stake president is discussing the weird topics of intimacy in marriage. Provo has a piece of my heart that can never be replaced. I know that I will be sad when I say goodbye to it. So, rather than cut it off like a Band-Aid, I’ve been preparing my heart to get broken. I’ve been scared to start a new life and become fresh. I am ready for it though. My growth has come to a hindrance. There are just a few things left for me to wrap up here. In a few months, I will have accomplished those things and my adventure will continue.

Lastly, I have much love for the last few months here. I am excited to embark on the next chapter but I’m more excited to make the most out of what is left for me here. I am excited to live to the fullest. I am excited for the few all-night study cram sessions that are upon me. I am excited to get rejected from the next cute girl that I ask out. I am even more excited to go on a date with a cute girl and have it go very well. I am excited to watch the finishing touches to be placed on my final projects in school, work, and life. I am excited to take this time and fully cherish it! To cherish it to the fullest. I will never be given the experiences that I have in Provo again. I can’t wait to take advantage of them. So, yes, I will be getting the big cupcake at the Mighty Baker and I will hike the Y at least ten more times. I will longboard the canyon with my home girl and I will laugh with my roommates. I will put all my efforts to pushing to the end!

So yes, I did hear my heart sing LOVE LOVE LOVE! 

 

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This Is Me

I always seem to get asked why are you not married? My favorite: Whats is wrong with you that others seem to see? Why can’t you keep a girl longer than a month?

I usually shrug and go on with my life like there is not a issue. I just go about my life and don’t give those questions much thought after. The truth is though, I do know the answers to all of those questions. In fact there has always been a reason for my madness.

I am a very simple person. So simple that I am very predictable. I find it funny because lots of people think I’m very complex. They think there is a lot to me but really, I am a very simple man. I do things because I want to and I do the same things in patterns. A, then B, then C. That is who I am. I never let people in and keep my life private. I let people have the illusion that I am open person because I talk and relate with others but I only give people a surface level.

Relationships end for me when girls want a deep level with me. I understand that opening up and discussing things is vital for trust and love to grow. Being honest is very important but there are aspects that I can’t and won’t talk about. So when girls start asking and wondering, I get distant and then eventually end things. All of my relationships, with the exception of two, have a very similar pattern:

  1. Start dating
  2. Things are good and fun
  3. Girl shares personal things about life
  4. I listen
  5. Girl asks questions and wants to really know me
  6. I get distant and standoffish
  7. End of Relationship

Its been my safety net and I am ok with it. My thoughts are, someone else will come along. There will always be another girl. However, thats very unhealthy and I’ve been wanting to change that about myself.

I watched a show that completely changed my life (so weird to admit) and that has opened up many things for me. This show brought up all my insecurities, fears, and doubts in regards to marriage and being a father. This show made me think and cry. It made me angry and happy. It made ponder on many things. The last episode had a line that really taught me and changed my outlook of my relationships. As Jack is speaking to his wife about his children, he says:

“Sometimes they’ll make good decisions. Sometimes bad decisions. And every once in a while, they’re gonna do something that’s gonna knock us off our feet. Something that exceeds even our wildest dreams. Our kids are gonna be fine.”

It hit me, instantly, that I can do things completely different than the example that I was showed. I can exceed the expectations that is bound in me.  I can be the father that I never had. I can completely do something that will exceed my upbringing. I know for a fact that I will never beat my children or wife. I will never leave my children and not take care of their wellbeing. I will never, ever, make my children scared of me. I can choose the outcome of my relationships and I’m not be bound by the ways of the past. It was like a light bulb went off in my head and I realized all of this.

I move forward, ready to being a different person in regards to dating. I’m excited to change the pattern to being a person that is willing to take risks. I am ready to begin letting my guard down and to actually purse a relationship thanks to my Heavenly Father. I’m ready to trust myself because I realize that I won’t be alone. I know that I can do this! I am Riley James, a very simple man.

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The Good Life

After heartbreak, regret, disappointment, grief, and or anger welcomes themselves into my life, its natural for me to shut the world out. I personally find myself shutting the world out and not letting anyone find me. People ask me what I do and where I go when I shut the world out. The truth is, I find myself devoting myself more to my studies, running, work, and my relationship with God (not in that particular order either). I usually spend more hours than usual in the Temple, at least forty hours in the library for the week, harder focus at work, and bust it in the gym for large period of times. I find that shutting the outside world out helps me to focus on what matters the most and lets me hide a bit from my problems. It also gives me the chance to think. Being alone is something that I actually enjoy, which people find hard to believe. Being alone is a very comforting thing for me. Being alone lets me regroup my thoughts and then decide what I want to do to move forward. I like things to be quiet and peaceful. I find that the outside world is rather loud and I can’t always be the person that I want to be. So I retreat to the places where I don’t have to be around people. I justify in my mind that if I’m in places where people can’t be with me, then I don’t have talk to people. Many people don’t believe when I tell them that I am extremely introverted person but I am. I like to exclude the world and be alone.

Around the end of August/ beginning of September, I began shutting the outside world out again. I purposely didn’t answer phone calls or didn’t turn my phone on for long periods of time. I’ve hid in the Provo City Center Temple and the library. I’ve hid in the mountains near my house as I’ve gone for long runs or adventures with my roommates. I’ve only allowed my roommates and select few individuals to see me and know about my whereabouts. I’ve kept myself grounded and in my house. Its been really peaceful to not to see people. I’ve turned to my Father in Heaven for much guidance and light. In these moments, I’ve come to really feel the love that God has for me. I’ve felt his peace and healing power to help me in a time of much struggle.

Lately, I’ve been allowing myself to branch out and set social goals (yes, I have to set goals to interact with other individuals). I’ve begun to meet people in my ward, see people from my mission, and grow closer with my roommates. I’ve set goals to buckle down and get things done during the week so I could have the chance to interact with others on my weekends. Moving forward isn’t always the easiest thing for me but its something that must be done.

The past two weekends have been ones where I’ve had moments where I’ve had chances to reflect on things in the most random times. First, I went to Moab with my roommates and while sitting in-between two arches, I realized that that the Lord has really guided me to live with amazing men of God who help me in so many ways. They are so patient with me and understand when to back off and when to ask inspired questions for my progression. They don’t push me but rather are there for guidance and support. They bring much needed laughter and love at critical times. They see me for who I can be and help lift me to that person.

 

Then this weekend, I ran a half marathon with two amazing people from my mission. One of which I was able to run 12 of the 13.1 miles together talking. This was the first time I was social in a race and it was so needed. Being able to just talk about anything and everything was nice. However, it was after the race when I was invited to attend a OneRepublic concert with my best friend and his family that I realized much more. There was a moment halfway through this concert that I realized that God has really given me exactly what I need in life. He is so aware of who I am and who I need to get through the hardest of things. He has placed amazing people in my life that know exactly how to deal with my situations. He has given so much in times of need that I can’t help but be grateful.

I really do have a good life. A life that I couldn’t even dream of. I have much to be happy for. Moving forward into the future is something I’m excited for. I truly love all that has been given to me and the chance to regroup and figure my next steps in life. I look forward to being social again. To letting the world see me again. Though life is hard its not bad but rather good.

 

 

 

 


Worthy Not Perfect

The need to be perfect in all aspects of my life is a major problem that I have. My competitive nature doesn’t help either but instead adds to having to be perfect and better than those around me. On my mission, I came to realize that this was a bad thing, especially when comparing to myself. My mission president, President Paul Craig, use to always tell me to stop beating myself up for falling short from being perfect. We spent a large amount of time over coming my perfection and realizing that I am going to fall short from the grace of God. He taught me that the Savior Jesus Christ would be the one to help make up the difference of my imperfection. Though it makes sense and something I always want to do, it is the hardest thing for me to do. It’s hard for me not to beat myself daily or weekly for not being perfect. There is always something that I should have done better and something that keeps me from being perfect.

Lately, I’ve been taking an institute class at UVU in which Brother Longmoore teaches us daily to give it all to Christ. Last week he taught us ways to allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help us and to trust in the Lord’s grace. Brother Longmoore has been truly inspired as a teacher because I’ve realized that it’s a terrible thing to beat ourselves up for living the gospel. He tells us that the good news should be enjoyable and we should get credit for the great things we do. Last week, he taught us that sin is not sin. Sin is just a mistake and a chance to learn, grow, and become a better person. It’s an opportunity to come closer to our Savior and Father in Heaven.

Going into General Conference this past weekend, I wanted to know how to not beat myself up daily anymore. I wanted to know how I could trust in the Lord more and use the Atonement of Jesus Christ more in my life. (Side note, this conference was a special one for me as I got to attend it in the flesh for the first time!) However, conference taught me that it is ok not to be perfect. God still loves us for not being perfect. He is proud of the progress we make daily and he is there at all times. He is grateful that we want to be better and have him in our lives.

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Elder Gong of the seventy taught that being worthy is not perfect. Rather being worthy is striving daily to keep the covenants we made with the Lord. Being worthy is willing to change and allow the Savior to be apart of our change. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up for the mistakes we make like I do. So the past few week have been eye-opening to me. Its going to be hard but rather than tearing myself apart each night and Sunday, I’m going to work on forgiving myself and letting the Savior take over my insecurities. I’m going to work on my problems and let others help me more. I have a strong desire to be better person to myself and those around me. I might not be perfect but thats ok. I have a God who knows and loves me. I have a Savior who died for my sins and is there to hold me up and wrap his arms around me. I have an amazing family who loves me and looks past my faults. I have so many amazing leaders that teach me ways to be better. I have the best roommates who help me laugh at life’s ups and downs. I have so many great friends who teach me through their examples of what it is like to be disciples of Christ. Moving forward, life is going to be good and in time, I will overcome my shortcommings. Yoked with the Savior, I will be perfect one day.

For Elder Gerrit W. Gong’s full talk: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/media/session_5_talk_4/4829550348001?lang=eng

 

 

 


A Year Of Progress: I love tough things

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A year ago today, March 6, 2015, I left the land of Chomping Gators, Screaming Indians, sweet potato eating, southern people of Jacksonville Florida and Southern Georgia. A year ago, I took of my name badge and became a “return missionary”. Going on my mission, I was told that it would be the hardest thing of my whole life however, this past year has taught me that going home has been the hardest thing I have ever done. This weekend, I have taken the time to reflect on all things that has happened to me in just 365 and the person that I have become. The past year has taught and brought me closer to my savior then ever before and I’d like to write about a few ways how.

Coming home with a torn achilles tendon was one of the hardest things ever as I have had to learn how to re-walk and eventually learn how to run again. In a slow progression, I learned how to become whole again. Physically, I got to be healed and restored new. I’ll never forget the look of my mother’s face when I walked out of the doctor’s office in a giant boot. She was so shocked. Months of physical therapy where at times I was discouraged and left thinking I would never get to run again. The atonement of Jesus Christ was there in every aspect and helped me get rid of the fears that lingered in the back of my mind.

Coming home was a mental challenge. All return missionaries experience heart break as they leave the one place that their true love is. Words can’t express how challenging it is to mentally pick up life in a new world after your heart has been shattered. My mission motto was “I love tough things, I am the first to do tough things, I do tough things first.” I can remembering the plane taking off and my heart felt like it was being ripped out and then a familiar voice telling me that I love tough things. Coming home, that has been my motivator to do things that I don’t mental think I can do. Mentally, the Savior has helped me over come the struggles in my mind of insecurities, regret, and fears. The Savior is there to remind me that I can do the tough things that I don’t feel that I can do.

Moving to Provo, UT has been greatest blessing and I never thought I would say that. I live with three amazing men of God that teach me daily what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I can see through their examples how to Love God and Jesus Christ so much more. They have looked past my faults and challenge me to be a better person. They have helped me over come my addiction to the word hell and all the bad days that have come from heart break, bad break ups, terrible test days, and to not getting an internship of a life time. They continue to pick me up and help me be a better man.

Provo has given the Provo City Center Temple. This temple, though not dedicated, has been the biggest blessing me. I live five blocks away and makes me so happy every day. It has given me a deeper prospective of an eternal life and its where my soul feels the happiest. Its where I escape the world and remember the importance of all things in life. This temple has helped me to think of Jesus on such a different level that I can’t help but thank him for all that he has done.

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The past year has been a rollercoaster but as I continue to move forward I know that my Savior will be there for all aspects. I am so grateful for the amazing people that I have met this year to help me on this path of coming to the world and moving forward. At first, I was very hesitant on adapting but as I sit here in my Gator hat, I am very glad that I have. I am glad that I have had the experiences that I have had this past year from the heart aches, to the new loves, to new adventures, to the many new mountains that I climb daily. Though I miss Florida and Georgia deeply, I am glad for this new phase in my life and the person that I continue to grow to be. I love the Tough Things that I have overcame and face head one with my Savior there to help me.