Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I am golden

I fell out of love with blogging recently. It is hard to blog when life seems pretty mundane; and, oh, has 2014 been mundane.

Thankfully, autumn came! I love autumn. Autumn is the world catching on fire. Autumn is delicious smells. Autumn is one more magical adventure before the world grows cold. Autumn is a different, special season. Autumn, when the trees seem tired of holding their weight in leaves and it is time for them to rest, but before they do there is lingering color. Color that stands as one last reminder of sunny days and lemonade stands and bike rides and road trips.

And do you know what happens right around the autumnal equinox?  MY BIRTHDAY! I’ve already mentioned how excited I was for this birthday, but I’m going to say it again. This year was my golden birthday! If golden birthdays aren’t already the coolest thing ever, how about having a golden birthday during the golden season? That is my life!

I was surrounded by gold the entire day: golden headband, golden streamers, golden friends, golden gifts, gold, gold, gold. It was perfect and I laughed and sang and enjoyed every minute of it.

Then, I went home to Florida. My family went above and beyond this year. My roommate, Julie and I got in on a late flight and after climbing into the back seat of my mom’s car I found a gold basket. They had gathered all the goldest foods they could find. I had Haribo gummy bears (which a. are my most favorite candy and b. come in a golden package), golden wafers, and every gold wrapped hershey product you can think of.

 It is hard for me to be around my family and not be full of joy and energy. After getting home I didn’t want to go to bed. I wanted to keep talking and laughing and soaking in every minute I could with these humans who remind me that I’m good and that life is good. Eventually, I decided to put my suitcase away. When I walked in the room I found exactly 25 blue balloons attached to gold envelops. My sister had contacted 25 of my favorite family and friends from every part of my life and they each wrote me a letter or a memory.

Let me just take a moment to thank each of you who wrote a letter, those of you who texted, those who called, those who facebooked, and all of you who reached out to me in a variety of ways on my birthday and throughout the year. 24 was a doozy and it was incredible to be reminded that I am surrounded by love and beauty and kindness and good examples and light. Thank you for being so unbelievably wonderful to me. Thank you for thinking of me. Thank you for caring. Thank you for expressing it. Thank you a million times over for being a part of my life and for letting me be a small piece of yours.

Anyway, after I let the mixture of tired, incandescently happy, and emotional run it’s course we did the only thing that made sense…we had a photo shoot.

The rest of the weekend called for air boating (thanks Bo!), Brazilian food, and catching up with all the people I like best in this world. A huge shout out to Blake for all of these pictures!


Singing 'Happy Birthday' was probably my favorite. We already have three songs that we sing to the birthday person, but add flaming sparkler candles and balloons that kept hitting us in the back of the head and it was a party. I ended up laugh-singing along too. I was also slightly terrified that My or Annalee's hair would catch fire.

A brownie cake full of gold sprinkles! This is the peak of birthday joy!

I've got that beard look on lock!

I've decided to fill my 25th year with golden moments. Here's to being a quarter of a century old!

Cool is in my genes

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm feeling 22 (plus 2)

Today is my birthday eve. Tomorrow I will turn 25, and it’s a big deal. I will be 25 on the 25th. For someone who loves their birthday as much as I do a golden birthday is like Christmas meets Thanksgiving meets payday meets Disney fireworks. I have been talking about this birthday for years and I am so excited for it to get here! But today, on my birthday eve, I want to pay tribute to how awesome 24 has been.

Truthfully, 24 will join the ranks of 21 and ages 12-14 (the hall of fame for difficult years, if you will). Luckily, just because a certain year may be difficult does not mean that it isn't filled to the brim with joy.

With that, I give you the most joyous moments of 24 (starting with my mission):

1. The Toms River Branch throwing me a birthday party complete with tinker bell balloons!

 2. Lilia and Oscar got married

3. Oscar got baptized. Oscar, the man who used to walk out of rooms the second he heard "las misioneras..." Oscar, who told me that he was "a man of faith, not a man of religion." Oscar, who told me he was too sick to leave his house and would never be able to attend church. Oscar, who had one of the most incredible change of hearts I have ever seen. Oscar, who isn't perfect, but who is doing what is right. Oscar, my dear, dear friend whom I love. That man. He got baptized. It was awesome. 

4. Crying happy tears in a parked car while talking to other missionaries about experiences that changed our lives and how we wish the same joy for everyone. Realizing that I loved my mission and that I did a good job during my time in New Jersey. Feeling God’s love and feeling so close to heaven I could burst. 

5. Bearing my testimony every single day. 

6. Leading music in front of a Hispanic congregation

7. Raking leaves for a stranger who we later found out had lost everyone and everything else in her life and desperately needed help with her house chores.

8. Attending the temple with President and Sister Jeppson. Hearing them tell me I did a good job. Hearing their advice for life after the mission.

9. Being reunited with my family after 18 months!

10. Swimming with manatees and then having dolphins chase our boat. Also canoeing and SCUBA diving and snorkeling and paddle boarding and boating. It was a good year for reacquainting myself with water. 

11. A trip to New York with my mom and sister to see all the Christmas decorations. BONUS: running into some of the greatest missionaries on their way back from the temple AND seeing President and Sister Jeppson at the Christmas fireside—hugs from President Jeppson really are the best!

12.  Spending New Years Eve in Canada with one of my most favorite people in the world!

13. Sailing for the first time.

14. Visiting New Jersey and reuniting with people who I love so dearly.

15. Finding out that I’m going to be an aunt!!

16. Settling in, sight seeing, working, living and eating in/near DC. So many firsts I have lost track.

18. Going back to Brazil. Seeing a world cup game where Brazil played well. Visiting with family. Eating all of my favorite foods. Laughing with my family. It was a dream trip!

19. Making my first quilt and having it turn out fantastically.

20. Learning the art of the slackline.

21. Attending the sealing/wedding for one of my dearest friends, Taiba! Feeling so close to heaven that day!

22. Seeing Les Mis live.

23. Remembering that I have talents outside of my church activities and using them again!

24.  Being a temple worker.

This year has been a doozy, and it ended just when I felt like I was getting a hang of things.  

Every birthday I find myself reading the poem Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. “What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one… Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That's how being eleven years old is. You don't feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don't feel smart eleven, not until you're almost twelve. That's the way it is.”

So tomorrow I’ll turn 25, but I’ll still be 24 (smart 24 at that). I will also still be a missionary, a college student, and a timid fifth grader who just wants to hide her four eyes behind a copy of Anne of Green Gables. All the little bits of me working their hardest to make the next year my best yet. So bring it on 25, you’re sure to be nothing short of golden!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Galentine's Day

I live in Virginia now. That is a story for another day, for now I'm going to fast-forward through a series of moments where I either felt awkward, brain dead, or inadequate to arrive at today. Today is “Galentine’s Day.” I don’t watch television, so that means very little to me other than the fact that a group of women from church were having a Galentine’s Day party. After being stuck indoors all day long I didn’t care what the reason was I needed to get out of the house, so I went. The roads were slick and snowy. I had a little bit of trouble getting out of the driveway, but it looked to be mostly okay so I kept driving.

I got all the way to the street where the party was only to catch just enough ice to swerve and get high-centered on a pile of snow. Awesome. I will go ahead and stereotype myself; nobody should ever let a Florida girl drive her prius around at night where the roads are snowy. It should be forbidden.

Of course I am made up of one part stubborn and one part ridiculous so I was out there on hands and knees trying to dig my car out of this mess. It didn’t take long to figure out that wasn’t going to work so I ran at full speed down the street to ask if I could borrow a snow shovel. During my sprint I passed an older woman walking along on the icy sidewalks. When she saw the crazy woman running towards her she got scared, slipped on the ice and fell right over into a freezing puddle.  So I started screaming and she started screaming and she wouldn’t let me help her because she was terrified of me. Meanwhile my car is still half way down the street, hazard lights a’beamin. I'm pretty sure that this lady is just as much of a drama queen as I am. She told me, "just go. Forget me. Save yourself!" So I took off running the rest of the way down the street.

It wasn’t hard to find the party house; it was decorated with cutesy red and pink baubles everywhere. I rang the doorbell and a beautiful, cheerful redhead answered the door. She had a singsong voice and started to say “Oh! Come on…” and I cut her off to demand a snow shovel. I'm sure I was a sight all covered in wet and snow with my hair trying to decide if it would rather be in dreads or produce electricity. Luckily, she was kind enough to get one for me. 

I got the shovel. I dug my car out. I drove back down the street holding the shovel out my driver’s side door. Whatever, I made it to this Galentine extravaganza. The only problem was that I am a socially awkward individual. I didn’t know any of the women there, they don’t know me, and so I just sat in the corner and tried to warm up before I could leave again. I felt like an animal. My hair was getting frizzier on the top and more matted on the bottom and I'm sure I had a scowl on my face from being out in the cold so long. Not to mention I found out that I bashed my hand during all the car madness and it had swollen to the size of my face. So I ate my sorrows away with heavily frosted, heart shaped cookies and bailed.

I would blame Amy Poehler, but that doesn't seem like a very Galentiney thing to do.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It’s been a good run

In April 2012 I graduated from BYU-Idaho after the most rewarding semester of my college career. From there I hopped into a RV with my wonderful, albeit slightly crazy, Brazilian family and spent a month playing on the beach. Then I started my mission. I spent a year and a half helping others learn of Christ and follow him. I met people from all walks of life and I served them with my whole heart. I learned Spanish. I was a friend, cheerleader, mentor, and participant as lives changed for the better all around me. MY life changed forever. My mission was one of those events that completely tore apart the woman I used to be and put me back together far more lovely and strong than I ever had been previously. 

After this two-year whirlwind of finishing my bachelor’s degree and preparing for and serving my mission here I am. I'm just here at my parent’s house. I’ve been on vacation for the past 6 weeks and it has been wonderful. I have spent time with some of the dearest people in my life. I hugged every member of my immediate family. I laughed with long lost friends. I went to Canada for my first time ever and was reminded that normal life is fun and worth treasuring. I have had a long strand of good times, and I’m grateful for them.

Now comes the unwelcome truth--all good chapters must come to an end. Today felt like the end. It had been looming there in the corner for a while now, but today we had our first confrontation. If reality were a human it would have come in with a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate and said something along the lines of “sit down suga, this’un is gonna to be rough.” (In my mind reality comes with comfort food and an accent, deal with it.)

So, here I am. I am a college graduate. I am a returned missionary. I am also unemployed, and frustrated with my lack of professional, academic and social prospects. I am annoyed that this need I have to change the world seems unrealistic. I am tired of feeling socially inept.

Someone once told me to never worry about anything that will be insignificant two weeks from now. Two weeks from now I will be living in DC and fulfilling an internship. I will have reunited with yet more long lost friends. By then it is likely that I will have reverted back to my “I can do anything good” attitude. However, for right now I’m just a little scared, and I decided that it’s okay. If there were never fear there would never be a reason to be courageous.