Saturday, January 1, 2011

Year In Review

Warning: This post is long…but I added lots of pictures to keep you entertained :)

Well, 2010 is now over (wow) and I can honestly say that this has been a year of major change for me internally. I look back to where I was in life this time last year and feel like a completely different person. This year has thrown me a lot of unexpected curve balls that tested me in unbelievable ways. Some of my happiest, and honestly, some of my saddest moments in life happened the past 12 months.

Thankfully I can say I have come out stronger, and hopefully a better person. I feel like my experiences this year brought me down to my core beliefs on life, God, love, and everything in between. I could go on for hours about all this (and trust me I do if you get me started :) ) but instead I have opted to just show you some of my favorite pictures from this year.

So…here goes:

First up would have to be New Zealand! Went in May. LOVED it. These pictures don't do it justice at all, but they're the best I've got.

This would be Coromandel. If it looks familiar and you are a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, this is the beach they come out on in Prince Caspian. Absolutely Breathtaking.

Yep, we sea kayaked there.

I refer to this as our "heaven" spot. After sea kayaking our guide set up a little picnic with hot chocolate and cookies and we just sat and soaked it all in.

(For Danielle and Barbara...NaaaRNIA!)

So Danielle and I thought New Zealand looked a lot like Jurassic Park...

Therefore...we are raptors :)

This was a hike we went on through some geysers and hot springs.

We went on a Dolphin watching Cruise. I was giddy like a five year old and didn't have a care in the world.

The Dolphin Cruise through the Bay of Islands took us to an island with a very large hill that of course we climbed. This is the view we found. Can't even tell you how stunning it was.

Sadly I can't remember the name of this beach, but it was black sand..which was just gorgeous. And that would be the Caspian Sea right there :)

And finally, I just call this our happy picture. We were SO happy there.

And now, for some ROOMMATE pictures! I am so blessed to have friends who aren't afraid to be dorks (as evidenced by these pictures) and just laugh about life...

So this actually was Halloween...but we have no qualms with dressing up on other occasions as well.

Superheros. Yes, we are super cool. Dont doubt it.

Of course I must add some HIKING adventures. Always a highlight.

Top of Angel's Landing. This was such a fun trip!

Just thought this picture was beautiful with the water coming down. This was on the Hidden Canyon hike in Zion's.

I had the opportunity to DANCE in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert featuring David Archuleta and Michael York. Amazing experience. Definitely brought the true spirit of Christmas to my life, made some wonderful friends, and it opened up some great dancing opportunities for me for the future which I'm excited about!

We felt like dolls in these costumes :)

You may not be able to tell, but I'm standing in the Conference Center right in front of the organ, way up behind where MoTab sits on the stage.

And finally, I just have to add a picture of my FAMILY. They've been so supportive this year and my brother and I have gotten even closer through experiences we've both gone through. I feel so blessed to be so close to all of them.

So there you go...some snippets of my life this past year! I didn't include everything here, and there were most definitely several people left out that made a huge impact on me this year.

Some of the most important happenings of this year couldn't be captured on a camera, and maybe can't even be put into words. Like I said, it's been a year of change. Overall when I think about this past year I just feel so BLESSED. I laugh about the good times, find strength and learning in the sorrows, and am just so grateful for my family, friends, and the gospel.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Fears

In honor of the upcoming Halloween holiday, and my recent adventures at Frightmares, I have decided to post about some of my fears. Now I have always been a scaredy-cat. That’s just the truth of it. Even when I was a little girl I was abnormally scared of things. To give you an example, the day I found out that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren’t real was the happiest day of my life. You see, my Dad, being the wonderful Dad he is, used to spend the night before Easter putting little bunny prints (made of baking powder) all over our house that my brother and I would then follow in the morning to find our hidden Easter baskets. One year my Dad made the horrific mistake of putting some of those prints in my bedroom. Well they got a lovely surprise Easter morning of my blood-curdling scream as I woke to find the bunny prints near my bed and pictured a six foot tall satanic bunny looming over me only a few hours earlier. Needless to say, those bunny prints stayed far, FAR away from my room in future years. In all of my pictures on Santa Claus’s lap I am either crying or there is a look of utter terror on my face like I’m being attacked by a bear, I didn’t ride my first roller coaster until I was about 14yrs old, and I must admit that I still hear the “Unsolved Mysteries” theme music and a shudder of fear runs through me like there are aliens ready to abduct me at any moment.

Yep, this was me......

But beyond any of these fears, my greatest fear has always been haunted houses. This fear originates back to a very traumatizing experience I had when I was about eight or nine years old. My dad took my brother and I to a haunted house at Knotts Berry Farm. I believe it was just a very basic haunted house – this little dark shack that you walked through and people jumped out at you from the corners. I have absolutely NO idea how my dad convinced me to go in there with him, but he did. Now my brother Jordan is the complete opposite of me; afraid of nothing. So of course he starts going through the haunted house laughing at all of the people jumping out at him like he’s at Disneyland, while I’m huddling behind my father trying to hum “I am a child of God” so no one will kill me. Toward the end of the haunted house my brother goes through a door to a different room and for some completely illogical reason my dad tells me to stay put in this pitch black room until he comes back. So there I am, standing alone in this room, ready to pee my pants and praying that there is mercy and I will just die before anything kills me, when suddenly a light in the corner of the room clicks on. As my eyes adjust I now realize that I am standing on the other side of a jail cell and there is a very deranged looking man sitting there in the corner. I’m just glued to the floor staring at this man when he suddenly stands up, pulls a chainsaw from behind his back, and walking towards me revs up the chainsaw. Of course that is when I start screaming. But instead of being like any other normal person who would scream and run out of the room into the bright light of day, I just stood there…screaming. And he just kept walking toward me, revving his chainsaw and laughing like a maniac. Finally one of the workers from the haunted house actually came in and carried me out of the house to my family who was waiting, completely mortified that it was their daughter who was screaming so uncontrollably.
It took me a few years to recover from this event, but I am happy to report that since highschool I have tried to face this fear by going to a haunted house (or similar venue) almost every Halloween. Usually I am a great source of entertainment for all of my friends with how terrified I get, and I have had several awkward date experiences where the boy took me to a scary movie or venue and probably thought I was completely in love with him with how often I jumped into his arms when scared. I tell you these stories because I have decided that this year is a year of change. And one of the changes I want to make is to stop being so jumpy and freaked out by things. I went to Frightmares last weekend at Lagoon and in the haunted houses I honestly only screamed once…or maybe twice…..but it was progress :)

Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Amazing Mom

Happy Mother’s Day!!!
I thought I would just do a little post in honor of my most amazing mother. And she truly is amazing and wonderful. Let me just list off a few reasons why my mom has been such an incredible example to me my whole life.

1. She is the greatest example of selfless service. My whole life my mom has drilled into me the importance of serving others. But the greatest thing is that she taught me by doing it herself. I can remember so many instances when she has done little random acts of kindness, be it bringing someone some treats, or just taking the time to talk to someone. Every holiday season we would doorbell ditch other families with plates of goodies and surprises, and those are some of my favorite memories. She is always thinking of others, and extremely humble about it the whole time.
2. She isn’t afraid to laugh and have fun. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time around my mom knows that she can be crazy and have fun. I have the best memories of my mom racing my brother and I down the street, and even teaching us how to play Mario on the Nintendo (with her controller going every which way as she made turns and jumps). Anytime my brother and I were bored she would have some kind of game for us to play to keep us entertained. One of the best things about my mom is that you can’t be mad for too long because she’ll always make you laugh ( no matter how annoying this is in the moment ;) ) And I will ALWAYS remember the crazy stories my mom tells (like the one time she ran down our street thinking that someone was chasing her, only to find out it was just her shadow. Hahaha. I don’t think that one will ever be forgotten).
3. She is one of the most welcoming people you will ever meet. If you are one of mine or my brother’s friends, she will inevitably love you. She loved having mine and Jordan's friends over at our house, and my friends all loved her for it. In high school I swore that some of my guy friends came over to see and talk with her as much as they did for me. She loves people, and people are just drawn to her.

4. And lastly, my mom is one of the strongest people I have ever met. She has been through a lot of tough things in her life, and you’d never know it because she won’t say a word about it. Doesn’t matter if she was on her deathbed; if there are things to be done then she will do them. And she will do them with a smile on her face, taking care of everyone else before she even takes a thought for herself.
I love you so much Mom, and I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Adventures in Rollerblading

I have a confession to make….I love ROLLERBLADING. Yep, I do. I just love it. When everyone else gave it up at the age of twelve, I just kept on going. I like to blame it on my California upbringing. You see, down there at the beach, rollerblading is still super cool. However, in the desert and mountain lands of Utah, I feel a little bit of judgment come my way every time I mention how much I still love it.

Well the other day I convinced my lovely friend Katie to go rollerblading with me, and we had quite the adventure. Here is a picture of Katie with her skeleton friend.....she's pretty neat, working with skeletons and such.

We were both a little wobbly at first, but once we got back in the groove it was like we were back in our 12yr old bodies – getting major air off jumps, throwing in some 360 air spins, and pulling off some tricks I don’t even know the name to! Okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I think we were doing pretty good. I mean, there’s some pretty steep downhills on that trail, and we didn’t die. Not only was it a glorious ride, but I came to some interesting conclusions during our excursion. Please allow me to share:
#1: Judgmental People are Just Insecure
This is a very, very, important life lesson. Anytime you feel judged, just recognize that this person is probably too insecure to admit that they are simply jealous. Okay, so maybe this isn’t true in all cases, but Katie and I decided that in the case of rollerblading, it is most definitely true. As we were out there on the trail we definitely got some different looks from people:
Look #1 - Goofy Grin that said, “Really, rollerblading? You know you look stupid right?
But good for you!”
Look #2 - Nostalgic look of, “Awww…rollerblades. I remember those carefree days
after school of street hockey and night games.”
Look #3 Scornful look of, “You look like an idiot. What do you think you are…five?”

We don’t like look #3 people. Hopefully you are not one of those people. But you know what…Katie and I decided that we really couldn’t care less what those scornful people thought, because we know that underneath that glare was just an insecure person wishing that they were confident enough to be right out there with us. You know it’s true….

#2: Some Things Will Bite You….Even if You Love Them
You would think that if you just love something enough, it will never hurt you. Well this just isn’t true…on SO many levels. And yesterday I learned just how untrue this is. Anyone who knows me well knows my absolute love for dogs. At least once a day the thought comes into my head, “I wish I had a puppy.” I’ve always thought that dogs have been able to sense this, and so even the meanest ones have never chased me or jumped on me, and definitely NEVER bitten me. But yesterday as we were rollerblading, this stupid, huge, black, mangy dog grabbed hold of the flesh of my calf and dug in. When I tried to shake it off, it let go but let its teeth drag down the rest of my leg. And I’m not gonna lie…it hurt…bad. And THEN it kept trying to nip at me again and its owners just stood there calmly calling it back to them. What?!? Luckily it didn’t draw blood, just left a super huge nasty bruise with teeth marks. I still asked the owners if it had any diseases…..ick. Needless to say, my love for dogs just went down a notch.

#3: Boys Are Definitely Held to Different Standards Then Girls
As Katie and I were out on the trail, we ran into a few other rollerbladers. The first of these were two guys. Our first thoughts at seeing this were, “hmmm…two girls…two guys….rollerblades…..magical meeting moment.” But then as Katie and I continued to ponder over this, we rethought how “magical” this actually was. Call us hypocrites, but we decided that two girls rollerblading – definitely okay. You may look stupid, but you can get away with it. Guy and girl rollerblading – cute. Either they found each other, or one of them is risking looking like a complete fool for the other, and that’s just sweet. But guy and guy rollerblading – it’s just a little sketchy. And the more I thought about this, the more I realized that it’s this way for a lot of things. Girls can just get away with a lot more than guys can. Sorry boys.
Well, hopefully this post inspired all of you to brush off the dust from your old blades and give it another go. I give you fair warning that you might be judged for this, but it's definitely worth it. And if you care to join Katie and me for our next adventure...give us a call....we're ready.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Finally....after two years of waiting

So, for all of you who have anxiously been checking my blog for the past two years that it has been in existance, I am FINALLY doing my very first post. I's an exciting day for all of us ;) My roommate Kristen has been pushing me to write on it for the past year, but I always told her that my life just isn't exciting enough to blog about anything. So I kept waiting for life to become exciting. And that day has finally come. Okay...not really. Life is still just life. Life is good, but not terribly exciting. I actually was inspired to start my blog after watching the movie Julie & Julia this weekend. In the movie, Julie's husband tells her that maybe a blog would be a good idea because she listens to people all day and it would be a great outlet for her. So then my dad turned to me and said, "Hey, you listen to people at work all day. Maybe you should start a blog. It would be very validating for you." First of all, let me just say how proud I was that my dad used the word "validating". Apparently my social worky terms have rubbed off on him. And then I thought...he's right, it would be validating. Whether anyone in the world actually reads any of these posts or not, at least my thoughts are out there. for the actual first post part. This weekend was General Conference, and I have to say it was probably one of the best sessions I have ever watched. Why, you ask? Becuase it called me out on all of my crap. Which was much needed. Sometimes I feel like the talks that are given are really empathetic and consoling. They tell me things like "you're doing great", and "trials come but don't worry because you'll be blessed in the end." But not this time. This time the overall message I heard was, "Adversity happens. And it's most likely going to keep happening, so get over it and let it actually make you into something instead of just crying about it." Of course these things were said in a very kind and loving manner that made me really want to change myself rather than just give up completely. I'm actually not really sure whether that was the message that they were truly trying to get across, or if it was just what I heard because it was what I needed to hear. I think this is also something that has been on my mind the last little while. I've been reading a book entitled "The Continuous Atonement" by Brad Wilcox. Wow. It is an incredible book and all of you who may possibly stumble upon this post should read it....right now. In the book it talks a lot about how the purpose of this life is to mold us and to make us into Celestial beings. Here's one of my favorite quotes from it: "

"We don't walk into the celestial kingdom simply because a debt is paid, whether it is paid by Jesus or - as difficult as it would be - by ourselves. The Atonement is not just about paying debts but about transforming debtors."

The whole idea I am taking away from this book and from conference is that it's not just about enduring's about learning from life. Like Elder Martino said, "It is not WHEN we will face adversity, but HOW we will face adversity." At my work I always call out my kids for playing the "victim". I talk to them about how just being a victim of our lives and experiences keeps us from ever becoming better and growing as a person. We get stuck at this point where we can never move forward because we just blame everyone and everything else. So here's my commitment to be better. To take life's experiences and not just close my eyes until the bad parts are over, but to actually let them mold me into something new, and something better.