"There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude."
-vocalize my gratitude more often.
I could make a list of all the things I’m grateful - and it would go on for quite awhile, but I think instead I’ll just elaborate on a few of them.
I am so blessed to have a loving Father in Heaven, and to know that He is there, He loves me, and He knows me. I am thankful for the miracle of the atonement, and the chance He gives me to repent, to change. I am grateful I can talk to Him and to know that He listens. I am thankful for a family who gives me a glimpse at what God’s love for His children must be like, a family that puts up with me and loves me despite my imperfections. I am thankful for one who let me taste love, if only for a while. I am grateful for friends with whom I can laugh, cry, argue, adventure, or just sit, in silence, and have it mean more than anything. I am thankful for people who are patient with me. I am thankful for people who let me into their lives, who let me learn from them. I am thankful for life: for its struggles and how they help me grow, for its comforts, for its joys, for the things in it worth working for, for its beauty.
Today I am also thankful for food. I love food and I’d like to think I’ve acquired pretty good taste. You see, my mother if a phenomenal cook. Everyone says that, I know, so I’ll put it into perspective; She’s traveled to more places than most people know about and when she’s there she likes to take cooking classes. For example, when my dad went on business to China, she came along and decided to spend time mastering the chinese cuisine. She’s also been dreaming about going back to italy and taking the brick oven class so she could learn how to actually use the one in our kitchen. Now that we live in New Hampshire she occasionally teaches her own cooking classes (Chefs Abroad) but spends the rest of the time coming up with delectable recipes for us. One problem is she hardly ever uses a recipe so its hard to recreate some of the masterpieces she comes up with. My favorite things she makes: Butter chicken (chicken tikka masala), hands down, but I talked about that yesterday. Pad Thai is another favorite (and what I live on now that I’m at school). Her stir-fry, like her pasta, is never the same and never less than delicious. Her Japanese is good too but we have that much less often. Oh I almost forgot, she makes incredible bread. At home I don’t really eat store bought bread. My favorite was when she would put the dough in the bread machine at night and set a timed finish so it was done right when I woke up for seminary. Her french bread is also to die for, I’ve tried it at school a few times but its just not the same. One of my big fears in life is I will never be able to cook like her but I’ve been consoled by my father. His logic: I like good food too much to settle for anything less. Today though, I am thankful for a good old fashioned thanksgiving feast. :)
An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship. ~Spanish Proverb
family birthday celebrations
- although I think in family we have the truest of friendships. Where else do you find a group of people who will love you whatever you do, give everything expecting nothing in return, and be there always, no matter what? (Eventually you find someone else who will..and then what do you do? You make them part of your family :) I love large families. I love that I am over two thousand miles away from the place I call home - days away from my parents, my little sisters, my best friend (caleb), my room, my bed, my cookie drawer (yes we have a drawer in our kitchen specifically designed for my cookie making obsession) - and I still feel "at home." I'm staying at my aunt and uncle's in Utah for most of thanksgiving break and seriously, I don't know what I would do without them. Freshman year they were the refuge from small dorm rooms and cafeteria food. They're the needed rides to the airport and the fast Sunday dinners. They're the safe haven where I can escape from the constant rush of college craziness. Its refreshing to talk to adults and at the same time wonderful to be with kids. Being a niece and a cousin can be much closer to being a daughter and a sister than I would have guessed. Basically - they're wonderful. Three weeks ago they had me over for a fantastic birthday dinner only to find out at home on my birthday we always celebrate with Indian food (my absolute favorite). Tonight we had an Indian feast so that I wouldn't have to miss a year (DELICIOUS - and please note they made an Indian feast for tonight on top of all the preparations for tomorrow's celebrations).
my Indian feast tonight :)
In the spirit of the holiday I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family, at home in New Hampshire, and here in Utah. I love them to death. Thanksgiving tomorrow!
Supposedly there is a blizzard approaching? Class was canceled and campus is closed (first time in over 10 years). Hours later, the view from my window shows sun on the mountains and no precipitation whatsoever.
I guess we'll wait and see. For now we're prepared to hunker down with our mint hot chocolate, plenty of movies, and yummy chocolate chip pumpkin bread (I finally made the family recipe ...its heaven). I love snow storms (in New Hampshire we have them often). Its the most fun when we lose power and we light candles across the whole house - my mom gets out the camping stove and boils water for hot chocolate and my dad reads to us by candle light.Sometimes we play games but as the light fades we end up just talking late into the night.
So I have these fabulous roommates - I know, lots of people say that, but seriously - mine win. I have yet to understand why people say don't live with your best friends, because honestly, its wonderful (except for the "its hard to ever be productive because we're too much fun" part). They threw me the greatest birthday party two weeks ago; They put up with my endless stream of pointless stories; They tolerate my weirdness. They I really would be lost here in Utah without them. They save my life most of the time and give meaning to it the rest of it :)
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that gives value to survival" - C.S. Lewis
Brooke happens to be one of those wonderful roommates (and I also happen to be her favorite).
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways -
**please note: this is not at all an exhaustive list
1. She's hilarious - seriously I'm going to live 10 years longer due to living with her because I laugh so much
2. She walks to my 8 am class with me (none of my other roommates dare take classes that early).
3. We eat lots of cookie dough together.
4. She shares many of my (semi creepy) obsessions.
5. She has the greatest wardrobe ever (which is rather convenient because its down the hall).
6. She's from the east coast (its a big deal here in utah)
7. She loves Hill Cumorah Pageant more than I do.
8. She's a hott dancer - let me tell you :)
9. She is very entertaining on Nyquil. ("WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!")
10. She lets me hug her (also something my other roommates are not willing to engage in).
11. She scratches my back during church.
12. She's beautiful (not why I love her, but a fact I thought needed to be mentioned).
13. She is a very passionate person, whether its about her family, pageant, school, dance, friends...
14. She is incredibly loyal.
15. She's always there if I need to talk.
16. She makes very yummy dinners.
17. She is very versatile on the dance floor ;)
18. She's almost as pathetic as I am (as it pertains to certain, unmentionable things)
19. Sometimes she listens to my advice.
20. She made me take ballroom classes.
21. "Munch n' Mingle, zion's camp, devo, cast team, " - she understands all that.
I've spent a little too much time thinking about myself recently. In doing so I let my self slip into thinking I need things I can live without and I miss things I don't really want. I don't remember where I came across this poem, probably in one of my father's many collections. I memorized it back when I was nine (we memorize a lot of poetry as my father's children) and since then its been one of my favorites. Right now though, what I really like about it...
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
...is that she was wrong. We never have to go through anything alone. There is always One who understands perfectly, comforts perfectly, strengthens perfectly. Unfortunately, Emma Wheeler Wilcox was pretty accurate when it comes to people - we like to surround ourselves with those who laugh, sing, rejoice, feast, succeed and we tend to shy away from those who weep, sigh, grieve - even if they are the ones that need us most. I have found the best solution to my first problem, thinking too much of myself (that can be taken both ways), is to prove Wilcox wrong again by taking someone out of their solitude. Being Christ for someone may help them more than you'll ever know, but it will also help you more than you'd ever guess.
It's very late - and given that I haven't slept all week I should be in bed (well actually I am, but I should be sleeping). My largest fear in getting a blog was that each post would turn into an online journal entry - like so many I read and think "really? - did she really need to tell the whole world that?" We'll see how I do -so far..so good.
A few things that have been on my mind today:
Christmas: I know thanksgiving is coming up but I'm not going home (I get to spend the weekend with my wonderful cousins :) and so I'm counting down the days 'till I'm back on the east coast, in my own house, with my own family, eating my moms cooking (infinitely better than my own), playing games with my grandparents, hearing all about Hawaii from Caleb, not worrying about school one bit, sledding, hugging my little sisters, drinking lots of hot chocolate, making cookies in my kitchen, catching up with friends (a few in particular), going to church in a family ward, singing carols around the piano.
People: I wish I could understand them. All of them. All the time. Some times we're asked what super power we could have - mine would be the ability to read people. To know what they thought, what they wanted, what they felt...
Music: I watched August Rush this afternoon for the first time - phenomenal movie (Jonathan Rhys Meyers is beautiful - especially when he's serenading:
Well, it's a marvelous night for a Moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies...
...Can I just have one more Moondance with you, my love?)
Its interesting the memories that can be stored in music- how a single song can bring back so much emotion. Sometimes its fun .. I can relive elementary school by playing The Backstreet Boys or reminisce about my first year of high school through Mariah Carey (Hanna Treu). Other times.... not so much.
Priorities: Why do different people have different priorities? What influences our priorities? What would be the best way to arrange them (it reminds me of Harry Potter "she needs to sort out her priorities") What makes people's priorities change? Can I change people's priorities? How do the priorities of others effect me?- I guess it goes back to understanding people...if only..if only.
Some things you read and think about for awhile ...and then dismiss.
Some things you read and store somewhere in the back of your mind.
Some things you read and fireworks go off, it clicks, and your outlook (and hopefully your behavior) changes.
The following falls into the latter.
"It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possibly for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature, which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity much be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner – no mere tolerance, or indulgence, which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat – the glorifier and the glorified, Glory himself, is truly hidden. " – C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory.
Remember three years ago today when we spent the afternoon at the musee d'orsay, then strolled down to monmartre for some shopping, followed by a light evening meal of mozzerella cheese, tomatoes and fabulous bread. We walked up to see the city of light spread out before us at night from the Sacre Coeur and remember that couple who got engaged by candle light on the old stone steps of the church? On the way home two frenchmen offered to show two american girls french kisses (we declined). We may or may not have gotten lost on the way home. It was the first time I've ever seen flowers sold from a vending machine. Strolling through the deserted streets of Paris with my best friend on my arm, discussing what we wanted to do with our lives - the endless possibilities - bliss.
nutella crepes, boutiques, tour d'eiffel, pastries, endless art, notre dam, louvre, beautiful ceilings, papeteries, hot chocolate at Angelina's, people watching, metro strikes, organ concerts, croque monsieurs, lamp posts, scarves....lets go back :)
"There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions."
I tend to like things to be complicated - probably because I feel if my life is so complicated it makes it important, or maybe because I enjoy the twisted circles I get to run in my mind to untie the complications. Either way - "It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Over scheduling our days would certainly qualify for this." My new goal:
The problem is what to cut? School - never. Dance - absolutely not. Work - unfortunately not an option. Social life - nonexistent anyway :) It's a good thing with the Lord we can do the impossible.
A challenge: "Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace."
Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself. ~Havelock Ellis
Dancesport 2010= highlight of my life. My Dances this weekend: 1. Quickstep: 5th 2. Rumba: 2 rounds 3. Samba: quarterfinals 4. Waltz: semifinals 5. Chacha: 6th (out of 214 couples)
The conclusions I reached: 1. I love competitions (I also like doing well) 2. Amateur Latin is better than Christmas 3. Anna Mikhed is the most beautiful dancer I have ever seen 4. There is no better way to lose your voice 5. I have a lot of work to do
Things I am grateful for: 1. BYU's incredible ballroom program 2. Brooke for convincing me to take classes 3. My body - and the blessing of being able to dance 4. People who inspire me (Claire, Chris, Caleb, Christina, Casey...) 5. People who put up with me (aka my wonderful dance partners - spencer in particular)
There is something beautiful about dance. It's more than just moving, its existing - in a higher, purer, more perfect state. Its powerful yet fun, exhausting yet energizing. To dance is to lose yourself and then find yourself again, and again, and again - over the course of a single note. I've let myself get lost and I'm still waiting to see just who I'll find.
One of my favorite movies begins "This is a simple story... but not an easy one to tell. " I guess that's life. Sometimes I have the audacity to complain about it, but lets be serious - it doesn't get much better than this. My life isn't perfect yet it's all I could ask for right now. I have the most wonderful family in the world. My mother is perfect. A friend told me recently that because I still think so means I have yet to see her as a person instead of simply a parental figure - he's wrong. She'll always be perfect regardless of the perspective I have. My father is brilliant. If I can become half as wonderful as my mother and half as intelligent as my father, I will have done very well for myself. I also have these things called siblings who make life worth living. Caleb is my best friend. Sometimes I wish more than anything that he were here instead of thousands of miles across the ocean on an island getting tan and having fun without me. He would do anything for me. Madison is the smartest girl I know (and she's 13.. you think I'm kidding but her and my father sit around discussing the political tensions in capitols of countries I didn't know existed). We are essentially the same person (except she's significantly more responsible, focused, intellectual,and driven). Nicole is a sweetheart. Since I've moved into my apartment I've gotten letters from her every month (and I have yet to mail any of my responses). In a job interview a man asked me what the best compliment I've ever gotten was - I thought for awhile and reached the conclusion I still hold months later; Somehow the two little girls who have spent their whole life living with me, who have seen more of me than most people would ever like to, not only love me, but for some reason idolize me. Its a tough standard to live up to - but oh how I try. Back home, we live with my grandparents, and having them a part of my daily life was wonderful. My grandfather is the most patient and caring person I know and Grandma, well, between cookies, and piano lessons, and card games, there isn't much more you can ask for. I know that God has a plan for each of us, a creature He wants us to become and I believe that He uses families in large part to get us there. To think, a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent being created this world so we could become who He wants us to be - and how did He organize it? By families. Through learning to love them and letting them love me, I have gained a lot more than I realize.
Families are a big thing, but there are lots of little things that make life beautiful too. Some beautiful things in life that make me happy: a smile from a stranger, ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, snowflakes, airports, any clock that says 11:11, cookie dough (homemade only), late night conversations, running in the rain, getting lost in a good book, dancing, getting mail, foreign languages, beaches in winter, reading old journal entrees, laughing so hard I can't breathe, waking up before my alarm, long hugs, obscure compliments, unexpected phone calls, the look on people's faces when they open a gift, opening my eyes underwater, swings....
The trick is just to look, because if we want to, we'll see that there are so many things that make life beautiful.