BUT, I am happy to report that despite all the turbulence, I have had the opportunity to see the sun on the horizon. In reflection of this year, here are some of my 'sun on the horizon' experiences:
This year the fam and I went to Houston for Thanksgiving. There is nothing like spending time laughing so hard, that tears flow from our eyes. I love that we laugh at the kinds of things that no one else understands. We postponed Thanksgiving this year to wait for my bro to arrive. It was the first year that Jamie was able to break out her China and 'do' a Thanksgiving table. It was very fancy and quite pleasurable.
We LOVE food in our family...and LOVE leftovers. It's true. Even though we had tons of Turkey left for meals on end, my dad would prepare new food items daily. We finally had to do a leftover day, mixing it up.
This year, and I hope for years to come, it was all about Allie. She is so old and amazingly cute. My favorite was when she was crying, Jamie said she could go to her room if she was going to cry. She would stomp by all of us, crying on her way, and would shut the door to finish her tantrum. It was amazing. Then she would stop and come out and play. I loved it! We were also able to celebrate her 2nd birthday, even though she was born in December. She received so many amazing toys and had to play with all of them at the same time.....and no one could take any away from her.
We had such an awesome time playing cards, board games, and taking walks together. It was a rather lazy visit, but I think it was just what we needed. I was also able to reconnect with a great Utah State buddy (HOLLER MARCUS) for his wedding. It was amazing to see him and his new bride...you are gorgeous.
- God values my agency, and expects me to make mistakes so that I can fully understand what I need to learn. That is WHY He provided a Savior. He knew that sometimes the only way I was going to learn was through my experiences, mistakes and all. As long as I look to Christ, I will be able to recognize that I can learn through my experiences and mistakes. God does not have a checklist saying stuff like "Lindsey went to DC, check" or "Lindsey went to Utah State just like I wanted" or "Lindsey married that one specific guy I had for her." His checklist consists of making sure I am following Him, and how I deal with life's circumstances...and if I am taking care of other people. That is what He cares about the most.
- When I am going through some tough life circumstances, it is important to reach out to others and get outside myself. I also realize that doing so is easier said than done. Over the past year, I realized that is important to give myself time to heal, and be OK with that space. I would get down on myself for not wanting to reach out to others immediately. I realized that Heavenly Father does not expect perfection from me, and just asks that I do my best. Sometimes my best is cuddling up on my couch and resting from everything I could be doing. Just as long as I don't get stuck on the couch, I'm good.
- Cognitive Distortions: A good friend of mine, Burtie, shared with me some thoughts on cognitive distortion, which is defined as exaggerated and irrational thoughts presented in this book called The Feeling Good Handbook. Along the same lines of making sure that my 7 paradigms are are balanced (7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey), we talked about how we actually have the power to control how we react when our minds create cognitive distortions, or rather we can restructure how we perceive and react to information "cognitive restructuring." The power we have really is amazing, and it is all because of the access we have to the Holy Ghost.
- I recently discussed my 'life is turbulent' thoughts with my ecclesiastical leader. I remember being so frustrated that I couldn't deal with situations as gracefully as I thought I should. I mean, really, how many years of practice do I need in order to react in certain situations with grace, right? The point he made is that once we face and 'deal' with certain situations, there will always be more that we will have to face. It is cycle of life. I argue that my cognitive distortion is that these circumstances are 'hard.'telling him that they really aren't. His answer was 'yes they are.' His point was that I shouldn't downplay how I feel about situations. I just need to be aware if I stay in that space of 'its hard', it can become a cognitive distortion. I can be present with how I am feeling, and recognize that it is hard. But then I have to step out and start recognizing what I do have without feeling guilty for not recognizing it before. Then there are other steps I need to take.
The circumstance of 'dealing' with things will always be there. It is a sign of progression and change. Even if we don't feel like we are 'dealing' with things very gracefully, being able to recognize how we are dealing with them is one way we know our faith is alive and well.
I love having great girlfriends!
Myrtle Beach: This year I was able to hang with 9 of my tightest girlfriends from SLC, and two dudes. From touring Charleston to hitting up the main drag at black bike week, my favorite times surround our beach days. Some highlights:
- Angie's family....hilarious and so welcoming. I hope to be like them when I grow up!
- Speeding tickets on Sunday, not so funny at the time, but a little bit now :)
- Finding the crocs at the plantation
- Seeing Heather beat other bike girls with her bootie shake
- Bouncing up and down on the, what was it called...whatever, but it was used for courting couples back in the day. I guess if you sat on opposite ends and then bounced, you would eventually end up together...and then that was when you could get married.
- Being blow-horned in the middle of the night, again...not so funny when it happened
- Being set up with third cousin's
- 9 girls sharing one bathroom
- Taking pics of Sara jumping over people
- Having water thrown in my face, and triumphantly not crying because of it...most of you know how I LOVE pranks ;)
- Playing with babies
- Trying to find the perfect shirts on the boardwalk...didn't quite find one
- Having a crush on the acoustic guitar player at the restaurant on the boardwalk
- Being so hungry, it didn't matter what we got, just feed this ornery bunch!
- Having paper and candy flung at me during church
- Good into-the-night chats with people I love
- Leaving at 6 a.m. to make an interview at 4 p.m. the day after Memorial Day
- Taking walks on the golf course
- Eastern Market: A group of 8 of us went to the Eastern Market in DC to have their incredible eggnog French Toast with apple cider syrup. Oh my goodness YUMMERS. 5*'s for me. We met this painter from Bosnia who showed my Georgian friend and I where to find fellow Georgians. It was awesome to hear the language and find a connection for my friend who misses home so terribly.
- Musical Love: I have written all about the musical below, but I just have to give a shout out to my Matchmaker ladies. It was awesome to see them every week for a month. I am MISSING it. I found that I was the goof off of the group. I had no idea that I would be the one to receive backward glances from the director, but this group of ladies just brought it out in me. RASCALS....all of you!
- Hat and Dumpling Night: Jen made these amazing dumplings that are a fave in her fam. We invited some close friends to share this with us. I suggested that we all wear random hats and gloves, and served our 'tea' or rather, our hot apple cider that enhanced our sugar-filled evening. Next time I will probably require that we all speak with accents.
- Foodie for a Roomie: I LOVE and EXTRA HEART my roommate. Not only do we share a love of Veronica Mars, and cleanliness (except our bedrooms), but we have this insane love of food. She makes me the best soup ever, and I try to make up for it by making other dishes that don't really compare. We have been able to dine at some fab restaurants, some of which I listed below in the "Food" section of this post.
Others include (and by my rating scale):
1. Ichi Ban Sushi 3.5*: Everyone in McLean seems to know about this little joint, but the sushi combos were bland compared to others I have had, but the fish was fresh.
2. McKeever's Pub 5*: I had their blackened salmon...Irish pubs always have the best salmon.
3. Meaza International 5*: This was a fabulous Ethiopian restaurant we went to for my birthday. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, except Mike...he likes American cuisine the best.
4. Viet Bistro 4*: This was a Vietnamese fusion-type restaurant. I wasn't sure what to get, so I asked the waiter to choose something for me. It was this incredible pork that had been slow-roasting all day in a Vietnamese sauce. It was delectable. Jen's dish was actually better...but I don't remember what she got.
Living with Jen has been uber fun...and we have our little and not so little laughs. And even though our apartment hallways smell like left over Indian cuisine and wet dog hair, and we don't have parking spaces for visitor's, I think we like where we live enough to stay for a while.
This year was the first (and hopefully) annual, amazing production of Club Langley: A Love Story. With at least 170 hours put into this one-time production, our cast of 22 raised the bar from the regular single's ward "Talent, no talent night" to create a ward musical parody of single life in the 2000's, but based in the 1940s. Don't worry, it is not as confusing as it sounds.
With the help of several people in the ward, we helped design and create all props and backgrounds. We made a city sky scape all around the cultural hall, with lit buildings, and lamp posts. It was also set up like dinner theater. We had a Turkey dinner for all attendees who sat at white-linen covered tables. In the middle of each table was a decorative glass full of water, sparkling paper and an underwater light. The room looked amazing. Everyone came glammed up in their 40's garb.
The play was a humorous love story that following a couple through different stages of dating.
Scene 1: Princess Bride: Where Buttercup discovers Wesley is the Dread Pirate Roberts. The narrator then begins to take us through the love story...of how it all began.
Scene 2: Matchmaker. I was a chorus girl in our version of how matchmaking should work in the Christian world. We danced and sang and generally had a BLAST during this first musical scene.
Scene 3: Going Courting. From Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, three of our lovely and talented ladies showed 7 of our boys how dating should be done. Dancing and frivolity was the rue of this scene.
Scene 4: All I ask of You. Opening with two of our Spanish sisters singing an incredible version of a new-age Spanish melody (name I forgot), in this scene there are two couples, one of which the girl is coming on strong, and one where the boy is coming on strong. Along with some meant-to-be awkward scenes with the two couples trying to seal the deal...in the end the most forward of the two have doors slammed in their faces, only to discover each other from across the distance. The end of the scene focuses on the two singing to one another and ending with a foot pop....from the guy
Scene 5: Kiss the girl. A rather funny rendition of what happens when two rather timid people have their first kiss, or experience an epic fail trying to kiss when they bonk heads. Don't worry, he seals the deal later.
Scene 6: A little blurb about girls being ready to marry guys after the first week of dating.
Scene 7: Come What May. The grand finale featuring one of the best love songs of all time. I was a dancer for this scene and did a cool modern dance choreographed by our amazing Laura Erikson. Yes, the couple finally hooked up in the end, and all of us were on stage to commemorate it!
The musical was such a smash that the Bishopric asked us to do it for the Stake....which we did! I have to admit though, our first performance went off without a hitch.
I love food. There are so many incredible places to eat out here. Some of my 5* personally-rated restaurants include:
1. Cafe Tatti: ***** This place is a charming, family operated French Bistro. I ordered this divine filet Mignon that had been slow roasted and slightly grilled in a red wine reduction, served with creamy buttered red potatoes with a lemon-garlic sauce. The meat fell apart in my mouth and the potatoes could have easily been mashed, but the way they were served complimented the side of asparagus. AMAZING!
2. Cee Fine Thai Dining: ***** My roommate Jen, Andrea Vasquez and I walked in this joint and heard singing. We discovered that Cee has live karaoke every Friday night with a piano player named Tom. Everyone in attendance has been going there for years, most for 10 years. Everyone was so seasoned I thought we had entered a private singing club or something...I was wrong, they just get up completely uninhibited and sing their lungs out...and it is gorgeous! They all came up to us, introduced themselves and got me and Andrea to sing in front of this crowd. I ordered Pan Dang, which had just the right amount of coconut milk to saturate the spice. We also ordered sticky rice with mangos. The atmosphere alone deserves the 5* rating.
3. Northside Social:***** I was introduced to this coffee shop because of my love of hot chocolate. Thank you Wendy! The atmosphere is very chill, totally hipster, and the kind of place that you bring your apple products, sit beside fellow apple fans and sip a cup of hot something. Try the hummus sandwich when you go...I promise you will be incredibly surprised at how the citrus blend of the basil leaves combine with the lemony-savor of the hummus. EVERYTHING you order there is incredible.
On this food note, over the past year, I have met some amazing people who also share my love for food. Every once in a while we get together and do 'iron-chef' and are given one ingredient to embellish and make a plate with. It has been a huge blessing to meet people who enjoy cooking new things, and discovering great food (whether at a hole in the wall, or a nice-fancy restaurant). Thank you Diana!!
- I found a vinyl record store by my house. You have no idea how much this excites me. My plan for 2012 is to have jazz appreciation nights at my house, sip hot something, and slowly jam to some of the best classics on vinyl. Oh, vinyl....that riveting, raw sound has never been so good!
- Thanks to my amazing date, Chris, I was exposed to the lavish and exquisite sounds of French 1920s swing music by Le Chauds Lapin. Being a fan of this music anyway, I have been limited in my music selection, and was happy to find another talented and incredible group I could commune with! With classic melodies from the early 1900's, I was struck by the frivolous tunes of banjo, cello, violin, trumpet, and voice. I loved the light-heartedness of the music so much, I bought the CD.
- Jason Walker "Down": Such a downer song, but shoot, it covered exactly how I was feeling for a while.
- Singing in the choir. Laura Erikson who choreographed, directed, and and helped with most of play (along with her 4-5 counterparts) directs our church choir. We have been able to sing some great hymns, and her direction along with all these incredibly talented voices make the music ring true! We just sang during our special Christmas sacrament meeting. Kirby Hansen (our other incredible musical director) put together an incredible musical program. It was amazing to hear Christmas music performed by our talented ward members. There were violins, cellists, organs, brother and sister duets by seasoned operatic vocal performers, incredible pianists, group songs, and narration. It was truly an inspirational meeting that allowed us to focus on Christ and His birth.
One thing about being unemployed for so long, was all this spare time I had. I was able to volunteer doing all sorts of crazy stuff:
- Tutored this amazing 15 year old hoodlum ;) well, she likes to think she is, but she's not.
- Youth leader: teenager's who attend our area's congregations (a stake) put on a Road Show every year, a 15 minute skit around the theme "A Fire is Burning." The kids in our group were hilarious and used all this teenage vocab that I am totally hip with now.
- Relief Society Activity day: I was able to help out with our Service day, where we worked with community members to bring certain services. I manned the book station, and tons of people donated books for low-income schools in the area. I am always impressed by the generosity of so many people. I was also able to head up the station to write notes to our troops. I think the goal was 900, and we got 1200 or something. It was amazing. I loved it so much and as luck would have it, have been called by the church to do it again next year.
- YEP-DC: I am a volunteer membership ambassador for the Young Education Professionals of DC, a non-profit organization that brings new education professionals together and creates events that engage young leaders who want to be involved in the education world.
- Internship with National PTA: I worked as a volunteer intern for this organization where I helped with grassroots outreach around a campaign for Family Engagement. It gave me some unique insight into the policy world, and I loved the people I worked with.
- Munch and Mingle: Every Sunday, I have the opportunity to feed 80-100 people who attend our congregation. Generally, this is known as a calling. I accepted this calling, and have a wonderful committee who helps me every Sunday.
- Beach trips with friends. Loved going with peeps to Rehoboth, Ocean City, and Virginia Beach this year. 'Twas lovely to swim in warm water!
- Family Reunion 2011. I think I hit this in an earlier post, but I just have to reemphasize how awesome it was to see the Blau side in August this year. We celebrated the 60th wedding anniversary of my Grandparents, and my Grandma's 80th birthday. It was amazing to see all siblings from both sides of the spectrum. These amazing grandparents of mine are the salt of the earth. I love that I am a part of this incredible legacy.
- Dating. Love it. It is great.
- Moving Day: This happened in October. My amazing friend Luke brought out all my things from Salt Lake City. We moved all of my stuff (which is way too much...as told to me on several accounts) into my place in 48 hours. Without going into excruciating detail about the emotions associated with this trip, I will just say that I love Luke. I love all those strong boys who helped me move in: Trevor, Mario and Dan. Special shout out to my Aunt Eva and Uncle Steve, Camille, Jen, The Tiptons (Melissa, Shane, Will, and Noah), Eric, and Ben (for helping me hang pics).
- Being in DC is just a huge highlight in and of itself.
- The Riverboat cruise. My girlfriend Laura and I took to the seas with a bunch of LDS and other Christian peeps for our grand tour of the Potomac. I was so excited that we were on a boat....like a REAL river boat with paddles in the back and everything. I danced and danced and danced some more. I didn't mean to ditch Laura all the time, but I couldn't stop rockin' it with my fellow rockers. It was amazing and beautiful, and everyone on the boat was so incredibly nice.
- Reunions: I was able to meet some of my peeps from High School in VA this year. It was so good to reconnect with people from my past. I have had some pretty remarkable connection stories that you should ask me about sometime. I am a pretty lucky girl to have such wonderful friends and to have been raised in such a great community.
- My job: I work with some great people who inspire me to be better and to laugh at my mistakes. I think I am supposed to be learning that about life. It is good to be here. I also still LOVE my job as a lifeguard and work with some major crazies who make it fun!
My TestimonyMore than anything, I know my Savior lives. I know He came here to live a perfect life so that I could make mistakes and become perfect, even as He is. He died for me so that I might live like Him, and with Him. He is my Redeemer and my friend.
I have also come to realize that God loves me and is so patient with me as I try to figure things out. I have such respect for Him, and have come to realize how much He values my decisions and values my ability to choose. He is so forgiving and so full of love. I have experienced His love so much this year and I am so grateful to feel Him in my life. I am also so grateful to have answers to my prayers through family, friends, and even strangers. We are all connected out there in this big world. And that makes me smile through my turbulent moments.
Thank you all for being my sun on the horizon.