Friday, October 31, 2014

This is Halloween

Sooooo, I had a really clever blog post idea which included lots of cute pictures from when I was very young.

So I scanned pictures of some of my best Halloween costumes. But when I was ready to make this blog post, the pictures wouldn't download properly.

And so it goes.

I won't lie, Halloween isn't my favorite holiday. I mean, it's fun when you're little and get candy and all that, and I love seeing little kids get all dressed up, but by the time you're my age, Halloween means two things: scary and skanky. And that's not how I roll.

But I just want to say that I had some wonderful Halloween costumes growing up.

Like the classic "Ballerina Fairy Princess" of '95.

And my Joan of Arc costume. That still is one of my absolute favorites.

[I realized that I have pretty much only dressed up as a princess or historical figure. Yup.]

I rarely dress up nowadays. But if I do, it has to be creative.

This year, I convinced my friend that we should be suffragettes.

This was the result:

Happy Halloween!

My birthday gift to me.

Last weekend I celebrated my birthday.

And what I gave myself was solitude.

I went to a favorite place on campus, sat in silence, and then wrote letters to myself. My younger self, my future self, and my self. Right now. Today.

And it was good for the soul.

Refreshing and (almost) better than chocolate cake.

Almost. But not quite.

I was born for October days.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Class Act

Today a handful of my students told me that I looked like a model out of a J. Crew catalog.

My life is now complete.

Please put that on my tombstone.

I have reached the epitome of classy dressing.

J. Crew is always a good idea.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October Sky

How can I get anything done when it is twelve kinds of beautiful outside?

I live in a beautiful place. 

And October. It is the best month. I will always stand by that. 

Ukrainian patchwork

This week I have had flashback after flashback about Ukraine.

There are days like that. When a smell, a breeze, a taste will bring back a memory, and suddenly I am walking down the street to Тамара's, or I am standing at a bus stop in Mariupol, or in the church building in Kharkov, talking with Саша about the Plan of Salvation.

There is only so much I feel I can say about my time there. It is so personal to me. And those moments--those flashbacks which bring me away from Provo, Utah, to Donetsk, Ukraine, are very real. They remind me that I am here . . . but I left my heart there. And at the same time, I have brought Ukraine with me to Provo. A part of the Ukrainian soul will always be with me.

Not long ago, my Russian professor was talking about his experiences in Eastern Europe. And how . . . how being there makes him whole. Like how he never knew how much he needed Eastern Europe until he was there.

In many respects, that is how I feel.

Even though Ukrainian culture is so different from American culture and even though I had experiences there that broke me, those experiences brought me closer to God and helped me come to an understanding of my true self. I was reborn in Ukraine. I became a new person; there was a transformation.

My new self is a conglomeration of bits from my old self, with pieces from Ukraine--the language, the people, the mindset, the lessons I learned, the people who touched my life and gave pieces of their heart to me. A Ukrainian patchwork quilt.

And these pieces have made me whole. Whole and new.

I never knew I needed Ukraine until I was there. And she didn't know she needed me until I was there.

It's amazing the impact 18 months can have on a soul.

When third place is better than first

Remember when this happened last year?

Yeah, it was a pretty neat experience. 

This year I decided to enter the Brimhall Essay Contest again, because--why not? 

This year's theme was "Take Flight," and I wrote about Janie Thompson, who was the founder of BYU's Young Ambassadors and Living Legends programs. She was an incredible woman who magnified her talents and learned to replace faith with fear. Spunky Mormon women never cease to amaze and inspire me. 

Anyway. I didn't win this year. And that was perfectly fine with me. (Honestly, I think it would have been a little weird if I had won again . . . it would have been like, "Oh hai, guys. It's me again.") 

But I did get 3rd place. Which was perfect. Because it meant that I could watch the Homecoming Opening ceremonies with my dad and I didn't have to worry about speaking in front of the entire school. Instead, I got to enjoy listening to the winning essay and remember all of the emotion from last year. 

 Remember that time I can't take selfies? I'm still learning, people. Also, Dad for the win with his BYU-themed tie. 

Also, I got a free lunch and got to meet President Worthen. So, you know. Life is good. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's been a long week.

You know those weeks where you just know it will be a miracle if you get through it all?

It's not that there are bad things going on. Just a lot of things.

And so sometimes you wonder. You wonder if you'll suffocate or rise above the chaos.

Yep. It's been one of those weeks.

Started Monday by accidentally sleeping in and then waking up twenty minutes before my first class started. That was fun. You forget how fast you can move when you have to. And the rest of the week followed the helter-skelter of Monday morning.

Dentist appointment, numb mouth, mint cookies, meeting the Mormons (still my favorite way to say that I saw the film: "I met the Mormons yesterday." Still funny.), three big essays, luncheons, cupcakes, dictators, getting emails from Georgetown telling me to apply for their grad school (!), and becoming best friends with random guys in the library (Cambridge. It sparks conversation.).

Yep, it's been a long week. But a good one. And bad. And everything in between. A regular week in the middle of the semester.

One week at a time.

One day at a time.

Give me time. I'll be fine. More than fine.